Library Partnerships in International Liberal Arts Education

ACRL announces the publication of Library Partnerships in International Liberal Arts Education: Building Relationships Across Cultural and Institutional Lines, edited by Jeff Hiroshi Gima and Kara Malenfant. This unique publication explores effective practices, collaborations, and ideas for the future being developed by librarians, library staff, and faculty at international, American-modeled institutions.

Learn more about Library Partnerships in International Liberal Arts Education in this excerpt from the introduction, licensed under a CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution license.

Background and Motivation

While internationalization continues to gain traction among US colleges and universities, and while overseas branch campuses and independent American-modeled institutions of higher education continue to appear around the globe, [1] the literature of academic librarianship offers limited guidance on the roles and opportunities for librarians in these contexts. [2]

At the same time, field-identified priority areas include collaborating with educational stakeholders, enhancing teaching and learning, and connecting to the institution’s mission. [3] Academic librarians are creating new roles for themselves, collaborating necessarily with both faculty and technologists, and positioning themselves clearly as active and creative partners in the enterprise of increasingly digital learning and scholarship. [4]

This book presents a collection of chapters by authors with perspectives on those issues that are inherently international and intercultural because of the authors’ own backgrounds, and in particular because of their institutional environments. The authors are librarians, faculty, and technologists at institutions that belong to the AMICAL Consortium, a consortium of American-modeled international liberal arts institutions working together on common goals for libraries, technology, and learning. Founded in 2004, AMICAL today brings together twenty-nine institutions located in twenty-two countries across Eastern, Central, and Western Europe; West and North Africa; the Middle East; Central and Southern Asia; and Russia.

Through this book, we aim to fill a resource gap for North American librarians seeking to learn about academic librarianship in international and multicultural environments while examining librarians’ new collaborative roles and digitally focused priority areas as they are being addressed within AMICAL’s membership. We also aim to answer questions about AMICAL’s unique opportunities: What challenges are AMICAL’s librarians uniquely placed to address through strategic partnerships? What are some of the opportunities specific to AMICAL institutions for librarians to contribute to local teaching, learning, and research through collaboration with faculty, with students, with external partners, or with other AMICAL librarians?

Common Structure for the Chapters

Given that many readers in the US may not be familiar with AMICAL institutions and countries, each chapter provides context. Authors briefly explain the setting in terms of the institution, its distinguishing characteristics within the context of higher education in a country, why a US-style liberal arts education is attractive to people of that country or region, and what kind of secondary education system most students have experienced.

The bulk of each chapter describes library-anchored collaborations that illustrate how the authors have collaborated with partners in environments, or in the face of challenges, that are international and intercultural in nature. We asked our authors to go beyond describing their project, initiative, course, or service to focus on the value of collaborating with others. In particular, we asked how the library’s contribution to the collaboration mitigates challenges, reinforces advantages, or leverages opportunities of these collaborations. We know not all collaborative projects bear fruit, but these chapters describe collaborations that have, the relationships that needed to be cultivated, and how that happened. Our authors write frankly about the cultural norms and structures at their institutions that sometimes created barriers but other times encouraged, rewarded, or supported collaboration.

In general, the chapters end with implications and advice, suggesting how these observations at AMICAL institutions might apply to the reader’s own context.

Unifying Themes

The chapters in this edited collection were intended to bring to light library-anchored collaborations that demonstrate successes, challenges, or opportunities in the thoroughly international, and increasingly digital, environment of AMICAL’s international liberal arts institutions. We aimed to provide cumulative knowledge, reference points, and aspirational targets for planning future library-related collaborations in similar environments.

Two broad themes arise from the chapters contributed:

•   Cultural and intercultural challenges and opportunities—the unique challenges and opportunities that arise for librarians at institutions that integrate an American educational model with substantially different cultural environments

•   Relationship building and partnerships—the challenges and opportunities of building relationships and collaborative projects among librarians, faculty, students, and external partners in a twenty-first-century liberal arts educational environment

All of the chapters here address both of these themes in their own way, while several narrower themes tie specific chapters together.

Notes

1.  American Council on Education, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2017 Edition (Washington, DC: American Council on Education, 2017), https://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Pages/Mapping-Internationalization-on-U-S-Campuses.aspx; John T. Crist, “U.S. Universities and International Branch Campuses | NAFSA.” International Enrollment Management Spotlight Newsletter 14, no. 1 (2017), https://www.nafsa.org/Professional_Resources/Browse_by_Interest/International_Students_and_Scholars/Network_Resources/International_Enrollment_Management/U_S__Universities_and_International_Branch_Campuses (NAFSA account required to view); Ted Purinton and Jennifer Skaggs, American Universities Abroad (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2017).

2.  Recent notable books include Yelena Luckert and Lindsay Inge Carpenter, The Globalized Library (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2018); Raymond Pun, Scott Collard, and Justin Parrott, Bridging Worlds (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2016); Michael Stoepel et al., Faculty-Librarian Collaborations (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, forthcoming 2020).

3.  Association of College and Research Libraries, Academic Library Impact, prepared by Lynn Silipigni Connaway, William Harvey, Vanessa Kitzie, and Stephanie Mikitish of OCLC Research (Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017), http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/publications/whitepapers/academiclib.pdf.

4. Jodi Reeves Eyre, John C. Maclachlan, and Christa Williford, A Splendid Torch (Arlington, VA: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2017), https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub174.

Bibliography

American Council on Education. Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2017 Edition. Washington, DC: American Council on Education, 2017. https://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Pages/Mapping-Internationalization-on-U-S-Campuses.aspx.

Association of College and Research Libraries. Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research. Prepared by Lynn Silipigni Connaway, William Harvey, Vanessa Kitzie, and Stephanie Mikitish of OCLC Research. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017. http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/publications/whitepapers/academiclib.pdf.

Crist, John T. “U.S. Universities and International Branch Campuses | NAFSA.” International Enrollment Management Spotlight Newsletter 14, no. 1 (2017).  https://www.nafsa.org/Professional_Resources/Browse_by_Interest/International_Students_and_Scholars/Network_Resources/International_Enrollment_Management/U_S__Universities_and_International_Branch_Campuses (NAFSA account required to view).

Luckert, Yelena, and Lindsay Inge Carpenter. The Globalized Library: American Academic Libraries and International Students, Collections, and Practices. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2018.

Pun, Raymond, Scott Collard, and Justin Parrott. Bridging Worlds: Emerging Models and Practices of U.S. Academic Libraries around the Globe. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2016.

Purinton, Ted, and Jennifer Skaggs. American Universities Abroad: The Leadership of Independent Transnational Higher Education Institutions. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2017.

Reeves Eyre, Jodi, John C. Maclachlan, and Christa Williford. A Splendid Torch: Learning and Teaching in Today’s Academic Libraries. Arlington, VA: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2017. https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub174.

Stoepel, Michael, Livia Piotto, Xan Goodman, and Samantha Godbey. Faculty-Librarian Collaborations: International Case Studies of Integrating the Information Literacy Framework into Disciplinary Courses. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, forthcoming 2020.