Team-based Embedded Librarianship to Enhance Information Literacy

Institution:  Kansas State University Libraries

The typical model of embedded librarianship, where a librarian is incorporated into a course as a co-instructor, has been applied as a means to overcome the limitations of “one-shot” library instruction classes. However, while the service provided is thought of as superior to a “one-shot” class, it can also be overwhelming for the individual librarian. When resources are thin and libraries are under-staffed, the question is: how do we solve the scalability problem? Our project aims to provide a solution by utilizing a cross-departmental, team-based approach to embedded librarianship in order to better utilize the time and talents of individual librarians, while also enriching student learning.

Led by Dean Lori Goetsch, Kansas State University Libraries is undergoing a major reorganization to become an inventive, data-driven organization. The Office of Library Planning and Assessment (LPA) infuses assessment components into the library’s operations. Within the LPA Office, the Research & Development Librarian initiates, prototypes and facilitates innovative endeavors in the library.

Departing from the traditional subject liaison model, Leo Lo, the Research & Development Librarian, is initiating a collaborative project with librarians from the Faculty and Graduate Services Department (Elisabeth Pankl) and the Undergraduate and Community Services Department (Jason Coleman) to design and implement a team-based strategy to embed information literacy and library services into an online general education course, Geography of Tourism, as a prototype project.

The librarians collaborate with the instructor to integrate information literacy into the pedagogical strategies of the course. This is accomplished by delivering information literacy instruction synchronously through an online presentation platform (Wimba) and asynchronously through a wiki and screencasts, and by delivering reference service asynchronously through a message board embedded in the university’s course management system (K-State Online).

All three librarians deliver reference service and facilitate information literacy learning on the message board, which has the advantage of allowing students to see all questions and answers. This reduces the students’ need to use the library’s reference services, which in effect lessens the burden on the library’s reference staff. As the three librarians each have their own expertise, the students are exposed to a broader range of researching techniques than they would be with an individual librarian. Another advantage of using the message board is that it can serve as an archive of reference Q&As for the course, thus not only providing a time-saving mechanism for future courses, but also a device for assessing student learning.

Assessment of student learning is determined via analysis of a series of assignments, including a social media project, and a more substantial culminating research project co-designed by the team of librarians. Each of the three librarians’ time committed to the class will be recorded. The data derived from this case study will inform Kansas State University Libraries of the effectiveness, scalability, and feasibility of this team-based approach to embedded librarianship. This project could potentially transform how embedded librarians operate, and it could become a template for other academic libraries to emulate.

Project type: Project in Progress

Budget: N/A

Team members:

Leo Lo, Research & Development Librarian
Jason Coleman, Undergraduate and Community Services Librarian
Elisabeth Pankl, Faculty and Graduate Services Librarian

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