The ACRL Distance Learning Section (DLS) Membership and Event committee is continuing its “Member of the Month” initiative to highlight our diverse members. Here is our highlight on November Member, Victoria (Torrie) Raish, Online Learning Librarian, Penn State.
If you are interested in being or nominating an ACRL DLS “Member of the Month”, please fill out this brief nomination/sign up form.
Name: Victoria (Torri) Raish
How long have you been a DLS member?
A little over 2 years
Where do you work and what do you do there?
I work at Penn State and I am the Online Learning Librarian. This means that I serve in a coordinator role where I am making connections between online and hybrid learning at Penn State with our subject, campus, and other librarians to increase library services, resources, and instruction for online students.
What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?
Penn State has a separate campus for online students called World Campus. However, the curriculum and majors are the same ones offered through our main campus at University Park and our Commonwealth Campuses. There are around 20,000 students in World Campus. There are also online courses for residential students, hybrid courses, or shared programs among the different campuses. All of our campuses are part of Penn State in the motto of one university, geographically distributed. This is unique because we are not a multisystem campus. Due to the scale and scope of online learning at Penn State, my work is very much at the strategic level where I create professional development opportunities, build relationships, and conduct program level assessments to survey the quality of what we are doing with online learning.
How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create community for your distance learners?
Penn State is very focused on building affinity to Penn State for distance learners. World Campus has a strategic priority to create this sense of community for learners. There are a few different ways that we do this but I think one of the most exciting is through the Blind Date with a Book program we run for residential students and have now offered to online students for the past two years. It connects them to the library in an optional way where they can choose a genre they are passionate about and receive a wrapped book. This is having them create an InterLibrary Loan account and other important processes, but for students it is that public facing realization that there is more to the library than course reserves. Another example is through creating the discussion questions this past summer for the World Campus summer book club. I work closely with our outreach coordinator and student engagement librarian to bring these opportunities to World Campus students and we have more ideas lined up for the future.
How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?
Attending conferences such as the DLS conference, spending time to read literature and checking out some top publications, and being reflective of the work I am doing it by sharing and trying to build connections with people outside of Penn State. The slack channel that was started has been a fantastic first place to learn and connect.
What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?
Well I have five kids (All girls) so my spare time is limited. However, if I am not parenting them or working then I am running. I love to run miles and miles 🙂
What are you reading right now?
Probably a children’s book! The last book I read was Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech.
Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?
What else would you like for us to share about you?
I love working with online students at Penn State and connecting them to our awesome library resources! So this is really a dream job for me.