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 John Stawarz, Online Instruction Librarian at Syracuse University.
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: John Stawarz
How long have you been a DLS member?
I joined DLS in 2017 and attended my first DLS Conference in 2018.
Where do you work and what do you do there?
I have served as the online instruction librarian at Syracuse University since January 2017. I also provide reference and instruction support, as my position is based in the Learning Commons.
What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?
One of the interesting challenges is that many of the earliest online graduate degree programs were launched in partnership with the for-profit company 2U, while more recently created programs are being developed in-house through our Center for Online and Digital Learning. This means we need to support online graduate students embedded within two very different organizational structures and learning management systems. I’m very fortunate to work with a wide variety of stakeholders involved with online and distance learning, which at Syracuse University has been growing in recent years.
How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create community for your distance learners?
Collaboration is key, whether it’s partnering with student groups, department faculty and staff, liaison librarians, functional specialist librarians, online learning centers, technology experts, or other stakeholders involved with online learning. For example, most of the fully online degree programs now require students to attend at least one campus-based or regional residency, and I’ve partnered with subject librarians to take part in these residencies, which allow us to affirm our support for these online students and develop a personal connection with them.
How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?
Being new not only to online learning but also to librarianship, I’ve found myself trying to sponge up as many skill sets as possible to support online programs, including project management, online copyright, user testing, information literacy, and instructional design through a variety of programs such as online EDUCAUSE and Library Juice Academy classes, graduate courses, distance learning conferences, and various social media platforms that bring together distance librarians into a community of practice. I’ve been amazed at how supportive everyone in the distance community has been.
What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?
Now that I’ve finished back-to-back master’s degrees, I’m able to spend more time with my 5-year-old daughter, who’s doing a great job teaching me how people learn.
What are you reading right now?
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, by Cathy O’Neil
Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?
What else would you like for us to share about you?
I love that I get to work with a wide variety of people and programs, not only within Syracuse University Libraries, but across the entire university. No two days are ever the same!