The ACRL Distance Learning Section (DLS) Membership and Event committee is continuing a “Member of the Month” initiative to highlight our diverse members. Here is our highlight on Anna Uribe, lead Instruction Librarian as Ashford 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: Anna Uribe
How long have you been a DLS member?
Where do you work and what do you do there?
I am the lead instruction librarian at Ashford University.
What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?
Three things that make us stand out:
- We’re completely online
We have no physical space or collections to manage. While this allows us to fully concentrate on online library services, it can also be a challenge because there aren’t many institutions we can model.
- We use standardized courses
Personally, I love standardized courses because of their scalability. I know that library supports we contribute to a course will help students across the university, not just specific class sections. The downside however, is that there’s less ability to make refinements or adjustments, so you have to really get it right.
- The library is a member of the curriculum development team
We have a standardized, well-documented curriculum development process. At the minimum, the library is invited to all course/revision kickoff meetings where we have the opportunity to introduce all the available library supports, and every course is reviewed by the library before it goes “live”. Depending on the needs of the course, we may also be invited to weekly design meetings, and work through the backwards design process with the faculty and instructional designer.
While this is a huge advantage, it’s still a challenge to integrate library and information literacy instruction into a course’s existing learning objectives.
One of my colleagues has a funny saying about us being pioneers in online education. What happens to pioneers? Well, a lot of times they get eaten by bears. I’ve presented our successes and failures at SCIL (Southern California Instruction Librarians) conferences, and I ‘m always happy to share what works and what doesn’t with anyone who will listen at a DLS conference.
How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create community for your distance learners?
I think the way we promote our 24/7 chat service helps to create community. We acknowledge library anxiety and try to use empathetic messaging. We also leverage our faculty in getting the word out. As a university, we’ve seen that faculty are our closest connection to students. At the same time, we know associate faculty are extremely busy, so we’ve developed ready-made course announcements that they can easily post to their class. In the end, faculty feel supported and students are being reminded from a trusted source that the library is here for them anytime day or night.
How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?
The DLS listserv and conference. I can’t express how gratifying my first DLS conference was! Not to knock other conferences, but as a completely online librarian, DLS was the first time I felt like I’d found some true peers.
What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?
Planning a trip to Paris this summer.
What are you reading right now?
The Wind and the Willows. I never read it as a kid, and I am loving it!
Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?
What else would you like for us to share about you?
Though I serve a non profit university, I’m employed by an ed tech company. I want other librarians to know that it is possible to work for a for profit company and be extremely proud of what you do.