College & Research Libraries News

Conference Circuit: ULS discusses new learning communities

In lieu of a section newsletter a team of ULS members providesC&RL News with semi-annual reports of its activities. Anne Garrison is reference librarian at Georgia Institute of Technology; e-mail:; Paula Walker is assistant director of libraries at the University of Washington; e-mail:; Linda TerHaar is head of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library at the University of Michigan; e-mail:; Mary Munroe is head of collection development at Georgia State University; e-mail:

By Anne Garrison, Paula Walker, Linda TerHaar, and Mary Munroe

UWired at University of Washington

The University Libraries Section (ULS) Current Topics Discussion Group presented a panel on new learning communities at the University of Washington during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in February. Betsy Wilson, Jill McKinstry, Paula Walker, and Helene Williams outlined the inception, growth, challenges, and successes of UWired, a program at the University of Washington (UW) which integrates electronic communication and information navigation skills into instruction and learning.

UWired began as a pilot project in 1994 when former UW provost Wayne Clough, now president of Georgia Institute of Technology, initiated a collaboration between the UW Libraries, Computing & Communications, and the Office of Undergraduate Education. This partnership sought ways in which the undergraduate learning experience could be enriched, a sense of community established, and technology brought into the service of learning and teaching. The resulting program has grown from a small pilot project reaching 65 students and 12 faculty and teaching assistants to a multifaceted program enjoyed by more than 2,000 students and 1,000 faculty.

The primary function of UWired, Betsy Wilson explained, is to create an electronic community in which communication, collaboration, and information technologies become integral parts of the pedagogical process. To accomplish this, UWired took a fresh look at the Freshman Interest Group (FIG). This program has been assisting students in adjusting to life and work on campus since 1987. Incoming students enroll in a suite of thematically linked courses taught during their first quarter. In addition, they take a one-credit seminar concentrating on such topics as choosing a major and registering for classes. UWired expanded this seminar into a two-credit course team-taught by a librarian, peer advisor, and a UWired lead (i.e., computer student assistant). The class now focuses on the core competencies of electronic communication, the Internet and the World Wide Web, and library resources, in addition to the traditional campus survival skills.

Innovative classes require innovative classrooms. Paula Walker detailed the planning and building considerations for three new computer facilities, called collaboratories, which have opened in the Undergraduate Library. They contain Pentium and Macintosh computers and provide a technologically advanced forum for collaboration and community. A fourth collaboratory is opening in a space formerly housing the Geography Library.

Jill McKinstry highlighted UWired’s successful partnership with intercollegiate athletics. Coaches, librarians, and faculty are working together to enhance student athlete academic success through the use of information technology. Through UWired, athletes have access to laptop computers and can remain connected to academic resources while on the road.

Helene Williams discussed innovative courses, yet another aspect to the UWired program. These upper-division courses offer faculty the opportunity to explore new ways of integrating information and technology resources into the course content. Faculty must submit proposals which demonstrate how they wish to integrate technology into their curricula. If accepted, innovative courses benefit by the use of the UWired collaboratories, support staff, and software. Also, a librarian is assigned to each faculty member to help implement the new course and offer technical assistance if needed.

It quickly became apparent that not all faculty are comfortable with new technologies. In response to this need, UWired established the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology. The Center, located in the Undergraduate Library, provides support for faculty attempting to integrate technology into their curricula as well as consultation services, access to hardware and software, resources, and a forum for sharing ideas. In addition to the assistance provided by the Center, UWired offers lectures and ongoing workshops for faculty. The workshops cover such topics as e-mail, pedagogy, Web page development, and copyright in cyberspace. Finally, UWired is forming partnerships with the UW Extension Program, K–12 schools, and regional community colleges.

Through the UWired program, librarians have become active partners in an educational process that is making information and technology literacy distinguishing characteristics of a University of Washington graduate.

For more information on UWired, see its homepage at uwired/ or send e-mail to uwired@u.—Anne Garrison

Other highlights

The ULS Executive Committee, chaired by Don Frank, met twice during Midwinter. The 1997 Annual Conference Program Committee for ULS reported on plans for San Francisco. Following along on the theme of future librarians’ careers, set at the 1996 New York ULS program, the 1997 topic will be “The New Generation of Scholars: Do They Really Need Us? (Maybe, Maybe Not).”

The ULS Policy and Planning Committee was asked to write a vision statement and list of strategic directions for ULS. By the San Francisco conference, the committee will have a draft to share with the Executive Committee.

The ULS Communications Committee presented a draft Communication Tip Sheet, which contains information on how to publicize ULS programs and events, and asked the Executive Committee for comments and suggestions. A final version will be ready for distribution to all ULS committee chairs at the San Francisco conference.

ULS is a “type-of-library” section of ACRL, along with the College Libraries Section and the Community and Junior College Libraries Section. All other ACRL sections are “type-of-activity” sections, such as Instruction or Rare Book and Manuscripts. The Activities Sections Council is a vehicle for communication to share information about programming and projects. At Midwinter, the ULS Executive Committee approved a motion to be presented to the ACRL Board that the three “type-of-library” sections be permitted to join the Activities Sections Council in order to benefit from this information sharing.

The ACRL/ULS Public Services Heads of Large Research Libraries Discussion Group welcomes all librarians who are interested in academic library public services issues to attend their meetings at ALA Annual. The Discussion Group usually meets on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. At the Washington conference topics included: 1) ways to share Web page addresses developed for library instruction and distance learning; 2) how academic libraries are handling complaints about explicit materials on the Web being viewed on library computers; 3) reports on how various libraries are charging for printing from full-text databases.—Paula Walker

Librarian’s discussion group

“Should Undergraduate Librarians Publish?” was the question examined by the Undergraduate Librarians Discussion Group at Midwinter. The discussion included brief presentations from Alice Bahr, (editor of College and Undergraduate Libraries), Mark Watson, (Southern Illinois University), and Jim Self (University of Virginia). Presenters and group members affirmed the value of publication as a contribution to the profession and to the librarian’s own professional development, and emphasized the unique perspective undergraduate librarians have to offer. The discussion also delved into practical issues such as identifying appropriate journals, the logistics of writing, the varying demands of faculty status and academic status appointments, and the review process.—Linda TerHaar

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