Association of College & Research Libraries

Conference Circuit: A potpourri of practical ideas from ACRLs 6th National Conference

Academic librarianship

In “Curriculum Reform: Catalyst for Building Strong Faculty/Librarian Partnerships,” it was observed that one of the most important func- tions of the educational experience is to pro- vide a link between that which is already known and that which is yet to be studied. It is im- perative that this be translated into a strong mission statement for both the library and the academic institution. The body of organized scholarship must meet the needs of the current learner and meet the needs of the adult life. The undergraduate learning experience is moving from the textbook and lecture tech- nique to one that is more focused upon re- source learning with a facilitator rather than a master.

These curriculum reforms provide excellent inroads for librarians to serve as “co-creators” of curriculum development. Librarians must become pro-active instead of waiting for an invitation to participate. This can be accomplished by establishing a task force which offers advocacy for inter- disciplinary liaisons and outreach op- portunities to utilize any possibility to participate in total academic involve- ment.

Suggested strategies include: 1) al- ways be ready to provide explicitly the mission statement of the library, don’t wait for a mandate; 2) establish a task force, a framework for working in tan- dem with others in the community at large; 3) be aware of other programs in academic departments and institu- tions, serve as a liaison; 4) through cur- riculum reform, identify new programs and become involved at the inception of those programs; 5) use the goals of campus curriculum reform as a point of reference and keep campus decision-makers, such as deans and administrators, aware of the expertise, that librarians bring to the librarian/faculty partnership. The shared goals of the academic quest— independent resource expertise, the development of critical abilities, and skillful written and oral presentation—can best be attained within the environment of an interdisciplinary learning community.—Angela Gottardi, Franklin Pierce College


In “Diversifying the Academic Library to Meet the Challenges of Economic Development,” Ada Jarred and Fleming Thomas from Northwestern State University of Louisiana discussed their efforts to add positively to the economic development of their institution’s geographic region. They described at least seven grants from local, state, and national funding sources that helped their community. They also described the projects they initiated: adding a career information collection and a program to test and advise students on their vocational skills and interests to the library; setting up a literacy tu- toring program for the educationally disadvan- taged which works with local schools; spon- soring a conference on a local writer; enhancing their archival program; and establishing a small business center to provide better access to government information through various grants.—Su- san Anthes, University of Colo- rado, Boulder

Conference-goers use the Family History Library to research their own histories.

Photo credit: L. Kniffel, American Libraries

The Baker & Taylor cats greeted librarians in the exhibit area.

Photo credit: M. E. Davis

The program “Access and Ownership: Issues and Financing” presented four institutional responses to the need to improve access to materials in the face of in- creasing budgetary con- straints. Dora Biblarz, Ari- zona State University, described her program to set up a special fund of $30,000 derived from monies cut from their serials budget. This fund was designated for on-demand document delivery. Carolyn Dusenbury, California State University at Chico, spends $6,000 per year to provide almost 600 students and faculty with documents delivered by fax through a special arrangement with the University of California, Berkeley. The Scholar’s Express is an innovative program discussed by Deborah Masters, George Washington University, in which $100,000 plus a half-time position was reallocated to provide document delivery. Material comes from a variety of sources including traditional ILL, commercial vendors, and consortium arrangements. Davies Menefee from OCLC finished up the program by previewing some new services to be offered shortly, including the Prism ILL system, the addition of 22,000 holdings from the British Library, and linkage of EPIC and FirstSearch to their ILL system. All speakers agreed that traditional assumptions in collection development must be questioned, that new paradigms of information provision should be explored, and that the implications for libraries were both positive and yet difficult to predict.—Susan Anthes, University of Colorado, Boulder

Bibliographic instruction

An information packet was distributed to those attending “Cooperative Learning and Bibliographic Instruction: Incorporating Small Group Techniques into Teaching Sessions.” Betsy Wil- son, University of Illinois at Urbana (UIUC), remarked that cooperative learning incorporates all kinds of teaching techniques such as three-step interview, round table, group brainstorming, and pass a problem. Mary Jane Petrowski, UIUC, discussed some of the critical compo- nents in cooperative learn- ing as “a structured, system- atic instructional strategy in which small groups work together” and some ben- efits of cooperative learn- ing vs. competitive and in- dividual learning. Lori Arp, University of Colorado, explained round table tech- niques and suggested they be used for brainstorming and team building. Sharon Mader, DePaul University, cautioned the groups to expect resistance to cooperative learning.— Vanaja Menon, Lake Forest College

Sonia Bodi, North Park College and Theological Seminary, clearly articulated her understanding of Kolb’s learning theory and its relevance for bibliographic instruction librarians during “Learning Style Theory and Bibliographic Instruction: The Quest for Effective BI.” Using a circle as the metaphor for the unending cycle of learning, she presented the four components of the learning process (concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation) and the resultant four types of learners (divergers, convergers, accommodators, and assimilators).

Bodi noted that the learning style that fits an individual depends on how one perceives and processes information and has nothing to do with intelligence. She urges instructors to be familiar with all types of learners and to use a variety of teaching techniques accordingly to try to reach everyone.

Bodi noted that teachers tend to use the teaching method which meshes with their own style of learning and can, unwittingly, leave the rest of the students behind. Acknowledgment of the many learning styles, although no guarantee, is a start in providing more effective instruction.—Barbara Valentine, Linfield College

Rudolph Clay Jr., supervisor of the Refer- ence Department, and Clara P. McLeod, earth and planetary sciences librarian at Washing- ton University, St. Louis, reported on efforts at their institution to increase accessibility to library informational re- sources in African and Af- rican-American Studies. In their presentation “Using a For-Credit Course to In- crease Access to a Diverse Collection,” Clay and McLeod discussed the de- velopment of a three- credit course called Re- search Materials in African and Afro-American Studies.

A view from Temple Square shows the beauty of Salt Lake City.

Photo credit: M. E. Davis

According to Clay and McLeod, “While progress has been made on building and maintaining broadly representative collections, one major task which re- mains for academic librar- ies and librarians is the de- velopment of innovative techniques to increase access to those collections by all students.”

An integral component of the course is the students’ ability to “… develop and become accustomed to using a thesaurus of subject headings and keyword terms to gain access to resources concerning the experiences of black people and other people of color. …”

The course content includes: organization of an academic library; Library of Congress Classification System; arrangement and use of the card catalog; arrangement and use of the online catalog; reference sources in African, Caribbean, and African-American Studies; periodical and newspaper indexes; electronic reference sources; U.S. government publications; statistical sources; developing the research strategy and asking for assistance in libraries, museums, historical societies, and other research institutions.

In summary, Clay and McLeod stated, “The informational resources to support a course of this type are probably already in place at most academic libraries. What may be absent is an awareness and commitment from the existing area studies or interdisciplinary program to address the library research skills of its students and an effective vehicle to demonstrate to students that they can successfully develop the skills to engage in research that is relevant to them.”—Barbara Blake, AMIGOS Bibliographic Council, Inc.

Collection management

Katherine Dahl, reference librarian, Western Illinois University, tracked the availability of African- American reference sources in her presentation titled “African-American Refer- ence Sources: No Turning Back and Never Again a Drought.”

According to Dahl, “… as a reference librarian, it is my contention—proven by the record of the past and the agreement of biblio- graphic researchers—that most years previous to the late 1960s/early 1970s … reference books about or relating to African-Ameri- cans were infrequently produced and published.”

In the 1950s little was available. “In the period that corresponded to the heyday of segregation I could find almost no advertisements for the few African-American reference sources that were available. .. No African-American resource was included in one important library publication’s ‘Top Ten Reference Books’ list during the 1950s. Nor was such a type of resource included in that publication’s ‘Reference Books Needed’ lists.”

In the 1960s the need for reference sources on African-Americans was voiced and this need began to be filled during the “more resource- satisfying seventies.”

The following statistics summarize Dahls findings. “Examination of editions of and supplements to the Guide to Reference Books … reveals first a drought and then a harvest as regards numbers of African-American titles included: 13 in the seventh edition and supplements (1951—1962); 26 in the eighth edition and supplements (1967-1970); 101 in the ninth edition and supplements (1976-1982); and 93 in the tenth edition (1986). (Some titles are included in more than one edition and/or supplement and the numbers given for the tenth edition do not include titles from the most recent supplement.)”—Barbara Blake, AMIGOS Bibliographic Council, Inc.

Librarians “criticize censorship while practicing it ourselves” was the premise of the panelists in “Self Censorship in College and Research Libraries.” Libraries all buy the same core collections and mainstream books while ignoring and not purchasing those works which are peripheral, inflammatory, or one-sided. Charles Willett urged librarians to subscribe to the Alternative Press Index and the titles it indexes.

He also described the financial problems of small presses including the lack of money for marketing efforts and low level of participation in approval plans which affects librarians' knowledge of those titles. Review journals were criticized for their tendency to ignore alternative titles and even when titles were reviewed Willett perceived bias in many reviews. Mark Rosenzweig, LaGuardia Community College, was concerned that in librarianship “discussion on self censorship is virtually nil.” He describes it as a “continual undercurrent at all levels of library practice” and not a “marginal phenomenon.” Censorship is viewed as an external force acting upon us rather than something we ourselves censor from our consciousness. John Buschman, Rider College, expressed concern that librarians opt for high status electronic access and technical resources over low status access and resources. With serials inflation and zero sum budgets there is an increased selectivity in the purchase of higher-priced resources and it becomes a question of how to determine what is “essential” and “useful.” Access to alternative monographs and serials should not just mean they are available through interlibrary loan. With the privatization and commercialization of information resources unequal access becomes the issue, the information rich versus the information poor.—Jacqueline Borin, California State University, San Marcos

Community colleges

Richard Meerdink, district librarian for Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), proudly discussed the three-year $300,000 grant received by his institution in 1989 under the title “Project ACCESS.” ACCESS is an acronym for A Curriculum-based Collection, Evaluation, and Selection System. The project’s goals are to 1) establish a curriculum-based collection; 2) provide access to electronic information systems; 3) implement technology to provide MATC users with worldwide information sources; and 4) offer students and faculty training in the application and use of new library technology. This project relies heavily on faculty input and created two new faculty positions. A campus bibliographer provides peer training in the use of new library information and technology sources and a faculty bibliographer identifies subject terms used in the library’s database which relate to specific educational programs. After faculty members receive training and are able to link specific programs with library subject terms, they are better able to assess the library’s adequacy to meet curriculum demands. This project assures that the library holdings are reviewed by those who either use the materials or direct their students to use the materials. The main difference between this approach used by MATC and that used by many other libraries is that the project did not begin by analyzing the collection; instead it began by directly involving faculty members who have subject expertise. The district librarian serves the project as a facilitator rather than an arbiter, and also works with the Department of Instructional Development to provide simplified instructions to aid the students in the use of electronic technology.—Natalie Diamond, Indiana Vocational Technical College


In the program “Do Performance Evaluations Help Academic Librarians Achieve Excellence” Mary Reichel, assistant university librarian for central services at the University of Arizona, posited that typical employee evalua- tions are detrimental and that managers should focus upon systems and pro- cesses. Her paper, co- authored with Rao Aluri, manager of li- brary services for Burr-Brown Corpora- tion Library, outlined W. E. Deming’s sta- tistical process con- trol method, which concerns itself with the entire process (a combination of people, equipment, materials, methods, and environment) rather than upon individual employee performance. Deming felt that the performance evaluation process encouraged short-term thinking and undermined teamwork. The paper also mentioned Peter Scholtes’s objections to performance evaluations, among them that the individual could not be fairly appraised apart from the context of the process.

Librarians had an opportunity to exchange ideas informally during the poster sessions.

Photo credit: M. E. Davis

Among the reactions on the panel, Barbara Ford of Virginia Commonwealth University related a tendency in the evaluation process to focus on outcomes, not processes, and for employees to be overly concerned with their numerical ratings. She agreed with Deming’s conclusion that evaluations undermine teamwork and emphasized the importance of working cooperatively. Donald Riggs, University of Michigan, described the “M-Quality” total quality management program currently being implemented at UM and indicated that it would lead to more emphasis upon team problem-solving and less emphasis upon “rugged individualism.” He acknowledged that this would represent a major culture change in the workplace.— Martha Tarlton, University of North Texas

Reader services

Two programs dealt with how libraries can respond to the changing university curriculum. The first of these was titled, “Extending Library Services to Remote Sites: Regis University as Case Study.” With ten adult education centers located throughout its region, one institution suddenly had a student population eight times larger. Believing that library service must be equitable, the library administration took steps to make sure students received resources to pursue their stud- ies. First, the library hired an extended services librarian to work closely with the campus librar- ians and the educa- tion centers. Mate- rials are placed in the centers to supplement course- work; traveling col- lections also go to the sites. The main campus library uses CARL’s Uncover, telephone, telefac-simile, and document delivery services to transmit information. The success of this extended program is due to the institution’s commitment, the full-time librarian, the library staffs flexibility, and formal agreements.

The second program covered changes to a university library during a curriculum revision. This program was titled: “Curriculum Reform Catalyst for Building Strong Faculty/Librarian Partnerships,” and explored the tension between the theory of a university education versus the practice of offering applied, practical coursework.

Librarians should play a vital role in any effort to reform a curriculum. How can we respond to such reform? By 1) producing written documents which evaluate our collections and services; 2) participating in open discussions; 3) using the curriculum reforms to identify new programs; and 4) using the campus reform goals to strengthen library resources.—Kathy Sanders, University of Arkansas, Little Rock

Priorities in reference and bibliographic instruction were the focus of “Subject Specialists and Library Needs of Undergraduates: Are They Compatible?” by Rebecca Schreiner-Robles, Janet Dagenais Brown, and Margaret Fast of Wichita State University. During the 1980s both the reference and BI programs at Wichita had suffered “benign neglect.” In the BI program there were no stated goals or philosophies and students received library instruction only if re- quested by their instruc- tors. The reference depart- ment was staffed mainly by subject specialists and part-time librarians; no paraprofessionals were used. In 1986 the mandate of the university changed from a teaching to a re- search institution and us- ing subject specialists at the general reference desk came to be viewed as a “waste of resources.” In addition, subject special- ists viewed the desk work as “low status” because the part-time librarians who filled in on the desk had “only” an MLS but no sec- ond subject masters as they were required to do. The answer was to create two new positions—a reference specialist and a bibliographic instruction librarian—both of which positions were filled in 1990. Their mandate was to administer the reference and bibliographic instruction programs and to evaluate the service provided (but not those providing the service). In evaluating this approach it appears that greater coordination of both departments has been achieved and goals and philosophies for both areas have been set. However, because of staff shortages and frozen positions they have still not been able to remove subject specialists from the undergraduate reference desk.—-JacquelineBonn, California State University, San Marcos

This statue graces one of the lovely plazas of the Mormon Church in Salt lake City.

Photo credit: M. E. Davis


The library as an ecosystem was the thrust of “The Impact of New Electronic Resources on the Ecology of the Library: Funds, Collections, Services, and Staff.” Bal- ance is the defining char- acteristic of an ecosys- tem. The library eco- system, stable for the past 100 years, is head- ing rapidly into the elec- tronic age. Our old meth- ods are strained and a new era is upon us. Our success depends on our ability to evolve, according to speaker Salvator Meringolo.

Donald Tipka (pre- senting for Joan L. Clark) stated that change in li- braries today is rapid and there are many questions to be answered. Con- sider the issue of the electronic journal and the questions it induces: Is it checked in? How will it be received? monitored? archived? gateway access? What about cataloging? Can one download? However, the nontech- nological aspects of these changes must also be addressed. Long-term planning of user needs and expectations is required. Use logs, questions, market studies, and surveys to get answers. This helps to build confidence in the library. We must be aware that some people distrust computers and will walk away if they are not easy to use. Some are looking for a “universe in a box.” Users don’t understand the scope of CD-ROMs or what or citation means, while others are overloaded by full-text databases. users expect help and are looking for document delivery. Geography becomes ambiguous when defining service. We need good BI, online tutorials, and common gateways.

How can libraries enhance service in a transition period? Libraries must build new electronic services from disparate sources. The library’s strategic place must be defended. Expert Systems are being developed that can be shared by all. This is good in austere times. Librarians must support the effort to make databases easier to use. We must design BI programs that are convenient for users and provide hands-on experience. Flexible work spaces should be developed.—Edward P. Tallent, Harvard College Library ■

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