November 2002 Council on the Libraries minutes
Council on Libraries
November 19, 2002
Treasure Room, 12:00-1:30 pm
Present: Jeremy Rutter (JR) (Chair), Havah Armstrong-Walther (HAW), David Becker (DB), Malcolm Brown (MB), Kathryn Cottingham (KC), Teoby Gomez (TG), William Hickey (WH), Douglas Irwin (DI), Larry Levine (LL), Richard Lucier (RL), Cyndy Pawlek (CP), Jane Quigley (JQ) (staff), Sandeep Ramesh (SR), Barry Scherr (BS) (arr. 12:50), Stephen Taylor (ST).
Guests: Susan Fliss, Director, Research and Informatics Learning
Michael Beahan, Director, Jones Media Center
The meeting was convened at 12:00.
1. Approval of minutes
Minutes from the last meeting (Oct. 15) were adopted.
2. Research and Informatics Learning Program
Chair Jerry Rutter turned the meeting over to Richard Lucier. RL introduced the library's education program as one which has brought together numerous disparate elements within the library in support of teaching and learning at Dartmouth. The program's director, Susan Fliss, was hired this spring, and the program formally launched under the general oversight of Associate Librarian Cyndy Pawlek. The development of the education program, and the development of the digital library, are two important strategic initiatives approved last year by the Council.
Cyndy Pawlek introduced Susan Fliss, who distributed a summary sheet of the library's education program. She presented an overview of the program's goals and set forth several questions for faculty representatives at the CoL to consider. She emphasized that input and involvement from faculty were critical to the program's success.
The main objective of the Library's education program is to graduate information-literate students who are able to recognize an information need, locate and evaluate information, and use it effectively. Helping students break through "information confusion" and overload is another important objective of the program. SF pointed out that students have different levels of information literacy at different stages, from first-year to graduate studies; the library's education program needs to present increasingly sophisticated tools as students mature. Information instruction typically starts with guides that are tailored to specific classes and research assignments, but the goal of information literacy instruction is to give students a better understanding of information as a whole.
Stephen Taylor asked whether information education services are available and are being promoted for alumni, who continue to use Dartmouth's library and computing resources (email, Digital Library for Alumni). SF answered that in addition to promoting the Digital Library for Alumni, librarians are sometimes called upon to help alumni make the transition from Dartmouth's collection of resources to those available to them elsewhere. She noted that being able to transfer information skills from Dartmouth to other settings is part of what is meant by being information literate. RL noted that this issue comes up regularly with Dartmouth Medical School graduates who are faced with a transition from the proprietary version of MEDLINE that is taught and supported at Dartmouth, to the government's free PubMED version. It is important not to limit people to information resources that will only be available to them while they are at Dartmouth.
Susan Fliss described several new collaborative approaches to information literacy instruction that are underway, including building information literacy skills into the curriculum, and having librarians work with students in small group sessions. Feldberg and Dana Biomedical Library are assigning librarian mentors or "information advisors" to groups of incoming students that stay with them through their academic careers. Karen Gocsik has worked with the library to integrate a two-session library research component into her English seminar.
Bill Hickey asked if the library is teaching students how to validate and authenticate material that they find, and how to evaluate the credibility of the source; Dave Becker concurred with the importance of teaching students to look critically at the source of information, in particular at the publisher. He suggested that a list of journals that were flagged as peer-reviewed would be a valuable service the library could provide. RL agreed that this could be a valuable added component of the Digital Library.
SF agreed that teaching critical skills was very important and noted that this kind of critical thinking is already emphasized by librarians in their information literacy sessions. These sessions often include discussions of ways to evaluate books, journal articles, and websites, and also consider such aspects of information resources as timeliness, bias/objectivity, peer review, credibility and authorship, and other criteria.
Doug Irwin pointed out that the library's research guide for information resources in Economics (created by Miles Yoshimura) is very helpful, with links to selected research resources.
Steve Taylor brought up two information services that would be especially valuable: first, an information update service, or automatic search, that would provide users with the latest information on topics they had specified. A second suggestion would be a kind of software system that could automatically generate short quizzes, grade them, and generate reports. Malcolm Brown noted that Blackboard, a course management software system currently in use at Dartmouth, can perform many of those functions.
Dave Becker raised the issue of difficulties associated with working from home, and using licensed information resources remotely. The proxy server is cumbersome and not always satisfactory. CP noted that some work is being done in attempting to develop other, more flexible ways of authenticating licensed users; however, RL noted that it is not realistic to think that these will be available in the near future. There is no incentive for publishers to move away from IP-based authentication systems and there is not yet agreement on various technological solutions.
Cyndy Pawlek returned to the discussion of subject-specific research guides and distributed examples of guides that are posted at the library's website. These can be targeted to advanced or introductory levels, or to specializations within disciplines. RL pointed out that, although very useful, these are very labor-intensive to produce and require a high level of subject expertise. The directors of five Ivy-League libraries (Cornell, Yale, MIT, Dartmouth, Stanford) have recently agreed to collaborate on developing shared research guides in their areas of strength (e.g., Yale's guides to the research literature in biology, and Dartmouth's in women's studies).
Steve Taylor noted that the guides seem to be very text-oriented and suggested that visual and audio presentations would make the guides interactive and more interesting. CP noted that the library is beginning to do some work in this direction with self-guided tutorials. In addition, the education program has recently hired a part-time graphic designer/Web specialist who will be able to contribute in this area.
RL pointed out that the guides are intended to be synthetic aggregations of content, including print and other formats where appropriate, rather than devoted exclusively to electronic resources. They should broaden students' awareness of other sources of information as well.
In response to an inquiry, Susan Fliss showed where to find the subject guides on the library's web site. Steve Taylor suggested that counters on the library's web site could allow the library to concentrate on and develop those sections that get the most use.
Kathy Cottingham asked if there were a mechanism or a listserv whereby people could be alerted to major changes or updates in the library's resources and services.
The discussion turned to how best to keep faculty and the Dartmouth community in general informed about library services and resources. SF asked which of the multiple possible means of communication would be most useful to faculty. A newsletter or bulletin featuring highlights is a possibility although attachments would probably not be read. DB suggested that it would be helpful to be able to subscribe to updates on only those topics that interest you.
Relying on library liaisons to departments as a personal source for library information was discussed. Library liaisons could come to department meetings periodically (once a term or once yearly) with a summary of information highlights. Regular library "office hours" in the department are a successful initiative in the history department. ST recommended a lunchtime Q&A or information briefing where people could bring questions. JR suggested that these information briefings could be piggybacked onto other departmental meetings, perhaps near the beginning of term when agendas are less crowded; no one needs more meetings to go to. These could include a handout to be distributed describing what's new in IT and library services in your area; they would increase awareness and might generate some good discussion at faculty meetings.
A summary or guide to the library system for new faculty was suggested, describing the resources and services that new faculty need to know about; SF noted that one is being worked on. Graduate students also would benefit from such a summary. KC said the hour-long library orientation that was held for new graduate students in biology was very valuable for them.
On the topic of subject guides to information resources, it was noted that these are maintained and updated at the discretion of the responsible bibliographer. There is a template that simplifies their upkeep, but the amount of effort involved in their maintenance is an incentive to explore the possibility of cooperation among institutions.
SF spoke about workshops for faculty and students, both through the library and in cooperation with Academic Computing. These can be offered on demand as well as being part of a scheduled series of workshops. Finally, she noted that some of the library's education efforts involve collaborating with students involved with existing programs such as the Residential Advisors, the Academic Skills Center's tutoring program, and the Dean of the College Student Consultants.
3. Jones Media Center
Cyndy Pawlek introduced Michael Beahan, Director of the Jones Media Center, who provided an overview of the facilities and initiatives underway there.
The Jones Media Center is moving from being a passive viewing area for video, DVD, and microform materials, to more active engagement with content-producing, editing, and streaming visual and audio materials. Equipment can be borrowed for use by students, and editing facilities and a Media Project Room is available. An Anystream computer workstation is available for students and faculty members to digitize audio and video projects for delivery on the web.
Each term some 300 videos and DVDs are put on reserve, creating a logjam when students need to view them; Jones is working to digitize and make these available on the web, increasing their accessibility. Another initiative involves campus lectures and events of broad community interest, such as the Visiting Executives program at Tuck, which are recorded by the media production group; Jones plans to digitize these and make them available for viewing over the web. JR asked if there were a regular forum where students and faculty could present and discuss their multimedia projects, like the projects section of the Curricular Computing site ( http://www.dartmouth.edu/~cc/ ). ST pointed out that new classrooms at Thayer, and elsewhere on campus, are designed to support multimedia technologies.
CP noted that the idea is to keep these technologies and initiatives moving forward in support of teaching and learning at Dartmouth, inclusive of the professional and medical schools. RL emphasized that the Jones Media Center, like the library's Education Program, is a campus-wide resource as relevant and available to the professional schools as to students and faculty at the college. The library wishes to be a partner in support of teaching and learning on campus; the Education and Jones Media Center programs are some of the ways the library is pursuing that end, and it remains open to others.
CP reminded the group of the upcoming GIS Day which would feature many departments and communities across campus, as a means of informing researchers and others working with data about the capabilities of Geographic Information Systems.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:30