Owing to the scope and pace of change, society has become increasingly knowledge-based so that higher learning and research now act as essential components of cultural, socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development of individuals, communities and nations. In this environment, it is essential that higher learning and knowledge creation involve effective partnerships among academic and non-academic learning institutions and communities to create and apply learning and knowledge with stakeholders that are managing and creating sustainable development initiatives. Growing concern regarding the importance of the contribution that higher education institutions make to society has aroused increasing debate about their relevance and credibility amid escalating social problems. An underlying premise of community engagement is the understanding that not all knowledge and expertise resides in the academy, and that both expertise and great learning opportunities in teaching and scholarship also reside in non-academic settings.
This conference will explore how LIS educators and researchers can develop curricula, programs, and research activities that enable active partnerships with communities and civil society to manage and create change. How can LIS programs increase opportunities for experiential, service oriented, and community engaged student learning? How can we develop further collaboration between LIS programs and their larger communities (local, regional/ state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity?
The University of Maryland Libraries has longstanding MLIS graduate student teacher program. Reaching as far back as 1999, MLIS students have carried more than 75% of the libraries’ general education information literacy instruction load. Despite its overall success, this program left much to be desired. On top of a heavy teaching load, graduate students hired into these hourly positions were provided low levels of training, often working in isolation separated from their peers and other librarians. The passive learning environment also impacted undergraduate students. As a result of the low-levels of teacher training, information literacy sessions were formatted as easy to deliver and skill-based lectures. Rather than the development of critical thinking and information literacy, undergraduate students were taught how to access specific materials and format citations. The graduate students leading the sessions were divorced from the teaching process, delivering instruction from a standardized script and slide-deck.
The proposed paper will provide a description of the fellowship program, rationale for its design, and address the challenges and opportunities of creating a partnership between an LIS program and an academic library. The speakers, who represent both the libraries and the iSchool, will provide a holistic overview of the design, implementation, and on-going maintenance of the fellowship. It will conclude by sharing the results from this program’s first three cohorts, including job placement rates for graduating fellows, feedback from participants, reflections from librarians and administrators on the process, and lessons learned from fellowship directors. At the end of the presentation/paper, attendees will have the information and materials needed to replicate a similar program at their home institutions, including a semester-by-semester breakdown of activities and readings, weekly discussion questions, peer teaching observation forms, workshop ideas, and teacher training tools.