Teaching Students, Teaching Faculty

Over the past few semesters we’ve ramped up the number of faculty workshops we offer at the library where I work. We’re a small library in a fairly large college, and it can be tricky to balance our faculty initiatives with student instruction. Faculty sessions usually take longer to prepare, and since we only offer one workshop on a topic each semester, we can’t economize on prep time the way we can with some of our library instruction for students.

While library instruction to students is an important mission for our library (and a huge part of my job), we only have the students for a relatively short time before they graduate. Faculty, on the other hand, tend to stick around for awhile. So I think there are several good reasons for continuing to offer as many faculty workshops as we do:

  • In my experience many faculty members are actively interested in learning more about the resources the library has to offer. Some of my faculty colleagues have mentioned to me how fast the research landscape is changing, and how difficult it can be to keep up. Offering workshops on advanced search strategies for the catalog and databases encourages faculty use of our books, databases, and other materials, which makes good sense for the library.
  • Faculty workshops are opportunities for outreach and to raise the library’s profile in the college. We’ve met lots of new faculty members recently, as well as faculty from departments that aren’t traditionally heavy library users. The library has partnered with the college’s new center for teaching and learning to offer our workshops through their faculty development program. This partnership has given us additional visibility on campus, and their talented intern has created beautiful posters for us to use to advertise our workshops.
  • Anecdotal evidence over the past few semesters suggests that many faculty who come to our workshops request library instruction for their classes, too. Thus, faculty workshops also provide opportunities for us to promote student library and information literacy instruction. Our workshops are open to all faculty at the college, and it’s especially nice to have a chance to connect with adjunct faculty, who can be harder to reach than the full-timers.

Does your library offer workshops or classes for faculty? What strategies for faculty workshops have you found successful? How do you balance the instructional desires/needs of faculty and students?

Author: Maura Smale

Maura Smale is Chief Librarian at The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

8 thoughts on “Teaching Students, Teaching Faculty”

  1. I think that one of the main problems we face as information literacy moves into the mainstream is that we’re going to need to train faculty to take some of the load on this rather than doing it ourselves in fifty minute segments. So workshops like these and individual consulting will become more important over time.

  2. Faculty teach information litercy, whether they call it that or not. We should try to create opportunities to help them think about how to do it well. Buy them lunch and have a chance to talk to one another and to librarians. There are interesting programs out there such as at Trinity, San Antonio.

  3. We just began a Talking about Teaching faculty lunch series in conjunction with the Academic Dean. We’re hoping this is the beginning of a Center for Teaching and Learning to be located in the main library (the big plans were put on hold for the duration of the financial crisis). Our campus just went through a big curricular review process, so the dean wanted our lunch topics to reflect issues from that review. Fortunately for us, this dean is very familiar with librarians and what we do: the topic of the third lunch will be information literacy, and I’ve already decided to steal wholesale from a post on the ILI list, and model that lunch after a session someone described from their faculty workshop series. One reason I’m particularly interested is that our first years indicate, in the annual survey the libraries run, that they receive instruction on libraries in their classes — and we know that the classes they name didn’t have a librarian offering a session. So we know faculty are teaching about libraries; whether or not they are teaching information fluency is another matter!

  4. Thanks for these comments. I really like Barbara’s choice of words: creating opportunities for faculty to think about information literacy is one way to help integrate IL more thoroughly into the curriculum. What you’ve all mentioned that we haven’t done yet is add food to (most of) our workshops — that’ll be my next area of exploration (though a challenge, in the computer classroom).

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