Staying the Course

Classes started at my college last Thursday, officially bringing the winter intersession to an end. While the library was fairly quiet in January, I kept myself busy with a couple of big projects, including getting ready to teach our library’s first credit-bearing course this semester.

It’s been exciting (and, I admit it, a little scary) prepping for the course. I spent lots of time researching courses offered by academic libraries while creating our course last year before it passed through the college’s curriculum approval process. I’m using a textbook and supplementing it with lots of readings from articles, books and websites. I’ve sincerely appreciated the willingness of my fellow academic librarians to share their syllabi and class plans online, which helped enormously as I updated my syllabus last month.

And it’s no surprise that it’s a big time investment to teach a semester-length course. Since this is the first semester out for us our enrollment is on the low side, which will lessen the amount of time I’ll spend on some aspects of the course, like grading. But we expect enrollment to increase in the future. There are several new majors in development at my college, and some of the faculty in those departments have expressed interest in requiring their students to take our new course. It’ll be interesting to see how the course develops.

There has been and continues to be lots of debate over whether credit-bearing courses are the best way for academic librarians to advance information literacy at their institutions. I’m of the opinion that there’s no one right way for IL, and that different strategies will be successful at different institutions. I see our course as another way to offer library instruction; we’re still continuing with our one-shots, individual research consultations, and other instruction options.

One of the things I’m most looking forward to is the chance to work with students for a full semester. While I enjoy teaching one-shot BIs, of course there’s never enough time to cover everything I’d like to in one or even a few library instruction sessions. It’ll be great to tackle topics like the production of information, evaluation, and information ethics in much more detail in the course than is possible in a one-shot. Let the semester begin!

Author: Maura Smale

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

8 thoughts on “Staying the Course”

  1. Thanks Sarah! We had a great discussion in class today, it’s a good group. And Stephen, thanks for sharing your syllabus link here, too.

  2. Glad you are teaching a course! If we (at UNCW) can help you at all let us know. We began offering the three credit course in 2005. It’s a lot of work but very rewarding! Good luck with your semester!

  3. Thanks Anne! Your syllabus and class schedule was so helpful to me, thanks for posting it online.

  4. Hello Maura,

    Thanks for sharing. I have often thought about teaching a one credit information literacy course; however, I am not sure as to how to go about marketing it. Some of our business courses teach some of the research and technology skills already. I also am not sure under which course rubric to place it. Any ideas???
    Debbie Spanfelner

  5. Hi Debbie, while the initial request for our course came from another department at my college (outside of the library), we are teaching it within the library department. Our course also meets the requirements for the college’s Communications Core, so students can use it to satisfy 3 of the 6 comm credits they need for the Bachelor’s degree.

    Marketing is a challenge, for sure. I’ve spoke with many faculty across the college who are positive about the course and said that they feel it would be valuable for students, but our enrollment is small (as I’ve heard is common for new courses). I post flyers around campus before registration and contact faculty who advise students, and there are a few programs that are new or under development which will require their students to take our course. But I think it will just take time to grow the course.

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