Reciprocity: Collaborating with Faculty in the LibraryPosted: August 22, 2012
In our age of embedded librarianship, librarians are forging collaborative relationships with faculty in their classrooms and in the planning of their syllabi. However, it seems like there is a limited discussion about how librarians can invite faculty to collaborate with them in the library. Rachel Beckwith (the Arts Librarian at Hampshire College) and I explored these issues during our presentation at ACRL-New England this spring some examples of how we at Hampshire aim to invite faculty into library to work with us to develop collections and resources to benefit our students. We encourage faculty to help us build our collections through conversations and through the creation of Amazon Wish Lists, and we invite faculty to collaborate with us on developing LibGuides.
Hampshire College’s Library recently revised its collections statements to affirm that our mission is to support our unique curriculum; we rely on our consortial partners to support faculty research through our borrowing agreements in the Five Colleges. We selectors keep abreast of course developments and buy resources that best support them. Naturally, as faculty revise courses and develop new ones we expect to buy new items as they are needed. I set aside 25% of my budget for faculty driven acquisitions to support their coursework. Some of my other colleagues have set up Amazon Wish Lists to track faculty requests. This is not to say we green light every suggestion, but we do take faculty input seriously as we manage and grow our collection.
By the same token, I am always trying to improve our research guides, adding links to new resources purchase by the library, working towards integrating successful examples of work for students to emulate, and also including links to websites on the open web like successful digital humanities projects, or interesting news sites that students would not ordinarily think about on their own. While I have broad subject knowledge and a master’s degree in history, I realize that my faculty are the subject experts and have a wealth of knowledge about their areas of expertise I will never have. So why not invite faculty to participate in the creation of subject guides? I had a particularly successful experience with my Africana studies LibGuide last spring. A faculty member and I met and discussed his curricular needs and we shared our best resources with each other. He felt empowered in having a a voice in how we shape our resources and market ourselves, and I learned more about African diasporas that will benefit community members in and beyond his class.
Faculty and librarians collaborate together to support student learning. In order to work effectively together, we need to invite each other into our own spheres to be successful. Such collaborations can’t rest on faculty inviting us into their classrooms, but librarians inviting faculty into our libraries, too.