Friday afternoons with @isis_edu

One of the reasons why I love librarianship is because it demands continuous learning. For me that learning happens in a variety of contexts: conversations on Twitter and in person with colleagues near and far, conferences, published books and blog posts that relate to trends and issues for academic libraries, and online tutorials to learn about new technologies. The sum total of continuous learning often costs more than I can spend out of my own pocket or what my employer is able to subsidize. To that end, I am grateful for ISIS, Information Services Instruction Support, a dencetralized group of technologists, librarians, and librarian/technologists who practice primarily in American liberal arts colleges that convenes remotely through videoconferecing. Each month, there are a series of drop in sessions and more formal sessions on a relevant topic that folks can enjoy, held the first and third Friday afternoons of each month via the (virtual) Adobe Connect Room at Mount Holyoke College.

I was not aware of this amazing grassroots organization until I began working at Hampshire College in 2011. Once I started receiving messages from the Five College listserv, I learned about ISIS, its mission, and its possibilities. One of the founding members who works at Mount Holyoke, Alex Wirth-Cauchon, invited me this summer to join the program committee. I was delighted to join this group not only to collaborate with colleagues across the country to help deliver timely content, but also to use the role to do additional outreach to other librarians who might not be aware of ISIS and generate some excitement across the library community about its programming and networking opportunities.

During the academic year, I am going to try to tweet  ISIS sessions as they go along to create an additional backchannel and hopefully as generate conversations with other folks outside of the usual librarian-technologist mold to weigh in on our programming and questions. I haven’t registered a hashtag yet, but I am planning to tweet with this one: #isis-edu; we’ll see if folks converge on it or not.

Here’s the schedule for this semester’s programming:

  • September 7 ISIS Drop-In Session
  • September 21 ISIS Seminar
  • October 5 ISIS Seminar
  • October 19 ISIS Drop-In Session
  • November 2 ISIS Seminar
  • November 16 ISIS Drop-In Session
  • December 7 ISIS Seminar
  • December 21 ISIS Drop-In Session

ISIS Seminars and Drop in Sessions happen the first and third Friday of the month from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM (ET) in the Adobe Connect Room.

I look forward to seeing many of my readers there.

Reciprocity: Collaborating with Faculty in the Library

As we near the end of the summer, we are nearing the end of my outreach series. You can check out parts 1, 2, 3 & 4. Today’s edition is about collaborating with faculty on the librarian’s “turf.”

Courtesy of the Hampshire College Archives

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.



Internetz, today I gave my first professional presentation at the New England Library Instruction Group. I was nervous, but excited as I LOVE talking about teaching and how archivists/librarians can engage undergraduates in a variety of disciplines. My talk went … Continue reading