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The same dramatic distinction between liberal arts colleges and comprehensive institutions appears in the SUMMIT consortium, which covers the full gamut of colleges and universities in Oregon and Washington.  Following is a chart which ranks the top half of the 31 libraries in the region based upon their rates of use of SUMMIT, and shows Evergreen high on the list of the higher ranked liberal arts colleges, all well above usage rates at more comprehensive institutions.
The same dramatic distinction between liberal arts colleges and comprehensive institutions appears in the SUMMIT consortium, which covers the full gamut of colleges and universities in Oregon and Washington.  Following is a chart which ranks the top half of the 31 libraries in the region based upon their rates of use of SUMMIT, and shows Evergreen high on the list of the higher ranked liberal arts colleges, all well above usage rates at more comprehensive institutions.
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Revision as of 10:08, 20 November 2007



Evergreen's library and information resources, which include traditional library services, media services and academic computing, support "freely chosen inquiry based on broad skills of knowing, reasoning and communicating about issues whose outcomes remain to be discovered" (Smith, Standard 2). All areas work to balance dynamic tensions between the open-ended demands of free inquiry in a flexible, responsive curriculum with the need for stability, security and efficiency in systems and services. Thus, Evergreen’s information resources and services should be evaluated as they support the aspirations of free inquiry, balanced with the need for reliable, efficient systems and services.

Many distinctive challenges arise in working to support a fluid, interdisciplinary curriculum and individual students free to pursue any significant question. Historically, in recognition of this college-wide focus on independent and freely-chosen inquiry, the library has been comparatively well funded. To effectively meet the expectations of independent inquiry, the library, media and academic computing depend upon well-established, intensive, personal, resilient and institutionally thoroughgoing interconnections to the curriculum, the faculty and the academic administration. These exceptionally strong interconnections form the essence the work and help assure high levels of use and satisfaction in the campus community.

During the period of the self-study, the college has weathered the digital turn and the information services and instruction faculty and staff note and actively encourage the disappearance of the barriers among the library, media and academic computing. The faculty and staff teach and serve across various spaces, formats, disciplines, budgets, administrative units, geographical areas and jurisdictional boundaries, while working with platforms that have become increasingly interchangeable. Most students now presume such fluidity. They do not recognize format distinctions which were common in academia as recently as ten years ago.

Founding Dean of Library Services, James F. Holly, wrote his “Position Paper No. 1” in the Fall of 1969. His primary assumption about the library was that it would be generic:

By generic I include man’s [sic] recorded information, knowledge, folly, and wisdom in what ever form put down, whether in conventional print, art forms, magnetic tape, laser storage, etc. By generic, I also eliminate physical boundaries such as [a] specific building or portion limited and identified as “the library.”

As library services developed over time, the premise of the generic library proved untenable in many ways. Budgetary and technological limitations and traditional expectations often caused retrenchment from this ideal. Today, information resources on every campus are becoming generic in Holly’s sense due to the broad reach of networked information and the ubiquity of the increasingly portable personal computer. With Holly’s vision as the foundation of the library, and interdisciplinary curriculum as the environment, Evergreen’s information services have moved quickly and flexibly into boundary crossing. The largest single accomplishment of the past decade, a major remodel of the library, media and computing areas, interconnected the disparate areas into a more cohesive information technology wing. Looking ahead, continued integration of information services provides the greatest challenge and opportunity to thoughtfully and effectively support the academic mission. This evolving web of staff, facilities, tools and services needs a manageable name and for the purposes of this study, it will be called the Library and Information Resources Network or LIRN, covering the work of what is administratively identified as Library Services (which includes Media Services) and Academic Computing.

Two broad categories of shared work organize the description below according to the college’s academic mission. First is teaching and instruction as a function of LIRN. This section will describe and assess the instructional work of the LIRN in the context of the college's alternative, flexible, student-centered pedagogy. The second section will consider the collections, tools and resources supporting the curriculum, driven by content which is interdisciplinary and fluid and which ranges from the broad to the deep. In each case the discussion will consider whether the resources and services of LIRN encourage and support "freely chosen inquiry and broad skills of knowing, reasoning and communication about open questions with real world implications." A third section will discuss plans for embracing the new opportunities and challenges identified in the assessment to that point.

Teaching and Instruction

Description of Teaching and Instructional Programs

The title of this section suggests the array of instruction in which LIRN engages. From basic technical skills instruction to complex, content-driven teaching by faculty and professionals in the curriculum, LIRN both supports and teaches in multiple modes. Additionally, information services, collections and policies at Evergreen have developed in a dynamic relationship with teaching faculty who assume an inquiry-based, independent research-oriented interdisciplinary curriculum. LIRN works intensively with the faculty in a proactive role which assumes teaching as the focus of everyone’s work. Whether in the library, academic computing or media services, LIRN understands, assesses and provides services through the lens of teaching [EX: Library Dean’s position description 8/07].

Teaching and instruction in LIRN is broadly encompassed by the term Information Technology Literacy, a literacy mandated in higher education in Washington State. ITL as used throughout this study encompasses every aspect of computer usage including digitized library research, but also concepts found in the theoretical literature of media literacy. Media literacy has been the ongoing concern of the Media Services, and of the generic library as the interdisciplinary curriculum and the mission to provide broad skills to communicate about open inquiry mandate a very broad role for Media Services. Media instructional models support the broadest definition of media literacy, which includes the ability to "access, analyze, evaluate and create messages across a variety of contexts." This definition presumes something like digitized scholarship as the goal; not only should the literate student read and write astutely, but she should access, view and produce media astutely as well.[Footnote Sonia Livingstone article; Wyatt's definition; Caryn's position paper from the gen ed. process Nov. 27, 2000]. Media literacy is a cross-curricular agenda, necessitating instruction designed for students across programs, disciplines and other forms of academic work.

On most campuses audio-visual services limit themselves to providing and supporting media equipment in classrooms. Any in-depth instruction or support occurs within specialized curricular departments such as Communications, Media Arts or Educational Technology. As Media Services works to support any student's free inquiry, so also does Media Services support development of communication skills in the manner and medium appropriate to his or her study. Thus Media Services does not merely to deliver equipment, nor do they work exclusively with students one area of the curriculum.

Intensive academic work with and about media happens not only in interdisciplinary teams that include media faculty, but any student might decide to create a film, multi-media or musical production independently or within a program that is not media intensive. These are the challenging demands of the "freely chosen inquiry," demands which cannot all be met at all times. The location of Media Services administratively and physically within the library is meant to insure that media studies and media production are supported appropriately both within the programs that media faculty teach and elsewhere in the freely chosen inquiries of students. Access to both broad and deep information technology across the curriculum and within specialized studies has also been the mission of academic computing support. Each area of LIRN demonstrates distinctive structures assuring interconnection with the teaching of the college.

Within the Library, Evergreen requires rotation between the librarians and the teaching faculty. [EX: Pedersen, etc. for full description] To describe briefly, faculty librarians are expected to rotate out of the library to teach full-time on a regular basis and, in exchange, teaching faculty rotate into the library to serve as combined reference, instructional and collection development librarians. Faculty who rotate into the library leave with current skills to embed information literacy effectively into their programs and teams and cross curricular contexts. Library faculty develop the ability to work effectively across pedagogical and disciplinary realms to deliver information literacy instruction. Librarians know the faculty as colleagues and teaching faculty know the librarians (probably the only basis for widespread and effective library instruction in a curriculum without requirements).

The pedagogical experience and tools the library faculty develop teaching inside and outside of the library allow them to match instruction with individual academic programs. There are no canned tours or instructional programs; library instruction is not managed. A loosely organized liaison system allocates the librarians among the academic programs each year, with personal connections, academic training, scheduling and serendipity all contributing to create the final combination of librarians and programs. Perpetual faculty-wide interactions in faculty governance and team-teaching reinforce the strong connections between the library faculty and the teaching faculty. Teaching teams also spread best practices in library instruction as older teaching faculty introduce their new faculty teammates to their library colleagues and the teaching they offer.

As a result faculty librarians provide a wide array of library and information technology related teaching. One-time workshops designed to introduce sources particular to the needs of a program make up the most common format. At the other end of the spectrum, each year one or more library faculty affiliates deeply with a program, meeting weekly to create stepped learning conjoined with research assignments . For several years an information technology seminar linked library internship opportunities and a web technology workshop. A small group of students experienced deep exploration of contemporary questions in the world of rapid digitization and its social implications paralleled with real library work and web production practice. The seminar and workshop have provided a venue for library faculty, staff and Academic Computing instructors to gather and consider both the past and future of information technologies. This teaching partnership sustains an important bridge of communication and mutual professional development between academic computing staff and library faculty. It also functions as a project laboratory, where the campus IT Survival Guide and similar web products have been developed. Each year one librarian has also offered research classes through the evening and weekend curriculum. [Ex: Sarah H. syllabi; webpages for internship; section on MIT workshops in Pedersen monograph; Librarian’s interview/self-evals; Washington Center Monograph; Randy Stilson's syllabi; Internship and intensive teaching as examples of experiments and individualized designs].

Support for the two major off-campus offerings, Tacoma and the Reservation-Based, Community-Determined programs has focused heavily on instruction. Students of these programs do not have good access to the physical campus, and must be directed to the many high quality resources made available to them on-line. Most years librarians work closely with the Research Methods class at Tacoma, providing instruction on site several weeks per quarter. Library instruction at the Reservation sites of the Reservation-Based Community-Determined programs has varied widely. Recently program has focused on building library methods into the lower division bridge curriculum, which has not involved the library directly. Rebuilding this connection should be a high priority, and a planned faculty rotation from the Reservation-Based program will be an opportunity to do so. See the discussion of collections and services for discussion of the many ways direct access to collections has been facilitated through new services to off-campus programs. [EX: NAS and Tacoma resource pages]

Within the library, the Library Faculty see themselves primarily as teachers. They tend to understand the services of the library in the context of teaching, rather than as service providers. They take a proactive approach to the work, suggesting tools and strategies for designing library instruction, and finding the intellectual work in the world of research instruction. They see the library as part of the larger work of the faculty and students, rather than as a separate realm. They are in an excellent position to work across administrative as well as curricular boundaries and sustain an important role in the crossroads of traditional research methods, contemporary information technology and the world of the curriculum and teaching faculty.

Other LIRN instructors also provide diverse instruction to support the very fluid curriculum and wide-ranging pedagogical styles and student skill levels. Several teaching structures occur most commonly across media and computing facilities and curricular areas. At the level of academic programs, all of the major computer and media labs assist academic programs with group instruction workshops designed around a technology or the tools of a particular discipline. In working with interdisciplinary programs, workshops occur in different spaces depending on the technical needs; there is no constraint upon which facility may be used. In one quarter, a program involving science and media might have a computer workshop in the Computer Center around blogs, a math program workshop in the Computer Applications Lab, a video creation and manipulation session in the Multimedia lab, and a library research workshop in one of the general purpose Computer Center labs. In this way academic programs can leverage the expertise of staff that specialize in those applications and find the best facility for their class size and application needs.

Teaching faculty must be able to easily locate and contact the appropriate staff member to coordinate instruction which may also require significant logistical support: lab scheduling, equipment check-out, server space, password access, personnel scheduling and other details may be necessary. Within Academic Computing, a staff member is assigned to each program to help coordinate technology needs for the quarter or year. This staff member will help set up technical support such as fileshares, webspaces and other resources, but will also schedule and teach workshops and coordinate with other technology areas on campus if the program is cross-disciplinary and has additional technology needs outside of Academic Computing. The liaison becomes the point person for all computer support and instruction needs for the program. Media Services staff work directly with faculty to design close integration of media use in programs, coordinated with a single Head of Instructional Media. The basis for media instruction, providing theory into practice, is a core methodology for achieving the best application of media tools into intellectual citizenship. The critical interaction between the program design and integration of tools use is a dynamic well fostered by regular joint facilities development and use planning between faculty and Media Services staff, who often team teach with faculty in the area.

Students who are working independently on computing projects may choose general access computing workshops which are pre-scheduled throughout the year. Thus faculty may send students to the workshops, students may direct themselves and faculty and staff may take part as well as desired. All the general access pre-scheduled workshops function on a first-come, first served basis.

Media production facilities are accessed by gaining proficiency, usually provided through one on one workshops or instruction provided by staff. Many Evening and Weekend Studies courses provide a coherent, regular pathway for instruction in use of the more complex production facilities, allowing contract or students specializing in other areas of the curriculum to gain the skills needed to apply media production resources to their work.

Proficiencies are brief equipment workshops with associated testing to insure students have the basic skills to operate the many types of portable equipment and the media labs, some which are open 24 hours a day. Media instructors run hundreds of these quick skills-focused instructional sessions annually, serving thousands of students, ensuring proper use of the equipment, and providing supportive technical background for systems.

In addition, Evergreen subscribes to Lynda.com, a web-based instructional resource that provides focused, well-developed on-line tutorials on a large array of software applications, programming languages, and the like. A Computing wiki began last year and hosts approximately 2,000 pages of instructions, tutorials and other information. Students, faculty and staff use this resource increasingly to learn about computer-related technologies hosted on campus.

A significant portion of the Media Services staff are artists and professionals in their own right who teach routinely as adjuncts, providing major portions of the Evening & Weekend Program as well as Extended Education teaching. Some of the work of the area is to provide the facilities to support this teaching as well as the rest of the curriculum. As instructors, they are important to the success of media-based programs and are seen as colleagues by the Expressive Arts faculty whose programs they support and as gurus by faculty who are less media-literate. These working relationships form the backbone of the interconnections so essential to the effective administration of media services in general.

Media staff who teach as adjuncts are also often called upon to support the full-time curriculum as visiting artists. Photo, Electronic Media and Media Loan staff supervise 4 to 8 student interns who are critical to the effective functioning of labs and services. These students typically not only gain high level skills in technical production, but also develop instructional, collaborative and administrative skills associated with working closely with students and technical staff. Finally, all LIRN faculty and staff sponsor many individual contracts which provide opportunities for students who have identified intensive individual inquiries which are not supported in the curriculum at large.

The faculty institute has become a valuable method for connecting with the faculty and updating information technology expertise. Every summer and now throughout the quarter, faculty institutes offer a way for faculty to familiarize themselves with new technologies and media applications which may be relevant or helpful in their teaching. Rather than being mandated, presenters propose institute topics in response to a call for proposals and those with high positive response are scheduled. In other words, this method for technology education is entirely staff and faculty driven. The institutes focus on a specific technology, such as teaching statistics with Excel or how to use on-line collaborative tools to encourage learning communities, or explore a larger, integrated technology based theme, like streaming media as a critique technology. As part of the paid work of the summer institutes, faculty do self-directed work focused on their real academic program needs. They evaluate the technology for their use, experiment, practice, and plan how to incorporate applications into programs.

Analysis & Assessment of Teaching & Instructional Programs

As the foregoing description makes clear, LIRN focuses strongly on teaching. Assessment of this teaching might well consider several questions: 1) In a college without requirements, does information technology instruction reach enough students to assure that the vast majority of graduates develop their skills broadly in support of their inquiries? 2) Which students are taught? Do students receive their information technology instruction in an array of disciplinary and developmentally varied situations or is it happening only in pockets of the curriculum? 3) Is it working? Have students acquired information technology skills?

How many students are reached? Within recent years about 75% of the student population has annually attended program-based library instruction workshops. [EX: workshop statistics]. Librarians and teaching faculty have designed these workshops with the assumption that the skills imparted are embedded in the interests and needs of the program learning community. At a minimum, the faculty for the program usually 1) creates a research assignment which informs and motivates the students’ work; 2) attends the workshop and takes part, adding his or her expertise and/or questions; 3) provides the library liaison a syllabus and a copy of the assignment and a list of the topics students are considering and 4) asks the students to begin considering their topic or even hypothesis before attending the workshop so that they are primed to begin actual research during the workshop. This is the minimal model for the one-time library workshop; extended relationships with programs and students are common, although not nearly as frequent as the one-time workshop. Librarians teach in staged series of workshops most frequently in the graduate programs, in the sciences, and in the off campus programs.

The rate of media instruction has increased significantly over the self-study period. From 2000 to 2007, a total of more than 1500 workshops were offered to approximately 156 programs. The number of workshops given and students reached in 2005 and 2006 were each more than double the numbers provided in 2000. One driver for these increases has been that workshops are needed for more kinds of equipment, especially in the media loan collection and in the new Multimedia and DIS labs.

Academic Computing instructors provide academic program-based training sessions and workshops throughout the academic year. These sessions are very well attended because the faculty usually design and schedule them as formal class periods.

Computer Lab Workshops for Academic Programs (cells represent academic programs/# of students)
Computer Lab 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07
Computer Center 221/4423 171/3418 253/4880
Computer Applications Lab 50/1368 50/1248 52/1344

Up until 2007, Academic Computing offered 30 to 40 general computer skills workshops per year in the Computer Center, attended by approximately 350 students. Professional staff conducted these workshops which were focused on general technical skills-building, independent of academic programs. Voluntary attendance became increasingly sporadic, which may be attributed to the increasing number of students who consider themselves already technically literate. In response to this waning attendance, Academic Computing redesigned the workshops as student-centered open support sessions to which students bring their self-identified technology questions or projects. This student-centered structure should more effectively meet the specific skill-levels and interests of the students. Assessing the effectiveness and popularity of this new model will be an important assessment project over the immediate future and will drive further instructional design.

Raw numbers of teaching contacts across LIRN help us understand how many students are taught, but not which students. The Office of Institutional Research conducted end-of-year program reviews from 2001 to 2006 which asked faculty “Did your students use technology to present work, conduct research (including library research), or solve problems? If yes, how?" The responses show several tendencies, as reported in the “Summary of Information Technology Literacy Emphasis in Programs” (August 2006). Not surprisingly, especially because faculty were prompted to consider library research skills as technological, “library/internet research skills were the most commonly used, followed by some form of presentation technology.” [Exhibit: http://www.evergreen.edu/institutionalresearch/pdf/assessment/epr/EPRsummary2006technology.pdf.]

Closer analysis of which technologies were taught in what parts of the curriculum may be found in the supplemental material below. To summarize, while library information technology is fairly widespread, and other information technologies are common throughout much of the curriculum, the faculty are quite selective in the choice of particular types of applications. Significantly different technologies are taught predominantly in different parts of the curriculum and there is no standard set of applications broadly taught throughout the curriculum or in Core programs. This is consistent with the practices described above in library instruction where the content and pedagogy is designed to suit the particular inquiry at hand.

Library, media and academic computing instructional support seem to follow the reported engagement with the technologies in programs. Weak coverage in a planning unit is generally matched with weak instructional support from LIRN. Thus the end of program reviews may be used as tools for assessing, very generally, gaps in service and coverage.

As a case in point, Media Services claims as its mission support for media literacy and instruction across the curriculum. Over the past ten years the nature of media services technology has changed dramatically; the platform for entry-level or basic media production and consumption has become the commonly available personal computer. Analog media production has become almost non-existent outside of expressive or creative contexts and has become much less common even there. As a result basic media applications are now ubiquitous. How has that impacted the support media services provides to media technology in the curriculum? Data from scheduling software provides insight into which faculty and programs were served through formal workshops since Fall of 2000 and this data matches findings in the end of program reports.

The scheduling data, while it does not cover the very significant teaching done in equipment proficiency workshops or one-on-one instruction in labs, shows that almost 90% of formal program-based workshops serve expressive arts faculty. Thus it is clear that media services formal instruction focuses heavily on the specialized media production applications which are not migrating to other areas of the teaching faculty. This was a distinct choice made by media services in recognition of the increasingly powerful media applications to be found in broadly available personal computer applications. Media Services has been developing production and instruction facilities for some time which apply computing tools to media, and this work actively influenced the revision and subsequent growth in media related instruction in Academic Computing. The migration of basic level media tools to entry level computers has moved some instruction to Academic Computing instructors and labs. More complex and specialized media work is supported in remodeled specialty labs in Media Services.

A snapshot of Computer Center program-related workshops in Fall and Winter of 2006/07, shows that 68% of the faculty requesting these workshops are from areas other than Expressive Arts. The Computer Applications Lab shows a similar emphasis on broadly used applications. Although the CAL focuses on the science curriculum in ES and SI, instruction and program use in the CAL has moved toward broader applications of data analysis and reporting. The proximity of the space to the two adjacent science labs has enabled the specific experimentation to move to the science labs. Roughly 60%-75% of the classes meeting in the CAL do some type of statistical or numeric analysis using primarily Excel. Other tools used include Graphical Analysis, R, and SPSS. Presentation preparation is the second highest use; 90% of the population engage in preparing results and presentations using presentation tools, with the highest use of Powerpoint, Word, Illustrator and Excel. Approximately 60% of the programs meeting in the space take advantage of analytical tools including (in order of usage) ArcGIS, Mathematica and Stella, which used to be the most highly used CAL applications. This is largely the result of better data collection tools which allow direct work with analysis of data straight from the experiment. Faculty are also now working more strictly in lab and field experimentation and bring the data back into the computer classroom for analysis using standard applications.

Formal, entry-level cross-curricular information technology literacy instruction, including media applications and excluding library technology, has clearly become an important part of the work of Academic Computing. This should not suggest a silo of basic information technology that occurs only under the auspices of one department. The blending of services and facilities that networking has encouraged across LIRN and the generally greater familiarity and ownership of personal computers and, even more, laptops has made the use of basic information technology ubiquitous. All areas of LIRN provide extensive informal support and instruction, whether to students on independent contract, students choosing media as their form of communication within non-media programs or students working within media and information technology intensive programs. Entry level and basic media production tools are accessed by many students for general program uses, and the Academic Computing area has expanded its instructional support to teach these resources. In more complex or specialized media work, almost all instruction by Media Services in labs designed and staffed to also provide access for the general student. Thus students who are not members of media-focused programs still find intensive, ongoing technical support for advanced work if needed.

All this data addresses basic questions of use. It does nothing to consider that aspect of information technology and media literacy which considers critical approaches. Whether students are creators or readers and consumers of mediated texts, these data do nothing to elucidate what the faculty expect and provide in the way of critical perspectives. Critical approaches may even occur more heavily in parts of the curriculum such as CTL where information technology use hardly appears at all. In the past, the generic library model brought the traditional critical aspect of research into discussions of media. A rotating faculty member directed media services and helped linked service models of instruction with critical approaches across the curriculum and with individual faculty. Today, while ITCH and remodeled physical relationships provide more opportunity to address questions of purchase, delivery and support, there is little opportunity for cross-LIRN discussions of critique or shared strategies for engagement with the curriculum. This should be an area of concern.

To summarize, not only does LIRN teach a large number of students about information technologies, but also a very wide spectrum of the curriculum includes information technology use and skills development. The interdisciplinary focus of Interarea programs appears to provide the environment in which students are most likely to experience a range of embedded skills development across information technologies, while other areas of the curriculum use technology in highly varied ways as appropriate for the pedagogy and content of programs.

The third level of analysis is to consider whether this array of instruction and inclusion in programs collude to assure effective academic research and information technology skill development. No established single information literacy curriculum or single list of skills will match the Evergreen context. Open inquiry, absence of requirements, independent learners, and a fluid curriculum responsive to changing events drive varied needs and expectation. Thus, standard assessment methods that presume particular goals for skills at particular stages of a student’s college career do not make sense for Evergreen's students or curriculum.

Nevertheless, in an effort to understand and promote discussion of researching methods and abilities among Evergreen students, LIRN and the Office of Institutional Research devised a more ethnographic assessment project which brought students with real research inquiries together to work collaboratively and intensively on library research in a context where processes, techniques, thinking and results might be examined. The group involved was very small, and not intended to be in any way representative statistically of the general level of library research competence. This process was an example of combining assessment of technical skills with assessment of the processes of inquiry, including the critical perspectives not assessed above.

The summarized results of the process show that the strengths of these particular students were analytical and content-focused, while their technical command of library research tools for their specific inquiries and searching were weak. Thus the ability to develop an effective inquiry; the assessment, evaluation and synthesis of findings; the academic content of the work; and the reiterative group process of developing the research content were all strengths. This suggests that “Faculty may want to assess their students’ abilities to obtain information and offer tutorials or refer students to the Library [presumably librarians or the reference desk] when deficiencies are detected.”

As in the case of computer workshops, student-centered skills instruction remains preferable, and that is the model of the reference desk and the reference desk interview. Within programs, small peer group work on thesis development is a common strategy. Adding peer group discussion of the research process, or brainstorming, to library instruction seems productive, based on this process assessment. Library faculty working with programs may want to suggest and encourage this focus and could also, when time allows, set up these small group processes as part of library workshops. How to encourage focused instruction at time of need remains challenging and depends largely upon the faculty as they review and assess the bibliographic results of students’ actual work. It may be profitable to offer bibliography evaluation and student conferences to programs where students produce annotated bibliographies and thesis statements as part of staged research assignments. [Exhibit: http://www.evergreen.edu/institutionalresearch/pdf/assessment/informationliteracy.pdf]

Another indicator for skills development is the 2006 Evergreen Student Experience Survey which asked "To what extent have your Evergreen experiences contributed to your growth in ... the following computer-related fields...?" For the category 'Studying or Doing Research via the Internet or other online sources" 30.5% of Olympia campus students reported at least some contribution; 47.5% reported quite a bit or a lot, for a total of 77.5%. More than 84% of Tacoma students reported at least some, of which 50% reported quite a bit. More than 93% of reservation-based students reported at least some contribution; 86.2% reporting quite a bit or a lot. These statistics correlate well with the end of program review and instructional data. Considering just how many students express self-confidence in their research skills, and as the internet provides so many increasingly powerful tools for personal research, it is heartening to see that a good majority of students recognize that they developed greater (and one hopes more scholarly) research skills as part of their education at Evergreen.

The ESES 2006 also asked about "Using the computer for artistic expression (e.g. music, other audio, still images, animation, video, etc." Just over 42% reported Evergreen contributed "Some", "Quite a Bit" or "A Lot". Fully 36.8% said "Not at All" and 20.9% said "Very Little." Other than word processing, skills development attributed to Evergreen for other types of computer applications is fairly low. Because the data is broken out by specific technologies or applications, it echoes the end of program reviews where different parts of the curriculum report differing kinds of information technology instruction and use.

Overall, information technology, whether library research, media or computer technology, is embedded throughout most of the curriculum. No single set of information technology skills has been embraced, as faculty and students choose and adapt the technology according to the pedagogical and disciplinary requirements of their chosen inquiry.

Information Collections and Services

Description of Information Collections & Services

When the minds of the library faculty and the media and computing instructors turn to providing support services, they work with the rest of the LIRN staff to assure responsiveness to the needs of the curriculum and individual student work. LIRN does not react to the expectations of patrons and the professional environment, but instead creatively designs services and collections in interaction with rest of the teaching world of the college.

Library faculty benefit from both teaching experience in Evergreen’s innovative curriculum and extensive service in governance structures of the faculty at large as they work to develop collections directly supportive of the curriculum. [Ex: list of librarian and staff dtf assignments]. Because the faculty at large develops the curriculum, the work is done collectively through Planning Units and all faculty retreats. Thus, the librarians know what is being planned and know the curricular interests of their colleagues. The library organizes faculty readings of recently published faculty works, reinforcing the perception of the library as a hospitable public space for faculty interaction and scholarly and creative performance. The Library Dean meets as one of the Academic Deans in the cross-curricular administrative structure. Library faculty develop collections in response to the fluid curriculum without benefit of distributed departmental funds or decision-making. Faculty who rotate into the library will often review, weed and strengthen familiar areas of the collection.

Evergreen's teaching models shape the design of traditional service points within the Library. Fully staffing the reference desk, usually with faculty librarians whenever the library is open comes from the presumption that individual assistance should be process-focused rather than product focused, leading the patron to contextual understanding of research tools and methods appropriate to their needs. The reference desk serves as the end of the pipeline begun in workshops, the place where librarians can see what library instruction produces, whether inspiration or confusion. [ex: Pedersen e-mail on teaching at the desk]. Reference collections, tools and resources such as periodical databases, web pages or finding aids, demonstrate attention not just to convenience, but also and more substantially to learning opportunities. Thus, for example, very broad aggregate databases have been purchased because they are extremely cost-effective, but the library also emphasizes comparatively expensive digitized indexes which refer students more deeply into the discipline-based literature of their inquiries. In web page design, signage, collection organization, and creation of virtual services, the central question is what can be taught through the new design, service or collection.

The particular challenge of developing library collections and information services at Evergreen has been the impossibility of effectively satisfying all but the most beforehand requests of students and faculty working deeply on projects outside of the core curriculum and collections. With the advent of intensively networked services, this issue has basically been solved, even though the expectation for immediate access to all information in all formats continues to grow. For all but the very worst procrastinators, the SUMMIT system, which includes well over 30 academic libraries from Oregon and Washington, brings huge monographic collections to hand within two or three days. Additionally, periodicals collections have expanded 8 to 9 times over the self-study period; although parts of the aggregated databases are often less than appropriate for the academic context, specific titles and databases have been added thoughtfully, within the framework of the academic mission. Consortial purchases not only reduce costs dramatically, but are based upon the academic focus of the consortia. Finally, ILLiad, the on-line interlibrary loan system brings journal articles to the email accounts of students, again, within days (or even hours) of ordering. There are almost no discernable limits to accessing published information for any researcher except those who need to present within 24 hours. Nevertheless, Orbis-Cascade, the umbrella consortium which administers SUMMIT, is exploring collaborative collection development to ensure both the depth of the shared collections and the appropriate coverage of local collections. This process should result in even better assurance that students can effectively find the monographs needed to support their widest and deepest inquiries.

Freely-chosen independent media production by students creates similar significant strain for Media Services and creates competition with the Expressive Arts media curriculum over scare resources (whether equipment, laboratories or staff teaching). In order to balance these demands, a Media Request Form is required for students (and programs) planning extensive use of Media Services. Individual contract forms include a checkmark for special equipment or facilities and the academic deans who review the forms use this as a safety net for screening intensive media use. The Media Services Manager and the Head of Instructional Media thus review Media contracts in order to assure that media resources are sufficient for the proposed work. A Student Originated Studies (SOS) group contract in media has been set up in the Expressive Arts planning unit in order to handle some of this demand for independent media production studies and to assure that students have the supervision and instructional and facilities support they need.

As information technology has evolved over the past ten years and computers have become the networked platform for the majority of information access, research, communication and media production, LIRN has devoted significant energy to blending services. With the generic library as a foundation and the interdisciplinary curriculum as the context, merged collections and services are not a new commitment, but build upon the college’s alternative past. The major remodel planned and implemented during the self-study period substantially strengthened the opportunities for the networking of services, facilities and staff of LIRN. One central, broad entrance provides access to the Library, the Computer Center, Media Loan and the stairs to Electronic Media, Photo Services and Computing and Communications. A large staircase which hides this entrance from the view of individuals entering the building will be removed in the current, second phase of the library building remodel.

Instructional emphases and responsiveness to the character of the academic mission have shaped the work of the remodel. Collaborative study spaces predominate, whether open area tables, grouped lounge furniture, pod-shaped arrangements in labs or group study and media viewing rooms. Wireless access (almost ubiquitous on campus now) allows informal groupings around personal or library-owned laptops. Additional laboratory spaces provide easier scheduling for program work and more computers for individuals when classes do not use the labs. Limited quiet study areas provide an alternative for the solitary scholar, but group work is the norm and encouraged.

The Library as a physical as well as virtual space is emphasized through new artwork which welcomes patrons to lounge and study areas. The new basement lounge near Rare Books and Archives, now affectionately dubbed the Library Underground, hosts frequent campus gatherings and public readings. During the current crunch on college space due to more remodeling, meetings and teaching spaces are opened up for groups from across campus. The prominent location of the media collections assures visibility and close connection to the circulation and reference staff when Sound and Image Library (SAIL) are not present. Lounge furniture is scattered in what were formerly the barren hallways of media loan or the utilitarian desks of the computer center. More room for the book collection, more study space and more flexibility for computers, laptops and media all serve to extend the ways in which students, faculty and the public can use the wing.

With a large, visible, shared entrance to the Information Technology wing, LIRN has the option to consider a shared information desk. Early recommendations for an Information Commons, incorporating library, media and computing expertise and serving as a staff development tool for literacy across technologies, have become outdated but the fundamental concept still generates significant interest. Users, services and the portions of the curriculum served have already blended greatly as a result of the process of digitization and movement to the web environment. Ongoing conversations should continue about how best to help students navigate the ever more intertwined LIRN facilities and services as digitization and the web continue to enlarge their domination of information media. [Exhibit: Berlin Group]

The remodel also brought the Writing and the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Centers into the main floor of the library, physically centralizing many academic teaching and learning support functions. This relationship has the potential to become an instructional and intellectual connection as well as a physical one.

Another form of blended information technology has occurred within and between Academic Computing and Media Services as specialized labs have evolved over the self-study period. Historically, Academic Computing focused on the physical computer center and on-site teaching and technology training for students and faculty, usually on specific skills such as Word. The specialty labs (CAL, MML, DIS) focused on specialized and more content specific software and hardware. The specialized labs allowed students to work with more content-rich knowledge and media production, collaborative critique, or discipline-oriented applications, all requiring higher level instruction, academic focus and, often, critical analysis.

Today, students often acquire computing skills through individualized and/or ad hoc methods such as on-line tutorials or one-on-one peer instruction over laptops. Distinctions between library, media, scientific and computer information technologies disappear as the average laptop or workstation may runs applications previously requiring highly specialized, expensive hardware. Thus the distinctions based on hardware between general and specialized technology labs have blurred. The main computer center includes many specialized scientific software packages such as ArcGIS and Mathematica while standard graphic manipulation software such as Photoshop and Illustrator appear in the science computer labs. Similarly, the computer center supports high level statistics applications such as R as well as digital music editing. The library computers provide basic Office applications and general web access in addition to library-specific searches, but specific computers also provide GIS, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, assistive/adaptive technology and scanning applications. Additionally, the network environment has changed to reduce distinctions for students working across lab spaces. One user domain and single sign-on (SSO) mean much simpler access to networked resources.

While specialized peripherals, collaborative production, associated labs and some more intensive computing power still require specialty labs, the primary difference is the level of expertise, content specific knowledge, and broader context for use. Students benefit in many ways; they know where to find specialized support from the staff and faculty and tend to be introduced to the higher level, more complex applications in the context of a broader academic framework.

Planning for these rapidly merging LIRN facilities and services creates challenges for administratively separated departments. The most formal mechanism for collaboration around technology is the Information Technology Collaboration Hive (ITCH). Evergreen supports three ITCH groups: Academic, Administrative, and Core. The Academic ITCH meets at least once a month and includes professional staff from each of the primary technology labs, faculty, and interested students. The purpose of the Academic ITCH is to coordinate general academic IT initiatives, help develop general academic computing policy, and to guide strategic planning. Because of the distributed nature of academic IT, strategic planning often is itself distributed to individual facilities and their associated user groups. Specialization within academic IT labs sometimes falls along planning unit lines, but more often crosses planning units. Professional staff members in each of the primary technology areas have developed intensive, personal connections to discipline-specific slices of the curriculum, faculty and academic administration while also needing cross-disciplinary and cross-divisional exploration and communication. ITCH provides one of the necessary cross-curricular and cross-division contexts for developing information technology across these strong.

Analysis & Assessment of Information Services and Collections

Once again, although it is clear that LIRN provides a wide array of information services, the question still remains whether the services are effective. Institutional Research surveys alumni and students about campus resources routinely. Over time, responses regarding the library and computing center have been strikingly positive. The library and computer center have been most used for many years and satisfaction levels have also been consistently among the highest. Recently, the college web page was added to the survey and dominates use statistics as the required tool for registration and most other student business. Further, as sustainability patriots, the primacy of bus service in recent surveys cannot be a cause for lament.

Alumni Surveys:

1998 99% library use rate; 75.5% somewhat or very satisfied

94% computer center use rate;79.2% somewhat or very satisfied

2002 97% library use rate; 85% somewhat or very satisfied

96% computer center use rate; 87% satisfaction rate

2004 97% on campus student library use rate; 94.2% off campus student library use rate

92% on campus student computer center use; 93.4% off campus computer center use

The 2006 Student Experience Survey shows

95% reported using the library

88.5% reported using the computer center.

Thus, despite the radically changing information environment, the drop over time in the reported use of the physical library has been slight: 4% from 1998 to 2006. The computer center also has enjoyed heavy use over time, with some reduction as more and more students use their own laptops on campus; the survey showed that 91% of students have their own computers. Satisfaction rates for the library and computer center remain the highest for any services on campus.

Starting in 2006, the ESES inquired about using library resources online. The response was 85.2% using library resources on-line. Internal records also suggest phenomenal growth in online use of library resources. In 2000, when the library subscribed to three aggregate databases (Proquest, Ebscohost and JSTOR), 80,000 searches were recorded. In 2006, with approximately 30 subscription databases, there were more than 262,677 searches. Careful review of variations of use from year to year reveals the direct impact a fluid curriculum has on database use. For example, Modern Language Association International Bibliography statistics are quite erratic; one major project in a large academic program explains a five-fold increase of use in one year. As JSTOR has developed into a more deeply and broadly multi-interdisciplinary tool, use statistics show a shift away from heavy dependence on the less scholarly aggregates. Extensive lobbying by faculty and librarians encourages this shift toward use of scholarly resources such as JSTOR.

The alumni and student survey data compare library use to other resources on campus and show increased use of web-based resources over time and thus provide some idea of satisfaction with services and with information technology learning. In order to assess whether these use rates are cause for celebration, comparisons with other libraries will provide some guidance.

In 2002, the Library implemented a major new service of sufficient complexity to allow some assessment of how efficiently the dissemination of new information technology occurs at Evergreen. Does interconnectedness mean that news and skills spread quickly? The new service (then Cascade, now the much larger SUMMIT consortium of Washington and Oregon academic libraries) allowed students to search the shared collections of the 4-year public colleges and universities of the state, make on-line requests, and have items mailed very quickly to Evergreen.

All five institutions added the service at the same time. Using normal communications, instructional methods and interconnections, Evergreen had the best results among the member libraries. Evergreen patrons borrowed 9,723 that first year, more than any other library, even though Evergreen is by far the smallest institution in the consortium. At ten times Evergreen’s size, the University of Washington borrowed just under 7,000 that year. It took a year for the University of Washington to surpass us, while the other institutions had not done so even in 2006. While one might assume that small collection size drives this higher demand, the fact is that Evergreen students also use their local collection at higher rates than their peers at Cascade-member institutions.


Judging by the quick integration of SUMMIT into the culture of the college, it appears that communication methods and instructional relationships effectively support the spread of awareness of new services and the skills to use them. And it is important to remember that it was the circulation staff, with the willing support of staff of other areas, who made the service work effectively and efficiently from the outset. Lower early use rates at other institutions may be partially the result of staff deliberately implementing the service at a careful pace in order to avoid system collapse. Evergreen decided to implement at full force, with excellent results. Had turnaround time or inefficiency disappointed the users of Cascade, the take-off would have fizzled.

The peer groups Evergreen most commonly uses for comparisons consist of liberal arts colleges. In general, the liberal arts college library (and thus, liberal arts college students!) is a very hard working institution. Nationally, a comparison of the average 2004 national liberal arts college library use statistics with those of the smaller masters level universities (Carnegie Class Masters I) reveals a dramatic difference. Looking at the first level of use, the walk into the library, Evergreen’s average gate count per FTE was 1.8, Masters universities were at 1.4 and Liberal arts colleges averaged 2.77. At the next level of engagement or expertise, the patron checks out a book. The highest level of library use collected federally is when the patron identifies materials from libraries beyond his own and requests an interlibrary loan (ILL). Unfortunately, in order to be comparable, ILL data must be combined with the data for circulation, because SUMMIT statistics are counted as either circulations or interlibrary loans, depending upon the practice of the reporting library. Evergreen’s patrons borrow (via ILL and circulation) an average of 36 items per student, while the masters level institutions borrow only 1.55 and the liberal arts colleges nationally borrow an average of 34.

The same dramatic distinction between liberal arts colleges and comprehensive institutions appears in the SUMMIT consortium, which covers the full gamut of colleges and universities in Oregon and Washington. Following is a chart which ranks the top half of the 31 libraries in the region based upon their rates of use of SUMMIT, and shows Evergreen high on the list of the higher ranked liberal arts colleges, all well above usage rates at more comprehensive institutions.

Library # Items borrowed FTE Items/FTE
Reed 20,480 1,268 16.15
G. Fox U. 14,427 2,392 6.03
Marylhurst 4,548 852 5.34
Lewis/Clark 14,386 2,953 4.87
TESC 16,118 4,200 3.84
Whitman 6,672 1,803 3.70
Willamet 9,164 2,511 3.65
UPS 7,570 2,742 2.76
Seattle Pacific 8,589 3,466 2.48
Linfield 5,354 2,331 2.30
Western Ore. 8,623 3,992 2.16
U Portland 6,764 3,211 2.11
U Oregon 38,796 18,880 2.05
E. Ore. U. 4,620 2,306 2.00
Pacific U. 4,232 2,341 1.81

Looking at national data, the following table compares the averages of various commonly used Evergreen peer groups:

Library FTE Gate Count/FTE Circulation+ILL/FTE
TESC 3987 1.81 36
DEEP Colleges 1903 2.85 36
CTCL 1555 4.20 39
COPLAC 4097 2.03 25
CIEL 7383 1.20 19
Washington Comprehensives 10575 1.74 18

Thus, the way in which Evergreen students use their library reflects academically superior liberal arts practices. Looking closely at the colleges with extremely high statistics (Reed College and New College of Florida, for instance, have 120 and 89 uses per student) institutions surface which have major senior thesis projects, demonstrating that an emphasis on independent academic inquiry will drive library use.

A consultant on information technology provided peer comparisons of Evergreen's support for information technology. The review determined that Evergreen devotes considerable resources to IT, and that Evergreen is consistent with many peers in doing so. Edutech compared us to similar schools (in physical environment, enrollment numbers, educational goals and aspirations, residential nature, tuition, and governance structure) and found that such schools put a larger percentage of their budget into information technology than institutions with different kinds of aspirations.

Evergreen’s total actual expenditure for IT in 2005, expressed as a percentage of total institutional expenditures, was 6.7%. This is in alignment with the figure reported by the Campus Computing 2006 survey for public four-year colleges, 6.7%. Campus Computing reported 6.5% as the average for all institutions.

As in all areas of LIRN, Media Services plans and develops their work based on strong interconnections with faculty. Assessment of the popularity of these services may be approached through use data from Institutional Research and an additional user survey by Media Services staff member Lin Crowley, conducted as a project for her Masters in Public Administration studies. The goal of the survey was to understand what and how often the current college community, including students, staff and faculty, use Media Services. In addition, satisfaction levels were surveyed in order to identify areas of Media Services which may need additional attention and to elicit requests for additional services.

The survey data showed that respondents used various services or facilities at rates of between 40% to 80% with more general facilities such as media loan more heavily used than more specialized facilities. While the response rate was too small to be statistically valid for the entire campus community, it can be safely assumed that users of media services would be the predominant respondents. This should be compared to The Evergreen Student Experience Survey, which showed 48% use of media loan and 89.6% somewhat or very satisfied. Crowley’s respondents reported an average satisfaction level for each service ranging from 3.07 to 3.62 (out of 4), which indicated that those users who used current services are generally pretty satisfied with each of the services that they use.

Despite the fact that the respondents were largely active media services users, many respondents expressed lack of awareness of some media services and although there was much interest in investment in new equipment in digital technology, respondents were often unaware of new or planned digital facilities. One clear conclusion of the survey is that visibility could be better for some of the various media services. Suggestions for improvement focused on access, whether longer hours, more workshops or more facilities. The survey project director recommended that future follow-up surveys be conducted to compare whether the reasons people use each service change and to evaluate the satisfaction levels for each type of services by patron types. [Exhibit: Crowley, Lin. Media Service Survey]

High use of general media facilities is verified in use statistics: for example, during the past year, Media Loan recorded about 14,000 patron contacts and handled over 132,000 transactions with individual pieces of media equipment, a level of use which has remained fairly constant throughout the study period.

A final, important question to consider as LIRN assesses services and collections is whether LIRN responds rapidly, responsibly and appropriately to the opportunities presented by changing technology. Among the organizations included in LIRN, the library is the largest and most embedded in professional traditions. In the context of the rapid digitization of information challenges, the library may have the most investment in pre-existing structures and assumptions.

The Library rotation model and the particular form of library faculty status, while providing strong connection to the fluid curriculum and the motivated individual learner, also creates significant challenges to library administration and services. Consistency is a problem. Library faculty tend to be drawn away from much of the administration and day-to-day services of the library other than reference and bibliographic instruction, a tendency which has only been increased by the loss of one faculty library line due to budget cuts. Contractual requirements push Library faculty into college governance, full-time teaching, and the development of their own intellectual, creative and/or scholarly interests as teaching faculty. Limited summer coverage and sabbaticals further attenuate consistent attention to ongoing library administration.

This means that Evergreen has no managerial class of librarians, but rather a team of faculty librarians who share management responsibilities with staff. Non-librarians head almost all departments and assure administrative consistency and focus. As a result, the hands-on managers of the library departments and the staff in those areas initiate a large proportions of new services and developments. The staffs of the areas involved discuss and decide upon new services or activities in a generally egalitarian manner, keeping in mind the nature of the college, the community and the curriculum. The library takes these steps largely without top-down pressure. Certainly the possibilities created by the close working relationship between the library and teaching faculty would be strangled by unresponsive services were not the library staff also imbued with a professional, responsive and thoughtful culture of public service.

As an organization which makes decisions about services, staffing and resources through a flat, organically driven culture, does LIRN take appropriate advantage of the many new options and responsibilities which result from new digitized and networked information resources? An appended list of major changes in services in library and media services, almost all driven by the opportunities created in the realm of digital resources and systems, testifies to a flexible and responsive organization.

The overall organizational habits of the college, habits of collaboration, egalitarian ideals, fluidity, face-to-face interactions, non-departmentalization, and interdisciplinary inquiry, deeply influence LIRN planning. The result is a responsive, flexible, evolving set of services and resources. Working across the digital divide from traditional library services to computing to media has generated a commitment to providing information technology services without regard to where the services reside administratively. LIRN assesses technology within the context of Evergreen’s particular curriculum and needs and implements new applications incrementally in collaborative processes involving all three areas of service and the teaching faculty. As part of that work, LRN has had the distinct historical advantage of presuming that information comes in all formats and that it is not only possible but advisable to break down as many barriers as possible to access to information in all its forms in order to approach the ideal of the generic library, an idea whose time may have finally come.


Standard 5.A - Missions and Goals

Standard 5.B - Planning and Effectiveness

Standard 5.C - Facilities and Access

Standard 5.D - Personnel and Management

Standard 5.E - Planning and Evaluation

Supporting Documentation

See Supporting Documentation for Standard Five