Standard 5

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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, 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


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