Embedded Librarians in Online Courses – A great idea!

The Librarian in Black referred us to this article from Educause entitled: “Disconnects Between Library Culture and Millennial Generation Values.”, by Robert H. McDonald and Chuck Thomas.  After reading it once, I inserted the word “school” before each place the word “library” was used and agree that the writers conclusions effect not just academic libraries, but all libraries.  Another excerpt from the article that is notable:

“Thinking about the ideas discussed here, you might want to ask the following questions about your library. What is your library doing to:

  • Support the user’s affinity for self-paced, independent, trial-and-error methods of learning?
  • Create opportunities to make library information look and behave like information that exists in online entertainment venues?
  • Explore alternative options for delivering information literacy skills to users in online environments and alternate spaces?
  • Apply the typical user’s desire for instant gratification to the ways that libraries could be using technology for streamlined services?
  • Redefine administrative, security, and policy restrictions to permit online users an online library experience that rivals that of a library site visit?
  • Preserve born-digital information? [I had to look this term upthose items that have been created in digital form.]”

In this particular Educause newsletter, there as another equally interesting article about “embedded librarians” in online courses.  In this article, “The Embedded Librarian Program” by Victoria Matthew and Ann Schroeder, highlight one of the elements of Library 2.0.  They quote Bergen and MacAdam, from their research in 1985, who found that, “… students prosper most from any form of library instruction when it comes at a time of greatest need and relevance to their academic work.”  This program, which exists at the Community College of Vermont, suggests several ways for a librarian to “embed” themselves into online courses.  Suggestions include:

  •  An “Ask the Librarian” forum is set up in the discussion board [in the online course]. Students can post questions in this forum throughout the semester. 
  • The librarian works with students on specific research-focused assignments. When a librarian is embedded in a course that lacks an explicit research component, the librarian’s services go untapped.
  • “Ask the Librarian” is built into the specific assignments. Students are more likely to use the embedded librarian service if the assignment for that week either requires or reminds them to do so. “

This is an outstanding model for school and academic librarians in the Web 2.0 world!


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