Collaborating with Nonlibrary Faculty for Assessment and Improved Instruction

Holt Zaugg, Curtis Child
2016 Journal of Library Administration  
Collaboration with other entities and individuals has long been a standard practice of libraries. Typically, these collaborations seek to reduce redundancies, save money, and support educational and research efforts. However, a new model of collaboration exists that both assists discipline-specific research practices and informs library procedures. This article reviews two collaborations between an assessment librarian and a sociology class. The collaborations are unique because the library is
more » ... use the library is the focus of the collaboration, with sociology students being able to apply classroom learning in a real-world setting. Several suggestions are provided for best practices when endeavoring to use this type of collaboration to inform library practice and engage students in hands-on learning. How can library faculty engage in mutually productive relationships with nonlibrary faculty and students from other disciplines? We report here on one such effort that involves library personnel and an advanced undergraduate sociology class. During each of 2 semesters, the principal authors of this article-one, the university's assessment librarian, and the other, an assistant professor in the sociology department-collaborated on two evaluation projects that involved students and library patrons. The projects allowed the assessment librarian to make progress on the evaluations that are central to his job description; they were not originated for pedagogical reasons. Even so, they were pedagogically effective, because students benefited from working alongside their professor in real-world data collection and analysis efforts. The students were all part of a senior-level research methods course, so the collaboration provided a unique teaching opportunity that allowed the sociology professor to engage the students in a realworld experience. The collaboration was not without its challenges, however, so we document both the benefits and difficulties associated with this type of endeavor. We couch this case study within a rich literature on various types of collaborations in the library context. Librarians have been interested in how they are able to augment their efforts by becoming embedded in discipline-specific instruction. The literature suggests that library collaborations can provide a multitude of positive outcomes. These outcomes include, but are not exclusive to, economic advantages, increased communication skills, improved management skills, added value to student learning, a broader view to student and faculty research, and improved personal and professional self- This article builds on our current understanding of collaborations. To date, librarians have indicated the utility of collaborating with students and faculty. Very little research, however, documents how students and nonlibrary faculty might be used to evaluate library services. Moreover, most research on collaborations focuses on collaborations at an institutional level (e.g., between libraries, other university entities, or outside businesses) or on a personal level (i.e., between librarians and faculty or students). Our contribution highlights an integrated collaboration between the library and an advanced sociology class: a collaboration at the institutional level and at a personal level among a librarian, the teaching faculty member, and students within the class. This article proceeds in the following way: We review the literature on collaborations
doi:10.1080/01930826.2015.1124704 fatcat:743g6p6jqjgijlsyf2rkoxncwi