In the Spring 2016 semester, I took on the task of “renovating” D’Amour Library’s Information Literacy libguide aimed toward faculty. The library had recently moved to Libguides 2.0, and a total university website revamp gave us a reason to evaluate the library’s web presence. It seemed like an opportune time to revisit this guide, which had grown large and unmanageable over time (as Libguides tend to do).
My main objective with the revamp was to take the good things the guide had to offer and streamline them to make the page more usable, and even more importantly more appealing, to the faculty visiting it. Having 13 tabs with often repeating content wasn’t cutting it. Working off of principles from Jason Puckett’s Modern Pathfinders: Creating Better Research Guides, I added simple images, reworked jargon and language, clustered like information, added context to any links, and removed instances of over-informing. The statistics provided by Libguides proved useful as well; knowing that our page on creating innovative research assignments was by far the one faculty most frequently visited was instrumental for making decisions about content to prioritize. I believe the final product highlights the best of D’Amour’s IL instruction program and makes the concept more approachable and less overwhelming to non-librarians.
After the first year at WNE, whether or not students get additional info lit instruction issolely up to the discretion of their individual professors. I wanted to provide channels through which all students could get extra guidance from the library if they wanted to. I also wanted to put the library on the map as a place of learning for faculty and staff as well and felt the library had a lot to offer this population of patrons. Thus Do More at D’Amour was born. I created a series of workshops modeled of the SkillfUL technology workshops at UNC as well as the comprehensive suite of research and technology workshops offered at UIUC. The goal was to form “a series of workshops designed to help students, faculty, and staff explore new technologies in conjunction with resources and services at D’Amour Library. Through sessions on technology tools and research strategies, the program aims to empower members of the university community to make the most of the learning opportunities offered at Western New England University” (from D’Amour website).
The weekly series was my pet project for the Spring 2016 semester, and it kept me busy with planning, organizing, promoting, and teaching. From taking on this project I became more confident in my project management skills; coordinating a large number of moving parts required a good deal of time management and communication between myself and my colleagues both in and outside the library. I even got an opportunity to work with Student Disabilities Services and bring a representative in to talk about a study tool that can be an asset for all students, which was a great experience. Though I am leaving this position at WNE in mid-June, the series has support from my colleagues and should continue on. I’m lucky to have had the support of my supervisor and coworkers in making the series a reality. It wasn’t a perfect first semester, but I think it certainly has room to grow into something truly valuable for almost everyone at Western New England University.
One of the projects I worked on for UNC’s Undergraduate Library in summer 2014 was this infographic to display alongside University Library materials during student orientation fairs.
My original idea for the infographic was to point out some of the top resources the libraries have to offer, but after speaking with my then-supervisor decided to go with a more evidence-based approach that discusses the outcomes of using library resources in general. I’m happy with the turn the project took. Students know what the library contains, and if they don’t initially know about everything they can get from the library, it’s likely that they’ll learn about our resources over time. What students don’t know, though, is why they should use the library’s resources in the first place.
Giving real data and statistics legitimizes library use, and delivering that information in an attractive way brought a good amount of attention to the University Libraries’ booth and the part the library plays in student achievement. While I’m by no means an expert in creating infographics (and even today, a couple of years later, I definitely see some things that could stand some improvement), this project boosted my confidence in my ability to combine the practical and the creative–something I strive to do in my work, and particularly in my instruction. It also (quite flatteringly!) branded me as one of the go-to staff members at the UL for any class or individual wanting a lesson on creating impactful infographics.
The Reference Challenge of the Week provides a physical and virtual space for UNC Chapel Hill students to submit their craziest, most bizarro questions (like Q: Why is it that sometimes if I think about a particular word too long or say it too many times in a row, it stops sounding correct (and I start questioning my sanity)?) and have them answered, seriously and with proper references, by Undergraduate Library graduate assistants and librarians. It’s a way for the UL to show the transferable nature of info lit skills in the real world, and it provided an authentic way for LIS students to hone their reference skills.
This was a really fun project that just sort of came together because a few people were interested in making it happen. Working in that team gave me an opportunity to write my first formal project proposal for admin approval, think pragmatically about library as space (e.g. where the heck do we place the display??), and mix two of my greatest loves: creative writing and research. You can check out one of my pieces here.