Last month I finished reading the essays in Embedded Librarianship: What Every Librarian Should Know. One of the contributors cited this article:
Librarian in the Classroom: An Embedded Approach to Music Information Literacy for First-Year Undergraduates by Sara J. Beutter Manus in Notes, 66(2), December 2009, pp. 249-26. (Notes is the journal of the Music Library Association.)
I wished I had read this article sooner. Interesting stuff.
The Vanderbilt music library is within the School of Music building and has five librarians. Manus begins:
How do you foster the development of foundational research skills in first-year undergraduate music students? This was the dilemma facing Vanderbilt University music librarians and faculty. Our solution to this problem was to implement a four-semester integrated music information literacy program that emphasized library instruction for first-year students. To promote the integral role of the library in student learning, I embedded myself in all sections of the initial survey course for music students. (249)
The music faculty were eager to have a librarian teach info lit skills and offered Manus five class periods in the required first semester course (MUSL 141) to work with. She also had two periods with the subsequent required courses.
In addition to leading those five info lit sessions, Manus also became embedded in MUSL 141 through the whole semester as the co-teacher. Her goals for the embedded work include reinforcing “the integral role that the library plays in student learning,” demonstrating that “librarians are friendly, approachable people,” and getting “to know the students” she would be working with for several semesters (251-252).
Manus began to appreciate being able to collaborate with the MUSL 141 professor, improving the assignments and contributing to the syllabus. Their research goals were basic humanities topics like searching the catalog, using core reference titles, and writing good citations.
Her co-teaching experience in MUSL 141 went well and has continued. She enjoys getting to know the students, who are now more likely to ask research questions in class and in the music library. Those of you embedded into traditional/physical classes will recognize the warm fuzzies of being better connected to students. Since she is getting to know the students as freshmen (unlike in my co-teaching classes, in which the students are juniors and seniors), Manus gets to enjoy four years of personal connections with her music students.
But then Manus writes about a problem that I didn’t see coming. She describes needing to “negotiate [her] dual role as a librarian and an instructor” (a topic in my recent chapter on relationships and ethics). “Some of [the students] expected special treatment at the library,” she continues, like asking for circulation fines to be forgiven and for answers to the graded info lit assignments. She “realized that some students may have misinterpreted my friendly attitude and assumed that I was a pushover” (255).
Fascinating! I have never experienced this with the students in my co-teaching classes. Was the gender and/or age of the librarian a factor? Certainly the student bodies of a private school like Vanderbilt and a regional state school like UNCG can be very different. I do occasionally hear about students with over-entitlement issues from my friends at the Wake Forest University library. But I’m obviously just speculating here. Back to the story…
In response to those developments, Manus modified her approach to setting boundaries. She no longer allowed the students to call her by her first name, and began emphasizing that the students shouldn’t expect any special treatment in the library.
The music faculty reported that the students’ research skills had indeed improved since Manus became the MUSL 141 co-teacher.
In later semesters, she increased her use of active-learning in her research sessions, and required the students to turn in documentation of the research process (ex. results of article searches) along with their assignments. This change saved Manus the time of reproducing the searches herself while grading. This is a great idea that I’ve been thinking about requiring in my ENT 530 assignments, like when the students are charged with using American FactFinder and other data sources.
There are many thoughtful observations and good examples here for co-teacher embedded librarians to ponder and learn from.