Session V. Instructing Diverse Learners: Information Literacy Competency in the Arts
Saturday 2 pm–3:30 pm
Betsy Peck Learned, Roger Williams University
Rijn Templeton, University of Iowa
Shannon Van Kirk, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Lucie Stylianopoulos, University of Virginia
Kari Horowicz, Rochester Institute of Technology
Amy E. Trendler, Art Institute of Chicago
Laurel Bliss, Princeton University
Betsy Peck Learned opened the session by explaining that the idea for the program came out of the discussion group on teaching. She addressed the ACRL information literacy competencies standards, and questioned whether busy librarians can teach students to think critically. Within the arts community, we have diverse needs, which is why the session will look at best practices in different kinds of art libraries. Rijn Templeton introduced each speaker, and referred to them as “wise old mothers” who would share their wisdom with the audience.
Shannon Van Kirk’s topic was “Can You Hear Me Now? Good. Classroom Partnering for Integration of Information Literacy Into Architecture and Interior Design Course.” Shannon is a strong believer in partnerships and collaboration. She encouraged the group to seek out opportunities to engage faculty in conversations about their research, and increase interaction with the community. Consider a conceptual shift from library skills to life long learning skills. Keep an eye out for "teachable moments" and have a "just-in-time" model. Look in particular for new faculty, and say yes no matter who asks you to do a class. An initial collaboration will lead to more. For architecture students, it's all about the studio, so look elsewhere for your moment to shine. Above all, strive for mutual respect and keep your sense of humor. Have fun with it!
Lucie Stylianopoulos spoke about “What's Art Got to Do With It? Planning Library Instruction for Art History.” Lucie stressed the importance of planning a program, and having it match the curriculum. Monitor faculty research and have a strong web presence. Build trust - they start out trusting you with books, and then they will trust you with their students. Lucie teaches a one-credit course for incoming grads, and is part of the department. Library instruction is an expensive commitment, but results in better-educated users. For instance, the Fiske Kimball library has abandoned their traditional reference desk and has implemented open reserves, which frees up staff. Lucie suggests creating a space for instruction that can become a lab for students and faculty, who will enjoy coming to the library. Plan beyond the one-shot sessions and respond to user needs, such as the timing of the sessions in the semester. Research the subject, tie your assignments to the syllabus, and create a customized web guide that can be used in reference work. Know your audience: teach the undergrads to do research in their fields, bring the faculty along with their students, be a part of graduate students' research, and train knowledgeable staff. This will all leave a lasting impression.
Kari Horowicz’s topic was “If You Engage in Travel, You Will Arrive: Fostering Information Literacy Concepts in First Year Art and Design Students.” Kari’s main responsibility is toward visually dependant students, in a 10 week quarter system, which is challenging. These students don’t take an art history class until the 2nd year. They don’t have 10-12 page papers, but have visual problems that require visual solutions. Kari gets less than a half hour with ~200 freshmen in a large auditorium. She walks around with a microphone, like Oprah, and asks students who their favorite artist is. She’ll then find a book on that artist and demo the online catalog. She also does smaller sessions with hands-on time. Her example was an assignment where students had to design a costume to wear at a beaux-arts ball. Using tools like Grove and subject-specific dictionaries, she helps them find 10-20 examples of what art nouveau is, and then they use those examples as a critical lens with which to critique images. One image they find doesn’t match art nouveau characteristics, and Kari shows them how the text refers to the image as reacting against art nouveau. Her quick exercise is having them sketch something in the art nouveau style (samples are shown in her PowerPoint presentation). This exercise takes advantage of the students’ visual learning skills, and directly relates to a project they must complete. At the end, Kari shows the audience some of the amazing costumes the students came up with.
Amy E. Trendler discussed “The Smorgasbord Approach, or, How to Be Everything to Everyone: Information Literacy in the Art Museum Library.” Amy began preparing for this presentation by surveying what other art museum libraries were doing about classes/orientations/guides for users, and asked participants what information literacy meant to them. She received 31 responses out of 65 surveys. Given the diversity of users, Amy argues that the academic model doesn’t fit the art museum library, but that an information literacy approach (not a program) does fit. Art museum library staff provide guides, orientations, and reference assistance to curators, outside scholars, docents, and the general public. They make users comfortable with library resources, helping them locate, evaluate, and use information outside of the classroom environment. For instance, orientations offer an explanation of policies and practical information for that particular museum library, which is part of a broader art world. Staff have personal interactions with both on-going users and one-time visitors, where they answer questions, provide context, and explain resources. Amy points out that you don’t have to offer classes in order to educate the user.
Question and Answer Session:
1. Question for Lucie about web guides. Lucie said that she does teach from the web, and not from PowerPoint. Her sessions are interactive, with live links. Students can also print from their lab.
2. Question for Lucie about evaluating classes. Lucie says they hand out paper evaluation sheets, which get returned to the main library who contact participants directly. This is the first year they’ve done this.
3. Question for Lucie and Shannon about how much time does
this all take, and how integrated into the classroom are they?
4. Question for Lucie about the repercussions of cutting out the reference desk. Lucie says they now have an information desk staffed by students, who refer questions to staff. Having open reserves also saves time, reduces the demand for circulation assistance, and reduces the need to be chained to a desk. They did have to justify their actions, and have had good feedback.
5. Question for Kari about doing these hands-on exercises in class. How large was the class? Kari says for the lecture class, students had to do their sketch on a card. For the other classes, 20-25 people was the norm.
6. Question about doing printed guides and pathfinders.
7. Question about students being referred to an art museum
library. When do to this and what should they be taught?
8. Question for Amy about limiting information to students. Is there data that only museum staff have access to? Amy says that their system excludes sensitive material from access by the library. She says that many art museum libraries have relationships with nearby school(s), and that outreach is possible.
9. Question about how traditional information literacy
concepts work in an art and design library.