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Professional Narrative

In this narrative, submitted for consideration of tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor, I present my teaching effectiveness, professional competence, and service. In all aspects of my work I strive to make all that the library and college has for students truly accessible. Information literacy instruction teaches the “reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”[1] In teaching, I focus on student development, building the confidence needed to take charge of their own learning. It is not enough to provide library resources and collections; we must connect students to them in a way that empowers them to use information in creative scholarship. Further, my research and service have sought to address student needs through collaboration, each project informing and enriching the next. My narrative will present perspective on my accomplishments thus far and demonstrate commitment to building on these efforts.

Education & Prior Experience

As is common with so many in librarianship, my career began long before my first position requiring a degree. I began volunteering at my local library, moved on to a work-study job in my undergraduate library and had the privilege of working at the Folger Shakespeare Library before attending the University of Pittsburgh to complete my Master’s in Library and Information Science. Having graduated into the Great Recession, I continued to volunteer and work part-time at my local library, while also substitute teaching at all grade and ability levels in a K-12 system. These positions not only afforded me a wide range of professional experiences but, through increasing responsibilities at each, I developed my collaborative leadership skills and independence in managing projects and systems.

During my field placement, the academic internship component of my graduate program, I worked under the mentorship of the Head of Library Instruction at the University of Pittsburgh’s main library. Having successfully led orientation sessions for first-year student athletes and graduate students in a program for a non-traditional teacher-training program, I was invited to spend the rest of my placement creating a lesson plan on plagiarism for the university’s Introduction to the Arts and Sciences (IAS) program. As the academic orientation program, IAS was a requirement for all undergraduate students; in the fall of 2008 this was approximately 3,500 students. With a large class, my lesson plan needed to be used by all the instruction librarians, easy to implement and assess, and support the broader information literacy goals of the library and IAS program. In creating this lesson I learned how to create a focused plan which provided time for students to practice the habits they needed to succeed in their college careers. Library instruction is most often provided as a single session within a course and so it is paramount that we develop classes which, through shared goals with classroom faculty, provide space for students to experiment and develop transferable strategies.

While working part-time in circulation at Providence College (PC) and as an Adjunct Reference Librarian at Rhode Island College (RIC) I found opportunities to continue teaching and creating online guides to library resources and services. Having created a lesson plan for other librarians to use, I had experience working collaboratively, but from a distance. Working with reference and instruction librarians at PC I co-taught in the classroom, where I learned how to complement teaching styles to support my co-instructor and engage dynamically with students. As an Adjunct Reference Librarian at RIC, in addition to providing reference and research support, I created several online guides, some of which are still actively in use. Online library guides provide instructions and information to support students, faculty and staff and act as the digital arm of library instruction. Having learned about creating guides using LibGuides, I brought the platform to my next library, at Mount Ida College, and continue as one of the two administrators of the platform and suite of related tools the library uses for the Adams Library online services.

While at Mount Ida College I was one of two full time librarians. An exponential leap in responsibility, I was hired to provide reference and instruction services but, along with the other full-time librarian and library director, soon needed to provide guidance or support across all areas of the library. With an extensive teaching load we soon found the library’s information literacy plan needed to be revised. Leveraging the newly published Association of College and Research Libraries Frameworks for Information Literacy, and our experience of both subject area and level imbalances in the current plan, we submitted an extensive revised plan with a remapped curriculum. Our goal was to reduce the heavy first-year instruction redundancies to ensure we met with students at all levels and across all majors, building on skills and habits introduced in each class. This required a deep knowledge of academic department learning objectives and student pathways to completion and transformed instruction from library orientation to a developmental information literacy program.

In March 2015 I returned to Rhode Island College as an Instructor and in March 2016 was rehired at the rank of Assistant Professor. Since returning, in addition to my roles teaching in the library, I have engaged in a range of action-research projects and studies and have led professionally on campus, across the state and regionally.

Teaching Effectiveness

Library Instruction

As a faculty librarian, my primary responsibilities are teaching through individual reference and research consultations, library instruction, and through online tutorials and guides. My goal, in any instruction setting, is to promote curiosity and exploration while supporting students in developing the habits of mind and skills of a researcher. My role is to guide students through finding their own questions and to create an environment where not knowing the answer is normal. This is often new to students who are comfortable fact-finding and reporting, but not developing research questions and synthesizing information. Furthermore, cognitive sciences have shown us that developing new habits and skills takes repeated practice sessions with a balance of challenge and success. As such, I run instruction sessions as a lab.

Following an introductory activity to engage with the essential research concepts and shared learning objectives of the library and classroom faculty, I use the majority of class as time to practice with support. I meet with all students one-on-one at least once during this time, bringing student-discovered questions to the group to provide point-of-need support and pace instruction. By providing individualized instruction, even in the classroom setting, I am able to recognize students’ barriers to learning and be flexible in addressing their needs while still trusting their ability to pass through the messy threshold concepts of information literacy as they develop their own research strategies. Colleagues have mentioned walking past the library classroom unable to see me at first glance as I sit next to each student, sharing their screen, physically at their level. However, in that moment, that student has my attention as we work through their particular sticking-point. The strength of this method is that it not only humanizes the library, but works at all student levels: course number is irrelevant when you personalize instruction.

Teaching this way also requires a firm understanding of the learning objectives of classroom faculty. Research, as an iterative process, cannot exist in a vacuum isolated from the final product and library instruction sessions are not orientations or tours of the building and collections; they are a scaffolded step in a larger research project. I begin collaboration by reviewing the syllabus and assignments students will be working on when they come to the library. I review by asking: Is this part of a series of assignments leading to a larger project? What will they have done before they come in and what will they be doing next? This allows me to speak to student experiences and build on prior knowledge, fully incorporating the session into their course. Programmatically, I have worked with Patricia Brennan to map assignment goals to the Association of College and Research Libraries Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education to develop activities that can be used across multiple sections of First Year Writing. In both models with shared goals we can support each other in class and ensure students leave having reached them.

In the overview, below, of my library instruction is evidence of my commitment to working with first year students and students in programs which provide additional support towards college completion, such as Upward Bound, Learning for Life and the Preparatory Enrollment Program. Library instruction is important at all levels, but in working with students at the start of their academic career I introduce them to the academic library and librarians, setting the tone for how we will work together throughout their time at Rhode Island College.

Library Instruction

Term Class Sessions Departments & Programs Attendance
Spring 2015* 1 Upward Bound 90
Fall 2015 7 Anthropology, First Year Seminar, First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies 95
Spring 2016 8 Anthropology, First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies, Upward Bound 99
Fall 2016 15 Anthropology, Art, First Year Seminar, First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies, Sociology 233
Spring 2017 8 Environmental Studies, First Year Seminar, First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies, Sociology 155
Fall 2017 11 First Year Seminar, First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies, Sociology 188
Spring 2018 13 Anthropology, Art, First Year Seminar, First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies, Honors, Sociology 152
Summer 2018 2 Learning For Life Summer Scholars 13
Fall 2018 9 Art, Anthropology, First Year Seminar, First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies 153
Spring 2019 7 Anthropology, First Year Seminar, First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies, Psychology, Sociology 134
Summer 2019 2 Learning for Life Summer Scholars Program, P​reparatory Enrollment Program 48
Fall 2019 4 First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies 90
Spring 2020 4 Anthropology, First Year Seminar, Gender & Women’s Studies, McNair 54
Fall 2020 6 First Year Writing, Gender & Women’s Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology 77

* March – May
COVID-19

LIBS 150

During the creation of the first LIBS 150 course in Fall 2016 for the Spring 2017 semester, titled: Understanding the Post-Election World, I was invited to participate in a panel with three other faculty members on “Mainstream Media, Social Media, Fake News and the “Post-Truth” world.” It was a welcome, creative challenge to not only stick to a strict presentation time limit, but to work with the panel to create a thread between our fields to create a coherent session. While the other presenters took a more theoretical approach, I knew students would also be looking for news evaluation skills and resources and so I provided practical steps students, and faculty member guests, could take immediately. Following the session, having run out of handouts earlier than anticipated, I was happily surprised that students followed me to the library to pick up copies and still more requested it by email and on the LIBS 150 website. This immediate, positive feedback demonstrates my ability to connect and engage with students in many teaching situations and my ability to anticipate and prepare for students’ questions.

Reference & Individual Consultations

I view drop-in reference and individual consultations as an opportunity to work collaboratively with students. Guided by their questions, my job is to help students determine what their research needs are while demystifying the research process. They are in charge of their research. In a traditional “Reference Interview” librarians untangle a patron’s needs through a series of guiding questions and either answer the question or bring them the appropriate sources to conduct further research. In an academic library it is critical that we not only help find answers and resources, but make our research process explicit, modeling and explaining each step so that the student leaves able to continue with the project at hand and the rest of the course; they are prepared to find, evaluate and use information in their academic work and beyond the classroom.

It is also important to recognize student knowledge. When a student comes to the library for help, they have been studying a topic I may know little about. For example, our nursing students frequently research complex comorbidities, based on real patients they are treating in their clinical experiences. It is therefore important that I am candid with the students about my knowledge of their topic for us to successfully find the information they need to create a treatment plan. This provides an opportunity to model beginning to research an unfamiliar topic and how to collaborate with others with expertise outside of your own, both practices students will need in their academic and professional lives.

While I have thus far focused on students, I also provide reference support to faculty, staff, researchers from other institutions and, as a public institution, all Rhode Islanders. Working with this wide range patron types requires flexibility and the ability to meet each person where they are in their research process. Notably, as one of the few libraries in the state to have access to the digitized archives of the Providence Journal, I regularly work with patrons researching local interest stories, personal history, or digging into Rhode Island’s experiences during national and international events. These researchers are often looking for very specific information or a known article, but may not be comfortable using technology. Here, my job is to translate research strategies from print or microfilm to digital search tools and assure the patrons they are capable of conducting research online. In the summers since the library purchased the archives I have worked with patrons who, once provided enough support and guidance, become regular visitors, expanding and deepening their research. This instruction connects the college with our neighbors, continuing RIC’s role in providing access to Rhode Islanders.

  • 3526 recorded Reference & Research Consultations March 9, 2015 – November 10, 2020

Student Employees

This summer I returned to coordinating reference student employees, having previously supervised them from Spring 2015 through Fall 2017. In addition to the administrative duties, such as scheduling, I view training students as another opportunity for teaching and learning. While most students will not continue into library science, all will need to effectively conduct research and develop troubleshooting skills. To foster this, during my last tenure in this role I investigated opportunities for cross-training and collaboration with the Center for Research and Creative Activity and, when the office moved into the library, Learning for Life to broaden student peer-mentoring opportunities and to continue to bridge academic and non-academic departmental initiatives.

In my return to this role, I plan on revisiting the training materials I began to create in collaboration with Kieran Ayton in 2018, using the tutorial we created as a model to expand asynchronous training to support independent learning in students who wish to grow in their role at the library. I also plan to further refine student positions and make progression through the student employee levels a more transparent process for students who are interested in using their library employment for professional development. By giving ownership of projects and processes to student employees I will more clearly demonstrate the value of their work in and outside of the library and build their confidence. It is always a wonderful experience to witness a shy, but diligent, student become self-assured when working on a new project, lending a student perspective to a discussion, or working with a patron.

Credit-Bearing

Honors 250

In Fall 2018 I was invited by Breea Govenor, who at the time served as director of the Center for Research and Creative Activity (CRCA), to co-teach the inaugural research course for the McNair program, Honors 250: Honors Colloquium. We planned that I would develop a third of the syllabus and take over halfway through the course. She had begun collaborating with the McNair program directors to create the research course, typically taken by McNair Scholars prior to beginning their summer research internship, aligning its goals with CRCA and the College Honors program. However, the initial cohort took the course following their summer internships and while working on the final stages of presenting their research.

The students were, due to some programmatic issues, quite frustrated with the program and class before I joined them. I entered knowing that the transition would be difficult, but I was unaware of the group mood. In response, I needed to develop rapport quickly, responding to the students while maintaining the structure of the course and program created by others so that the TRIO requirements were met and final grades could be compiled. Working with the students I immediately adjusted course, changing our very first research session to explore publication and scholarly communication, flipping the session from finding information needed to sharing research, the stage of the research process the cohort was on. From there, I strove to align the remaining assignments with broader programmatic requirements students were working on outside of the class, preparing them for a final round of presentations in class which they would use as practice to take their research to conferences and in applying to graduate programs. All assignments became scaffolded steps towards the final project and class time was part lab and part seminar.

This was my first foray into teaching credit bearing courses, though I had previously co-created a research unit within a course which spanned several weeks and included lessons, assignments and instructional materials. While it did not go as originally planned, and there were broader challenges in the McNair program, I am now more interested in finding opportunities to co-teach and develop courses outside the library.

Professional Field Experience

In the summer of 2015 the library hosted a University of Rhode Island library school student for her Professional Field Experience (PFE) in the reference department. A PFE is a credit-bearing internship in the type of library a student plans to work upon completion of their graduate program. While all reference librarians worked with the PFE student during her time at the reference desk, I supervised her two main projects. As is true when teaching in many settings, I found myself examining our practices anew when in conversation with her as she was beginning to connect theory to practice. I also found that, even though most of my teaching is with first-year students transitioning to college, when working with a student about to enter their career the student-need in both liminal spaces to be similar: the need to be trusted to recover from failure. Students in transition need to test and practice with confidence, while acknowledging growth and improvement will only come through reviewing set-backs and finding their own systems to revise and begin their work again.

Website

While maintaining the library’s website may not seem an obvious opportunity for instruction; it is an excellent platform to teach students, faculty and staff how an academic library, and its resources and services, work. Since 2016 I have co-conducted three website usability studies: two with Kieran Ayton and the first with Kieran Ayton, Amy Barlow and a URI graduate student, Lisa Perry. I will speak more to the research and scholarship involved with our studies later in this narrative. However, once we have collected our data we must decide how to act, including evaluating how we guide patrons through the site through navigation options and reviewing which library jargon should be revised, removed or clarified with additional information. We want our patrons to be comfortable using any library website, so we review the language on both local public and academic library sites and add tutorials or pop-ups with more information to teach users about the library when keeping the jargon is appropriate. Each study is an opportunity to evaluate what is essential to the library and how we communicate that with patrons.

Guides & Tutorials

To support independent learning and support in-class instruction I develop online guides, also called LibGuides. Guides are created for a mix of uses. When creating guides to support library instruction they may be made for flipped-instruction, providing assignments and activities for students to prepare for in-class instruction, or in lieu of handouts to guide students through activities in and after class. Guides may also be created to assist and instruct patrons on the research process and in selecting and using resources. As with my in-person instruction, each guide is tailored to its purpose and created in consultation with the faculty member or with feedback from the Reference & Research Support department to ensure they meet the needs of students across all majors and disciplines. What makes guides different from other teaching materials is that they are a public document. Shared on the library website, guides are built with an intended use, but may be used by anyone who finds them through the library site or by searching the “community” of LibGuides. I therefore review how they would be used by a virtual guest to the library, especially those guides created for a broader audience and purpose.

Recently, and at an accelerated pace due to the pandemic, the library has begun to create more online tutorials to support distance learning. These tutorials are both videos and interactive tutorials with video, text, images and questions. Like guides, the tutorials are a public artifact of my teaching and could be used by anyone who navigates to the library homepage, but are improved by being interactive and paced, directing students through a process. It is my plan that these tutorials can be used for further flipped-instruction when the college returns to in-person instruction, allowing for more in-depth classroom instruction focusing on reviewing, using and creating information.

In the library and across the college, my teaching takes many forms and is ever evolving as I work with more departments and programs; as we use new platforms and tools to reach students; and as I continue to grow as an instructor through practice and professional development. In all settings I encourage curiosity and build student confidence in developing their own questions, habits of mind and skills to find, use and present information. By trusting students and providing the needed time to practice I provide the ingredients for students to take charge of their learning, enabling them to take their learning beyond the scope of the assignment and to use new ways of thinking when responding to any question or challenge.

Professional Competence and Scholarship

In librarianship our work often takes the form of action-research, initially defined by Kurt Lewin as, “a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action and fact-finding about the result of the action.”[2] In addition to reviewing and revising the Reference and Research Support department’s practices, such as aligning our instruction with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy, reviewing our data collection and assessment strategies and collection development, the process of reviewing materials for purchase, subscription or removal from the library’s holdings, there are three focus areas in which I have been particularly active: Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources (OER), designing and administering the library website, and creating an asset map with Learning for Life. Uniting these is a focus on equity and accessibility.

Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources

In September 2016 Governor Raimondo challenged the colleges and universities to collectively save students $5 million in five years, through faculty adoption of open textbooks. The initiative, in alignment with the governor’s broader education attainment goals, is a partnership between all 11 institutions of higher education and the Office of Innovation. In spring 2016 the Office of Innovation contacted Kieran Ayton, Emerging Technologies Librarian, to participate in a brainstorming session to launch the state’s participation in the U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign. I had just begun to explore opportunities to bring open initiatives to campus, by reviewing previous efforts to encourage faculty to publish openly and by inviting Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to speak to faculty about the financial and educational impact of textbook costs on students, which prompted Kieran to include me in the meeting. From there a whirlwind of planning and organizing, with a recommendation from Ron Pitt, Vice President of Academic Affairs, bringing me to the front of the initiative as chair of the steering committee, composed of one librarian from each institution. Working with campus administration and leaders from the Office of Innovation, SPARC and the Open Education Network (OEN, formerly the Open Textbook Network) I quickly began researching programmatic plans, seeking partnerships, and most critically, implementing a data collection and assessment plan. After assembling an ad hoc committee with faculty champions, User Support Services (USS), Learning for Life, and the Disability Services Center to guide and facilitate campus efforts, we began tackling barriers to open textbook and OER use on campus: faculty awareness, technology infrastructure, and insufficient data and reporting structures.

Collaborating with the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL), and in the model of the Open Education Network, faculty education and outreach began immediately. Following an initial campus visit from OEN staff and facilitators in the Spring of 2017 and my attendance at the OEN Summer Institute I have led a workshop and open textbook review program. Each fall I offer two-hour workshops on the role open textbooks play in addressing the prohibitive costs of textbooks and how this impacts student learning. Following the workshop faculty write a review of an open textbook in their field, for publication in the Open Textbook Library. Faculty who complete both steps are paid a stipend for their time and effort. To complement this program, again collaborating with the FCTL, each spring I offer a workshop focusing on topics related to OER-enabled pedagogy, such as addressing equity and inclusion through OER. For example, in Spring 2020 Amy Barlow, Reference Librarian, and I partnered to bring Janaya Kizzie to campus to present on implicit bias in Wikipedia and lead a Wikipedia editing workshop as part of the Dialogue on Diversity and Inclusion Lecture Series. At the time of her presentation, Kizzie was the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities RI Arts and Culture Research Fellow. I have provided further outreach and education through the relevant College Council committees: Academic Technology Advisory Committee, Bookstore Advisory Committee, Committee on Online Learning and the Library Advisory Committee. Lastly, to build comfort with open licensing, I met with the department chairs of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Feinstein School of Education and Human Development to provide support in creating field-specific guidance to their faculty in publishing openly. Further outreach to the other three schools in spring 2020 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. By providing a robust outreach and education program, faculty members can begin their work on OER and open textbooks on an on-going basis and I am able to connect the value of OER in addressing a range of challenges faculty face.

The arc of campus participation in OER is typically: adopt, adapt, create. Faculty first adopt existing open content to use in the classroom while reviewing and revising courses. Next, with permissions granted to them through open licensing they revise and remix – creating custom content that truly fits their teaching needs. Lastly, with more comfort and understanding the value of contributing back to the commons, faculty create and share new OER. Individuals may not follow this exact pattern, but understanding this framework aided me in preparing for the future phases while encouraging adoption. Here, my research is applied by advocating for the infrastructure and policies needed for the college to be ahead of that curve – to be prepared for faculty to take the next step in their engagement with open. Working with USS, we have reviewed digital publishing tools to assist faculty adapting and creating new open textbooks or OER, which would support broader faculty publication efforts and digital accessibility needs. This portfolio is created in the individual-user version of our top choice: Pressbooks. But a platform alone is not enough to support faculty in creating, rather than adapting, OER. In addition to providing the foundation for departments to understand the role of open publishing in academia and examples of statements in regards to tenure and promotion and open publishing, I have met with faculty union leadership to review the Office of Postsecondary Council’s intellectual property and copyright policies. I am constantly fitting the pieces together to address barriers to open practices that faculty face in traditional publishing. Further, I have successfully advocated for OER Commons LTI integration with Blackboard, making one of the biggest repositories of OER materials accessible to students and faculty.

Formally beginning the steering committee’s work following the governor’s announcement of the challenge, we needed to first address our charge: to save students $5 million in five years. To do this we needed to track faculty adoptions and student enrollment in all of the participating institutions. We created a Google Form for faculty to self-report adoptions. This allowed faculty to provide course details using shared categories and the committee to review and maintain the data in a shared Google Sheet. While simple, this system did not require any one institution to allow access to proprietary systems to committee members outside of their network users or for independent college data collection systems to export and share data interoperably. However, this simplicity has draw-backs, such as not easily allowing for large exports of data, when appropriate, or for faculty to confirm re-use of an open textbook or OER. More importantly at the institutional level, it is the third place faculty need to report teaching materials, following the bookstore and, if there is a student who needs accommodations because of a documented disability, the Disability Services Center. To address initiative reporting needs, as well as bring the college in compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and as part of a college response to the Office of Civil Rights, I collaborated with the Keri Rossi-D’entremont, Director of Disability Services Center and Bin Yu and Charles Gentile in Management Information Services (MIS) to create a single form in PeopleSoft for faculty to report all teaching and learning materials. After creating and troubleshooting the form, I presented it at the Deans and Directors meeting and with Bin to College Council. All supported the new form and reporting process and we intended on running a pilot in spring 2019. While we have reached an administrative impasse – the Vice President of Administration and Finance has been unable to negotiate a data sharing process between the bookstore and MIS – the need for the form and process was again brought to light during the pandemic with more teaching online leading to greater accessibility support needs. Creating this reporting system would also allow for more in-depth analysis of the impact OER and open textbook use has on our students and provide new opportunities for my research to deepen. And, having completed both the Social & Behavioral Research – Basic/Refresher and Conflict of Interest mini-course through the campus’s CITI training in preparation for the Office of Innovation’s US Department of Education grant proposal, I am poised to lead a bigger research project.

My leadership for the initiative has been recognized beyond campus at the state, regional and national level. In addition to chairing, then co-chairing the Rhode Island Open Textbook Initiative Steering Committee, I am an invited member of the New England Board of Higher Education OER Regional Advisory Committee and the NorthEast OER Summit Planning Committee. Following joint conference presentations on our work at the Rhode Island Library Association Annual Conference, the New England Faculty Development Consortium Conference, and leading a webinar through Innovative Educators, Lindsey Gumb and I were invited present at Thomas College through the college’s Davis Foundation funded OER initiative and Lindsey, Daniela Fairchild and I as part of the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services continuing education series. In the national and international OER conversation, in the summer of 2019 I was able to once again attend the OEN Summit and led a well attended and favorably received break-out session on collecting qualitative and narrative data to more completely report on OER initiatives. Later that summer, my abstract was accepted to present on an Open Education Network panel at the 2019 OpenEd conference. Unfortunately, without funding I was unable to attend the conference and so a revised version of the abstract was shared on the OEN Story Map. I look forward to future opportunities to collaborate and learn from peers at national and international conferences and will continue to explore potential funding sources to support my attendance.

As a challenge of the governor, and because RIC’s Open Textbook Network membership has been funded through the Office of Postsecondary Council (OPC), I document RIC’s initiative progress in an annual report which is published on the library’s digital repository and submitted to the president, as well as to the provost and relevant administrators, to be included in the president’s report to the OPC. These short reports provide an overview of not just the adoption rates, students impacted and estimated savings, but also of the work done to reach these targets which provides context and understanding for the type of support needed to achieve our goals. To contribute our data to larger research and advocacy efforts, I maintain the college’s profile on the SPARC Connect OER Directory, which has a public interface for reviewing OER programs and initiatives as well as an internal data reporting platform. I also report on faculty workshop attendance and adoption rates to the OEN, as a member institution we provide this data to track the efficacy of the network’s effort. Through data collection and formal reports I am constantly reviewing the impact of my work on campus and across the state and adjusting course as needed based on further investigation of new practices and strategies.

Website Usability Studies

Since 2016 I have been part of three library website usability studies. The first was the most comprehensive as we migrated the entire website from an old platform to using the LibGuides platform. Each of the subsequent have focused on improving specific features, adjusting and improving the site incrementally. Working with Kieran Ayton, Amy Barlow and Lisa Perry for the first study and redesign we were able to bring a range of perspectives and experiences. I focused on developing a methodology to collect unprompted user feedback, mapping the old to new navigation and confirming existing content was represented in the new design. To ensure we ran surveys and focus groups in accordance with college research standards, and to be able to share our results, we were awarded IRB approval for our study design. Following this study we completely redesigned the library homepage and navigational structure, while working with Web Services to maintain college branding throughout. Our presentation on our research process, findings, and site redesign at the Rhode Island Library Association Annual Conference was very well received. Following this initial redesign we focused on back-end updates and tweaking the site as we got more feedback from users and library employees.

At the time we were redesigning the library website the HELIN Library Consortium decided to update the library catalog system to a new catalog and discovery system. This migration and change from a traditional catalog to a discovery system changed which search options were available to patrons. To determine which settings best facilitated the research patterns of our patrons, we held a series of user experience sessions in the Fall of 2019 which tested which search boxes should be available on the library homepage and their default filtering and prioritization settings. From this study we reconfigured the library homepage, adding the discovery layer search and customizing the limits and filters applied to all the search boxes. Our settings are unique in that each search is set to match our user needs and habits, while all the other libraries in the HELIN Library Consortium have opted for one setting across all their searches. Our thorough study helped us better understand our patrons’ understanding of library systems and make the library resources more available to them.

Our most recent study, in Spring 2020, gave us insight into our patron’s understanding of the purpose of the library website, jargon and conceptualization of the relationship between library departments, services and collections.  As noted in my instruction section, it is important to use language which is consistent with other libraries, but also to know what confuses users. Just as important is balancing how easily patrons can find and use the resources they most commonly need, while highlighting and making unique or lesser-known library services and collections available and accessible. When conducting this last study we found a mix of results which aligned with our hypotheses, based on library employee feedback and experience with patrons, and results which surprised us. Kieran and I plan on continuing to maintain the library website through this iterative process, having found that this is an effective research pace: We are aware of most of our users’ needs, but still learning and refining the site through targeted research questions.

Learning for Life Asset Map & Central Falls Rhode Island College Innovation Lab Planning Council

From Spring 2015 to Spring 2017 I was a member of the Central Falls Rhode Island College Innovation Lab (Lab) Planning Council, taking on the role from the library’s interim library director. Around this time the Lab and Learning for Life (L4L) had begun a shared project with ambitious goals to map L4L partners and Rhode Island social service resources, as well as Lab projects. VPAA Ron Pitt was a member of the planning council and saw an opportunity for the library to collaborate further on the project, bringing data management and organization to the project. At his suggestion, Julie Horowitz, Lab Director, and Chris Lambert, Director of L4L invited me to join the team and then, following a few meetings, to lead it. The map is currently live on the library website and a main link from the L4L homepage. Several faculty members have also begun to include it in their syllabus resources list, normalizing use for all students, not just those who have a relationship with L4L.

Knowing academic librarians had been increasing their interest in equity, three of us who had worked on the map: Laura Coelho and Amethys Nieves, the Lab and L4L’s Data Management Strategists, and I presented at the Association of College & Research Libraries, New England Chapter (ACRL/NEC) Annual Conference in 2017. Neither Laura nor Amethys had presented at a conference, so I was happy to provide this opportunity for them to grow in their professional capacities while sharing our work with a regional audience. Hearing from attendees that our goals and collaboration were inspiring we decided to write an article to reach a broader audience. In December my article on the process and collaboration will be published in College & Research Libraries News, reaching all ACRL members.

It has become trite to say you learn just as much as you contributed, but in working with L4L staff and student interns, I learned about the services our students use, and need help accessing. In reviewing campus services and offices I quickly became acquainted with parts of the college I may not have known about if not for this project. Since working on this project I have continued to work formally and informally with L4L. Through this project I also learned more about what challenges and barriers to education our students face and I incorporate that understanding in my OER and open textbook advocacy, providing local examples. I have begun to develop a student advocacy role in conversation with the Student Public Interest Research Group, Learning for Life and the Center for Research and Creative Activity’s Assistantship Program. This position would incorporate data collection and analysis with advocacy and student engagement.

Presentations

My goal, when presenting, is to encourage my audience to take action by demonstrating how we came to create manageable processes and foster vital collaborations. Therefore, I seek the appropriate audience and venue for my presentations both on and off campus. Often this is locally and regionally to connect with peers. I embrace the interactive nature of conference presentations and workshops to connect theory to others’ practical concerns. I have always received very positive feedback on these presentations and plan on continuing to present and provide workshops, but with the goal of also publishing more in future. Specifically, Kieran Ayton and I anticipate publishing on our continued UX study results, focusing on our iterative feedback and design process.

Exhibits & Displays

Curating materials for the library’s exhibit and display spaces has been a wonderful opportunity to conduct research on topics of interest but not directly related to my regular duties, and to present information in another format. In addition to managing the exhibit and display schedule from 2015 through 2019, I have created and co-created several exhibits, some of which have included online supplements on the library website and on social media, and one with an affiliated event. Most recently I co-curated Living in the Amazon: Artifacts of the Brazilian Yanomami, with Gale Goodwin-Gomez. In presenting Gale’s beautiful cultural objects, collected over her many years of fieldwork with the Yanomami, I worked with her to select materials and create cohesion in the presentation of many objects.

In fall 2019 I created a display with an accompanying guide on curiosity, social-media activity and a welcome CuriosiTea event during welcome week. With the goals of encouraging students to explore the physical library, meet library employees and foster an inquisitive approach to college the whole library was involved in the welcoming tea and our social media posts on library quirks and questions were some of the most liked posts of the time, turning this simple display into a playful, and successful, campaign to bring students to the library in person and online.

A Potion for Memory and Wisdom, an exhibit on the ever-changing perception of writing technology’s impact on thinking while writing, was conceptually a follow-up to the exhibit Amy Barlow and I created in the spring of 2016: The Book: Art and Artifact, which explored the qualities of books as material objects. A Potion for Memory and Wisdom presented objects such as one of the library’s cuneiform tablets, a typewriter on loan from a faculty member, famous writings on writing, and a selection from an extensive bibliography on writing and thinking drawn from the library, Special Collections, and HELIN Library Consortium’s holdings. The Book showcased books’ physical traits and art, with an interactive cover art competition and a collection of objects which question what the shape of a book is, such as a scroll and a tunnel book. In future, I plan on creating a final installment on reading.

In April 2019 I assisted Joanne Valente in creating an Earth Day exhibit with an interactive element and social media posts. Marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the exhibit connected the year’s theme, Save our Species, to the Acts of Green campaign to show which endangered species are affected by every-day changes. Collaborating with Jim Murphy, Sustainability Coordinator, and the student Environmental Club we included information about campus green efforts, and I live streamed the Arbor Day tree planting as the final installment of our weekly social media tie-in, #FootprintFridays, which shared library greening projects.

In addition to these substantive exhibits and displays, I have created and assisted in the creation of many traditional library displays. Students have often remarked that they would not have found or browsed for the books and movies on display, appreciating the approachable entrée to the collections. One memorable example was when a student who is a parent and foster parent found a display with books from the children’s book collection. Without the display she would not have known she could find books for the children in her care while on campus.

Department Liaison Program

To provide tailored library instruction and collection development, as well as facilitating communication between the library and other academic departments, we have a liaison program. I am currently liaison to Africana Studies, Anthropology, Environmental Studies (co-liaison), Gender & Women’s Studies, Justice Studies, Social Work, and Sociology. This fall, starting in mid-September, I also began working with Psychology. Liaison librarians review the library’s collections and subscriptions in their areas, as well as reviewing new publications and media for purchase. In this capacity, I also review books to be deselected from the collections. Notably, when I first came to RIC the library was engaged in a large-scale deselection project to accommodate Student Success offices moving into the first floor of the building. For this project, I reviewed collections in my liaison areas before working with faculty to ensure the collections continued to support their curricular needs. I have not engaged in as much deselection since and would like to further explore the new Library Management System modules for collection development and review.

To connect students to library collections and resources in their areas we create guides with curated resource lists and instructions on field specific research strategies. As I continue to provide library instruction and work with faculty, I continue to develop the guides in their areas. In future I plan on introducing more information about local libraries, archives and museums to the guides to connect students with collections and experts across the state and foster confidence in accessing print and physical materials outside RIC.

Professional Development & Association Engagement

Continued learning is key to continued professional growth. In the last five years I have attended a wide range of professional development opportunities, including courses which award PDPs and CE credits, workshops, conferences, and webinars. I attend professional development workshops provided by peers through the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning and other campus venues, such as Safe Zone training, which in addition to being an excellent way to improve teaching and service provides new connections and pathways to collaboration with colleagues on campus.

I have also regularly attended programming, read the publications, and engaged in informal communication, such as participating in email lists and forums, provided by library professional organizations I belong to on the national, regional and state-level: the American Library Association and College Libraries Section; Association of College & Research Libraries and Instruction Section; Association of College & Research Libraries, New England Chapter and New England Library Instruction Group; and the Rhode Island Library Association and Information Literacy Action Round Table. Within each association I belong to the section or interest group which will best inform my teaching and keep me informed on emerging practices and trends in the field. To improve skills and understanding for specific projects and initiatives I have attended conferences outside of librarianship, such as the NorthEast Regional Computing Program Annual Conference. Additionally, the Open Textbook Network Summit, NorthEast OER Summit have been the most directly impactful conferences in my work leading the open textbook initiative.

Administration & Service

Rhode Island College’s shared governance model provides many opportunities to serve in an administrative capacity.

Library

In the library I am on the management team, convened by Library Director Carissa DeLizio, which meets monthly to address services, policies and changes to the library and the faculty Departmental Advisory Committee. For the past two years I have also served on the Friends of the Library, this year becoming the President. I am working to revitalize the Friends to support the library during these difficult financial times and to better document processes, while creating a sustainable plan to hand to the next president. Since 2016 I have also served on the search committees for three positions: Internet Communications Specialist; Head of Metadata and eResources; Part Time, Temporary Reference Librarian and always attend open sessions for library candidates.

Borne out of my work on the library website and library outreach committee, I called for the creation of a library signage task force. Recognizing that patrons must conceptually understand how collections and resources are represented in multiple formats, categorized and labelled across the building and website, and need to navigate between digital and physical collections to fully use all the library has to offer, I began to research improved strategies to bring these two navigation needs in alignment. To begin we explored library map tools which would sync with Google Maps and the catalog. Finding these systems prohibitive, either in cost or time to update, we created a deceptively simple floor map which can be viewed online, or when in the library at all entries to stairs and elevators. This map is always presented in the orientation the user is standing in the library. Delays, such as ongoing delays to library renovations and budget constraints have slowed work, but in 2019 I was able to create the task group and we have surveyed library employees and patrons on their wayfinding needs; reviewed current library signage, and created a proposal for a staggered signage improvement plan.

From 2015 through the end of 2019 I served on the library Outreach Committee (formerly the PR Committee), a year and a half longer than the intended three-year term. Though there was no formal chair at the time, I led the committee from 2016 – 2019. We worked with Communications and Marketing to  create outreach materials such as branded bookmarks and highlighters, and the library newsletter; ran the library’s social media platforms; maintained the library exhibit and display case schedule; and assisted in installing the exhibits. We also maintained, with the help of student employees, the New Books & Materials Guide, which was updated bi-monthly during the school year and once over the summer. We scheduled events, coordinating with the First Year Experience committee, once formed, and promoted events coordinated by anyone in the library through all campus avenues, and, when warranted, with local libraries or other organizations. To better organize what was disparate information when I joined the committee, I created instructions on where and how to promote events. We also frequently organized and staffed tables during events such as Accepted Students Day, New Students Day and Homecoming. During finals the committee promoted and organized the Friends of the Library snack cart and passive ‘destress’ activities. We frequently looked to partners in academic and student success offices to collaborate and amplify each others’ work.

As one of the website administrators I have also trained library employees in using our host of Springshare products, updated and edited content, updated and maintained the suite of tools and created forms and systems for all library departments to use. Often this also requires assisting colleagues in translating their current systems and paper documentation to a digital format which is not a one to one transfer. I try to keep up to date on new tools to support the web needs of the whole library to help us work more collectively across library departments.

College

As a member of the Central Falls Rhode Island College Innovation Lab Planning Council, in addition to the asset map project, I participated in regular meetings to set the direction of the partnership and find new avenues for collaboration. Connecting the work of the Information Literacy Action Round Table, which brings K-12 and academic librarians together, and the Innovation Lab I met with the librarians at the Central Falls high and middle school to find shared goals. We discussed aligning library instruction and supporting the Innovation Lab’s Parent College program and professional development opportunities in Rhode Island, like the Rhode Island Library Information Network, the consortium for K-12 schools, annual conference. Working with Learning for Life (L4L) I also led introductory sessions to the library for the conditionally accepted Central Falls High School students. This has grown as part of my on-going partnership with L4L and I have since led several welcome sessions for students from across Rhode Island connecting with the college through L4L. I gained a greater understanding of the role of librarians in our local high schools and the potential partnerships we could develop to support the transition from K-12 to college. At the recommendation of Chris Lambert and Ed Pacheco, I was invited to present on our asset map to the president’s Community Partnerships Committee. After the presentation I was invited to serve on the committee to assist with collecting and categorizing data.

More recently, I served on the AFT social and research committees and, beginning in Fall 2019, I have served as the library representative on the Committee on General Education and the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic I served on the Online Planning Committee in the spring and summer of 2020 and continue to serve on the Accessibility Committee.

Professional Organizations

From 2011 to 2016 I was an active member of the Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) Conference Committee, from bringing in the Occupy Wall Street People’s librarians as the President’s Luncheon Speakers;to serving as Speaker Coordinator and leading the Sponsorship Subcommittee; and helping run the logistical side of the conference each day. My involvement kept me connected to Rhode Island libraries and librarians while working in Massachusetts, but also built the connections I have needed to support the open textbook initiative and future collaborations. I was invited to join the ACRL/NEC Scholarships and Awards committee by the co-chair, and former co-chair of the RILA Conference Committee, Dawn Emsellem, in 2016. After a successful first year on the committee, which solicits nominations and proposals for six annual scholarships and awards, I was co-chair from 2017 – 2020. As co-chair I was also a member of the ACRL/NEC board, which provided perspective on which challenges, projects and services our regional peers were engaged in.

To better understand the role of the Higher Education Library Information Network (HELIN) Consortium plays in the state, I joined the Website Task Force in 2017. To develop a site which served members, we informally surveyed our colleagues and found the greatest need was for tools to collaborate, share documents and events, and meet virtually. To meet these needs, I introduced using G-Suite tools to the consortium and asked that the board develop a policy for use. Several committees and task forces have made use of the tools since. From 2018 to present I have also served on the Mission and Strategic Directions task forces. These committees, charged by the board, reviewed membership perception of the current purpose of the consortium and what it should do next to support the wide range of member institutions and employees across the state. Working with library directors and librarians from our neighboring institutions I have learned how other libraries use our shared tools and the importance of the consortium’s Affinity Groups in coordinating change.

Most recently, as noted in the Professional Competence and Scholarship section, I was invited to be a member of the inaugural New England Board of Higher Education Open Education Regional Advisory Committee and as a representative from Rhode Island for the Northeast OER Summit Core Planning Team, which is an expansion from the team which conceived of the summit.

Community

As a volunteer (2009 – present) and board member (2015 – 2021) of Pinewoods Camp, Inc. I have served as the chair of the New Generation Initiative Scholarship Committee, which brings new, young and financially in need campers to camp; and as chair of the Archives Committee, which works with the University of New Hampshire and our partner organizations to preserve and present our camp history and documents. Pinewoods is a National Register of Historic Places location and the longest operating facility for traditional music and dance in the US. From my work on the archives I was asked to be a member of the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) Archives Task Group. CDSS is a national organization which supports “traditional arts with participatory programs, resources, services and funding, serving as a hub of information within the field.” Because their summer programming takes place, in part, at Pinewoods and also partners with UNH to preserve their archives, I am working to coordinate our preservation and digitization plans.

This narrative has demonstrated my commitment to individualized, responsive teaching and collaborative research and service which amplifies the work of involved partners and enriches student experience, the library’s collections and services, college and profession. If granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor, I will continue to serve Rhode Island College by building on the accomplishments outlined in both my narrative and the following portfolio.


  1. “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education” by the Association of College & Research Libraries is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
  2. Lewin, K. (1946). Action research and minority problems. Journal of social issues, 2(4), 34-46.

License

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Tenure & Promotion Portfolio by Dragan Gill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.