ALAPoster2014 - American Library Association

A Tale of Two Classes: Embedded Librarianship vs. the One-Shot
Jill B. Hampton, Associate Professor of English, University of South Carolina Aiken, [email protected]
Kari D. Weaver, Assistant Professor of Library Science and Library Instruction Coordinator, University of South Carolina Aiken, [email protected]
While English and Library Faculty at the University of South Carolina Aiken have worked together
for years to deliver information literacy instruction to students, particularly in the introductory
composition sequence. However, assessments of student work from the composition sequence
indicated students continued to be deficient in information literacy skills, especially documenting
information and selecting appropriate source materials in their writing. Based on these assessment
results, and in an effort to improve student information literacy outcomes, the Coordinator of
Instruction and an Associate Professor of English began to discuss addressing this problem through
a series of assignments and direct interventions with students on the part of the librarian. In short,
they wondered how to best leverage the expertise of the librarian to improve student performance.
This collaboration developed into a plan to embed the librarian in one section of ENGL 102, the
second course in the composition sequence, and compare the student work in that section with the
professor’s second section of the ENGL 102 acting as a control group for the experiment.
Students were asked to complete an annotated bibliography assignment and a linked research paper
comparing a literary element of a book and a movie version of the same fairy tale. The annotated
bibliography required seven sources, including the two primary sources. The research paper did not
require a specific number of sources.
Average Number of Sources on Research Paper
Embedded Course
Control Course
Future Directions
Literature Review
The adjective “embedded” in the term “embedded librarianship” arises from a couple of sources.
First, it can mean directly “'an integral part to the whole' based on the geological definition of an
embedded element.” (Dene, 2011, p. 225). It can also harken to the sense of a journalist embedded
with the military who is “experiencing and observing, as near as possible, the daily like of the primary
group” (Dewey, 2005, p. 6). Drewes and Hoffman trace the origin of embedded librarianship to the
creation of branch libraries in the late 19th Century, where special collections for specific educational
objectives required support from librarians who were specialists in the selected subjects.
Shumaker (2012) identifies three critical areas that distinguish embedded librarianship from other
types of librarianship as “ongoing working relationships, knowledge of and commitment to
information user-group goals and objectives, and highly customized and value-added contributions to
the group” (p. 5). These sorts of collaborations can take place in a range of environments, including
academic, commercial, or research organizations. In academia, the range of activities that constitute
“embedded librarianship” can vary widely based on circumstances. Becker (2010) focuses on the
embedded librarian primarily in the context of an online classroom, where the librarian can provide
immediate support to the users and provide reference material relevant to the course. Carlson and
Kneale (2011) discuss embedded librarianship in the context of specialized research, where a librarian
may help find information, analyze data, archive results, or even help secure funding for one or more
projects. McCluskey (2013) details her experience as an embedded librarian in the Higher Education
Action Research in Teaching group at York St. John University in the United Kingdom. Many authors
also explore embedded librarianship in the classroom, where the librarian plays an active role in
developing and co-teaching the course with another instructor. Saunders and Taylor (2014) discuss
their experiences in developing and co-teaching a course focused on environmental art, and Olivares
(2010) conversely explores her challenges with establishing an embedded librarian relationship with
the business school at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota.
The skills, traits, and attitudes necessary for successful embedded librarianship are numerous. Carlson
and Kneale (2011) highlight many, including being a team player, support from organization and
colleagues, an entrepreneurial mindset, acceptance of risk, innovation, and relationship-building.
Olivares (2010) also emphasizes the importance of persistence, communication skills, marketing, and
“schmoozing” (p. 141).
While establishing the relationships and expertise necessary for successful embedded librarianship
may be challenging, many researchers have detailed the benefits of exactly this type of collaboration.
Knapp, Rowland, and Charles (2014) identify benefits including improved quality of student projects,
streamlined classroom instruction, development of new types of projects, improved student
performance in courses outside of the embedded course, and higher student retention rates. Saunders
and Taylor (2014) also highlight the additional depth of learning provided by the participation of two
coordinated and complimentary instructors, increased student familiarity with library resources and
online education tools, and instruction facilitation via library space, facilities, and technology.
Students felt better supported by having a librarian present more frequently
in the classroom and readily available for consultation after class hours.
While there was little difference in the number of average sources used on
the research paper, there were distinct differences in the types of sources
students selected between the embedded course and the control course. In
particular, the increased use of books and book chapters for research in the
embedded course indicates the impact of having a librarian in the
classroom to provide intervention in the research process. Though both
courses used journal articles more than other source types, books and book
chapters often provide more accessible and readable for first year college
students. Also notable is the emphasis the control course placed on primary
sources, indicating some level of discomfort with finding and using
secondary sources.
Comparison of Source Use by Type of Source Embedded Course vs. Control Course
Embedded Course
These data represent the analysis of the first of a four semester sequence to evaluate
the impact of embedding a librarian in a course vs. using traditional one-shot
information literacy instruction. Based on these results, the collaborators are
reviewing several ideas for improvements over time. Ideas for the future include:
• Include specific questions on the submission notes regarding the information
literacy content.
• Practice with mini-research papers throughout the semester to help students
become less fearful of research and writing.
• Focus early and often on the relationship between the classroom and the library.
This may include involving the librarian in mini-research papers, through the
course management system in a more defined way, or other unexplored options.
• Consider creating and posting short videos to supplement classroom instruction.
Control Course
Becker, B.W. (2010). Embedded librarianship: A point-of-need service.
Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 29, 237-240. Doi:
Carlson, J., & Kneale, R. (2011). Embedded librarianship in the research
context: Navigating new waters. College & Research Libraries News, Need
Volume, 167-170.
Dene, J. (2011). “Embedded librarianship at the Claremont Colleges.” In C.
Kevinld & K. Calkins (Eds.), Embedded librarians: Moving beyond one-shot
instruction, 219-228. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Dewey, B.I. (2004). The embedded librarian: Strategic campus collaborations.
Students were also asked to complete submission notes with each assignment. This portion of the
Resource Sharing and Information Networks, 17, 5-17.
assignments asked students to reflect on their experiences with both major assignments and their
experiences completing the research. Here are some major points directly from the students related to Kvenild & K. Calkins (Eds.), Embedded librarians: Moving beyond one-shot
instruction, pp. 219-229. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research
this project:
Knapp, J.A., Rowland, N.J., & Charles, E.P. (2014). Retaining students by
• Research is still hard.
embedding librarians into undergraduate research experiences. Reference
• Knowing a librarian is helpful. They are really knowledgeable.
Services Review, 42, 129-147. Doi: 10.1108/RSR-02-2-13-0012
• It is important to find credible sources.
McCluskey, C. (2013). Being an embedded research librarian: Supporting
• The more they practice research based assignments, the easier they become.
research by being a researcher. Journal of Information Literacy, 7(2), 4-14.
• Do not procrastinate!
Doi: 10.11645/7.2.1815
Olivares, O. (2010). The sufficiently embedded librarian: Defining and
establishing productive librarian-faculty partnerships in academic libraries.
Public Services Quarterly, 6, 140-149. Doi: 10.1080/15228959.2010.49768
Saunders, H., & Taylor, R.W. (2014). The art and environment of embedded
librarianship. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 21, 145-154. Doi:
Shumaker, D. (2012). The embedded librarian: Innovative strategies for taking
knowledge where it’s needed. Medford, NJ: Information Today.
Web Sources
Reference Materials
Books/Book Chapters
Journal Articles
Primary Sources

similar documents