Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)

How to Build Librarian/Instructional Faculty Collaborative Partnerships


Delivered at the American Library Association Annual Conference
San Francisco, California 28 June 1997

AUTHOR: Teaching Methods Committee (1996-1997), Instruction Section, ARCL

PRESENTER: Kevin M. Roddy, co-chair, University of Hawai'i at Hilo

ABSTRACT: Academic librarians work closely with instructional faculty to teach effective use of library materials and databases while students master course content. Librarians often take the initiative in forging collaborative relationships with instructional faculty and provide them with a number of ways that the above goals can be achieved.

At Midwinter 1997, the Teaching Methods Committee conducted a "brainstorming" session involving over sixty instructional librarians. The group began the session with the topic "Collaborating with Instructional Faculty to Create Effective Assignments." Quickly the discussion moved to a related topic: how librarians could successfully initiate and nurture collaborative relationships with instructional faculty. Many ideas were shared and discussed by the participants. By the end of the hour, experienced instruction librarians as well as those new to instruction left with new ideas.

Librarians at four institutions below share their success stories.

Team Teaching with Instructional Faculty

photograph of Susan Barnes Whyte, Linfield College speaks to the group

Susan Barnes Whyte, Linfield College McMinnville, Oregon

Project Description

Linfield has a strong course-integrated library instruction program in place. It helps that librarians have had faculty status here for a number of years. This foundation paved the way for two unique and successful teaching opportunities involving a instructional Librarian and faculty members.

Team Teaching a Research/writing class for Adult Degree Program

In collaboration with an English Department faculty member it began with the traditional face-to-face instructional style. Later, a computer conferencing component and a weekend of interpersonal activity on campus were added. A professional relationship between faculty member and instructional librarian enhanced the development of this model.

Information Gathering: A course for mass communications majors

Journalism and librarianship were a perfect match to design and deliver this new course, which focused on the research process. Information Gathering is a course in solving problems; it treats research as a recursive, reflexive exercise, and views writing as a vital tool in the process of thinking.


Students thrive on the responsibility of designing research projects and ultimately becoming experts. They recognize the value of the skills they are mastering, and the importance these skills will be for advanced classes and their careers after graduation. Several students from these classes have published pieces or have set up peer programs on campus. Team-teaching is fun, but hard work. Our approach is intentionally student-centered and idea-centered. The two instructors must trust each other, and on occasion, it is acceptable to disagree openly in front of the class. It amazes the students to see two "authorities" with different opinions, and ones who laugh a lot. Team-teaching opens the mind and heart to the vibrancy of the teaching and learning experiences at a liberal arts college!

Creating General Education Curriculum with Instructional Faculty

photograph of Susan F. Maesato and Kevin M. Roddy, University of Hawai'i at Hilo Hilo, Hawai'i

Susan F. Maesato and Kevin M. Roddy, University of Hawai'i at Hilo Hilo, Hawai'i


University of Hawai'i at Hilo librarians are "non-instructional faculty." Until this year, they had few chances to exercise responsibilities and rights as university faculty. Recent changes in campus administration and a petition to campus administration to remind the university community of the status and value of librarians successfully returned them to the "campus table." This has had a very positive effect on the professional lives and esteem of all librarians. It also has made librarians somewhat of a commodity on university committees.

Over the years, instruction librarians at UH Hilo have developed a successful library skills workbook, a series of specialized upper-division instruction courses, and faculty orientations. Willingness to "walk the halls" and drum up business outside of the library was important to making faculty aware of library academic support programs. Attendance at the campus' recent general education forum, coupled with the return of faculty recognition has finally placed two librarians on the Freshman Seminar Committee.

Freshman Seminar Committee

The committee is currently designing a course integrating critical thinking, writing, computing, quantitative, and social skills with a freshman entry-level history course. Besides the two librarians, the committee consists of a geographer, a geologist, and one professor each from English, speech communication, and computer science. The other members of the committee value student mastery of information technology and are pleased with the librarians' contributions and unique perspective. Faculty members are told of frustrated students who often confide in librarians about "missions impossible" they've been given. The Freshman Seminar consists of a five-unit course with two one hour lectures and two two-hour labs, and will replace the mandatory English 100 course. Three sections will be offered beginning in Fall 1998.

Oberlin's Faculty Information Literacy Workshop

photograph of Oberlin College Library Faculty

Paula Contreras, Oberlin College Oberlin, Ohio

Project Description

In January 1997, the Oberlin College Library held a three-week workshop for faculty members on Information Literacy. The workshop received a surprisingly high rate of attendance--roughly 1/4 of the teaching faculty of the college of arts and sciences came to at least one of the sessions. The genesis of this project came from discussions within our General Faculty Library Committee, consisting of the representatives from the teaching faculty and the library director. Among other issues, the committee had been discussing the need to integrate more "information literacy" into our curriculum, a need determined by interactions of public service staff with Oberlin College students. A document entitled Information Literacy and the Oberlin Education was created by the committee last September and distributed to all teaching faculty. The report was greeted enthusiastically. The faculty acknowledged that they needed instruction before they could pass this information on to students, and formed a task force to address this issue. Public services librarians were asked to create a workshop to bring faculty up to date with information literacy and technology. January, during Oberlin's Winter Term, was chosen as the time to present the workshop.

The task force created the nine-session skeletal outline of the workshop, and the resulting sessions were developed by public service librarians. Course content covered everything from traditional reference sources and the structure of databases to government documents and the World Wide Web. Needless to say, we were overwhelmed, yet delighted at the response and the pioneering lead librarians now have as Information Literacy instructors.

For more details on the workshop,please visit our website at:

Helping UW Athletes Get Wired

photograph of University of Washington Seattle library facilitator and student athletes

Jill McKinstry and Geri Bunker, University of Washington Seattle, Washington

The UWired project

A yearlong pilot project to help student athletes meet academic requirements while performing well in athletic programs using modern technology to "extend" the academic day.


A one-quarter, two-credit seminar called General Studies 199: "University Resources, Information & Technology" was created. Macintosh PowerBook 540C laptops were loaned to participants who could access on-call, on-demand instruction, and tutoring throughout the year in the classroom and on the road through networked lab space called "collaboratories." Classes in discipline-specific instruction on electronic resources and their applications focused on integrating electronic communication and information retrieval skills to allow athletes to access instruction.

The instructional team was composed of two librarians, a peer advisor, a faculty member, and a technical support person. Classes were taught by the librarians. Hands-on assistance was provided by the a graduate student peer advisor. The Computing and Communications tech lead (an undergraduate student) traveled with the team to help with connectivity and tutoring on the road. Twenty-three students were enrolled in the class, and many instructors helped students connect to the network, master the importing and exporting of documents, and search multiple databases. All team members participated in designing the course.


Student-athletes experienced the integration of their sport and study lives and enjoyed the benefits of having librarians, faculty, and coaches as mentors. Everyone was accessible in the classroom and on the road. Technology was put into service of scholarly pursuit.

For more information on UWired, visit their Web site:


A list culled at the Teaching Methods Committee Brainstorming Session at ALA Midwinter 1997, Washington, DC:

  • promote your subject and database searching expertise through publication or assist faculty with complex research projects
  • seek involvement in curriculum development (e.g., general education and information technology classes
  • introduce yourself to instructional faculty - ask them to lunch or to play tennis - let them now how accessible your are, and what you can do for them
  • attend teaching faculty departmental meetings, new faculty orientations, and graduations
  • approach teaching faculty and offer assistance in the creation of effective library assignments (and say good-bye to ineffective and "mission impossible" assignments)
  • formulate information literacy policy and promote it by explaining how it fits into the institution's mission
  • become a presenter in "learning to teach" workshops for instructional faculty
  • seek partnerships with members of the campus faculty library committee
  • reach out to instructional faculty in campus centers for effective teaching and learning
  • offer library instruction sessions on specific course assignments
  • offer Internet workshops to teaching faculty at the beginning of each semester
  • create library instruction teams including non librarians, such as faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate peers
  • teach university technology courses (www, email, ftp, etc.)
  • promote a campus-wide system that refers faculty with questions about teaching information technology to campus librarians
  • watch for new courses and new opportunities developing on campus
  • serve on campus-wide undergraduate curriculum committees
  • employ creative public relations techniques (some institutions have successfully drummed up library instruction business by offering free or heavily subsidized copy-cards)


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