Guest Editorial: The Changing Role of Libraries in Instructional Support
The application of technology to instruction and to information access has proliferated greatly in recent years. Faculty have become increasingly aware of the need for expertise in developing instructional technology, and students expectations continue to rise. In this climate, libraries are seeing new opportunities for providing technology services for users.
Libraries have historically been early adopters of technology. They have developed online catalogs and provided patrons with vast information resources, first through telnet and similar applications and then through the Web. Often these developments have occurred through partnerships with campus organizations such as the information technology department and with the input of teaching faculty.
As technology has become commonplace in classroom and library instruction, libraries are developing new services and resources. The library is ideally positioned to develop and deliver new services because of its centrality to the overall instructional mission of the institution. These new services often arise out of existing relationships between librarians and teaching faculty that evolved from the need for bibliographic instruction.
Some instructional services operations have existed in libraries for many years, but many are just now being developed. This issue highlights examples of both. Howard Carter and Kevin Rundblad describe an operation that has provided a broad range of instructional services for faculty for over fifty years. As the needs of the faculty have changed, the services offered have also changed. They discuss new opportunities realized through partnerships with other campus organizations. Jacqueline Mundell, Coryl Celene-Martel, and Tom Braziunas discuss reorganization at a community college that has created a collaborative environment among the
library, media services, distance learning, and the teaching and learning center. The result of the change is easy access for users and increased interaction between departments. Similarly, M. Claire Stewart and H. Frank Cervone show how more opportunities for better service to users resulted from the library’s use of technology in electronic reserve, digitization services, and streaming media, and by co-locating academic technologies, the library's digital media services, and collection management.
This issue also includes examples of partnerships that have developed out of specific technology projects. In all cases, the library has had the expertise in instructional technology, a sound understanding of the information-seeking needs of students, and a vision for the future applications of technology. Adriene Lim describes a project that involves collaboration between fine arts faculty and the library to provide access to digitized images from a specialized collection of materials. She discusses issues related to project goals and process, responsibilities of the partners, software and hardware concerns, and next steps for the start-up project. Bella Karr Gerlich and Amy Perrier discuss a collaboration between the library and studio art faculty in developing instructional materials and in helping students with research and coursework. They describe collaborative projects such as digitization of slide collections, sound file delivery, and electronic reserves. Tara Dirst describes a collaboration with art history faculty to provide access to a slide library. Other institutions add to the collaboration by providing content and scripting for the database. She also analyzes several database options. Elizabeth Kraemer outlines a project that consists of developing a library instruction module with online courseware and supporting the faculty as they incorporate the module into classroom instruction. She also evaluates the specific courseware used.
This issue illustrates a variety of ways that libraries are providing new kinds of instructional technology services to meet changing users needs. By being keenly aware of changing instructional technology and remaining mindful of pedagogical needs, libraries are redefining their roles in the instructional mission of their institutions.
Susan Logue (email@example.com) is Associate Dean of Support Services at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.