ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries

Hope College Application


Hope College is an institution with a strong commitment to teaching and scholarship. The library shares that commitment by supporting students and faculty in the teaching and learning process. The mission of the Hope College library is to serve as a vibrant center of intellectual and cultural life by assuming a significant educational role in a college community committed to excellence in learning and teaching. The library pursues that mission with an extensive and sometimes innovative research education program, by collaborating closely with numerous classroom faculty, by using the library's web site as a teaching tool, and by paying attention to the idea that the library staff is here to help our students become life-long learners.

The expanded statement of institutional goals and objectives (adopted by the college in 1992) includes three that are particularly pertinent to the library. 1) Students will possess fundamental skills that enable them to use research facilities and library resources competently. 2) All graduates will have developed the intellectual and methodological foundations for lifelong learning. 3) The college will strengthen its library holdings and services, while concurrently integrating the library more fully into the academic program.

Creativity and Innovation in Meeting the Needs of the Academic Community.

The library has found several innovative ways to serve the college including participation in the program for first-year students, use of sabbatical leaves to enhance library programs, and publications targeted to specific departments.

Over the past fifteen years the library staff has developed a comprehensive program of instruction that reaches students from their first semester on campus through their senior year. The library staff works closely with classroom faculty to help students learn how to use library resources effectively in the First Year Seminar, in the basic expository writing course, and in upper level courses in all subjects offered by the college.

All first year students at Hope College are required to take the First Year Seminar (FYS) in the fall semester. Hope's library is intimately involved in this program. Librarians participated in the design of FYS. As a result, there is an information literacy objective to the seminar. To help meet this objective the library created its own interactive tutorial which is frequently revised. In addition to the tutorial, librarians teach basic skills tailored specifically to the subject matter being covered. Furthermore, the library is committed to providing one instructor each fall for the seminar.

The success of the First Year Seminar library component is dependent upon librarians working with each of the 40 FYS instructors to design a meaningful course integrated library assignment. This is accomplished through presentations by librarians at summer faculty workshops as well as by appointments with individual instructors. Librarians explain the information literacy component and the services the library has to offer, as well as suggest alternatives to the traditional research paper. For example, last summer a panel of experienced First Year Seminar faculty shared their library related assignments with other FYS instructors. The individuals on this panel were not only enthusiastic in their appreciation for the contributions the librarians made to the success of that portion of their class, but they also urged their colleagues to work closely with a librarian to help design this part of their course.

Surveys of first-year students have repeatedly shown the effectiveness of the combination of the tutorial and "live" instruction by a librarian. Faculty frequently comment that the quality of the instruction by the librarians is very high and that their students show obvious improvement in library research after a session from a librarian.

Use of Leaves to Enhance Library Services

The interactive FYS Tutorial would not have been possible without the time and support provided by a sabbatical leave awarded to Kelly Jacobsma, the library's Head of Public Services. In fact, the college has used sabbaticals by librarians to improve library services six of the last seven years. These leaves have resulted in positive changes to organization, instruction, training and supervision of student assistants, interlibrary lending, and educational technology. Priscilla Atkins, a reference librarian assigned as liaison to the fine arts departments, spent part of her sabbatical sitting in on art and theatre classes. As a result of these visits she has forged new relationships with faculty and become a recognizable presence for the students who now look to her for assistance.

Faculty Alerting Service

In order to alert faculty to library services, librarians sometimes resort to unusual methods. Anthony Guardado, a reference/instruction librarian, created a "newsletter" that he sent to the Mathematics faculty. Anthony used this single page, colored publication to introduce himself and remind faculty of the library services and resources available in mathematics for their students. He followed the success of this effort with a similar flyer for the department of Business, Management, and Accounting. He has received many comments and requests for assistance from faculty in these departments as a result of his newsletters.

Leadership in Developing Exemplary Programs that Other Libraries can Emulate.

Comprehensive Highly Integrated Instruction Program

In 1989, with a grant from the Lilly foundation, the library embarked on a complete revision of its instruction program. The grant enabled the library and classroom faculty to jointly develop models of instruction from which emerged a program in the Expository Writing course. From that beginning the library has expanded the program to include the First Year Seminar and upper level courses in nearly every discipline on campus. The program has continued to evolve. Teams of faculty, students, librarians and technologists now design ways to integrate technology and information literacy instruction into upper level courses. The emphasis on instruction means all librarians who are hired must show teaching ability as well as other attributes of librarianship. This emphasis on student learning strongly reflects the mission of both the college and the library.

Dynamic Organization

The library underwent a major restructuring in 1989 and the organization continues to be modified as needs and priorities change. The most prominent alteration has been the creation of teams to deal with specific issues. The first team was formed as a task force to address concerns with the library’s web site. The recommendations were far reaching and led to reconstituting the group as a continuing team to manage the web site. The result has been a dynamic web presence that has been used to inform and instruct the entire college community. Additional teams have been organized to deal with collection development, electronic serials, and security.

Web Site Usability Study

With the advent of the World Wide Web, the library created one of the college's first web pages and continues to expand and refine the services provided on that site. According to the college computing center, the library web site is one of the most visited on campus.

In addition to creating the library's own web site, librarians have fashioned web pages for individual classes to support the library's instruction program.

In order to keep the web site up to date, a team was created to supervise additions and changes to the library's web pages. Two years ago the Web Team conducted a web site usability study among a number of student volunteers. We learned, for example, that language thought to be free of library jargon was not, and that students sometimes struggled to perform functions that library staff had considered intuitive and obvious. This was an eye opening and valuable study. The information gained resulted in significant improvements to the library's web page design, to the information provided, and to the language used on the library's web site.


Two years ago the library took over operation of the technical learning center. This unit provides hands on instruction in the use of a variety of computer programs and applications. The center was moved to a very visible space in the library, the hours were extended, staffing was expanded, and it was renamed the TechLab. The new staff includes students, librarians, and a part-time supervisor. We are greatly encouraged by its obvious success -- well beyond any of our expectations. Professor Steve Nelson praised the lab and its staff for the obvious improvement his students demonstrated in their presentations after several sessions in the lab. An English professor wrote to one of our librarians:

You must be one of those natural-born teachers, the kind for whom patience and clarity come easily. And I just want to add one specific thing: you're the only computer guy who has ever made me repeat a step, to insure that I learn it.

Workshop for library faculty on teaching

The college and the library place a high value on teaching. A workshop on teaching was organized and conducted during the spring of 2001 for library faculty. This workshop has been described in. Priscilla Atkins and Catherine E. Frerichs. "Planning and Implementing a Teaching Workshop for Librarians." College and Undergraduate Libraries, v.9(2) 2002 p.5-19.

Supporting the Undergraduate Research Curriculum

The Library supports the college’s nationally recognized undergraduate research program with instruction, resources, and facilities. The library has converted space into studies for students and faculty mentors to work together.

Relationship with Classroom Faculty and Students.

The library at Hope has had a long, productive relationship with the faculty. External reviewers commented as long ago as 1990 about the "enormous reservoir of goodwill among members of the Hope College family towards its library." That goodwill has been enhanced over the last twelve years.

Two years ago the library received a Mellon Grant (through the Great Lakes Colleges Association along with two other colleges in Michigan) to develop better integration of information literacy and technology into upper level chemistry and English classes. The grant allowed the library to form teams that include students, faculty, technologists, and librarians. The chemistry team at Hope developed a program that had a highly successful first run during the spring of 2002 in three Organic Chemistry sections. One of the chemistry professors involved noted that, as a result of the new program, her students completed "excellent literature reviews." This was a great improvement, according to her, over previous years. The program was repeated with enhancements in the spring of 2003, again resulting in greatly improved performance by the students. The library plans to adapt this successful strategy to the Biology curriculum. The chairperson of the Chemistry department wrote last year, "It seems like our program at Hope is quite good, but like anything else we do, there is always the opportunity for improvement. I'm glad that we have a library program (and library staff) that works so well with us."

The English team has a pilot program in place and will test it beginning January of 2004. In addition to these recent efforts we have been working with faculty for years in courses at all levels. The library has a very strong relationship with the Education department leading to joint authorship of an article and a joint presentation at a national conference.

A few comments from faculty may help illustrate the relationship of mutual respect between the library and the faculty:

David Shock, Professor of Communication, "Thank you again for the wonderful help your people give our students over and over. And they're very, very good at it."

"The faculty frequently congratulate themselves on how lucky they are to have you guys at the helm in the library. I can't believe how helpful you've been--not just in alerting me to sources and images, but in taking the time to sit down with me and teach me skills."

Rhoda Janzen, Assistant Professor of English.

Involvement in College Governance

Every contact with classroom faculty is an opportunity to build a better relationship with the library staff. For this reason librarians welcome the opportunity to serve on faculty boards and committees. Librarians have been elected and appointed to fourteen different boards and committees in just the last six years. They have chaired two of the three boards to which the committees report and chaired three committees in that time span. Librarians have served on and chaired a number of ad hoc committees during that same period. Their work on these boards and committees has been highly appreciated by the classroom faculty and the administration.

Active role of library faculty

The library faculty take an active role in teaching and collaborating with classroom faculty. The library’s extensive involvement with the First Year Seminar is described above, but the library is active in many other ways.

Two years ago the library’s Head of Public Services and the director of the English department’s expository writing program collaborated on a successful grant request to conduct a summer workshop for English faculty and librarians. During the summer of 2002, a four-day, interactive workshop was conducted to help faculty learn how to integrate information and technology into first-year composition courses (English 113). Nineteen English 113 faculty and five librarians participated in the workshop. The evaluations submitted by participants were overwhelmingly positive. A few of the many comments may be illuminating. "[The workshop] will make a profound difference in the way I teach every course." "[I] have already redesigned the first three weeks of my English 113." "This was time well spent. Thanks."

Each new faculty member participates in a week long Teaching Enhancement Workshop conducted by master teachers. All newly hired librarians participate in this program. Not only does this help new librarians become better teachers, but it introduces them to the culture of the institution and begins their relationship with classroom faculty.

Each new faculty member is invited to lunch in their first year (usually in the fall) in order to acquaint them with the library. This simple practice allows librarians to initiate a relationship with faculty early in their tenure at the college. The library has gained a large amount of good will, found new classes in which to collaborate, and improved collection development from these luncheons.


Two years ago Kelly Jacobsma, the library’s Head of Public Services, enlisted the assistance of Scott Vanderstoep and the Carl Frost Center for Social Science Research to survey students about their use of and attitudes toward the library. Last spring the library used the LibQual™ instrument to measure users’ perceptions of library service. The results of these surveys were helpful and gratifying and the comments were revealing. The respondents indicated a desire for more computers in the library, better understanding of the services available, and more access to materials. As a result of these surveys the library staff has made changes to improve delivery of service to students. More public service computers have been made available and access to materials has been expanded by adding additional databases. A proxy server on the library’s new integrated system permits students living in housing without direct network connection to have easy access to library databases. The library has made a concerted effort to inform students of the many services available in the library using a variety of sources including the student newspaper, college and library websites, and e-mail as well as traditional means such as tours and during instruction sessions.

  • The new program in organic chemistry has resulted in improved papers by Chemistry students.
  • Faculty report improvement in the papers of students in First Year Seminar following instruction sessions with a librarian.
  • English 113 faculty see marked improvement in papers after library instruction sessions.
  • Faculty frequently comment that their students show obvious improvement in library research after a session from a librarian.

Senior Exit Surveys

The most recent senior exit survey conducted by the college's Frost Research Center noted that 79 percent of the 2002 graduates believe their library research skills had improved during their four years at Hope (up from 73% from the last survey two years ago). Of those, nearly 29 percent believe their library research skills showed significant improvement.