Collins, Kearns and Pitts win 2016 ACRL IS Innovation Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 01/26/2016


Chase Ollis

Program Coordinator


CHICAGO — Heather Collins, Sara Kearns and Joelle Pitts have been selected to receive the 2016 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section (IS) Innovation award for their work on the New Literacies Alliance (NLA) project, an online platform that addresses the “new” literacies required for academic success and lifelong learning and that allows students to master skills at their own pace. Collins is the assistant director of research and learning at the University of Kansas Medical Center Dykes Library, Kearns is the head of undergraduate/community services at Kansas State University’s Hale Library and Pitts is instructional design librarian at Kansas State University’s Hale Library.

The annual award recognizes a project that demonstrates creative, innovative or unique approaches to information literacy instruction or programming. The plaque and $3,000 award, donated by EBSCO, will be presented to the group during the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.

“The New Literacies Alliance project was chosen due to its focus on transferrable skills and usefulness to students in the health professions,” said award committee Chair Elana D. Karshmer of Saint Leo University. “While many of the projects considered were interesting and innovative, they did not combine theoretical learning and skills-based practice to the extent that the New Literacies Alliance did; the project was well designed, well executed, and most importantly, easy to implement in a variety of educational settings.”

NLA is a consortial project to create interactive online lessons addressing basic concepts of information and related literacies using an accessible interface that retains student scores on lesson activities and assessments. Librarians and instructors can expand on these concepts in classes through active learning or explore discipline-specific aspects of literacy practices. Lessons are platform and institution agnostic, focusing on knowledge practices rather than specific databases or institutional websites.

Student scores are retained in order to create a record of a student’s completion of lessons. These scores can be shared with instructors in future classes the student may enroll in and even, ideally, with instructors at partner institutions should the student transfer, obviating the need for a student to complete the same lessons for multiple classes.

The project is led by librarians from Kansas State University and the University of Kansas Medical Center. Partner institutions currently include Fort Hays State University, Indiana University, Marquette University, and most recently, Oklahoma State University.

Collins holds a master’s degree in Library Science from Emporia State University. Kearns holds a master’s degree in Library Science from the Catholic University of America and a Ph.D. in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Kansas State University. Pitts holds a master’s degree in Library and Science from Emporia State University.

For more information regarding the ACRL IS Innovation Award, or a complete list of past recipients, please visit the awards section of the ACRL website.


About ACRL
The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 11,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning and transforming scholarship. ACRL is on the Web at, Facebook at and Twitter at @ala_acrl.

About EBSCO Information Services
EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) is the leading discovery service provider for libraries worldwide with more than 8,000 discovery customers in over 100 countries. EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS) provides each institution with a comprehensive, single search box for its entire collection, offering unparalleled relevance ranking quality and extensive customization. EBSCO is also the preeminent provider of online research content for libraries, including hundreds of research databases, historical archives, point-of-care medical reference, and corporate learning tools serving millions of end users at tens of thousands of institutions. EBSCO is the leading provider of electronic journals & books for libraries, with subscription management for more than 360,000 serials, including more than 57,000 e-journals, as well as online access to more than 800,000 e-books. For more information, visit the EBSCO website at: EBSCO Information Services is a division of EBSCO Industries Inc., a family owned company since 1944.