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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

   64th IFLA General Conference
   August 16 - August 21, 1998


Code Number: 040-112-E
Division Number: I.
Professional Group: University Libraries and other General Research Libraries
Joint Meeting with: User Education
Meeting Number: 112.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

Faculty - librarian collaboration in building the curriculum for the millennium - the US experience

Hannelore B. Rader
University of Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.


A quiet revolution is occurring on many campuses in the United States. Technology, funding agencies and competition are forcing faculty to rethink the curriculum in most academic disciplines in terms of content and teaching. At the same time academic librarians are feeling similar pressures to rethink their role in higher education. The need of students and faculty for viable information skills is moving librarians more into the teaching arena. Librarians are establishing a variety of faculty outreach programs to work more closely with their academic colleagues to integrate information skills into the curriculum. Examples from universities around the US will demonstrate the variety of efforts in which librarians are involved to change the academic curriculum so students can be prepared for the information society.



As higher education prepares for the 21st century enormous changes are occurring due to new technological developments and the need on the part of faculty and students to acquire computer and information skills. Learning now has to be continuous and almost a "way of being." (1) Universities must teach their constituents to integrate learning opportunities into everything they do in order to be successful in the constantly changing work environment, in organizational work and in society. Higher education needs to look closely at the business world where strategic advantages are now more and more based on learning and teaching organizations to take advantage of evolving technology, the Internet, the global marketplace and the new economy. (2)

In the United States the environment for higher education during the last decade has been strenuous. Funding agencies for universities and colleges have been more demanding in assessing higher education outcomes and faculty productivity. Competition for students both by publicly funded and private institutions has been strong. For-profit academic institutions like the University of Phoenix have added a new dimension to the changing higher-education environment. The demand for distance learning opportunities and the evolving virtual university have increased the strain on the already problematic academic environment. University administrators are being pressured by legislators and governing boards to perform miracles by

Competition among colleges and universities although not new is growing stronger. Teaching, research and service, the three-part mission of universities and their libraries, are being reshaped, creating a climate for transformation and new opportunities. Similar to universities, libraries are restructuring to accommodate technological developments, changing information demands and learner needs. (3)

Higher Education in the United States

There are more than 3,700 public and private institutions of higher learning in the United States, with enrollments of more than 15 million students of whom 70% are enrolled in public institutions at a cost of billions of dollars. These colleges and universities include more than 4,600 libraries with an inventory of more than 1.2 billion volumes. (4)

The cost of higher education both for individual students and institutions has continued to increase each year. For example, tuition cost has increased more than 200% since the 1980s. Higher education is an expensive operation; it has become " big business." At the same time, state and federal support for higher education has become more limited. Legislators, governing boards and accrediting agencies are beginning to demand

In other words, outside pressure is being applied to higher education as never before to bring about changes commensurate with changes taking place in society.

New models for universities are slowly beginning to emerge to address financial needs and competition. Some are for-profit institutions such as the University of Phoenix, based in Arizona, with a major stock portfolio on Wall Street and a presence in many of the states. Other institutions are trying to become Virtual Universities, offering distance education through the Internet anywhere in the United States and in the world. The Virtual University model offers students educational opportunities to learn across distance and independent of time schedules, something many people desire. (5)
Still other universities are becoming partly "corporate" by utilizing funding from business for various educational programs and initiatives.

Many of these initiatives are controversial in the eyes of the faculty who have always believed they have autonomy within the university and total control of the curriculum. Issues to be resolved are

Academic Libraries at the Cross-Roads

Similar to universities academic libraries are in the midst of a not so quiet revolution and have been in this state for a longer period than their parent institutions because of the electronic information explosion. During the last decade academic librarians have had to rethink how they do their work due to the fact that they had to acquire, process and balance collections of print and electronic information formats while addressing annual material inflation issues. They had to create efficient and seamless access to electronic information formats. In addition, librarians had to deal with several generations of automated library systems, from the first generation of online catalog systems to the latest client-server, WEB-based integrated library systems. Librarians have already made substantial progress in

Thanks to their experience, librarians are emerging within the university as leaders in the electronic information environment where new formats of information and knowledge are beginning to have an impact on learning, teaching and to some extent research.

In addition to rethinking processing, academic librarians have begun to restructure public services and their role within the university. (6)

As pointed out earlier, there is pressure on faculty to increase their productivity and to change instructional strategies. Such demands for major revamping of academe will be difficult and will also take time. It can be accomplished if instructional teams are utilized. Such teams need to include representatives from the faculty, technology, librarians, and pedagogy. Involvement in such teams will provide librarians an opportunity to

These facilities could include collaborative learning centers, state-of-the-art group study rooms, interactive teleconference centers, and computer laboratories.

In the future, the quality of academic librarians will be assessed on the basis of how they connect their customers to the information and knowledge they need, regardless of where the content may be located. (7) Librarians will be assessed in terms of how well they meet the information and learning needs of the students. They will be seen as instructional partners with faculty to help students develop into effective consumers of information.

Rethinking the Curriculum

Educational reforms have been in process since the 1980s and many faculty have been concerned about students' acquisition of knowledge and skills to think critically and be able to solve problems. Progress in educational reform to address these issues has been slow in part because faculty generally are not trained or prepared in pedagogy and instructional technology. They need assistance in integrating electronic information into teaching.

There is much pressure now on faculty members to restructure the academic curriculum in order to meet new learning needs of students. This is a very new environment for academia where curriculum development has always been the total responsibility of faculty. However, pressures from funding agencies, the business community needs, and from the present generation of students are beginning to force a more or less quiet revolution on campuses with a focus on curriculum revision. The educational enterprise is looked upon as a process of heuristic inquiry fostering programs for further investigation. If education is to become true to its mission it must utilize access to all types of information resources throughout the learning process. Sharing of information and collaborative learning projects should be an integral part of every classroom experience. (8)
Resource-based learning in all disciplines will depend on electronic information resources and librarian involvement in teaching information skills.

Information literacy

Information literacy can constitute both a liberal as well as technical art and should become a part of the curriculum even though this will be a big challenge. Such a curriculum would have to address literacy tools in relationship to

Partnership for Information Literacy

Librarians are in a unique position to become partners with faculty in curriculum reform and achieving resource-based learning for students. However, to achieve this new role, librarians will have to break out of their traditional reactive mode and become leaders and innovators in their interaction with faculty. (11)

Resource-based learning involves active learning environments where students under the supervision of teacher/facilitators utilize a variety of information resources to solve problems. Librarians are uniquely qualified to partner with faculty to provide the resource expertise and instruction in their use. Teaching information skills will be the expertise which librarians bring to the partnership. Librarians are prepared to instruct students in finding, evaluating, organizing and applying information to problem solving. They are ready to teach students and faculty the methodology and approaches required to effectively locate and use electronic information sources. (12)

Librarians are collaborating with faculty in instructional development through national initiatives in the

These national collaborative groups in higher education are providing opportunities for librarians and faculty members to work together in rethinking teaching and learning. In the CNI New Learning Community programs teams of faculty, librarians, computer experts and students are encouraged to work together to restructure courses. (13)

Several impediments have been identified to be

Librarians have taken the initiative on many campuses to teach faculty the use of the Internet and the World Wide Web as applied to specific academic disciplines. They have sponsored department and subject specific Internet seminars to

Examples of Faculty-Librarian Collaboration

There are numerous examples of faculty-librarian partnerships in higher education in the United States. They vary tremendously in complexity and scope but demonstrate that such collaboration is possible and can be effective for everyone who is a part of it. Such partnerships do require a certain amount of entrepreneurship and creativity on the part of librarians who need to reach out to the faculty to initiate cooperative ventures. A comprehensive bibliography listing information literacy projects and related issues has been prepared by librarians at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. (15)

Here are several examples of current partnerships with references to additional information:

Suggestions for Collaboration on Instructional Programs

Dynamic librarian-faculty interaction is most important in order to build strong collaborative instruction programs. Throughout the academic community in the United States there are many noteworthy efforts describing faculty-librarian partnerships in the library and higher education literature. In particular, small liberal arts colleges have made substantial progress in forming successful partnerships. (24)

From the various experiences described in the library literature librarians need to be aware of the following when building partnerships between faculty and librarians:


It is obvious that higher education and academic librarians are at the crossroads as they approach the millennium. Teaching and learning are undergoing major revisions and opportunities abound for librarians to collaborate with faculty in bringing about changes in the university curriculum. To be successful, librarians need to be alert, creative and informed about what is happening on their university campus. Many examples of faculty-librarian partnerships are already in existence and new ones are created every day. Librarians who started a few years ago to offer Internet workshops and technology instruction for faculty are now finding themselves in situations where faculty are seeking their advice and help in rethinking teaching. This is the situation toward which we are striving.


  1. Vaill, Peter B. Learning as a Way of Being. San Francisco: Josey-Bass, 1996.

  2. Harris, Jim. The Learning Paradox. Toronto: Strategic Advantage, 1996.

  3. Schwartz, Charles A. Restructuring Academic Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association, 1997.

  4. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1997. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1997.

  5. Stallings, Dees. "The Virtual University Is Inevitable: But will the Model Be Non-Profit or Profit? A Speculative Commentary on the Emerging Education Environment." Journal of Academic Librarianship 23(July, 1997): 271-280.

  6. Schwartz, Charles A. Restructuring Academic Libraries. pp. 31-53.

  7. Meyer, Richard W. "Surviving the Change: The Economic Paradigm of Higher Education in Transformation." Journal of Academic Librarianship 23(July, 1997): 291-301.

  8. Nadin, Mihai. "The Civilization of Illiteracy". Educom Review 33 (March-April, 1998): 51-53.

  9. Bruce, Christine. The Seven Faces of Information Literacy. Adelaide: Auslib Press, 1997, p.8.

  10. Shapro, Jeremy J. "Information Technology as a Liberal Art.: Educom Review 31 (March/April, 1996): 31-35.

  11. The Evolving Education Mission of the Library. Chicago: American Library Association, 1992, pp90-108.

  12. Rader, Hannelore B. "Information Literacy and the Undergraduate Curriculum." Library Trends 44 (Fall, 1995): 70-78.

  13. http://www.cwru.edu/affil/cni/base/acrlsni.html

  14. More information about CNI is available at their Web site

  15. http://www2.lib.umassd.edu/library2/INFOLIT/Ilbib.html

  16. See http://cause-www.niss.ac.uk/information-resources/ir-library/abstracts/cem9438.html

  17. Adalian, Paul et.al. "The Student-Centered electronic Teaching Library: A New Model for Learning." Reference Services Review 25 (Fall/Winter, 1997): 11-21.

  18. Sonntage, Gabriela and Donna M. Ohr. "The Development of a Lower-Division, General Education, Course-Integrated Information Literacy Program." College and Research Libraries 57 (July, 1996):331-338.

  19. Diller, Karen. "Helping Your Campus Navigate Electronic Environments: Collaboration Is a Necessity." Research Strategies 15 (Summer, 1997): 187-192.

  20. Woodard, Patricia. "Librarian and Faculty Collaboration in Honors 301.88: An Interdisciplinary computer Applications Course." Research Strategies 14 (Summer, 1996): 132-144.

  21. See http://www.cac.washington.edu/uwired/ctlt.html

  22. See http://milyon.mdr.jhu.rfu:8001/research/education/distance/scs.html

  23. http://www.library.carleton.edu/instruction/loex/more.html

  24. Dilmore, Donald H. "Librarian/Faculty Interaction at Nine New England Colleges." College and Research Libraries 57(May, 1996): 274-284.