Academic journal article Collaborative Librarianship

Collaborating for Success: A Case Study on Mentoring, Partnering, and Teaching

Academic journal article Collaborative Librarianship

Collaborating for Success: A Case Study on Mentoring, Partnering, and Teaching

Article excerpt


Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) graduates seeking employment in academic libraries are often expected to possess user instruction and public service skills. However, it is difficult for students to achieve this experience through coursework alone. To address this disconnect, librarians at the University of Maryland (UMD) College Park Libraries created a Research and Teaching Fellowship to allow MLIS students at UMD to gain practical instruction experience. The authors present the experience of one MLIS student in collaboration with a subject librarian and a faculty member to plan, implement, and assess an information literacy instruction session for an undergraduate course in public health. The article discusses the benefits of mentoring for the MLIS student and subject liaison librarian, and the impact on the undergraduate student learning. This article addresses a gap in the literature on opportunities for MLIS students to gain instruction, collaboration, and assessment experience by presenting a successful model in place at UMD.

Keywords: mentoring, instruction, course management system, online modules, information literacy, learning outcomes, health science librarianship, academic libraries, research


Librarians have a growing role in helping students become informed and ethical consumers of information. However, library and information science (LIS) graduates seeking jobs that have public service and instruction responsibilities often do not possess the requisite teaching skills to accomplish this complex task. Formal coursework in reference and information literacy instruction is one method of acquiring these skills, but more than coursework is needed to develop competent instruction librarians. (1)

To remedy this problem, collaborative mentoring programs between library science programs and academic libraries have been flourishing in recent years. (2) This paper describes in detail a current collaborative practice at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) that seeks to prepare students in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program for the demands and responsibilities of academic librarianship. The benefits of this collaboration to all parties are discussed.

Literature Review

As academic research libraries are adapting to meet new needs and deliver services proactively, recent graduates entering the workforce are expected to possess the experience and knowledge to provide these high quality services. For aspiring academic librarians to be competitive in the job market, it is becoming increasingly important that they have proficiency in user instruction. However, many LIS programs offer instruction courses irregularly or only when demand is sufficient. (3) In a survey of instruction librarians based on the Association of College and Research Libraries' (ACRL) Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators, Westbrock and Fabian (4) found that most librarians acquired these proficiencies on the job or through self-teaching. However, survey respondents indicated that they believe LIS programs should be the primary source of acquiring these proficiencies.

Mullins (5) explored the changing roles of research librarians and whether recent graduates of LIS programs are able to meet these new needs. He administered a survey to nine directors of Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member libraries to learn more about recent LIS graduates' relevant skillsets and identify ways in which libraries can partner with LIS programs to better prepare students for the demands of their work. The library directors who responded to Mullins' 6 survey reported that they provide formal mentorship programs and encourage professional development at workshops and conferences to make up for the gap in new librarians' skills.

Recent graduates who do not have practical experience in areas such as user instruction, data management, or partnering with on-and off-campus organizations may find it challenging to obtain employment. …

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