Each One Teach One: Historically Black Colleges and Universities Participate in Staff Exchanges

By Burger, John; Lewis, Lillian | American Libraries, February 2007 | Go to article overview

Each One Teach One: Historically Black Colleges and Universities Participate in Staff Exchanges


Burger, John, Lewis, Lillian, American Libraries


What are some innovative ways to stretch dollars? How can libraries cope with never-ending changes in technology and their effects on service? What issues can arise when an academic library merges with the campus IT operation? How can librarians foster the development of a school's institutional repositories, both technologically and politically? What are some real-world best practices in information literacy?

These were the questions posed by librarians working at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as they collaborated last summer with peers at the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) to offer five two-week exchanges as part of a pilot staff exchange program.

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With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, associate-level HBCU librarians were matched with ASERL partners to focus on one of the leadership issues they derived from the day-to-day needs of the HBCU institutions. Meanwhile, the library director from the ASERL site traveled to an HBCU library to meet with colleagues and learn about the work environment. The ensuing collaborations resulted in coteaching and coauthoring.

Launched in 2003, the HBCU Library Alliance is an organization dedicated to supporting information professionals at historically black colleges and universities. With help from the Council on Libraries and Information Resources, the Southeastern Library Network, and the Mellon Foundation, the HBCU Library Alliance offers its constituents a broad range of activities that foster leadership within the HBCU library community.

The exchange program is one component of a leadership initiative the goals of which are: to further equip HBCU librarians to articulate and advance a vision for their library as a valued partner in teaching and learning; to manage change that will transform the library; to build partnerships with faculty and administrators and within the broader HBCU community; and to create a culture of leadership within the library staff.

The nation's largest regional consortium of research libraries, ASERL has long developed test-bed programs that have later been expanded or adapted for use by a wider array of libraries. For example, ASERL's efforts to harness its collective buying power in the mid-1990s led to some of the first group licensing of databases in the country, a practice commonplace in libraries today.

The initial five staff exchanges took place in June and July 2006. Evelyn Council, associate director for collection development at Fayetteville (N.C.) State University, worked with three representatives of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville: Barbara Dewey, dean of university libraries; Jill Keally, assistant dean; and Linda Phillips, head of collection development and management. Council wanted to learn about new advancements in open access scholarly publishing, as well as the development of institutional repositories. University of Tennessee librarians had actively participated in leadership roles in both issues for years, making the partnership a natural match.

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"The exchange was just the first step in what I anticipate will be an ongoing collaboration between our two institutions, involving not only the librarians but also library staff, and even students," Keally

noted.

The library at the University of the Virgin Islands recently merged with the campus information technology department. Sharlene Harris, manager of library and student technology services, visited the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, to identify ways that an academic library can successfully collaborate with IT to create new services and efficient partnerships for both teams. During her two weeks in Williamsburg, Harris established a robust working relationship with Dean of Libraries Connie Kearns McCarthy and Associate Dean Berna Heyman. …

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