The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library. - Albert Einstein
Each year, National Library Week celebrates the transformative impact of libraries and librarians on research, learning and the community.
This year’s theme is Libraries = Strong Communities and represents the ways in which libraries constantly bring people together, strengthen open communication, and provide critical resources and programs that allow people to connect and learn.
We invite you to join the celebration and check out some examples of the ways that libraries play essential roles to provide value to their communities and make a difference in the world.
Libraries = Advocates
Librarians are powerful advocates for the value of the library, building meaningful connections with community stakeholders and decision makers and using creative methods to demonstrate their impact using both qualitative and quantitative data.
Librarians are also powerful advocates for more than just the library; they keep their patrons’ best interests at the forefront of everything they do. Both at conferences and in their day-to-day jobs, librarians convene to discuss best practices for student affordability initiatives, making research more open and implementing the most advanced forms of technology.
Pennsylvania State University Library’s website includes a page on student affordability initiatives, inviting faculty members to get in touch to discuss alternatives to costly materials for their students. The Yale University Library is empowering researchers by providing a list of Open Access (OA) publishing support resources at its institution for authors who want to publish in OA journals. Then there are those institutions working tirelessly to offer cutting-edge technology to their patrons, including American University and Northeastern University, which now offer 3D printing to members of their communities.
Libraries = User Experience
Librarians are always eager to help researchers, students and faculty excel academically and constantly solicit their feedback to learn how they can make their lives easier. They face the challenge of promoting the library’s resources and encouraging users to leverage both the services and the spaces that are available to them.
Duke University has made improving user experience a library priority through its Assessment & User Experience (AUX) Department, which works with all of the library departments to provide leadership for addressing user needs, evaluating and improving the library’s online presence and proactively identifying and relieving pain points that users encounter in their work. Similarly, the North Carolina State University Libraries have a User Experience department that collaboratively develops web and signage solutions to help users navigate and understand the Libraries' collections, technologies, spaces, services, programs and events.
Libraries open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. - Sidney Sheldon
Libraries = Faculty Engagement
In an effort to reach as many students as possible and impact the research process from all angles, librarians work hard to liaise and collaborate with faculty. In order to promote best practices or guidance from their peers, librarians regularly share their experiences of engaging with faculty.
At the upcoming Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Conference, librarians from various institutions are speaking on panels that address how best to work with their faculty counterparts. Sacred Heart University is hosting a roundtable discussion on how librarian collaborations with faculty can lead to a more comprehensive approach to teaching information literacy skills, while also creating meaningful learning experiences for students. Librarians from the University of Kansas will also speak as panelists to share their experiences collaborating with faculty on assignment design after offering three $500 mini-grants to faculty who committed to teaming up with librarians to redesign a major assignment in an undergraduate class.
Libraries = Inclusivity
The library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else. – Maya Angelou
Libraries champion equitable access to information and entry to cultural dialogue for underrepresented voices in order to ensure diversity and inclusion across the community. Although this work is ongoing, a multitude of recruitment efforts and initiatives already exist, such as the work of diversity committees and minority internship programs.
In 2016, the University of Rochester founded a Library Committee on Diversity and Inclusion to ensure that these goals remain at the forefront of library operations through collaboration and education. Similarly, the University of Arizona Libraries established a Diversity, Social Justice and Equity Council, which has launched a number of inclusion initiatives including workshops, assessments on library diversity and a guide of diversity and inclusion support resources that is available for students and faculty.
Libraries = Historians
The library is the entry point to hundreds of thousands of years of the histories of countless groups of people, voices and events. As gatekeepers, librarians are custodians of history as they provide researchers with the resources they need to investigate different aspects of our shared past.
These resources can exist in a number of different forms, from online articles and physical books to magazines and archive collections. When it comes to archive collections, libraries become historians not only with respect to general history, but also to their own. At the University of Puget Sound, students use institutional resources from its own library’s archives (such as administrative records, correspondence, course catalogs, yearbooks, and student newspapers) to investigate the development and evolution of the Gender and Queer Studies program. In addition, the Columbia University Archives preserves official University records and materials dating back to its founding in 1754. The Archives staff even created various research guides to help researchers take advantage of its collections.
I go into my library and all history unrolls before me. – Alexander Smith
Libraries = Teachers
Librarians are increasingly responsible for a variety of activities directly related to teaching and learning, and the scope of those responsibilities has expanded to encompass instruction delivered in the library, across the campus and in online learning environments.
At the University of Minnesota, subject librarians work with instructors to provide access to course readings, design student research assignments and plan and teach sessions on the use of library databases and effective research strategies. These subject librarians also host library workshops correlated to particular assignments and offer customized web pages of library resources to specific courses. The University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Library provides a form on its website for faculty to request a librarian or subject-matter expert to develop a customized session that addresses the changing research needs of students.
Ultimately, by incorporating instruction into their work, librarians help students to identify scholarly information resources and to develop research strategies for successfully completing assignments, papers and projects.
Education is available to anyone within reach of a library. – Louis L’Amour
As we continue to celebrate National Library Week, please join us in expressing our heartfelt thanks to all the librarians and library staff members who continue to devote themselves to their communities and strive to make a difference in the world.
In what ways does your library support your community? Leave us a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter using #NationalLibraryWeek or #LibrariesTransform.
About the AuthorMore Content by Claire O'Neill