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Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success – ACRL IMLS Grant Funded Program

The following post is submitted by guest blogger, Terri Fishel, CLIC Board member and Director of the DeWitt Wallace Library at Macalester College, and summarizes her presentation at CLIC’s Kick-off Program on October 26.

On Friday, October 26th, I spoke to those attending the CLIC Kickoff on Assessment about an upcoming grant opportunity.  I currently serve as vice-chair, chair-elect for the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries committee.  The ACRL Value of Academic Libraries is one of three major areas as part of the ACRL Plan for Excellence.
I wanted to talk about the ACRL grant funded by the IMLS because of the opportunities it presents to individual CLIC libraries and their campuses and for us collectively in CLIC.  The focus of this grant is on student learning, both to prove the value that the library has in how we contribute to student learning and to use our assessment methods to work toward improvements in the work we do and outcomes achieved.  This is an opportunity to work closely with partners on your campus who are outside of the library.  If you haven’t already started to work with your institutional research colleagues, or have the attention of your campus committee for assessment or the committee that is perhaps working on student learning outcomes, this is your opportunity.  Assessment on your campus might be under the committee that oversees the accreditation process.  At the session last Friday, only a few attendees were familiar with members of their campus who managed their campus learning assessment program.  A very few CLIC institutions had librarians who served on campus committees that worked on student learning outcomes. So this grant also provides an opportunity to get to know members of your campus assessment team. You can read more about the grant here (Assessment in Action), but briefly, each participating institution will identify a team, consisting of a librarian and at least two additional team members as determined by the campus (e.g., faculty member, student affairs representative, institutional researchers, or academic administrator). 

Please consider applying and start now to prepare your strategy for campus involvement. Institutions need to apply individually, but as a cohort, if more than one CLIC institution is accepted, we will be able to collectively build on the work of each other and within CLIC if we can have multiple institutions, it provides opportunities to collaborate and reinforce with our administrations the value that we bring to our campuses.  It is also an opportunity to contribute to the broader audience of academic libraries and share our progress and stories of success.
You have time between now and January when the instructions for applications will be made available to do some background reading.  If you haven’t already perused:

  • Standards for Libraries in Higher Education – sample outcomes along with performance indicators and measures – valuable tool if you’re hoping to demonstrate to campus administrators your value and how your work influences student learning outcomes
These resources may help you to clearly articulate the value of the library in demonstrating: 
  • your programs help students succeed which improves retention which helps the bottom line as far as college finances
  • your programs contribute to positive experiences students have at your institution
  • your programs provide positive experiences for students which helps make them supportive alums who contribute back to the college
  • and most importantly, your programs provide them with the critical thinking skills that help them success in college and beyond as lifelong learners

Consider also the important role you play in the lives of students who are employees in your library.  We shouldn’t underestimate the important aspect of this activity in the lives of the students on our campuses.
I recognize that these aren’t your only contributions because we contribute greatly to the work our faculty members do, but in the perspective of keeping the library forefront in the minds of administrators on campus, those are just a few of the points you can think about in developing a frame of reference and a plan for continuous improvement as part of your assessment program focused on student learning.  I hope that you will all consider submitting an application for the Assessment in Action program and hope that we will be able to develop best practices and share our stories of success with a broader audience.
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