Chapter Sharing Roundtable “Free Lunch” Winners at MOSAIC ’16

Submitted by Hanna Schmillen, MLIS, Health Sciences & Professions Librarian, Ohio University, Recipient of The Midwest Chapter/MLA “Free Lunch” Award 

First Timer Roundtable Luncheon Experience: Integrating You and the Library into the Curriculum

Before I dive into my experience at the Mosiac’16 Roundtable luncheon, I want to thank the MidWest Chapter Awards & Scholarships Committee for granting me the “free lunch” award. As a new member and new professional, the luncheon was a wonderful opportunity for me to network with others who are invested and experienced with the topic of librarians in the curriculum.

Going into this luncheon, I was hoping to pick experienced brains and get some tips on how to integrate myself further into the curriculum. Luckily, I had some enthusiastic faculty members/departments within my first year, but what about scalability and integrating myself with those departments that were not initially as zealous? Additionally, how can I get the leadership and faculty to think of the library at the beginning of the course planning process instead of an afterthought? How can I communicate to them that I can help and be an asset without constantly (metaphorically) jumping up and down yelling, “Look over here! See what I can do!”?

When I checked into the luncheon, I was given a little ticket with two table numbers. Apparently, this was a hot topic because two tables were designated for the topic of integrating libraries into the curriculum. I sat at my table and we all introduced ourselves to each other and dove in quite quickly. One of the first things discussed were challenges with integrating libraries into the curriculum. The top three challenges were: finding time to work within the curriculum, curriculum changes and keeping up, and evidence-based medicine/practice. I think the first two are directly related where time is the main obstacle, or rather lack thereof (#notsurprised). Because many of us wear multiple hats, finding the time to really focus on the big picture of the curriculum, including keeping up with program changes, is not an easy task. However, with further discussion we came to the conclusion that we are not the only ones with this problem, the faculty and curriculum committees also wear multiple hats. So there is some solace in that we are all in the same boat. Thus my new manta: “I realized this week that I just cannot do it all. So I will choose to do what I can, fabulously.” (Clinton Kelly)

When we discussed evidence-based medicine/practice that lead directly into tactics for instructing EBM effectively and efficiently with the mindset that if we do this well, word will spread. Because EBM concepts and practices fall very closely to information literacy and our frameworks, there was an overall consensus that this is a perfect opening for health and medical librarians to integrate themselves into the curriculum. There was a lot of discussion on what kind of in-class activities, assignments, and methods were used in instruction sessions. Several of the librarians also shared their experience working in the curriculum, where EBM and research methods were their main focus.

Here are some gold nuggets from my table:

  • Sometimes (okay, most of the time) you have to be patient and work really well with one instructor, word will spread.
  • When you are in a session and you have an in-class assignment, make sure to give immediate feedback. Polleverywhere or similar software is a great way to do this, especially with a one-shot session.
  • Think about the pressing needs of the instructor: Do they need help grading? What is their biggest challenges and how can you ease them in your session? What kind of content/materials can you provide the instructor to make their lives easier?
  • Think about how you can contribute to the class/program as a whole. Look at their syllabus and see if there is a specific resource or topic you should cover. How does this tie into an overlaying theme or goal of the program?
  • Attend class sessions and/or link content directly to their topics/lecture/syllabus, relevancy is key!
  • Two words: Curriculum Committees

Have students create their own learning objectives before the class and address. This helps to demonstrate that you are a facilitator and teacher, not just a person who demos databases.


Submitted by Christopher Parker, Science Librarian, DePaul University Library, Lincoln Park Campus, Recipient of the The Midwest Chapter/MLA “Free Lunch” Award 

The mingling voices of hundred or more lively librarians emanating from Room 206-D told me I was in the right place for this year’s MLA Round Table discussion session. My flight’s delayed arrival meant that the party was already in full swing as I opened the door. Confronted with a room crammed with filled tables, I counted myself lucky to spot a vacancy at the table marked “K” (Topic: ‘Literature Reviews’) in a tardy-friendly location right near the entrance.

I was at an obvious disadvantage with respect to the current conversation relating to midwifery (at my table sat a brand new mom), but almost immediately, everyone graciously accorded me the courtesy of introducing myself and explaining the rationale for my interest in conversations relating to literature review processes, and how we teach them to nursing students. From all the nods and ‘knowing expressions,’ I could see that my initial selection of ‘thorny issues’ conversation-starters (I arrived with a bag full!) rang true with most around the table. Experiences that resonated within the group included the challenges of fostering commonality in the methods faculty prescribe or recommend to nursing students conducting their ‘integrative nursing literature reviews’—including some textbook methods and procedures that are inconsistent with the ways in which databases and bibliographic tools are currently used. I also detected empathy when representing my attempts to reconcile the need of faculty to verify and reproduce how their students performed their searches, with the need of students to understand and demonstrate that they understand the value of exploratory and creative approaches to searching; persistence in identifying appropriate information resources for given topic or question; and the need to adopt different approaches for coaxing information out of different resource types. In these and other regards, all at the table recognized and concurred that a great deal is expected of students—especially considering the mighty mountains of other skills and knowledge crammed into their intensive trainings—and that the detailed methods published in textbooks are sometimes highly-unsuited for a typical 10-week research methods course. Needless to say, on these issues I had plenty more to discuss, but another literature review conversation that got all my attention related to some new research being conducted by my table acquaintances in identifying how the involvement or role of librarians are acknowledged in published health sciences research. I made some quick notes and grabbed business cards with a view to following up on this area of study that connects so vitally with library assessment, marketing, and faculty liaison activities. So I was just getting into all that when time was called (you immediately know when a session has been engaging when it finishes before you’re ready to). But as people scooped up their phones, tablets and business cards, I took a quick walk around other tables and picked up a few scraps of other conversations that had just taken place. But even with everyone leaving, of course it’s worth remembering that beyond Room 206-D, all those discussions will continue and permeate across the many connections provided through my MLA membership—including the Midwest Chapter, to whom I’m most grateful for awarding me one of this year’s ‘free lunch’ places at the Round Table!

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