Hello again! Today, you won’t be hearing from me because…I introduce you to a new segment in our blog series, CandidlyG. It is a chance for you to hear from guest contributors every now and then (ya know, outside of just my voice). The goal is to get the invited guest’s candid perspective in an unfiltered, open, and more or less casual format on something, anything that sparks a fancy and relates to our team somehow. To launch CandidlyG, I asked Library Director Lisa Forrest to discuss her thoughts on our team moving into the library. She responded in Q&A style.
See ya again in December,
Leland M. Park Director of the Davidson College Library
Q #1: It has been about four months since the Digital Learning Team moved to the library. It went from being organizationally under T&I to now officially residing in and ‘reporting’ to the library. What has this shift meant for you and for the library?
A: What a great question! My first response is– “Wait- has it only been 4 months?”! We’re having so much fun. Honestly, it is such a natural fit for the library. When you think about information– and the arch of the research process from exploration to creation (and all of the information and digital competencies involved)– it makes perfect sense for Digital Learning to be integrated into the library. And as we think about where we are headed into the future, there’s simply no way to separate the information from the education from the technology. The instructional designers, research librarians, archivists, and peer tutors are all involved in supporting digital learning in one way or the other. What’s changed now with the Digital Learning team in the library is the expanse of expertise which is now available under one roof– and the ease with which we can now collaborate. Digital scholarship is a key component of where we are headed into the library of the future. Although traditional forms of research (AKA: the research paper) are alive and well, we are also seeing students and faculty who want to do much more on the production side of the house. Maybe that looks like a podcast or a Davidson Domains project, or short video, or a digitized set of objects from Special Collections. And so there’s a blending of skills happening now– and that is awesome to see. Librarians and archivists contributing things like research and pedagogical support, copyright expertise, and metadata support– and Instructional Designers also providing research and pedagogical support and strong technological expertise. There’s this sweet spot in the middle where it all comes together! I’m also just thrilled that Tiffany Camp-Johnson, our digital scholarship librarian, has recently joined the Digital Learning team. We have so much to learn from one another- and that happens best through blended goals and projects. We’re already seeing new ways to think about our joint intersections– especially around digital and information competencies, peer tutoring, and curation/digitization initiatives. It’s all really exciting to watch unfold!
Q #2: How and why did this shift come about? Were you involved in the process? Whose idea was it, and what steps were involved in making it happen?
A: I led a merged team of research librarians and instructional designers in my last position at Hamilton College, so I knew first-hand the advantages of bringing instructional designers into the library and had discussed this with Kevin Davis, our CIO, and Kristen Eshelman, who formally led Digital Learning. We’re great partners and love to collaborate; our guiding light is always “what’s best for Davidson?” When the timing was organizationally right, Kevin and Kristen, brought the idea to me to “think about.” It took me all of 10 seconds to say: “Hmmm…let me think about that: YES!”
Q #3: What do you think having the Digital Learning Team (in a newly-designed Research and Design Studio) means and could mean for the library of the future?
A: You know, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what the library of the future “looks like”. There are many layers to that question. First, I believe that our programming drives space– and I can tell you that the future of the library is happening every day. You see, it’s not really about a newly renovated building or new spaces; the “library of the future” is the great programming that is already taking place and will only continue to grow. Although the ideas coming up around a library renovation will encourage collaboration and reimagined ways of working, we’re not letting a little ol’ thing like a new space stop us from moving forward now. Yes, a reimagined space will be more inviting and give us more elbow room for collaborative and active learning areas, but in the end it is about the amazingly talented PEOPLE who work and visit the building. Our dedication to supporting the success of our students and faculty through new programming–such as our peer tutor programs, CTL-Library workshop series, inclusive pedagogy initiatives, outreach events, open access, Davidson Domains, new consortial partnerships, re-envisioned collections, and digital scholarship initiatives– IS the library of the future. It’s the expertise, openness, and creativity found here that propels the library into the future each and every day.
Q #4: How’s it been going so far with the new team in the libs?
A: I think it is going great! I feel so privileged to lead this wonderful organization. I learn so much from each and every one of my colleagues. We recently reorged to put a renewed focus on areas that will take us into the future. So, now our Research, Learning, and Outreach Team has a much stronger focus on peer tutoring, our Archives & Special Collections Team has a renewed focus on justice, equality, and the community; and the addition of Digital Learning to the library now allows us to focus on digital competencies and information creation and production. I think there are so many intersections yet to discover between our teaching and learning experts, and we are off to a strong start! The folks in our organization are so open to new ways of working and extremely dedicated to our students and faculty. There is a lot of positive energy. We couldn’t do the things we want to do if folks were stuck or felt insecure about their roles (or new roles!). Not that there hasn’t been a hiccup here or there– that is the nature of change– but we work through the changes, and in the end we are stronger.
Q #5: If you’d like to add anything else, the post is yours.
Favorite “Library of the Future” quotes:
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Vincent Van Gogh
“Let’s do this.”