Friday, July 20, 2007

Peabody Professional Institute

I have been back to work a week now since participating in the Academic Library Leadership Institute at the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee (whew- say that fast three times). The experience was incredible, and I'd highly recommend it.

I was wrong about a few things. There were 4 community colleges represented, not two, and I was not the youngest participant (the winner has me beat by six months).

The group size was 25, and the following schools/organizations were represented:

Capital Community College
Eastern Connecticut State University
Delaware State University
Texas Tech University
Howard University
Tulsa Community College
University of Houston Libraries
Hilbert College
George Washington University
Marion Military Institute
Creighton University
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Kent State University
Palmer Seminary
University of Wisconsin- Parkside
Elizabeth City State University
Tennessee State University
New Mexico State University
Georgia College and State University
York College
University of Colorado
Elmhurst College
Texas A&M
Westchester Community College
University of Texas at Dallas

The aim of the Institute was to:

  • “Explore role of the library in furthering the goals and priorities of the parent institution”
  • “Identify strategies for positioning the academic library as an agent for change within a higher education institution”
  • “Enhance participants’ abilities to articulate persuasively the need for strengthened support for academic library services and resources”

Those objectives were met, and then some. I walked away from Peabody with 24 professional contacts and friends, as well as copious notes from the speakers and myriad ways to get back to campus and put some great ideas into practice.

The co-chairs were Dr. Patricia Senn Breivik and Dr. Sharon Weiner. Dr. Breivik co-authored the book, Higher Education in the Internet Age: Libraries Creating a Strategic Edge, and the institution was mostly based on that book. Dr. Weiner is the immediate past Director of the Peabody Library, and the case study of that library's turn around was an important element in the institution.

Five modules made up the Institute, and the format included traditional lectures, panel discussions, small group breakout sessions, and a short amount of time for reflection. The modules were:

  • The Future of Higher Education (Dr. Alan Guskin, President Emeritus of Antioch University- he noted the current trend toward student assessment and learning outcomes, and encouraged us to challenge basic assumptions about how students learn. He also noted that libraries are in a prime position to help contribute to student success)
  • Institutional Strategic Planning for Campus-Wide Academic Services (Dr. James Hearn, professor at University of Georgia- focus was on contextual planning)
  • Perspectives on Assessment and Accreditation (Ralph Wolff, executive director of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WACS) in Alameda, CA- he drew attention to 4 and 6 year graduation rates in the US- the national average 6 year rate is 63%. As an aside, he mentioned that over 50% of students aged 21 or under have created content on the Internet)
  • Enhancing Resources: Fundraising and Public Relations (Dr. Tim Caboni, Vanderbilt University- spoke about fundraising being critical to many library resources in higher education)
  • Workforce Issues for Academic Libraries: Our Most Valuable Resource Goes Home Every Night (Brad Davis, San Jose State University- focus was on mentoring, professional development, and succession planning)

Here are some of the things I am going to do as a result of Peabody:

Take the iSkills test offered by the Educational Testing and see if I think it will be a good final assessment for our upcoming 'Information in the Digital Age' class

Show the article, "Return on Investment: Libraries and Student Retention," written by a certified public accountant named Elizabeth Mezick, to my campus administration when it comes out in September's Journal of Academic Librarianship.

Engage staff and student aides more, offer more professional development opportunities

Get a seat at 'the table' where important decisions are being made

Strengthen the Learning Resources Center advisory committee, and include students as well as faculty

Be proactive and visible on campus (physically and virtually)

Regroup with everyone at ACRL in Seattle, 2009!


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