Faculty Collaborations: Working Together to Enhance Information Literacy
Faculty collaboration is a partnership between librarians and faculty in order to meet specific information literacy (IL) goals. Librarian – faculty collaborations are fostered by creating strong interpersonal relationships between librarians and teaching faculty. Raspa & Ward (2000) say collaboration is a more pervasive, long-term relationship in which participants recognize common goals and objectives, share more tasks and participate in extensive planning and implementation” (p. 5). Collaboration is based on shared goals, a shared vision, and a climate of trust and respect. Each partner brings different strengths and perspectives to the relationship:
- The teacher brings an understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, attitudes and interests of the students, and of the content to be taught
- The Librarian adds a thorough knowledge of information skills and methods to
integrate them into the course, pedagogical knowledge for teaching these skills
and an understanding of student’s frustration with the research process.
According to the American Library Association (ALA) collaboration between faculty and librarians is fundamental to information literacy: “Librarians are particularly suited for collaborative enterprise. They practice daily the kind of listening that requires them to translate for students and instructional faculty the questions they bring to the library. Librarians are on the edge of research, on the first threshold where the researcher has an idea or a hunch about something but needs a guide to navigate the waters of inquiry” (Raspa & Ward, 2000, p.6)
Once this relationship is initiated both groups have to work together in order to keep the relationship vibrant and ongoing. Building this relationship is a crucial element in creating the environment that will foster the collaboration between faculty and librarians that would ultimately lead to the provision of better quality information literacy instruction. There seem to be five fundamental qualities that are required for collaboration to be effective (Raspa & Ward, 2000, p.8-9). The Five Ps of Collaboration as they are called includes passion, persistence, playfulness, project and promote. Collaboration is a likely possibility when these five things are present .
From as early as the 1930s, faculty and librarians have been collaborating to improve the research abilities of students and technology has caused this venture to greatly improve over the years. “Collaboration allows for library support at a point when students will find such support immediately useful” (Sanborn, 2005, p.478). This collaboration is not a luxury but a necessity.Campus wide information literacy programs may be the ideal but this is not very popular. The cases of Librarian – faculty collaborations are much more prevalent for course integrated information literacy instruction. (Black, Crest & Volland, 2001, p.217). The role of librarians is changing, and collaboration with teaching faculty is becoming a goal of many academic libraries. Before such collaboration can occur, teaching faculty must recognize and value the talents and skills librarians can contribute to the learning process” (Swaine, 1999, p.1)
In the words of Alvin Toffler (1971) “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who
cannot read. It will be the group that does not know how to learn”. Faculty members have to be made aware of how collaborations can assist students to be better learners. This can only be achieved however by librarians getting them involved as early as possible so that it more or less becomes second nature for them. Successful implementation requires all hands on deck; librarians, administration and faculty have to collaborate to make this work.
Working together frequently can lead to other types of collaboration such as publications and presentations. “The full range of information literacy skills is explored through the dynamic collaboration of librarians and faculty. While faculty supply content from the discipline, librarians assist in shaping the research questions and teaching students the skills to find the answers” (Black, Crest & Volland, 2001, p. 224). Our ability to patiently listen to each other without being judgmental is the key to a successful collaboration. “In addition, we must live and practice the Five Ps of collaboration: always pursuing our passion and persevering in promoting our project, but never forgetting to play” (Raspa & Ward, 2000, p.17).
New types of collaborations are necessary due to the evolving nature of higher education
especially in technology and distance education. ‘Collaborating more directly with faculty will ensure that IL is integrated to the greatest degree possible with course content” (Buchanan, Luck, & Jones, 2002, p.149). Most collaborative efforts are initiated by librarians so sometimes faculty would be interested in collaboration if only they knew that such an option existed. “Without ever been introduced to the idea of collaboration many faculty views the librarian as a manager of collecting and dispensing services”. (Sanborn, 2005, p.478). The librarian has to therefore continue to be the catalyst for collaboration in order to best serve their customers.
Black, C., Crest, S., & Volland, M. (2001). Building a successful information literacy
infrastructure on the foundation of librarian – faculty collaboration. Research
Strategies, 18, 215-225.
Buchanan L.E., Luck, D.L., & Jones, T.C. (2002). Integrating information literacy into the
virtual university: a course model. Library Trends, 51(2), 144 – 166
Raspa, D. & Ward, D. (Eds.). (2000). The collaborative imperative: librarians and faculty
working together in the information universe. ACRL: Chicago
Sanborn, L. (2005). Improving library instruction: faculty collaboration. Journal of Academic
Librarianship, 31(5), 477-481
Swaine, C.W. (1999). Paving the way for collaboration between librarians and faculty.
ED437 958, 1-7
Toffler, Alvin. (1971). Future Shock. New York: Bantam Books
© 2014 Mardene Carr
Mardene R. Carr is a tech-savvy Librarian with over 15 years of experience in Jamaica, USA, Cayman Islands, Bahamas and Dominica. For more on her work please visit