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This was my second ALA, and I am so glad I went. I attended several sessions on cataloging and the future of the catalog, as well as a session on information literacy standards for anthropology and sociology students.

Below are insights gained from attending sessions by and for sociology and anthropology librarians and information literacy standards for these disciplines.

Before heading out to California, Roz informed me about an ALA session in which ANSS (Anthropology and Sociology Section of ACRL) librarians were meeting to discuss the new “Information Literacy Standards for Anthropology and Sociology” that had recently been published in the June 2008 issue of College & Research Libraries News. Roz, Bobbie and I are currently planning and developing the LIB210 class Social Science Research Sources and Strategies.

Key insights from this session include:
1.The standards document is a library document, not something you would pass out to faculty. Possibly start with one faculty member and together pick out key things in the document that resonates with him or her and start with incorporating those items into the department’s curriculum.
2.The learning of information literacy skills should be integrated into discipline specific classes, not separate. A comment was made that this is an easier sell to faculty if it’s integrated rather than as an add-on. Having a basic information literacy course may make some faculty feel they don’t need information literacy in other courses; there is a difference in basic skills vs. specific disciplinary skills.
3.Special guest Edward L. Kain, Professor of Sociology at Southwestern University, suggested that faculty and librarians think about strategic places in sociology assignments where information literacy goals can be incorporated.
4.Departments are looking for ways to assess what they do. Librarians will gain points with faculty by providing guidance on assessment to faculty.

After the session, I spoke with Patti Caravello, Librarian for Anthropology, Archaeology, and Sociology and Director of the Information Literacy Program at UCLA as well as one of the authors of the document, and she told me of her experiences teaching information literacy in a Sociology class alongside the professor. She commented that the professor was convinced that student papers were better written. She has published an article about her experience and feels strongly that information literacy should be integrated into discipline specific classes rather than being taught as a separate class altogether. She also invited me to come to the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group the next day, which I did, and I learned much there as well.

At the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group, a goal of the group is to create a repository of teaching materials (e.g. syllabi, homework assignments, instructional materials) to post on the ACRL ANSS section’s website. Included material in the repository must tie into the newly created information literacy standards. Best practices for graduate students’ instruction programs were also discussed. Even though WFU no longer has a graduate program in anthropology, I believe some of the “best practices” could be applicable or tweaked to fit undergraduate classes. Some of the “best practices” include:
1.Subject specialist or liaison has office hours in department. Usage varied among librarians, but all agreed one-on-one consultation is popular.
2.Have a wine and cheese social in the library’s graduate student lounge. Make this a no-sit-down function so that people will have to mingle. Acquire a list of student names at the social.
3.Conduct workshops throughout the year in Endnote, RefWorks, and how to submit one’s dissertation.
4.There is a need for data literacy skills (i.e. How does one make sense of these data charts/graphs?).
5.Conduct a graduate student workshop at orientation. Have an introduction to the library as well as a citation workshop on academic integrity (i.e. Do students really understand plagiarism?). The citation workshop can be adapted to any discipline and can be an active learning experience; provide short 2-3 sentences scenarios of plagiarism examples.
6.Ask professors to send librarians their graduate students’ subject specialties/research topics. This will aid in collection development and predicting future topics in emerging areas of the discipline.
7.In bibliographic instruction classes, demonstrate citation management program and use students’ topics when demonstrating databases.
8.Audit or take classes in discipline; become an embedded librarian.
9.Offer scanning as a way to see what students are working on.
10.In course management software, ask professor to add your name into specific class. That way one is able to jump into discussions, offer tips on anthropology sources, but unable to view assignments submitted.

The question how does one teach students how to find scholarly articles and which databases to utilize was posed? One person’s comment was to limit to the top three best starting places for the discipline, and if this proves unsuccessful, one can drill down even further.

Both sessions were immensely informative and helpful and because of them, I plan on joining ACRL’s ANSS section. With proposed changes to WFU’s liaison program, I realize I have much to learn about the field of anthropology. I made some great contacts with Anthropology Librarians, especially Patti Caravello of UCLA who was willing to answer my questions and share her knowledge and experience of working as an Anthropology Librarian. After expressing concern to Patti about not having a degree in anthropology, she recommended some titles for further reading and stated that having a desire to further my knowledge and understanding of the discipline and its lingo will go a long way in becoming a better liaison to the Anthropology department at WFU.

Later this week, I will post reflections on the cataloging sessions I attended.