Spring 2015 Faculty Accomplishments Celebration

Each spring semester, the CSUCI Broome Library throws the gala of the year, the Faculty Accomplishments Celebration.

The Library hosts the faculty accomplishments database, where you can go ogle our faculty and their work. The celebration is a chance for faculty to get together and see what each other are working on, and discuss interests over delicious foodstuffs. Not only does the library host the shindig, but the planning happens months in advance. This was my first chance to attend, as a newbie, and what a wonderful time it was! The library hands out awards, celebrity-roast-style, such as the Golden Bookend, the Golden Clicker, and the Golden Key to the Library, with concomitant descriptions for why each faculty member won. There was much laughter, and it was just the point in the semester where I think we all needed that to lift our spirits. We played Cards against Faculty (a slightly more PC-version of Cards Against Humanity) as well as mad libs where nouns and verbs were removed from faculty publication titles. A local Mexican food truck catered, and everything smelled heavenly. A nerdy good time!

Each faculty member’s accomplishments are included in a printed booklet, not only provided to attendees, but sent with a personal note from our President to each Board member to alert them to our faculty’s work. The Library also makes a lovely printed-and boarded poster for each faculty member with an accomplishment with the person’s name, title, and the title and abstract of their work. (I’m tickled that I’ll be getting one this year.)

In our recent external program review, it was mentioned that faculty members claimed to use the celebration as a goal, because they always wanted to have had something published or presented by the deadline to make it into the awards book and get a poster. When I was interviewing here in October of 2013, as soon as people realized I was interviewing for the Library position, each person regaled me with tales of the annual party, informing me that the librarians took their jobs seriously when it came to making sure faculty had fun. They would peer at me closely, and say, “Our librarians are party people. Are you a party people?” (I am pretty sure this was at least as important as my actual qualifications in terms of fit.)

My colleagues did a huge, wonderful job of planning and hosting the annual shindig, and I’m already looking forward to helping out with next year’s.

I don’t know that you can overestimate the value of the goodwill outreach can create for your library on campus. Here, our faculty really appreciate the fact that they are, well, appreciated. And that we show them a good time!

Faculty Accomplishments 2015

Faculty Accomplishments Booklet

2015 Faculty Accomplishments Booklet (There I am!)

There I am!

Barreling Toward the End of My First CSUCI Spring Semester

In order of importance, the things going on as the semester careens to a close:

On the library front:

  • Finals are coming, finals are coming! Students are feeling the pressure, which means we at the library do, too. ALL OF THE PRINTING.  On an admittedly less-than-superior printing setup. And the last papers of the semester, so we’re seeing some hail-Marys at the reference desk;
  • This will be my first finals where I take lead on the end of semester feedback. We set up “graffiti” boards with giant post-it’s on whiteboards asking what we’re doing right, and what we can improve, and collect all that information. We also have a student survey, and a faculty survey. My colleagues all tabulate and organize the data, and we’ll see what we can do to improve for next finals season;
  • The 24-hour library. The week before and the week of finals, we stretch the library and its staff to 24 hours for our students. Thank goodness for the folks who work the overnight! I’m picking up some 6am shifts, but those are easier for me than the late evening or midnight shifts, now that I’ve apparently become an elder;
  • The Party of the Year is later this month: The Faculty Accomplishments Party. Cited by faculty as THE party of the year, and something that spurs them to get some research published or presented by the deadline, this bash is where the library celebrates our faculty here at Channel Islands. There are awards, faculty who have published or presented something in the past year get a spiffy poster of their work, and there is general merriment. And wine and beer. And laughter. This will be my first, and I’m excited, since when I was here for the interview, nearly everyone cited it as The Most Important Thing to Know About Being A Faculty Member Here.

On the personal/life front:

  • Lots of doctor appointments, since I’ve been feeling crappy. Turns out I’m gluten intolerant, and nightshade intolerant, and all-sorts-of-foodstuff-intolerant, so I’m going on the autoimmune protocol diet. A royal PITA in terms of food lists and preparation, but apparently it’s what I need, so. Hrmp. Think super-restricted Paleo-style. No grains/gluten (but corn! But rice!), legumes, dairy, eggs. nuts, seeds, sweeteners, nightshades (white potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.), modern vegetable oils, refined sugars,  and processed food chemicals. Since part of my reaction is histamine-related (a bad reaction and all of my tattoos actually raise up on my skin!), that also means no lemon, lime, kiwi, mango, processed meat (ONOES BACON), bananas, and strawberries, among other things. SAD. PANDA;
  • Fabulous Husband and I have gotten into the habit of walking the dogs to the dog park. There’s nothing quite so silly as a duo of basset hounds running a few laps, and then collapsing for the rest of the hour. Except maybe the sight of Fabulous Husband and I running, trying to encourage them to get up and chase us;
  • Fabulous Husband and I are signed up to do a 5k at the end of the month, right before our 2-ear wedding anniversary. Which I have not at all begun training for (the 5k, not the anniversary), and is the result of a New Year’s Resolution when I was feeling feisty. Oh, New Year Colleen. You were so optimistic. *pats self on head*

On the research front:

  • The magical and hard-working copy-editors at The Journal of Academic Librarianship have done their work, fixed my gaffes, and that article should be coming online shortly;
  • Today was the deadline for book chapter proposals from library directors discussion leadership skill lessons learned. 36 excellent proposals received (woohoo!), and now (well, likely next weekend) I have to go through them and do some selecting, and respond to the authors by May 1;
  • I’m finishing up editing the chapters for another book on contemporary women poets and mythology. These authors have been extremely patient with me as timelines were extended due to my health, the move, the new job, my health, etc. I’m looking forward to having these out of my hands, and this project out into the world;
  • I have a few articles in the works. One more coming out of the dissertation on leadership development at different levels of the organization (probably to submit to College & Research Libraries), one on using ritual theory to explore chronic illness (proposal accepted by New Directions in the Humanities), and one on intersections of myth, technology, and information literacy;
  • I’ll be presenting in mid-June at CaVraCon (California Visual Resources Association conference) on using digital images in information literacy instruction;
  • I’m waiting to hear back about my proposals to present at the internet Librarian conference in October. I think those announcements usually go out in late June or early July;
  • I have a full-length poetry manuscript out and under review at a few different small presses;
  • I have 3 manuscripts in-progress and one data-collection project that I won’t fool with until summer;
  • Oh, yeah, still working on that Ph.D. in Mythological Studies. Which reminds me to pack my reading for the first spring session.

And in teaching:

  • My last information literacy sessions are next week, early Monday morning and late Tuesday evening;
  • Which means it’s time to look back at the stats and see how we’re doing, and who we’re touching;
  • And I’m in super informal discussions with the chair of the Freedom & Justice Studies minor about the possibility of my teaching FJS 340 in the Fall semester. Titled Explorations of Freedom and Justice, it’s an opportunity to pick a wicked problem and look at it across time, cultures, and disciplines. I’d like to look at information access as the wicked problem, and am having a grand old time culling building a bibliography, structuring a syllabus, and thinking about how I can develop engaging assignments.
Possible sources for FJS 340 readings

Possible sources for FJS 340 readings (minus the 50+ journal articles under consideration). Do you have recommendations?

What’s In A Name? Academia, Name Changes, and My Experience

Today I read a piece that hit close to home. The Chronicle of Higher Education published a piece by Andrea N. Geurin-Eagleman on dealing with academia, divorce, and name changes. The article does a good job of relating the concerns of many female academics I’ve talked to–namely, that changing your name may effectively erase all of the name recognition we’ve been building in our fields since we started out into the hallowed halls of higher ed.

Fabulous Husband and I are approaching our second wedding anniversary at the end of this month. Both before and after our actual wedding, we talked long and hard about what we wanted to do with our names. Our conversations covered a lot of territory, and these are some of the facets of the issue that came up:

  • I already had a significant number of publications under my maiden name, and was concerned about the academia/continuity-of-recognition factor;
  • We were both over 30 years old when we married, so each of us had significant years behind our birth names. To change them drastically felt jarring and awkward;
  • We also wanted to represent that we were both *adding* someting important to our lives, not erasing earlier portions of it;
  • I’m not particularly proud of my father’s side of my family, but I worked long and hard to make my birth name correspond to something good, and that was important to me;
  • I didn’t want Fabulous Husband to feel slighted by my struggle over this, and by my lack of assumption that I would automatically take his name (to his credit, he was incredibly understanding of my angst);
  • I didn’t want Fabulous Husband’s family to think I felt like I didn’t want their name;
  • I *did* want to take Fabulous Husband’s name;
  • We very much wanted to legally share the same last name;
  • I had poet-angst about the Naming of Things, and what it meant for identity and self and movement through the world to change one’s name.

After much long discussion, we decided to hyphenate and become the Harris-Keith family.

That’s right. My name is Dr. Colleen S. Harris-Keith, and I am a hyphenator.

We both legally changed our names, so Fabulous Husband had to go before a judge and swear he wasn’t changing his name to escape debt, avoid authorities, or avoid identifying himself as a sex offender. It was a lot of work on Jed’s part–not just the court paperwork and cost, but reassuring Worrywart Wife that he really wanted this and did not feel pressured, and dealing with his father’s side-eye. (To be fair, my mother gave me similar side-eye, and told me to just take Jed’s name and be done with the Harris part of things.)

Every couple has their own decision to make in this area. It’s an incredibly personal decision. I didn’t realize how much of my own personal identity I had attached to my birth name until I was asked if I wanted to change it, so I don’t throw shade on how anyone else decides to handle the issue. The naming of things is a powerful force–I believe this as a human and especially as a poet. The naming of ourselves is a significant power, and one many of us don’t really consider until we are faced with the option of changing it. (Librarian side note: this option always exists, and you can change your name in most places with just some court fees and paperwork–check with your county clerk office–but I know I didn’t truly think of it as an option until I got married.)

I did not, at the time, consider that the DMV, doctor offices, and various other necessaries in life work with software that is particularly unkind to those of us who hyphenate, but they figure it out eventually. I’m called Mrs. Keith, Ms. Harris, and any number of other permutations of the letters in our name, and take it with general good humor (while double-checking that the name on file is actually accurate).

Effectively, I feel like I got to have my cake and eat it too. (After all, what good is cake if you cannot eat the stuff?) In my case, it makes it relatively easy for my CV and other academic work. In my earlier career I appear as Colleen S. Harris, and now it’s Colleen S. Harris-Keith, so I feel like I am still recognizable. My husband and I share the same last name, which makes us happy. We’re both happy with the identity marker that includes our birth and married names, and it’s relatively easy to pronounce (though it makes us sound uber-British, which we’re not).

And when Fabulous Husband finishes *his* doctoral program, name-wise we will be The Doctors Harris-Keith, which, you have to admit, sounds pretty damn cool.

Journal of Academic Librarianship: Article Forthcoming, a Note on Reviewers, More Work

Yesterday I received an email from the Journal of Academic Librarianship requesting some minor revisions on a paper I submitted a bare few weeks ago (a portion of my dissertation work, rewritten as a scholarly journal article). It took me all of perhaps 40 minutes to respond to the reviewers’ suggestions and make recommended edits, and I resubmitted the manuscript around 3:45pm PST before preparing to teach an information literacy session at 4:30.

This morning I received the following email (excerpted) from the editor:

I am pleased to inform you that your paper “The Relationship Between Academic Library Department Experience and Perceptions of Leadership Skill Development Relevant to the Academic Library Directorship” has been accepted for publication in The Journal of Academic Librarianship.”

Huzzah! This may be the record for fastest ‘revise and resubmit’ ever. I was thrilled–I was afraid the article might be too long, might be too statistical in nature, might simply not be of interest. A lot of folks whose work I admire have appeared in this journal, and I’m proud be among those researchers. In particular, I’m excited because more eyes will see the research this way than via the actual (TL;DR) dissertation, and I’m interested to see whether it will spark some conversation about our ideas about leadership development in the profession. 

The anonymous reviewers who commented on the article were extremely helpful, and since I can’t thank them in person, I’ll do so here. It was more difficult than I expected to excerpt an article from the larger dissertation and still make it flow well for the reader. I pulled two closely related research questions from the original five in the dissertation–the ones dealing specifically with data about leadership skill development and academic library work. A shorter version of the introduction and literature review, the statistical analysis, and then the discussion…and it was still far too long. It took a few weeks to craft a version I was happy with, and even then, it was long. The reviewers helped significantly by recommending I put explanations of statistical tests into footnotes to make things easier for the reader–a really good way to make sure readers who are interested in statistical analysis or replication have the information they need, but also allowing the less statistically-inclined to go straight to the important information about significance. 

Honestly, having lived with the manuscript for this long, it was very helpful to have multiple sets of eyes on it. Other recommendations included adding some information here and there to refine an idea, to better articulate consequences, to explore next steps and how to to improve the research design for future iterations. Much of the usual manuscript cleanup and reviewer comments were handled by the dissertation committee members, but I was still surprised that indeed, the more eyes the better. Thank you, reviewerfolk, for the close reading, patience, and recommendations for refinement!

Next steps? 

  • Well, firstly I want to take on the other three research questions from the dissertation. Those deal with position in academic libraries, not department; the findings are interesting (to me, at least). I will probably shop it to College & Research Libraries or to the Journal of Library Administration, since it focuses on academic library management and leadership at different levels of the organization. 
  • Secondly, I’m in the process of extending the research to different types of academic institutions to see if my research conclusions hold for non-Master’s granting colleges. I’ve gotten IRB approval for one more iteration of the study at baccalaureate institutions, and and am about to apply for approval to collect information on associate’s-granting institutions.
  • Thirdly, I’m working on developing an extension of this research into academic administrators outside of the library. I’ve pitched this idea as a student-faculty collaboration research course (UNIV 498), and I should be hearing about whether or not that was approved here in the next few weeks. I got my start in research under my undergraduate advisor (Dr. Nayef Samhat, now President of Wofford College), and I’d love to get students actively involved in research and analysis. 

The research side of life. I’m digging it. As an instruction librarian, I discuss with students the peer review process, and the iterative process of research as inquiry. It is important to me to be a scholar-practitioner, to be doing what it is that I teach. It makes my teaching more authentic, because I’m not just telling students how to do something from on high. I’m not just telling students what troubles they will encounter. I’m one of them, a fellow researcher, a fellow student, a fellow enquirer. I’ve just been doing it longer, and have a bit more experience, a few more battle scars (or carpal tunnel, as it were). More on that philosophy of practicing scholarship later…

Dr. Colleen Harris-Keith, At Your Service

I have been a nerd since I was a toddler. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to get a doctorate. 

At 7:00am PDT this morning, I defended my dissertation research, “An exploratory study of the relationship between academic library work experience and perceptions of leadership skill development relevant to the academic library directorship.” After my 30 minute presentation, Q&A session with the audience, and discussion with the committee members, I left the Zoom instance (I defended from a distance). When I was reinvited after the committee’s consultation, the inimitable Dr. Ted Miller (my chair, or He Who Is Responsible for Wrangling Colleen and Committee) let me know that the committee’s decision was unanimous:

They are recommendaing that the Graduate School of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga award me the degree of Doctor of Education in Learning and Leadership.

From here on out, it’s paperwork. My committee members are dealing with signature pages, and will check with the Graduate School to see if I can walk (attend graduation) in May, or if I’ll have to wait and attend the ceremony in December. 

I am giddy. Fabulous Husband Jed actually came to my office to sit through the presentation, so I was able to celebrate with him immediately upon signing out of the meeting, immediately followed by a call to my uber-proud mom. My library chair presented me with a congratulatory bottle of pink champagne (how did she know I love that stuff?!). Friends and family have been congratulating and hugging via Facebook and Twitter. I can’t decide whether to drop from exhaustion, or run laps around the house. 

I surprised myself with my emotional reaction to the committee’s official approval. I’ve lived with the idea of Actually Finishing for the past few months, knowing that it was A Thing That Would Happen. But. I laughed. I danced. I cried. I kissed and hugged my husband. I posted to Facebook, and grinned every time someone liked or posted a comment. I kissed and hugged my coworkers. I sweated. I had shivers. I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and said to myself, “I am a doctor.” It feels surreal.

Now, I know that having a doctorate doesn’t mean a person is any smarter than anyone else. I’ve worked in higher education for too long to be under that illusion anymore. Really, it’s a badge of perseverance more than anything else, I think, and passion for a subject area. But I am so proud. 

Layering on these feelings is that fact that I’m a first-generation college student. My cousin, working on his own doctorate, posted to my Facebook wall noting that I’m the first doctor in the family. (Graduate work isn’t a rarity, though – my sister has her teaching MA, my brother has his Master’s in accounting, one of my cousins is a Physician’s Assistant, and another is working on his Ph.D.) I hadn’t considered that–I’ll be the first doctor on either side of my family tree. I have complicated feelings about this, and expect to blog about it in the near future.

For now, I’m just going to bask in the completed product of five full academic years, with a tough chronic illness diagnosis, a marriage, and a cross-country move happening in the middle of it. And I’m going to hug my husband and bassets.

The Research and Writing Life: A Snapshot of March 2015

For those interested in the writing life of an academic librarian who is on the tenure track, you may be interested in what my research and writing schedule looks like. If you include all of my writing for librarianship, professional conferences, my Ed.D. work, and my Ph.D. work, it adds up to a lot. I usually don’t list it out this way, since it makes me want to hyperventilate, but it is helpful to see it in this form to (1) give myself credit for what I’ve accomplished, and (2) budget my time wisely for what remains.

Not much writing happened in January and February – largely my focus was polishing up the dissertation, and getting healthy after some wicked bouts of illness. Papers submitted for publication or a grade already this month (March 2015) include:

  • “The Relationship between Academic Library Department Experience and Perceptions of Leadership Skill Development Relevant to Academic Library Directorship” (submitted to peer-reviewed journal in academic librarianship)
  • “The Significance of the Stylistic Device of Repetition in Ritual” (Ph.D. in Mythological Studies paper)
  • “A Close Reading of Joseph Campbell’s Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal” (Ph.D. in Mythological Studies paper)
  • “An exploratory study of the relationship between academic library work experience and perceptions of leadership skill development relevant to the academic library directorship” (Ed.D. in Learning & Leadership dissertation)

Papers in progress that I intend to (read: am required to) submit before a March 31st include:

  • A yet-untitled because it is a yet-to-be-decided-topic paper for my Dreams, Visions, Myths class (Ph.D. in Mythological Studies)
  • “An Age of Abundance, an Absence of Control: The Intersection of Mythology, Technology, Discourses of Power, and Information Literacy” (intended for the peer-reviewed Journal of Mythological Studies)
  • “Same-Sex Marriage in America: Ritual and Claims in the Mythic, Psychological, and Social Realms” (Ph.D. in Mythological Studies)
  • “The Four Faces of Marvel’s Black Widow: A Model of Regenerative Mythmaking” – a book chapter for a collection on Black Widow
  • “‘Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing’: Empowering Students and Rebuilding the Freshman Literature Syllabus with a Focus on Critical Thinking, Mythology, Creative Writing and Library Research” – a paper to be presented virtually at the The Fifth Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship
  • “Piety, Poetry, And the Pastoral Landscape: An Exploration of the Power of Place, Rhythm, And Religion in Maurice Manning’s Bucolics” – a paper to be presented virtually at the The Fifth Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship

Projects in-progress that require my vigilance include:

  • Completing the paper “Academic Librarians Learning to Lead from the Middle? Not According to the Data” (intended for the peer-reviewed journal Academic Library Administration, probably before April 30)
  • Editing a book titled “Mythology and Contemporary Women Poets: Analysis, Teaching, and Critical Reflection” to be published by Mcfarland (full manuscript due September 1!).
  • I received a contract to edit a book for ALA Editions based on my dissertation research. The first chapters will be my research, the later chapters will be essays by library directors on their experience developing much-needed leadership skills in specific areas. I’ve already sent out the call for abstracts and have received some stellar pitches!

Not happening this month (thank goodness!) but on my to-do list for the coming months/year:

  • Redesigning the Library’s 3-credit course and co-writing that up for publication in a peer-reviewed journal
  • Shoring up plans for a research project with a colleague in the Communication department on information literacy and research skill development that we’re hoping to complete in the fall and co-write up for publication in spring 2016 for a peer-reviewed journal
  • Continuing my research on academic library leadership (collecting more data, analyzing, writing up for publication)
  • Writing on the idea of chronic illness as liminal space as it relates to ritual theory for a peer reviewed journal
  • Re-/Self- publishing my three books of poetry (both small independent presses have folded, and I’d like for the collections to still be available)
  • Finding a publisher for another completed poetry manuscript
  • Completing a half-finished poetry collection

So, that’s my writing and research life in a nutshell (or a blog post).

How does it all happen? Well, a few nights a week and one weekend day per week are dedicated to writing/research/class doings. I do literature searches in brief breaks during the workday, between instruction sessions and at the reference desk. It helps that my husband is working on his Ed.D. and understands the need for dedicated reading and writing time, since most of that work, for me, happens outside of worktime (though I do like to go into the office to do research on Saturdays, when it’s quiet.)

Next time: a brief discussion of what my reading habits look like, given my weird and interdisciplinary work. For your amusement, a selection of a few of the textbooks for my upcoming Spring quarter at the Pacifica Graduate Institute:

Just a few of the textbooks for my Spring 2015 quarter for the Ph.D. in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology.

Just a few of the textbooks for my Spring 2015 quarter for the Ph.D. in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology.

Doctoral Dissertation Defense: Scheduled!

I am thrilled to share with everyone that my dissertation defense is scheduled for next Thursday. I’ll be defending via Zoom (a Skype-like video conferencing software)–welcome to the future! Also, in terms of preparation for the defense, a huge shout-out to my CSUCI Broome Library colleagues who sat through my first-ever run-through of the slides, and to Fabulous Husband Jed, who sits through more than his earthly share of my practicing.

Text of email sent from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Graduate School:

The UTC Graduate School is pleased to announce that Ms. Colleen Susan Harris-Keith will present her dissertation research titled, “An Exploratory Study of the Relationship Between Academic Library Work Experience and Perceptions of Leadership Skill Development Relevant to Academic Library Directorship,” on March 19 at 10:00 am in Hunter Hall #208. Everyone is invited to attend.

Candidate for Doctorate of Education: Learning and Leadership

Chairperson: Dr. Ted Miller


Though research into academic library director leadership has established leadership skills and qualities required for success, little research has been done to establish where in their career library directors were most likely to acquire those skills and qualities. This research project surveyed academic library directors at Carnegie-designated Master’s granting institutions about their previous library positions, and what skills and qualities they perceived to have exercised in those positions. Five research questions were assessed. RQ1: Which of the respondents’ last five positions previous to the directorship are most often represented in the path to the academic library directorship? RQ2: Which of the previous positions held by the respondents are perceived to have helped prepare directors the most for the qualities and skills required of the position? RQ3: Is the perception of library leadership skill and quality development equal across departmental experience? RQ4: What, if any position(s), appear to be the “gatekeepers” for academic librarian skill and competency development? RQ5: What are the skills most commonly perceived to be used in each department?

Findings revealed that respondents perceived there to be great opportunities to exercise leadership qualities in previous positions, but few opportunities to develop more empirically measurable leadership skills. In addition, respondents perceived those skill development opportunities to be available only once working in the position of library director or in the Administration department of academic libraries.

Professional Development 2015: Spring/Summer

Spring 2015 started with a bang, and the reference and instruction folks have been swamped with very full teaching schedules. I hear rave reviews from discipline faculty about how those sessions go, which is heartening. Maybe even better, I hear rave reviews from our students who stop by the reference desk! Our recent program review by outside parties, a regular requirement of all programs here at CSUCI, also went very well and it was good to hear what our faculty and students thought about our strengths and weaknesses.

In all the hubbub, I also wanted to point out some upcoming professional development excitement:

  • I’ve been selected to be a Spring 2015 Project ISLAS (Institutionalizing Student Learning, Access and Success) Faculty Fellow. This means I’ll be attending various faculty-taught workshops on best practices in areas such as: teaching and engaging first generation and underrepresented students; research-based innovations in learning to learn; cross-campus collaborations to promote student access and success; service learning across the curriculum; multicultural and international perspectives across the curriculum; writing across the curriculum; outcomes-based assessment. And then I will join the graduates of the program as a member of the faculty offering such workshops for others. Last semester we librarians offered a workshop titled “Sustainable Information Literacy: Facilitating the Information Literate Classroom,” and it was a hit. We’ll be offering the same workshop, slightly revised, in early April 2015 for interested faculty.
  • The Ventura County Library is offering a grant-writing program in partnership with the California State Library, The Grantmanship Center and the Center for Nonprofit Leadership. With thanks to my colleagues for covering my reference desk shifts, I will be spending the last week of March at a 5-day workshop here in town to develop my grantswomanship and start flexing our library’s muscles for some funding. Participants are supposed to learn how to use the program’s model for developing a grant proposal, developing a budget that anticipates funding agency questions, learning which grants will fund specific projects, and the such. Plus, there’s 12 months of support from the Grantsmanship Center after the workshop. I plan to make the most of this with my CSUCI Broome Library colleagues!
  • With much thanks and most of the credit to my Library Chair and Head of Public Services Debi Hoffmann and Provost Gayle Hutchinson for stellar letters of recommendation, I’ve been accepted into the ACRL Immersion Program in the Program Track. For those unfamiliar with the program, it’s a competitive program with a thorough application process. As an accepted applicant, I will be spending one week in Seattle, Washington in an intensive series of workshops on developing campus partnerships, evaluating the information literacy program, and helping us evolve as we consider how we want to serve our students and faculty moving into the future. Some of the best instruction librarians I know are alumni of this program (and have referred to it as nothing less than “life-changing”), and I’m very excited that Amy Wallace, our AVP of the Library, is generously funding my attendance for the August 2015 session.

CFP: Chapters on Academic Library Directors and Leadership

A call for chapters! I’m turning my dissertation into the preface for a book intended to help our directors overcome what data indicate are severe shortfalls in leadership development prior to the directorship. I’m excited that ALA Editions has contracted for the work. See below, and contact me with questions or for more details!

Edited volume title (tentative): So You Want to be an Academic Library Director: Leadership Lessons and Critical Reflections

Publisher: ALA Editions

Editor: Colleen S. Harris-Keith

A number of studies have highlighted that we know what the leadership skills and qualities are that make a good library director. However, there’s not much research that says where academic librarians in particular develop those skills along their career paths, giving the impression that all paths are considered equal. Recently collected data from mid-sized college and university library directors (a much larger leadership pool than just ARLs) reveals disturbing information: not only are not all career paths equal in terms of preparation in particular skills, most academic library directors don’t get to exercise those skills until they become directors (Harris-Keith, 2015). This implies that while academic library directors should be developing campus relationships and informing scholarly communities about important information issues, they are often distracted by the overwhelming work required to get up-to-speed on those necessary leadership skills.

After a thorough introduction addressing the literature and data related to this issue, this volume collects lessons related to very specific leadership skills from the experience of practicing academic library directors.

Proposals are requested for critical, reflective essays addressing the development of one of the skills in relation to a specific project or challenge as academic library director:

Allocating Resources

Budget Management

Building Community Partnerships

Building Teamwork

Business Ethics

Community Relations

Communicating Expectations

Compliance Issues

Computer Technology

Conflict Resolution

Cultural Diversity


Enforcing Policies & Procedures

Faculty & Staff Development

Fundraising/Donor Relations

Legal Issues

Managing Change

Problem Solving

Program Evaluation

School Safety Issues

Strategic Planning

Student-Focused Learning

Vision Articulation

Submission information

Please send titles and abstracts for a concise 2,500-3,000 word essay on leadership lessons as well as a 75-90 word author bio in the body of an email to colleen.harris-keith [at] csuci.edu

Proposal deadline: April 17, 2015

Acceptance notifications: May 1, 2015

First drafts due: November 30, 2015

Final drafts due: March 31, 2016

No previously published or simultaneously submitted material, please.

Editor bio: Colleen S. Harris-Keith serves as Information Literacy Coordinator and Assistant Librarian at the Broome Library on the CSU Channel Islands faculty. Previously, she also served as Head of Access Services at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and as Assistant Head of Access & Delivery Services at North Carolina State University. Colleen received her MLS from the University of Kentucky, an MFA in Writing from Spalding University, and will graduate with her EdD in Learning & Leadership from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her work has appeared as book chapters in Library Management Tips that Work (ALA Editions, 2011), The Frugal Librarian (ALA Editions, 2011), Writing and Publishing: The Librarian’s Handbook (ALA Editions, 2010), and Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators (Neal-Schuman, 2009), and as articles in Library Review, Journal of Access Services, The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, and Library Journal.

[Cited study: Harris-Keith, C. S. (2015). An exploratory study of the relationship between academic library work experience and perceptions of leadership skill development relevant to the academic library directorship. (Dissertation), University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN.]

What Does an Information Literacy Coordinator Do?

As I’ve mentioned previously, I started my position as Information Literacy Coordinator at CSU Channel Islands on July 1 of this year (2014). My libraryfolk have a general idea of what my position entails, but I’m pretty sure my friends and family just nod their heads and smile and have no earthly clue what I do. So, here’s a post about what exactly it is that I do all day.

Information Literacy

First, let me start with a brief statement about Information Literacy, since that. Is a huge part of my job. What is it? It’s the set of skills and critical thinking applied to a person’s need for information. So, the recognition that one needs information to solve a problem or question; determining the best place to find that information; critically reviewing the information and its source for relevance, validity and reliability; deciding on the best way to incorporate that information into decision-making…all of these fall into the realm of information literacy. Generally in higher ed, the librarians on a campus engage in information literacy instruction (or just ‘library instruction’) to help train students in these skills, particularly as it relates to their particular assignment in a class, and more broadly as it relates to their academic discipline. So we teach students about critically reviewing information, choosing databases, publication cycles, different types of publications and their target audiences.

We also teach students research skills, such as developing keywords for their topic, researching and reviewing relevant information, and refining their topics and searches as they go through the iterative research process. We teach them how to navigate the often confusing and unintuitive interfaces of various research databases. We teach our students that research is a process, one that comes with various twists and turns, and that the deeper they get into the research process, the more likely it is that they may refine or change their research questions. We teach class sessions, some of us teach semester-long classes, we lead workshops for students, we lead workshops for faculty interested in targeting information literacy in their syllabi and assignments.

Here at CSUCI, information literacy is actually one of our general education outcomes, which means that faculty teaching GenEd courses *must* integrate information literacy components into their courses. What this means for me in my role is that there is great support University-wide for our information literacy efforts and outreach.

The nuts and bolts of my work as InfoLit Coordinator in my first semester has largely been getting my feet wet in teaching information literacy sessions. When I am assigned a session, I contact the faculty member to set up a meeting to discuss their assignment, and what they want students to get out of our session. (This doubles as an opportunity to get some face-to-face time with faculty and build relationships. more on that in a minute.) From that discussion and the faculty member’s assignment, I draft an outline for the session, and send it to the faculty member to make sure we are on the same page. Then I teach the session, and those range from 45 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on the class.

Sometime between next week and next semester, I’ll also be the one assigning session requests to librarians. All form requests for requesting information literacy sessions will come to my email inbox, and I’ll distribute them around to whomever is available. I’ve got access to everyone’s Outlook calendars, access to classroom scheduling, and access to the Excel log where we keep track of info lit sessions by class, library instructor, class instructor, time to prepare, length of session, and number of students. Having seen my Chair, Debi, do this effectively and in an orderly fashion all semester, I’m ready to take the reins.

Another part of my infolit job is outreach to faculty. I’ve spent a lot of time this semester inviting faculty out for a coffee, stopping by offices to introduce myself, and generally making a benign nuisance of myself to get to know as many faculty across as many disciplines as possible. I’m starting to understand what faculty want most from our information literacy program, and areas that we might be able to grow into.

I do outreach to other campus offices. We are currently hiring a director for our Writing and Multiliteracy Center, and I imagine I’ll be involved in partnerships and programming with that entity. I’ve spoken with our director of disability services; as a graduate student who struggled with an acquired disability, I have a particular passion for making connections with that office and their students to help them be as successful as possible. I’m building a great relationship with our director of Teaching and Learning Innovation, who offers resources to train faculty to deliver blended (a combination of online and in-person) learning. I’ve chatted with our director of Academic Technology, English faculty, Business faculty, Math faculty, Econ faculty, Education faculty, Spanish faculty…the list goes on. In every case, I’ve been met with enthusiasm and open-mindedness. In most cases, I’ve been able to either get them to schedule an information literacy session, or we’ve discussed partnering for other things. An example: a meeting with a member of the Spanish faculty has turned into a possible spring term plagiarism workshop for the Spanish department students and a possible initiative to involve gringa faculty in some Spanish language learning. (We are designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and 40% of our students are Hispanic.)

Yet another aspect of my work is outreach to students. Students I’ve taught in my information literacy sessions all get my contact information, and I exhort them to please contact myself or the reference desk if they come across any stumbling blocks or want guidance as they navigate through various resources. This means I see a steady stream of students for research consults, where we take the time to discuss their research assignment in-depth, and we craft a strategy for their research together. I’ve found our students to be enthusiastic, and having just a little bit of direction or support makes them much more confident in their research. I’ve started some notes about what kinds of workshops our students might benefit from, and hope to pilot a few of those in the coming years.

I also work the reference desk about 5 hours per week, where I (wo)man the desk, and answer questions of all sorts – directional, research, printing, and whatever else comes up.

Because I’m in a tenure-track Assistant Librarian position, I have  service responsibilities as well. In the University setting, “service” usually refers to serving on various department and campus committees and serving the community in a way related to your position.

In terms of service, my plate looks a little weird for my first year on the job. I’m currently a member of the Academic Senate Executive team. I was interested in seeing how the campus sausage and Senate agendas were made, and not many folks volunteered. We meet about once every two to three weeks during the semester, and review items for the upcoming Academic Senate meeting, respond to faculty concerns by serving as a clearinghouse for questions and other issues, and sometimes we get to see announcements or other information items before the general university faculty. Generally, we route concerns to the proper authority or committee. Occasionally we are asked to review system or campus issues.

Due to the serendipity of starting the semester relatively uncommitted compared to most of the other members, I am also co-chairing the Faculty Affairs committee with a veteran faculty member. This committee reviews (and creates, as necessary) issues and policies impacting the faculty. A few of the things that crossed our plate (though some are still there, much like broccoli) this semester included developing a policy on student rating of faculty instruction, discussing a nepotism policy, reviewing General Personnel Standards, and making a recommendation on requirements for online courses. It’s intriguing to see how everything hangs together, and to see how the work impacts the faculty at large. Many of the issues that come to the Faculty Affairs Committee are sent by the Academic Senate Executive team.

Both of those positions are odd for a first-year faculty member, since a lot of campus knowledge and historical context is important for both. I became involved because I was interested and because few others could clear their schedules to do so. Both appointments end in May 2015, and in August I will most likely become a committee member on (an)other committee(s), such as curriculum.

I’ve not yet been involved in local community service, since I’ve spent my first semester getting acclimated to campus responsibilities and recovering from some health issues, but I am excited to start exploring local volunteer opportunities in the spring.


Research is also a requirement of tenure-track faculty. For those not familiar, in the traditional sense this usually means that you conduct some sort of study, write it up in official academic-sounding language, and either try to get that paper published in an academic journal that other scholars in your field read, or present the paper at a professional conference. Here at CI this commitment isn’t just called “research,” but “research, scholarship, and creative activities.” So, for English faculty, having a novel published may count as a creative activity under the research umbrella; for computer science faculty, developing a successful new program may count for this requirement. We are encouraged to be creative,and to be able to articulate how it furthers knowledge in our subject areas. CI is also not shy about the fact that our community places a great deal of value on interdisciplinary work, and collaborations with faculty in other disciplines is highly encouraged.

Research Project #1
Those of you who know me know that I love school, so papers tend to be my strength. I like to connect my research to my librarianship work, so I have a few research projects in the pipeline right now. In the spring, a faculty member in Communication and I are going to conduct a study comparing two classes she will be teaching (on the same subject). One class will get a traditional face-to-face library session, the other class will receive online multimedia training and an “Ask-the-Librarian” discussion board. Then we’ll compare the learning outcomes of both classes to see if there is any difference in how students exhibit information literacy learning outcomes. Why this research? (This question is important–my time is valuable, and I want my research to be important to my work.) We want to identify whether or not online modes of information literacy instruction are as effective as in-person. If they are, this may be an option we can add as a supplement to the work we already do for faculty, and it may be an option if we have to scale our operations to a larger student body in the future.

Research Project #2
Another research project involving a bunch (a cardigan?) of librarians as well as a collaborative partner in Florida will measure our students on a library anxiety scale, to see if this phenomenon, which tends to be negatively correlated with critical thinking and information literacy, exists in our student body. At other universities, the scale has shown some serious disparities between students of different races. Why this research? If we find that CI students do suffer from library anxiety, we can target interventions to new and existing students in at-risk populations to help them overcome it. That would hopefully mean better student use of library resources, our students becoming better critical thinkers, and ultimately a mor gratifying path to graduation for our students.

Research Project #3
This project has actually been in-progress for nearly a year–my dissertation to complete the EdD program. Currently, academic librarians as a profession have a very good idea of what leadership skills and qualities are necessary to be a good library director. What we do not know is where academic librarians develop those leadership skills and qualities before they become directors. This project does that sort of career-path analysis on academic library directors at master’s-granting colleges and universities. Why? Well, if a librarian wants to become a director some day, it would be nice if they had a map of what sort of work is most likely to best prepare them for the role. In addition, you can hardly walk three steps without tripping over a leadership institute nowadays. This research could actually inform those institutes as to where their applicants are most likely to have skill gaps, allowing them to better target both their audience and training opportunities.

I’m in the death throes of finishing this up; my dissertation advisor currently has a revised Chapter 4 (the data analysis) and is reviewing it. The dissertation will only go through Chapter 5, so I can see the finish line. I’m hoping to have the whole thing done, dusted, and degreed with a defense sometime in February, and to graduate and be Doctor Harris-Keith in May.

Research Project #4

This project does exactly the same thing as Project #3, but it collects data from academic library directors at baccalaureate-granting institutions instead of the master’s level schools. Why? Well, there are over 800 baccalaureate-only colleges. That’s a lot of academic library directors. It would be useful to know if the leadership development opportunities along their career paths mirrored directors at different institutions, or if they differ in some important way. Plus all of the reasons given for #3.

The Nutshell

In a nutshell (albeit a large one), that is my job. I love it. I enjoy teaching enormously, and I get jazzed at seeing the light bulbs go off in a class when students really start to understand things. I love helping a student on the edge of a breakdown find that they knew what to do all along, they just needed a wee bit of guidance. I love working with faculty, and seeing other grown folks nerd out about their love for their subject area, the way I do about librarianship. I get a kick out of finding intersections between my work and ways to improve teaching and learning in other disciplines. I enjoy reading journal articles by others researching in librarianship, and hearing about what my colleagues at CI and around the world are doing. There are always new ways to present old information, better teaching practices to test out, and new sparks of inspiration.

Most of all, I love that I get to be a part of a student’s college experience, hopefully in a way that empowers them and helps them toward graduation. I had the very good fortune to attend a college where the faculty were highly invested in helping us succeed and helping us find our passions, and I try to do my best to pass along that personal helping hand to each generation coming through college. I have a lot of questions about life, but wondering what sort of work I should do is not one of them.