Moderator’s note: This post was written by Anne Marie Gruber, Instruction & Liaison Librarian, University of Northern Iowa
There is increasing interest among academic librarians in supporting community engagement efforts on our campuses, as evidenced by a growing number of publications on this topic. Librarians are discussing how we can leverage our roles on campus to support service-learning and other forms of campus-community partnerships. As discussed previously on this blog, this can take shape through information literacy instruction, providing local collections, and providing spaces for community events and meetings. In addition, academic libraries can help our campuses tell their community engagement stories by archiving projects online, often through institutional repositories (IR) we already provide to campus constituents.
While many campuses have significant amounts of service-learning and other forms of community engagement already happening, getting the word out about these projects on campus and among alumni/donors can be difficult in an age of information overload. What if campus had an online repository of such projects, complete with student and faculty research, event photos, videos, and more? Academic libraries are creating just these sorts of collections, well-positioned to help gather, curate, and manage the resulting artifacts. An added benefit is the ability to make community-based research and projects available publicly–a hallmark of mutually beneficial relationships between campus and community.
My institution, University of Northern Iowa, has a fairly new but growing collection of community engagement projects, available at UNI Scholarworks. One notable sub-collection comes from the annual Service-Learning Institute (SLI). SLI is a collaboration with Iowa Campus Compact(1) to train a select group of faculty in service-learning best practices and pair each with a community partner so they can co-create course-embedded projects. Materials from several projects are already available. Examples include: