Academic libraries tell the story: Archiving community engagement projects

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:

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Upcoming ACRL Webcast: Connecting Pedagogies: Service Learning and Information Literacy

If you’re looking for some professional development opportunities related to service learning and its connections to information literacy, look no further.  Our colleagues Jennifer Nutefall and Alex Hodges will present Connecting Pedagogies: Service Learning and Information Literacy via an ACRL Webcast on November 16, 2016.  For more information and to register, please visit:

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Libraries and service learning: a match made in heaven?

Moderator’s note:  This post was written by Anne Marie Gruber, Instruction & Liaison Librarian, University of Northern Iowa

Libraries and service learning–a match made in heaven? I think so! Especially when it comes to information literacy instruction, it makes sense for academic librarians to support service learning along with other forms of community engagement in higher education. As we work to demonstrate our value to the academy, contributing to this growing area of emphasis in higher education can make us even more connected to our institutional priorities and ensure key decision-makers understand our services.

While I’ve been an academic librarian for over 10 years, I am new to University of Northern Iowa, a mid-sized comprehensive university that happens to be my alma mater. UNI has strong connections to the community and a long history of service learning, but there has been little library involvement with service learning until now. In my short time there, I have been an ambassador of sorts, talking up the potential for library/service learning collaborations based on my past experience teaching many information literacy sessions for service learning courses. While I know I’m preaching to the choir here, I think it’s important to articulate some specific arguments for library involvement in service learning.

Let’s start with benefits to community partners, since they are sometimes forgotten in service learning conversations. One faculty member I worked with at my previous institution indicated the information literacy session librarians led “ensured students represented the institution exceptionally well to non-profit leaders in the community”. Agency representatives appreciated that our students had “done their homework” by conducting some preliminary research. Our involvement enabled students to engage with community partners at a deeper level and brainstorm creative service learning projects.

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Second Colloquium on Libraries and Service Learning Held at the Campus Compact Conference

Moderator note: This recap of “Libraries and the Public Purposes of Higher Education” was written by Helene Lafrance and Jennifer Nutefall of Santa Clara University

The first ever Colloquium on Libraries and Service Learning was offered in 2014 at Santa Clara University and was a resounding success, an all-day affair that brought together 75 participants from all over the country to discuss and share their involvement with service learning.  This year, the organizers chose a different format as the Colloquium was held as a pre-conference as part of the Campus Compact 30th Anniversary Conference in Boston on March 19. The pre-conference title was Libraries and the Public Purposes of Higher Education. It included four consecutive sessions highlighting many issues related to academic libraries and service learning, ranging from partnerships between librarians and faculty, to best practices, and program assessment. While there were fewer attendees (full conference registration was potentially cost prohibitive) the intimate format provided for more active participation and in-depth discussions and exchanges.

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Libraries and the Public Purposes of Higher Education

As Campus Compact celebrates its 30th Anniversary at their Annual Conference in March, 2016, there will be a library-focused pre-conference.  Libraries and the Public Purposes of Higher Education will take place Sunday, March 20 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. in Boston, MA. Register by October 15 before rates increase:

The program for the afternoon is as follows:

Libraries and the Public Purposes of Higher Education

Learning to share: Partnerships in service learning, public scholarship, and library exhibitions

Presenters: Debby Walser-Kuntz and Margaret Pezalla-Granlund, Carleton College


Libraries can serve as a site for student-curated, curricular exhibitions that provide an opportunity for public scholarship and an extension of service learning. Exhibit design challenges science students to translate their learning into a compelling story both visually and through text accessible to non-specialists. In this active learning session, a library curator and biology professor will briefly share their experience collaborating to support a student-curated exhibition in an undergraduate service learning public health course. Participants will collectively curate a mini-exhibition, providing perspective on synthesizing, selecting, and summarizing a complex topic for the public, with time included for reflection and discussion.

On the road to Information Literacy: Mapping IL learning outcomes to service learning courses

Presenter: Olivia H. Ivey, American University

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Public Innovators Lab for Libraries

Public Innovators Lab for Libraries

Detroit, MI

October 14-16, 2015

See more information here.  This seems like a great opportunity and appropriate for the audience of this blog.  If you plan to attend, I’d love to hear about your experience.  I would love to include a blog post (or a few) about the event.

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2016 Colloquium on Libraries & Service-Learning

 Libraries and the Public Purposes of Higher Education

March 20, 2016


Boston, MA

Join us for the 2016 Colloquium on Libraries & Service Learning being held in conjunction with the 30th anniversary conference of Campus Compact.

Conference Focus:

The intended community for this pre-conference colloquium includes all who are interested in current and potential partnerships between academic librarians, faculty who teach service learning courses, service learning professionals and community partners.  The pre-conference is designed to facilitate the sharing of research, ideas, perspectives and best practices in library engagement with/in academic service learning.

The planning committee welcomes proposals on any aspect of libraries and service learning.

Session topics may include, but are not limited to

  • Accreditation
  • Added value
  • Assessment
  • Case studies
  • Institutional priorities
  • Partnerships
  • Retention
  • Student engagement
  • Student learning outcomes


  • Session length:  45 minutes.
  • Requirements:  Written paper or designed activity to report the results of research, present case studies, or facilitate an active learning session related to libraries and service learning.  Presentation sessions are limited to 30 minutes and should include time for questions.  Presenters are encouraged to supply virtual handouts or other materials as appropriate.
  • Presentation proposals should include the name of the presenter(s), the title of the session, a brief presentation abstract (75-100 words) and a short bio of the presenter(s).

Submissions are due by Tuesday September 1 at 5:00PST


Submission form (an account must be created to submit):


Contact Jennifer Nutefall, University Librarian, Santa Clara University at

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Forthcoming Book Based on Inaugural Extending our Reach Colloquium

(Moderator note: this post was written by Jennifer Nutefall, University Librarian, Santa Clara University)

As many of you know, Santa Clara University hosted Extending Our Reach: The Inaugural Colloquium on Libraries & Service Learning (CLSL) this past August. If you weren’t able to attend – or even if you did – I’m pleased to let you know that a book is currently in the works. With Libraries Unlimited, I am editing a book tentatively titled “Service Learning, Information Literacy, and Libraries.” Three of the chapters will be adapted from presentations at CLSL. Those include Maureen Barry writing on meaningful reflection activities, Megan Stark on bridging academic and community information through service learning, and Deborah Halperin, Matt LaLonde, and Karen Schmidt on service learning projects, community and the library.

Other chapters will focus on the pedagogical connections between service learning and information literacy, sample projects from the University of British Columbia and George Washington University, ways librarians can engage the broader community, and future directions for librarian involvement in service learning.

I’m so pleased at this opportunity to continue to spread the word on libraries and service learning. The completed manuscript is due to be submitted this October with a tentative spring 2016 publication date.

Check back here for updates as I get closer to the submission deadline!

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