A question that always comes up in discussions of embedded librarianship is, does it work? That is, does it result in improved learning outcomes for students, and / or other improvements in achieving the institution’s mission and goals. Some small-scale assessments and a fair number of positive anecdotes have been published before, but we’ve lacked a large-scale, authoritative study.
The Association of College & Research Libraries has just released a report that helps a lot in answering that question. “Academic Library Contributions to Student Success: Documented Practices from the Field”, by Karen Brown and Kara J. Malenfant, is the report of a massive study in which over 70 North American academic libraries participated. If you’re interested in academic libraries, assessment of library services, or both, it’s a must-read.
Here are three of eight project findings listed in the Executive Summary, p. 1-2:
“(3) Students who receive library instruction as part of their courses achieve higher grades and demonstrate better information literacy competencies than students who do not receive course-related library instruction.
(7) Multiple library instruction session or activities in connection with a course are more effective than one-shot instruction sessions.
(8) Collaborative instructional activities and services between the library and other campus units … promote student learning and success.”
These findings beg the question, how do you achieve the ability to integrate instruction into courses, break out of the superficial one-shot approach, and build collaborations across campus?
While there are various options and approaches, my suggestion would be to adopt the embedded service model. It’s by enabling librarians to get out of the library, build relationships, and adopt common tactics with others to achieve institutional goals, that we open up these opportunities for ourselves.
So thank you ACRL, Drs. Brown and Malenfant, for this study!