Campus Teams Explore How to Deepen Information Fluency in English and American Language and Literature

Teams from 22 CIC member institutions from Iowa to Iraq recently convened at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, to explore how to move beyond teaching basic information literacy in the general education curriculum to infusing information fluency into those studying English and American language and literature.
The March 10–12, 2016, Information Fluency in the Disciplines Workshop was the third in a series of workshops that build on CIC’s successful Transformation of the College Library and Learning Spaces and Technology programs. Susanne Woods, provost and professor of English emerita at Wheaton College (MA), is the CIC senior advisor for the workshop series, which is made possible through the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The workshop’s opening session highlighted successful steps—both large and small—that librarians and faculty members from Manhattanville College (NY) have taken to deepen information literacy on their campuses. Two presenters from Manhattanville—Patrick Redding, assistant professor of English, and Elaine Provenzano, assessment and marketing librarian—described how they work together and with students who are developing research papers. Redding noted, “As a scholar, I have some expertise in terms of the content and contours of the existing scholarly landscape—landmark books, significant editions, and prominent theoretical approaches—but my main priority lies in showing students how to engage with and assemble research materials, not in how to find them.… So, here is where I ‘tag out’ to Lanie and the other librarians on our staff. They know the databases, library collections, and interlibrary loan possibilities far better than I do and can help expand informational access and ensure the validity of the evidence.” Redding has students contact librarians to advance their research, and he withholds additional comments to the students’ work until a librarian has confirmed that they have met with the student. As one workshop participant said, this session proved particularly informative in showing “how the librarians were part of the teaching focus for the course and how librarians met with students to review and discuss resources one-on-one.”
Many workshop sessions provided time for participants to begin planning with their teams for work on their own campuses. During the first planning session, campus teams met in small groups to consider the skills that constitute information fluency in the field, the roles that faculty members and librarians play in developing those skills, and the role that deans and provosts play in providing institutional support for these efforts and creating a campus culture receptive to information fluency programs. The flow of much of the workshop, alternating between informational sessions and team planning time, was well received by participants. One faculty member said, “This is a good way for faculty members, librarians, and administrators to spend time together and exchange ideas. It’s helpful to hear what is being done at other schools to get new ideas.”
Data collected from participating teams ahead of the workshop showed that all 22 colleges and universities, while varying in size and resources, shared many common issues and goals. More than two-thirds of the participating institutions already involved librarians in teaching information literacy in lower-level courses, but to varying degrees. And while all reported at least some training in information fluency in major courses in English and American language and literature, six institutions reported regular training, six reported minimal training, and the remainder reported occasional training. Almost every team saw leadership—especially from faculty members and librarians—as most important to developing an upper-level information fluency program. Time constraints, limited financial resources, and often lack of faculty interest were viewed as the major obstacles. Participants indicated that this year, changes in the complexity of reporting lines for librarians and technologists may require more explicit cooperation among senior officers, as well as among faculty and librarians, if an information fluency plan is to be successful.
An evening reception and dinner included an address by Roland Greene, Mark Pigott KBE Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University and immediate past president of the Modern Language Association (NY). During his presentation, “How We Share Ideas Now: Colloquies, A New Platform,” Greene discussed how he developed the online journal, Colloquies, and how workshop participants might be able to contribute to or even develop their own online journals.
The workshop was designed for campus teams consisting of a senior academic officer, a library director, and two faculty members. Facilitators, who assisted teams during planning sessions and also made presentations, included Lisabeth Chabot, college librarian of Ithaca College (NY) and Association of College and Research Libraries representative to CIC; Susan Perry, library and information technology consultant and director emerita of library, information, and technology services at Mount Holyoke College (MA); Richard O’Connor, professor of anthropology and former director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Sewanee: The University of the South (TN); Tom Kirk, library director and coordinator of information services emeritus at Earlham College (IN); and Susan Barnes Whyte, library director at Linfield College (OR) and senior advisor for CIC’s Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research, among others.
In the fall, CIC will announce the next workshop in the series, which will take place April 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Campus plans from the teams participating in the 2016 workshop and other resources from the workshop can be found online at


American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
Bellarmine University (KY)
Bethany Lutheran College (MN)
Brescia University (KY)
Buena Vista University (IA)
Campbell University (NC)
College of Mount Saint Vincent (NY)
College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (MN)
Concordia University, St. Paul (MN)
Davis & Elkins College (WV)
DePaul University (IL)
Earlham College (IN)
Eastern Mennonite University (VA)
Keuka College (NY)
Madonna University (MI)
Mercy College (NY)
North Carolina Wesleyan College
Rockhurst University (MO)
Rust College (MS)
St. Edward’s University (TX)
Ursuline College (OH)
Whittier College (CA)