Teams Explore Ways to Deepen Information Fluency in the Arts at Final Workshop; New Grants Will Help Campuses Continue Work

CIC’s final workshop on Information Fluency in the Disciplines took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 20–22. The workshop focused on “The Arts: History, Theory, and Criticism” and was the eighth information fluency workshop supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Thanks to additional support from the Mellon Foundation, CIC will be able to provide small grants to institutions that participated in past workshops to help advance their programs.

Nine Years of Successful Workshops

Over the course of nine years, CIC held information fluency workshops that explored topics ranging from ancient studies to English and American Literature, to philosophy and religion. The workshops sought to help undergraduate students attain information fluency in their major areas of study by enabling teams of chief academic officers, librarians, and faculty members from 175 CIC member institutions to learn about successful programs and strategies at similar institutions and, with guidance from experts, develop plans for implementation upon return to their campuses.

The workshops were co-sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Council on Library and Information Resources and received endorsements by the Appalachian College Association and the United Negro College Fund. Depending on the topic, they also were endorsed by relevant disciplinary organizations, such as the American Philological Association, American Historical Association, American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature, and this year by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, College Art Association, College Music Society, and Modern Language Association of America.

The workshops built 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), interim vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Westminster College (PA), and CIC senior advisor, directed the workshops.

The Grand Finale

Teams from 26 CIC member institutions convened for the April workshop (see the list of participating institutions below). The program kicked off with a session that detailed the use of library, music, and art history resources to develop information fluency in the arts at Colorado College. Presenter Victoria Lindsay Levine, professor of music at Colorado College, explained, “I first got interested in information fluency when I attended a CIC workshop in 2013. That event inspired me, and I’ve had a lot of fun devising ways to teach information fluency at Colorado College. Through conversations with my colleagues we’ve come to agree that information fluency in the fine and performing arts requires the ability to negotiate among physical media (including primary and secondary sources), digital media (including computers, software, and the internet), and what we call ‘slow’ skills, or the techniques developed over time by the creators, practitioners, and scholars of music, art, and theatre.” Levine elaborated that the session would explore the intersections between these skill sets and their roles in developing information fluency among students in the arts because “…these skills are inseparable and provide examples of how we activate them through strategically-planned course assignments.”

When campus teams met separately or in small groups, they considered the skills that constitute information fluency in the field, how faculty members and librarians help develop those skills, and how deans and provosts provide institutional support and create a campus culture receptive to information fluency programs. Expert facilitators—including longtime workshop veterans Mary Ellen Davis, executive director of ACRL; Lis Chabot, college librarian at Ithaca College (NY) and ACRL representative to CIC; Susan Perry, library and information technology consultant and director emerita of library information and technology services, Mount Holyoke College (MA); Susan Barnes Whyte, library director at Linfield College (OR) and senior advisor for CIC’s Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research; Tom Kirk, library director and coordinator of information services emeritus, Earlham College (IN); and Richard O’Connor, professor of anthropology and former director of the Center for Teaching, Sewanee: The University of the South (TN)—were available to discuss strategies and provide guidance, examples, and suggestions.

The first day of the workshop closed with a reception, dinner, and spirited keynote address by Thomas Forrest Kelly, the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music at Harvard University. His discussion, “Reconstructing the Riot at the Rite,” brought the 1913 Paris premier of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to life by combining original paintings, photographs, drawings, newspaper accounts, recordings of Stravinsky discussing the music, and the music of the ballet itself. The talk was adapted from Kelly’s popular undergraduate course, First Nights: Five Performance Premiers, which examines five musical premieres as significant moments of cultural history.

Throughout the workshop, participants learned about successful information fluency projects on a variety of campuses. During the second day, three specialists described advances in resources for arts education. Barnes Whyte provided an overview of CIC’s Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research, describing how consortium participants use ITHAKA’s Shared Shelf platform to store and manage digital media in support of teaching, learning, and student/faculty research. Skidmore College professor Gordon Thompson discussed his course on the Beatles, which “subverts the idea of a MOOC” by inviting a selected audience (primarily interested parents, alumni, and community members) into a virtual classroom where they can interact with the faculty member and the students in the class to create a learning community by incorporating complementary attributes of real-time interaction and virtual availability. Kim Miller, associate professor of art history and women’s studies at Wheaton College (MA), described her class on African visual cultures and the course’s final project: “Curating a Critical Biography of Africa.” For this project, students are tasked with designing, curating, and writing about a virtual exhibition related to “art and liberation” using Aluka—a digital library of scholarly resources from and about Africa that contains periodicals, oral histories, posters, photographs, and other archival materials. The final project is submitted as a wiki, and students are required to work closely with a library liaison who introduces students to both the wiki experience and Aluka.

On the final morning, participants were able to browse posters of each team’s campus plans displayed on the walls of the workshop’s main conference room. “This has been a rich and productive experience,” Woods reflected. “We have heard about many wonderful projects and ideas from our presenters, but even more exciting has been the opportunity to see outlines of the individual campus plans emerge at the end of each workshop.” Some examples included Bay Path University’s (MA) plans to add a “research log” component to all research assignments in arts courses, to be maintained by the student and signed by a librarian and a faculty member; Butler University’s (IN) goals to integrate the performing and fine arts librarian and graduate assistants into the teaching of information fluency by having a librarian sit in on key music, dance, and theatre history classes and assign graduate assistants in music to act as research mentors to undergraduate music majors; and Lindenwood University’s (MO) designs for a new digital communications and information fluency-related course that will address information discernment as well as how to find and use information.

2017 Information Fluency Workshop Participating Institutions

Agnes Scott College (GA)
Albright College (PA)
Bay Path University (MA)
Bethany College (WV)
Bluefield College (VA)
Butler University (IN)
Calvin College (MI)
Carroll College (MT)
Clark Atlanta University (GA)
Coker College (SC)
College of Saint Mary (NE)
Concordia College (MN)
Daemen College (NY)
Friends University (KS)
Hesston College (KS)
Hope College (MI)
John Carroll University (OH)
Kalamazoo College (MI)
Knox College (IL)
Lindenwood University (MO)
Linfield College (OR)
Principia College (IL)
The College of Idaho
The College of St. Scholastica (MN)
Tuskegee University (AL)
Valparaiso University (IN)

Small Grants Will Continue Information Fluency Work on Campuses

Following the conclusion of the final Information Fluency in the Disciplines Workshop in a decade of workshops funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, CIC announced the availability of small grants to help colleges and universities achieve or extend the plans developed by institutional teams during the workshops.

Ten $4,000 Information Fluency Development Grants are available for institutions that participated in one of the workshops offered in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. The purpose of the grants is to amplify and advance the work that began when an institution’s workshop team created an action plan at the workshop and that the team is now implementing successfully on campus. Institutions are eligible to request a grant for use over a six-month period to support the continuation and deepening of this work. Funds can be used to support faculty and library staff time; disseminate results of successes and best practices through publications or participation in scholarly conferences; travel to other campuses to gather and share knowledge and practices; and advance other related activities. In February 2018, the selected institutions will be expected to provide CIC a brief written report that describes progress made on the attainment of project goals and the uses of funds.

Applications should be submitted electronically by July 24, 2017, and the institutions selected for the awards will be announced by August 18. The application form is available online. Questions about the Information Fluency Development Grants can be addressed to Stephen Gibson, CIC’s director of programs, at or (202) 466-7230.