Monday, September 19, 2016

Sabbatical 2016 Report

This evening I submitted my 2-page sabbatical report, for the short-term sabbatical leave I took this past January, June, July, and August. In a moment I will share it below.

As I should have expected, I did not get to do everything I hoped I would.

Interestingly, my visible productivity was actually very high--I am really pleased with the "products" that came out of my leave time away from the office for four months. None of them are published yet, but the majority are "in press" to some degree, so they will be available soon I hope.

What got a bit neglected was my systematic reading plan. The bibliography I culled in preparation for this sabbatical was intense, filled with many glorious longform works in a variety of disciplines that I was putting in conversation with the goals of my sabbatical project. I got to some of these works, but not nearly as many as I'd hoped.

An event that waylaid (to some degree) the more ephemeral of my sabbatical goals was the reception of the rescission of the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. I address this briefly in my formal report below, but the week following June 25, 2016, when the ACRL Board formally rescinded the Standards, was an incredibly busy one for me as a member of the Framework Advisory Board. Three different pieces of public writing came out of that week, in an attempt to aid the transition (here, here, and the shorter compilation of those two here).

In the time between mid-June and mid-July, I also became pregnant. Those early weeks were quite a physical adjustment for me, and the clip at which I was moving through my sabbatical projects and goals understandably slowed a bit.

Just as I did with my sabbatical application, I wanted to share the formal report I submitted to my Provost. It will be six years until I can take another one. Note that although it says the publication manuscripts are attached, I won't be able to link to versions of those quite yet, as I need to wait for the publishers to make the formal versions available before I share them openly.



Technology, Identity and Personhood

A critical inquiry into the relationship between who we are
and the information tools we use to learn, process, and communicate


Report on Short-Term Sabbatical Leave
During Intersession 2016 and Summer 2016



September 22, 2016


Donna Witek, MA, MLIS
Associate Professor &
Public Services Librarian
Weinberg Memorial Library
The University of Scranton
Scranton, PA 18510
donna.witek [at] scranton.edu ~ 1.570.941.4000

SUMMARY

During my short-term sabbatical leave, taken during Intersession 2016 and Summer 2016, I researched the intersections between the technologies we use to both interact with and create knowledge and information, and our conceptions of self and embodied personhood in the digital post-modern world. I then applied this research to various pedagogical contexts within my discipline and content area of information literacy.

My review of the literature included key texts from disciplines such as library and information science, critical pedagogy, Ignatian pedagogy and spirituality, and Christian anthropology. This deep-dive into complex theory and praxis informed my accomplishments and deliverables, whose focus centers on information literacy pedagogy and bringing the affective dimension into teaching, learning, assessment, and curricula, thus humanizing these processes for our students and ourselves.

ACTIVITIES

My sabbatical activities included a combination of 1) in-depth research and reading of theoretical and theological texts; 2) attending presentations related to pedagogy and assessment; 3) strategic writing and presenting on pedagogical topics relevant to both my sabbatical aims and the concerns of the profession of academic librarianship that arose during the period of my sabbatical; and, 4) continued service as a member of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy Advisory Board.

Works studied:
  • An Encounter with Simone Weil [documentary film], directed by Julia Haslett. 2010.
  • Behr, John. Becoming Human: Meditations on Christian Anthropology in Word and Image. SVS Press. 2013.
  • Behr, John. The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death. SVS Press. 2006.
  • Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Association of College and Research Libraries. 2015, 2016. http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework
  • hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Routledge. 1994.
  • Kahane, David. “Learning about Obligation, Compassion, and Global Justice: The Place of Contemplative Pedagogy” in Contemplative Learning and Inquiry Across Disciplines, eds. Olen Gunnlaugson, Edward W. Sarath, Charles Scott, and Heesoon Bai. SUNY Press. 2014.
  • Weil, Simone. Waiting for God, trans. Emma Cruafurd. Putnam. 1951.

Presentations attended:
  • Attention, Ignatian Pedagogy, and Practices of Evaluation [workshop]. Office of Educational Assessment Institute. University of Scranton. January 26, 2016.
  • Miller, Sara D. and Amanda Nichols Hess. Using the Framework to Foster Conversations about Information Literacy Instruction [webinar]. ACRL Instruction Section Management and Leadership Committee. May 31, 2016.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

On June 25, 2016, the ACRL Board of Directors rescinded the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (Standards), a sixteen year-old document that has been replaced by the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (Framework). As will be clear from my accomplishments, the Framework has been central to my sabbatical research, as it posits a more holistic and integrated approach to information literacy teaching and learning than the Standards; and with the Standards’ rescission, the Framework is now the primary teaching and learning document for information literacy put forth by ACRL.

Publications (manuscripts attached):
  • Grettano, Teresa, and Donna Witek. “The Frameworks, Comparative Analyses, and Sharing Responsibility for Learning and Assessment” in Rewired: Research-Writing Partnerships in a Frameworks State of Mind, ed. Randall McClure. Chicago: ACRL Press, 2016. [book chapter] (forthcoming)
  • Witek, Donna. “Developing a ‘Critical Pedagogy Disposition’” in Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook, Vol. 1: Essays and Workbook Activities, eds. Nicole Pagowsky and Kelly McElroy. Chicago: ACRL Press, 2016. [book chapter] (forthcoming)
  • Witek, Donna, Mary J. Snyder Broussard, and Joel M. Burkholder. “Rhetorical Reinventions: Rethinking Research Processes and Information Practices to Deepen our Pedagogy.” In LOEX Conference Proceedings 2016. [conference proceedings] (forthcoming)
  • Witek, Donna. “The Past, Present, and Promise of Information Literacy.” Phi Kappa Phi Forum 96.3 (2016). [invited article] (forthcoming)
  • Witek, Donna. “Seeding Local Curricula with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy.” College & Research Libraries News 77.10 (2016). [invited article] (forthcoming)
  • Galas, Jennifer K. and Donna Witek. “The Information Literacy of Survey Mark Hunting: A Dialogue.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe. [journal article] (under review)

Presentations:

During my sabbatical, I also continued to serve on the ACRL Framework Advisory Board (FAB). FAB’s role in the months immediately following the Standards’ rescission was to lead on creating professional development opportunities and resources related to the Framework at a national scale. A summary of our work, which continued throughout my sabbatical leave, can be read at the following guest contribution:



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Wildflowers

A vignette on working motherhood.


It's not quite a routine yet, but it is growing into one. 

On Mondays, while Mommy works late, Daddy picks her up from school and takes her to the library. We have a local branch just up the hill from our home, whose hours go just late enough to fit in a visit every two weeks when her books are due. 

She and Daddy go into the library, return the books we've been reading at bedtime, and select some new ones. The children's collection is set apart in an enchanted nook filled with a play table, a touch screen computer loaded with educational games, and books galore. Usually, she and Daddy select from the books the librarians have curated and put on display around the room--it is easier to see the covers of these themed books than it is for her little girl's fingers to flip through the narrow-spined collection shelved along the walls. Right now, her favorite author is Dr. Seuss. They load up on new selections from his prolific body of work, and ask to renew her current favorite, Green Eggs and Ham (or Sam-I-am as we like to call it). She visits the play table while Daddy uses her card to check out their new collection of books for bedtime reading these next two weeks. And since the library will soon close, Daddy is able to convince her to come along so the librarians can get ready to go home for the day.

There is still one more stop before returning home for (an albeit late) dinner. 

They walk two houses down to Mr. Bob and Miss June's house. They are friends of ours, and she likes to call on them with Daddy after she visits the library. When they are home, it means nibbling on some snacks to hold her over until they return home for dinner. And it means picking wildflowers for Mommy.

Miss June has wildflowers in her garden. The ladies--generations apart--gather select blooms while the gentlemen visit with each other. I imagine she looks for pink blooms whenever possible, as it is her favorite color right now, and so she wants to give the color to Mommy, who must work late tonight and most nights. 

The ladies return to the parlor, wildflowers in hand, signalling the end of the visit. Daddy must bring her home for dinner now, so the friends say their goodbyes in the growing dusk. 

When I return home from work after 10 pm, she is already asleep. But waiting for me on the counter is a makeshift vase filled with wildflowers. It is a material trace of my absence-yet-presence in the evenings, when I must be the librarian for other young people at the university a stone's throw away. 

It hurts, my absence. But having tangible proof of just how well cared for she is, by her Daddy and by our neighborhood community we've grown to love, helps. It helps because I know she is okay, and it helps because I can see in the wildflowers' blooms that she thinks of me when I am gone. 

Each morning after wildflower picking with Miss June, when we come down for breakfast, she excitedly shows off the wildflowers she has picked for me. I thank her with a big squeezy-hug, and proceed into another long day of mothering and working. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

On ACRL, Motherhood, and Social Justice

I did not propose for ACRL 2017 this year. The call for participation was in spring, and it was a bit surreal to not propose when the biennial conference is on my coast, taking place in Baltimore next March.

It was the right decision for a variety of reasons, and I admit that being able to root everyone on, and review and offer feedback on proposal drafts for my colleagues, without the stress of considering my own positioning in the competition for presentation spots, was a nourishing and happy experience for me. My plan was to see what the summer brought me, and if in fall I decided I wanted to attend and have a chance at travel funding to do so, I would propose a poster in time for the October deadline.

Well, the summer brought me something, that’s for sure! I won’t be attending ACRL 2017 this year because, God willing, I’ll be snuggling a newborn here at home while everyone is gathering in Baltimore next March.

That’s right, I’m returning from my summer sabbatical well rested (“sabbatical” comes from the word “sabbath” after all), with quite a few writing projects on their way to publication, and pregnant with my second child. To say I’m excited would be an understatement...this baby is very wanted, and with my daughter Bookie* having just turned four years old, the timing is right for us to seek to welcome another little person into our family.

The details so far are these: I’m eleven weeks along at this point, just one week away from the glorious second trimester in which my appetite will hopefully return and I will feel better. The baby is healthy as of our dating ultrasound scan on August 15, with a strong heartbeat and measuring well.

And, the baby is due in mid-March 2017, literally a few days before ACRL 2017! So, I’m hoping all of my colleague-friends in library land will send prayers and good thoughts north to Scranton as many of you congregate in Baltimore. While I will be somewhat distracted, I can guarantee I will think of you all at times that week, and the awesome work that will be shared at my favorite conference.

It’s hard to miss this meeting, but I looked back on my pattern of attendance and was tickled to see there is a method to the sometimes-chaos of my life.

  • ACRL 2011, Philadelphia, PA, attended: This was my first ever ACRL, and Teresa and I presented a conference paper (pdf) about our work with the ACRL Standards and WPA Outcomes.
  • ACRL 2013, Indianapolis, IN, did not attend: Bookie was born the previous summer, and was under a year old. I skipped this one because I didn’t want to travel during her first year.
  • ACRL 2015, Portland, OR, attended: After missing in 2013, I wanted to get to ACRL 2015 no matter what, and proposed three different things to help raise my chances of an acceptance (and the travel funding it would yield). Not sure I’d recommend this approach moving forward, as two were accepted (here and here), making it an incredibly exhausting conference; however, it was also one of the best conference experiences I’ve had so far in my career.
  • ACRL 2017, Baltimore, MD, will not attend: Literally giving birth to my second child, God willing, right when this conference is going down.

So, if the pattern holds, here’s to getting back to ACRL in 2019! But who knows what could happen between now and then...I only know that it’s one of my favorite and most useful meetings, and getting back after missing in 2017 will be a priority for me.

Tired, happy, and pregnant,
my first week back at work
Regardless, I’m one week into the fall semester at my university, and gradually feeling better after a pretty rough first trimester this summer. In many ways, I’m in my glory: doing a job I love, and growing a human person while doing so. My ability to double or triple task is severely limited, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

And I’d be disingenuous if I didn’t acknowledge the extremely positive working environment of my university and my library, with incredibly supportive colleagues and administrators, as well as faculty union protected rights that enable me to grow my family in this way. Without them and the privilege I experience as a result, being a librarian who is also a parent would be extremely challenging. Would I do it anyway? It’s very likely I would try, but my outlook, my sense of autonomy and self-advocacy, and my ability to put back into my job the fruit of being a woman who is also a mother (or, a librarian who is also a parent), would be severely limited.

And the question of why more library workers (or workers more broadly) don’t share these rights and privileges weighs on me… Within my personal framework of values, it’s one of the most important social justice issues we face, and it intersects with so many others of equal importance.

Perhaps becoming a mother again will lead me to finally map and write my thoughts on working motherhood and its relationship to social justice, since lived experience should always inform our work, whether in the library or on the blog.

In the meantime, here’s to the next seven months until baby (and ACRL 2017 *wink*) are here!

---

*I'm still refraining from sharing my children's real names on the blog and on Twitter. Though my daughter's nickname "Bookie" has passed from frequent use in our household, it's as good pseudonym for her as any for my public writing spaces.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Updates from the Framework Advisory Board [ACRL Insider]

This piece is cross-posted and was originally published in ACRL Insider. It was written by me on behalf of the Framework Advisory Board (FAB).

On June 27, 2016, the ACRL Board of Directors outlined next steps for professional development related to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The purpose of this post is to share in more detail what the Framework for Information Literacy Advisory Board (FAB) has been working on to support librarians in using the Framework. Details have been previously shared in a February 2016 C&RL News piece (see “Resources from the Framework for Information Literacy Advisory Board” in News from the Field).

Discussion list  and WordPress Website

FAB’s two-year term began in July 2015. Earlier that spring, ACRL set up the Framework discussion list, as a space for practitioners to share ideas and support in their use of the Framework. As of this writing there are 1,710 subscribers.

FAB’s first order of business was to develop a WordPress website to disseminate information on upcoming professional development opportunities related to the Framework.

Spotlight on Scholarship

In October 2015 the Framework Spotlight on Scholarship (FSS) launched, which is a column / blog post series that curates and describes the Framework literature being published. FSS highlights scholarship that uses, builds on, critiques, or responds to the Framework. Originally a weekly series, after the new year it became biweekly; it is currently on summer hiatus, with plans to return in the second or third week of August 2016. At present the column has published reviews for twenty-one articles.

“Framing the Framework” Webcast Series

As ACRL Visiting Program Officer for Information Literacy, Sharon Mader attended information literacy conferences throughout fall 2015 and identified the opportunity to begin formal (profession-level) conversations with rhetoric, composition, and writing studies scholar-practitioners. In response to this opportunity, FAB planned, coordinated, and helped develop two ACRL e-Learning webcasts: Framing the Framework Series (see “View archived Framework webcast recordings”).

Addressing the theory and practice of collaboration between librarians and writing faculty, the first webcast in January 2016 focused on collaborating through connecting the national guideline documents in both fields, and the second webcast in February 2016 focused on partnerships between writing and information literacy instructors on various campuses. FAB might develop more “Framing the Framework” webcasts in the future, but the initiatives that follow are currently our top priorities.

Sandbox

The Framework Sandbox was first proposed in January 2015 by the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Task Force who developed the Framework. By fall 2015, FAB had developed a vision and purpose for the Sandbox, which is intended to serve as both a platform for sharing and a repository for accessing materials. It will serve as a resource for librarians seeking to engage the Framework in their instructional practice, providing access to materials created by those in the field, in formats including but not limited to concrete lesson plans and assessments, practitioner reflections, conference presentation slidedecks, formal research studies, and theoretical critical analyses.

Practitioners will be able to create their own user accounts through which to upload their materials for others to use and build on, and will in turn be able to search the database for materials using a variety of parameters (such as discipline, information literacy frame, scope, and type of institution). It will be a freely available database for librarians and other academic partners to share, organize, and archive educational resources related to the use of the Framework in practice and professional development.

FAB identified the Cherry Hill Company as a developer who would meet this project’s needs and ACRL entered into contract with Cherry Hill in April 2016. More information about the Cherry Hill Company and the Sandbox can be found in this June 2016 ACRL Insider post. (NB: We are indebted to the librarians behind Project CORA for referring us to Cherry Hill Company, after a positive recommendation of the company’s work in developing that platform.)

If you’re working with the Framework in any capacity, we hope you’ll jump in and share your work once the Sandbox launches in fall 2016.

Toolkit

The Framework Toolkit was conceived in response to feedback that more Framework professional development opportunities should have minimal barriers to access, including monetary cost. The Toolkit will be an online location where content designed to be used for professional development will be made available. FAB (along with Sharon Mader) will be developing the content.

Librarians will be able to use the Toolkit’s resources for their individual professional development needs, to form a community of practice with their colleagues around the Framework and information literacy, and to develop workshops and professional development opportunities in their libraries and/or for local, regional, state, or other events and conferences. It is designed in modules which can be adapted and tailored to the needs of the audience. All of the content will be available under a creative commons license.

Draft Outline of Initial Modules:
  • Introduction and Finding Time to Engage the Framework
  • Foundations of the Framework
  • The Framework’s Structure
  • Collaboration & Conversations with the Framework
  • Developing Goals, Outcomes, and Assessments
  • Hacking the Framework

Future Modules:
  • Curriculum Mapping with the Framework
  • The Framework and Accreditation

FAB’s target launch for this Toolkit is early 2017.

Curriculum Developers/Presenters

A Framework “roadshow” along the same lines as the Scholarly Communications and Standards for Libraries in Higher Education licensed workshops will be developed. Now that the Framework has been in use for over a year and a half there is a growing community of librarians experienced in using the Framework. Through an upcoming call for curriculum developers, we will invite those developing this expertise to help us create these licensed workshops. The curriculum developers will also serve as presenters for both the online and in-person workshops.

In addition, these individuals will lend their expertise to FAB’s development of the freely available Toolkit, strengthening its content by their participation in its development.

If this opportunity interests you, keep an eye out on ACRL Insider and the various Framework communication channels for this call.    

Collaboration with other ACRL groups

FAB is collaborating with the Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee (SLILC), which is the standing division-level committee responsible for advancing the ACRL Plan for Excellence goal area related to student learning. Collaborative projects to date include a curated Framework calendar of past and future events focused on Framework professional development (conferences, workshops, webinars, etc.) and plans for a curated Framework bibliography.

As Visiting Program Officer, Sharon Mader has been working for the last year and a half with the ACRL Information Literacy Frameworks and Standards Committee (ILFSC) and Chair Jeanne Davidson to revise Chapter 14 of the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures, to outline processes for review, revision, rescinding, and creating new information literacy disciplinary documents. The revisions that were approved by the ACRL Standards Committee at ALA Annual 2016 will be available in the near future on the ACRL website. The ILFSC is also developing a Tipsheet to help sections in this work.

The Communications Studies Committee of the Education and Behavioral Sciences Section (EBSS) and the Women and Gender Studies Section (WGSS) have been working for over a year on new information literacy disciplinary companion documents that relate the Framework to documents and practices in the disciplines. Their progress was reported at the “Framework Update” sessions at ALA Annual 2015 and 2016, and at the WGSS Discussion Forum at ALA Annual 2016, where members of other discipline sections in the audience agreed that everyone would benefit from sharing experiences as they work on their own documents.

Members of FAB are excited to be developing resources that will help librarians at all types of institutions use the Framework. If you have ideas for additional resources that would be helpful please share them with FAB via acrl@ala.org.