Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Work on the Framework Advisory Board, Part 1

Disclaimer: Although I am a member of the Framework Advisory Board (FAB), my views shared in this post do not necessarily reflect those of FAB as an ACRL division body, nor of ACRL.

On Saturday, June 25, 2016, the ACRL Board of Directors voted at their ALA Annual Board Meeting I to rescind the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. They took this action 1.5 years after the Information Literacy Competency Standards For Higher Education Task Force recommended that they be rescinded and replaced with the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

Now that the Board has acted on this recommendation--the Framework was formally adopted this past Midwinter 2016 after a year as a ‘filed’ document, and the Standards are now rescinded--we academic instruction librarians find ourselves in a world in which the Standards are no longer the active document put forth by our professional organization to use in developing our information literacy instruction practice.

Readers of this blog will be aware of my engagement in this many years’ long process that has brought us to this moment in our profession’s history. Resources and lines of thinking related to embracing and using the Framework that I’ve already shared in this space include a piece on how the Framework relates to assessment (cross-posted at ACRLog) and my slides and notes from a presentation I gave in May 2015 about using the Framework in our pedagogical practice.

That same spring I was invited to an appointed seat on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Advisory Board (FAB), which offered an opportunity to have my ongoing work on embracing and using the Framework reach a broader audience within the profession; I accepted this appointment, and am currently serving a 2-year term in this capacity. There are five volunteer members from different types of institutions, with Sharon Mader, ACRL Visiting Program Officer for Information Literacy, as our leader, making us a nimble group with diverse expertise in the area of information literacy instruction.

In light of the above context, I want to share some of the work of FAB, both accomplished and in process, in which I took/am taking a direct part. I will do this in two posts: the first is this one, and second will be published tomorrow.

So, what has FAB been doing?

The ACRL Board put out a second communication this week, in which they outline the next steps for training and professional development that are on the way for incorporating the Framework into local practice. I want to share in more detail what we in FAB have been working on, focusing in this post on past and ongoing offerings. Tomorrow’s post will focus on what to expect from FAB and ACRL in the near future. Keep in mind as well that there are two other ACRL groups named in that second communication from the Board whose Framework projects and initiatives complement ours, but won’t be addressed in detail here.

Listserv and Wordpress Website

FAB’s 2-year term began in July 2015. Even before that, ACRL set up the Framework listserv, as a space for practitioners to share ideas and support in their use of the Framework. As of this writing there are 1,623 subscribers.

FAB’s first order of business was to get into shape the Wordpress website that was created for disseminating information related to Framework professional development. It remains a work in progress, but we felt cleaning up the online space so we could focus the flow of helpful information about the Framework was an important priority.

Spotlight on Scholarship

As we did so, we began discussing useful and interesting ways to use that website to meet our group’s charge. I put forth the idea for a column / blog post series that would curate and describe the Framework literature being published at an increasing rate. It was a simple way to use the site’s functionality, and it created the space for me to constructively engage and keep up with the literature.

And so, in October 2015 the Framework Spotlight on Scholarship launched. Originally a weekly series, after the new year it became biweekly; it is currently on summer hiatus, but not for want of articles to review--if you could see my Google doc where I have future Spotlight articles curated, you’d see what I mean! It’s on hiatus because I am on sabbatical at my library, but most of my work in FAB continues. The tagline for the Spotlight on Scholarship is:

The “Framework Spotlight on Scholarship” column is a regular post series highlighting scholarship that uses, builds on, critiques, or responds to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

At present I have reviewed 21 articles for the column. I am hoping the column returns in the second or third week of August 2016.

Framing the Framework Webcast Series

Through Sharon Mader’s attendance at information literacy conferences throughout fall 2015, she identified the opportunity to begin formal (profession-level) conversations with rhetoric, composition, and writing studies scholar-practitioners, around pedagogical documents like the Framework for Information Literacy, the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing [pdf], and the WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition, as well as the threshold concepts being proposed within and across both fields. These are connections that my research partner Teresa Grettano and I have been making, using, and building on since 2010 [pdf], on an individual level; the Framework was now creating the opportunity to make these connections more explicit at the broader level of our two fields.

In response to this identified opportunity, FAB planned, coordinated, and helped develop two ACRL e-Learning webcasts earlier this year under the umbrella title: Framing the Framework Series. Focusing on the theory and practice of collaboration between librarians and writing faculty, Teresa and I served as panelists for the first offering in January 2016. Our presentation focused on connections between the Framework for Information Literacy and the Framework for Success. I coordinated and convened our panel for that first webcast, and our writing studies colleagues Barry Maid and Barbara D’Angelo joined us by presenting on the connections between the Framework for Information Literacy and the WPA Outcomes Statement. In February 2016, a second webcast was presented in which collaborating librarian-writing instructor partners shared what this kind of collaboration using the Framework looks like in practice on their campuses.

There is a possibility FAB will develop more Framing the Framework webcasts in the future, but as soon as those presentations were complete we decided to shift our energies to prioritize offerings that would be freely available without a monetary cost to access.

Framework Adopted

FAB met for an in-person one-day retreat in December 2015, during which we compiled a comprehensive (16-page) “State of the Framework” report for the ACRL Board in time for their consideration at ALA Midwinter in January 2016. Using evidence from a variety of sources, we concluded the report with a recommendation that the Board act to fully adopt the Framework, changing its status from ‘filed’ to ‘adopted’. At their Midwinter 2016 meeting, the Board acted on this recommendation and moved to adopt the Framework as a formally endorsed document and approach to information literacy.

This important change in the Framework’s status empowered FAB to move forward with development of more concrete supports for using the Framework. In an effort to communicate to the profession the work we had done, and the work we had planned now that the Framework was adopted, we published an update in College & Research Libraries News in February 2016, in the “News from the Field” feature: see “Resources from the Framework for Information Literacy Advisory Board” section at that link (you will need to scroll some to find it).

While admittedly buried in the online version of that publication, the timing of this update signalled an important shift in FAB’s approach to our work. The confusion and ambiguity caused by the Framework’s ‘filed’ (yet not adopted) status was put to rest by the Board’s action. Our energies could now shift to more robust projects that will meet more long-term needs related to the Framework, including developing the following resources: the Sandbox repository for online educational resources related to the Framework; a freely available online Toolkit for self-paced professional development in support of using the Framework; and a call for curriculum developers who will be responsible for creating a licensed Framework “roadshow” for ACRL. (And yes, it’s still 5 volunteer ACRL member-leaders + 1 half-time ACRL VPO for Information Literacy working to bring these more complex projects to fruition!)

In my second post tomorrow [edited 7/1/16 to add link], I will describe these in-progress initiatives, as well as collaborative initiatives with other ACRL groups, in some more detail.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Reading as Method

My sabbatical project has me doing a lot of things, including a lot of reading. As described in my proposal, the aim of the project is to engage in reading several different discourses and to put them in conversation--including but not limited to the discourses surrounding information literacy, critical pedagogies, ethics of technology, and Christian anthropology.

This morning saw me reflecting about this practice of reading, and its connection as a method to the way I engage, move through, and exist in the world. I asked myself the question:

What is my method of being in the world? 

I'm sure the answer to that question is actually a multiplicity of methods, but there is one in particular I want to free-write on in this post, and that is the method of reading the world (and all the things in it) as text(s).

What follows is an exercise in articulating what I mean.


The book I was reading this morning is a text.
The notebook I was scribbling my notes and quotes in, using color-coded pens, is a text.
The project I am pursuing this summer is a text.
The communities I am a part of, and with whom I am in dialogue, are texts.
My individual and communal relationships with people in my personal and professional life are texts.
My daughter is a (beautiful) text.
My marriage is a text.
My sabbatical experience is a text.
My anxiety is a text.
My faith (and the theology it's rooted in) is a text.
The Christian liturgy is a text.
The pain experienced daily by those I love and care about is a text.
My own pain is a text
My family is a text.
My 'professional learning network' is a text.
My 'digital footprint' is a text.
This blog post is a text.
The public personal-professional identity this post helps construct is a text.
The Twitter interface is a text.
#critlib (both the hashtag and the concept it signifies) is/are a text(s).
Professional documents are texts.
Library catalogs and databases are texts. And they make accessible (or not) texts.
The books on our library shelves are texts, but so is the configuration of space in which those books are made available.
Library space is a text.
A garden is a text.
Histories are texts.
Data sets are texts.
Bodies of work are texts.
Bodies are texts.
Thought processes are texts.
Memories are texts.
Lived experience is a text.

When all of these things (and more--the list could go on, of course) are understood as texts, it means they can be read. Reading in this sense is dynamic participation in meaning-making with and in relationship to texts.

Seeing the world as a text made up of infinite yet particular texts (and beautiful in their particularity) does not reify the world and its parts, but instead invites meaning-making out of and within the world (and its parts!), because it means I as a subject can read these texts and grow my own understanding from that reading act. And so can you.


As I was having these reflective thoughts earlier today, it led me to look up textuality in Wikipedia, in an effort to better remember ideas I learned about in the undergraduate literary criticism course that was part of my English and American Literature major. Here is a small excerpt that almost poetically gets at what I'm referring to in this post as my method of being in the world:
Textuality is a practice. Through a text’s textuality, it makes itself mean, makes itself be, and makes itself come about in a particular way. Through its textuality, the text relinquishes its status as identity and affirms its condition as pure difference. In indifference, the text "dedefines" itself, etches itself in a texture or network of meaning which is not limited to the text itself. (Source)

My thoughts on this are still developing--in the process of being written as a text, if you will. But this method connects my faith, my developing understanding of social justice, my information literacy and library work (including the pedagogies I aim to use in that work), and my engagement with technology. And these are all the things I have set out to read during my sabbatical.

I'm a week and a half into my sabbatical part two, which lasts twelve weeks in total. I'm looking forward to seeing where reading as method leads me in the coming months.

This is a picture of my daughter making something out of string.