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 I address this briefly in my formal report below, but the week following June 25, 2016, when the ACRL Board formally rescinded the Standards, was an incredibly busy one for me as a member of the Framework Advisory Board.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] ~ 1.570.941.4000


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.


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.
  • 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.


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)


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


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.