Collaborating with Classroom Faculty for Student Success and Institutional Excellence: A Message from the Dean of Cheng Library, Dr. Edward Owusu-Ansah

In addition to providing services, resources, and spaces that support the curricula, to be effective in contributing to student success and institutional excellence, the Library looks to collaborate closely with classroom faculty.

Dean of Cheng Library, Edward Owusu-Ansah

The first American university started with a library donation. The first large American public library emerged with the same social aspiration that inspired the birth of its academic counterpart. In pioneering both developments, Massachusetts signaled that knowledge and enlightenment, and libraries, would play a key role in the success of the New World. Both at Harvard and at the Boston Public Library, higher learning and civic engagement became dependent upon information and knowledge, with libraries as their support. Cheng Library continues this responsibility to higher learning and civic engagement by responding to the current needs of William Paterson University students, faculty, and the broader community in which it is situated.  Today, these needs are no longer fulfilled by the library’s collection alone.  Our constituents demand that the physical environment also be conducive to learning and research with individualized spaces for study, academic support opportunities, and collaborative learning arrangements. They expect inviting and comfortable solutions that support leisure and socialization.  Such transformations are indispensable to remaining the academic hub of a vibrant teaching, learning, and research community.

At a leading university with a diverse population of students and faculty, comprehensive curriculum, and active research agenda, the library’s role in ensuring the quality and vitality of the academic enterprise is critical. We know that Cheng Library successfully provides services, resources, and spaces that support the curricula as well as assist students, faculty and staff with their study, research, and informational needs.  We recognize that the library continually works on improving its services, programs, collections, and teaching activities with the goal of maximizing its utility to its constituents.  Yet to be the most effective in contributing to student success and institutional excellence, the Library must collaborate closely with those most directly responsible for that success and excellence. They are the faculty who nurture in their classrooms and beyond, the minds and hearts that will become tomorrow’s intellectual assets, and produce the scholarship and creative works that undergird the University’s academic reputation.

Collaboration between library faculty and classroom faculty can take many forms. One important example is the Liaison Program. Each academic department has an assigned library faculty member and a corresponding classroom faculty member representing the needs, interests and concerns of the department. This guarantees crucial classroom faculty input in the development of library collections and services that truly support the curriculum and faculty research. Our students and faculty have come to expect an ability to access high quality materials both in the library building and from remote sites. The library continually evaluates its collection in response to such user expectations and has been progressively transitioning to online solutions that provide greater access and convenience. We encourage our academic department colleagues to embrace and support our liaison program and work proactively with their departmental liaisons and assigned library faculty members to ensure the success of our efforts and achievement of desirable outcomes for all. 

While library faculty understand how important relevant resources are, we also acknowledge that one of the greatest values we can offer is to facilitate the information and knowledge acquisition as well as use skills and abilities of our students.

Those skills and abilities include the following: selecting a topic and establishing a specific focus for a student’s research; framing of research questions, statements of purpose, and thesis statements; determining nature, scope and depth of information needed; understanding the process of the flow of information; establishing what kind of information will be required and why; determining which resources to use for the retrieval of required materials; formulating strategies for location and retrieval of those materials; appreciating and understanding the concept of intellectual property and its implications for research; and presenting assembled information and knowledge in an appropriate form with proper attribution and required citation styles. Most important is the learned skill of evaluating resources, with the awareness that the veracity of the source will affect the veracity of the results.

The members of the library faculty at William Paterson University, with their knowledge and experience with these critical components of information literacy, are well-suited for the role of facilitation and training needed to achieve student mastery of such proficiencies. They look forward to collaborating with their academic department counterparts through all course levels and to achieving an organized approach that maximizes efficiencies and outcomes. Cheng Library faculty remain committed to providing information literacy instruction to students in formal classroom settings, in workshops, and through the informal learning opportunities presented by daily reference encounters. They are aware that working closely with classroom faculty provides the most effective avenue for delivering desired results, and know that the classroom and class content provide the best context for defining the problems that inspire most student research. We invite classroom faculty to explore, with the Library, ideas for engaging more effectively and systematically in the information literacy education of students. We are willing, able, and ready to engage and collaborate to improve services and activities that contribute to the success of the institution’s primary enterprise of teaching and learning.

The faculty at the core of this teaching and learning enterprise also need support in their own research endeavors. We do not forget the role of the Library in supporting the research endeavors of the faculty.  Cheng Library has embraced this role by helping to implement the University’s financial support for faculty publishing in open access journals.  By endorsing open access publications, William Paterson University seeks to showcase the scholarly productivity of its faculty, ensure that intellectual property rights for such scholarship remain with faculty, and provide access to those results to the University community, institutional affiliates, and fellow researchers.  Open access alternatives also promise cost effective scholarly communication with minimal barriers to access.  We encourage faculty to embrace the opportunities offered and seriously consider viable open access publications within their areas of research.  The Library is ready to work proactively with its classroom faculty colleagues to identify and evaluate publications to achieve a positive outcome with respect to funding support requests.

It is widely acknowledged that great universities build great libraries and great libraries make for great universities with well-prepared students and productive faculty. So, as the university empowers its students to succeed within and beyond its walls, the faculty and staff of Cheng Library look forward to providing excellent services and opportunities that contribute to that empowerment and support the efforts and productivity of the faculty.

May 03, 2017