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Gathering with Purpose: Growing a Community of Practice - Lisa Hinchliffe
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Gathering with Purpose: Growing a Community of Practice - Lisa Hinchliffe

30 April 2021

Troy Swanson: It is my pleasure to introduce Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, who is Professor and Coordinator of Information Literacy Services and Instruction at the University Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have to say, I remember back 20 years ago, almost 20 years ago, and it was the night before our first Information Literacy Summit, and we were taking our keynote speaker out for dinner.  And it was our library's department chair, Sylvia Jenkins, who is now our college president, Leslie Warren was a summit coordinator, myself and our keynote speaker Lisa, who was a librarian at Illinois State University and we were all a little bit younger back then.

Now, I don't really remember the details of our conversation, but I remember the feeling so very well.  It was this type of exuberance but also relief because here was a person who was not only facing the same challenges that we were facing as instructional librarians, but someone who had answers. Or at least, who could point us in the right directions. We were at a restaurant that was near the hotel and we were enjoying dinners.  And all these people were around us and I just wanted to shout, you know, how can you all just sit here so quietly?  Do you not know about information literacy?  And I mean I remember it was one of those moments.  

And so I will tell you that our first summit was fairly modest when compared to what we're doing today. There was a handful of us from community college libraries in Illinois. We were in one of our larger classrooms, on our campus. And there was Lisa at the front of the room, talking to us about our role as instructors in a web 1.0 era.

And as you probably know, in the intervening years, Lisa has become a leading voice in our field.  She has served as ACRL president, she has a list of publications that's way too numerous for me to read here, has received many awards including the ACRL Instruction Section's Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award, as well as the 2009 ACRL Special Presidential Recognition Award for the Information Literacy Immersion Program.

She has been instrumental in the launch of many grants and national initiatives that have broad impact across our profession but most notably, The Value of Academic Libraries Initiative from ACRL.

These are just a few of the highlights of her many accomplishments. But for us today, and for those of us who have planned this summit, Lisa has been one of our greatest supporters. She has regularly presented at the summit over the years and has brought countless students from the library school at U of I to give presentations.

I was joking with Lisa that I have attended or I never missed an Information Literacy Summit, but she reminded me that there were many years when there were three summits.  One on our campus in the suburbs, one in Bloomington, and one of the far south at John A. Logan. And for many years, she would attend multiple summits. So publicly I just want to acknowledge that Lisa has attended more summits than me, which is really a commitment to her support for this work.

Now before I'm done, I just want to say that I'm always in awe of Lisa's thinking, her command of our literature, and her vision for our profession. All of us are familiar with the frame, Scholarship as Conversation. But really, I have to say that when we wrote that, the idea of conversation kind of undersells scholarly debates with Lisa. And I will tell you that I have lost several of those debates over the years.  To be in conversation with Lisa requires deep knowledge and a high level of passion for your cause.

But I will say I am very grateful for all she has done to help me focus my own thinking, and to improve my work as a librarian and instructor. So, without further ado, it is my pleasure to welcome our closing keynote speaker, who was our very first keynote speaker, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe.

Lisa Hinchliffe: Well, thank you, Troy.

I'm not sure if we could say that. I don't know. Maybe we've gotten a few rounds and I've lost a few and you've lost a few.  But I think the most important thing is that we've stayed committed to a collaborative relationship over the years and having this conversation.

So it's really a joy for me, not just to keynote a conference again that I've keynoted before.  Not just to keynote an information literacy conference, but to really keynote a conference that has been so meaningful to me and my own work.

And I, you know, as I was kind of joking yesterday, this is the kind of keynote it kind of feels like you give when you're retiring. And like, I'm not retiring.  Like there's still, you know, decades to go in this work, and in what I'm hoping to achieve in my own career, and what we're going to achieve together in Illinois.

And so there's so much, so many things we could talk about that have come out of the summit. And so I was really challenged to sort of think like, where do we want to take this conversation today?  So I hope that a little bit of a trip down memory lane. A little bit of humor and fun. A lot of gratitude to everyone.  As well as a few thoughts about where my thinking is right now and where I think it might go in the future.

I know a lot of you are joining us today and may be not from Illinois, or perhaps not even attending the summit before. And so I hope that perhaps part of what you've gotten a sense of, is something that I think we are very proud of in Illinois. In that we do have this very vibrant community of practice that has been developing through our work over the years, the two decades.

So when I had to come up with the title for this, it's like we really have grown with purpose. And we've done this through partnerships and persistence. And it's a really, you know, an easy thing to tell the story of, you know. It makes it sound like the summit just always was going. I think we, you know, sometimes we gloss over some of the persistence that was required when we were trying to figure out how to fund it, how to keep people coming back to it to get together.

So this is what I wrote.  For two decades, we've been coming together as information literacy educators in order to share ideas and create connections across the state. We have grappled with the changing landscape of information literacy, higher education, technology, evolving conceptualizations, and really honed in on what does it mean to improve our pedagogical practice. And so I'm going to reflect on our journey together, and the affordances that our intentional gathering together creates for us going forward.

Now, one of the things that I thought. I often find myself playing this role, and I think it was interesting that Fobazi observed earlier today, that a lot of the people who are doing our information literacy work are new librarians, often young, new to the profession at least. And so this is an interesting thing that in reality it's true. Most people, if you will, age out, or promote out of information literacy as their primary area of focus, when you look at the broad number that come into it. So I'm technically one of the, I'm going to go with the wise old elder here, in the field. In that I've been doing this information literacy work since I graduated from library school in 1995.

And so I often find myself in this position of sort of bringing our history back to our conversations. So that we can understand the richness of the heritage that we have, as well as what we might draw upon that sometimes we've forgotten because it was out of living memory of the majority of people working.

So the first thing, and we are doing a scholarship of teaching and learning discussion group at my own library this spring.  And just this last month we talked about the various standards and frameworks that have really structured and guided our practice over many decades. And I went and looked, and it's really actually quite a few decades. Because the very first statement that is sort of the longest predecessor to the Framework for Information Literacy and then those Standards for Information Literacy is back in 1975.  The Guidelines for Bibliographic Instruction in Academic Libraries that said what we thought students should be learning, out of these sessions that we were holding in our classes, in our libraries. Through to the 1987 Model Statement of Objectives for Academic Bibliographic Instruction. The 2000 Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and the companion document in 2001, The Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction: A Model Statement for Academic Librarians.

So all of those documents preceded the creation of the Illinois Information Literacy Summit. And I think one of the things that's fun to think back to in 2002, is that the Standards had just been promulgated. This is the first time we had an ACRL level statement on what students were supposed to be learning in an information literacy session. Prior to that, this has all been articulated at the level of the instruction section.

So this represents a significant shift in 2000 and 2001 to where ACRL sees this as a signature of activity of academic librarianship, as opposed to a concern of a specialty group. So it's really the time in which information literacy or instruction moves from an area of activity to what I would call a defining area of responsibility in academic librarianship.

And so that's really the shift that we've been grappling with since 2002 when we had that first Information Literacy Summit. And I just popped a few more documents on to this time frame here, including, of course, the important Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators. 2007 is the first time we see a professional definition and declaration of what it means to do this work as a librarian. And then of course, 2015 with the important Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education.

Another thing I want to bring to this is, as I look back at all of these documents that were created on the national level. Each time, there's at least one, if not more, librarian from the state of Illinois, who is playing a key leadership role in the development of these documents.

I look back and I think about that 1987 Model Statement of Objectives for Academic Bibliographic Instruction, and I don't know how many people realize how key Beth Woodard, who was a librarian at the University of Illinois, was to the development of that document. I have seen the archive she has deposited. It is an entire box of work that she did in order to create that. And of course, we have Troy and Mirinda Hensley, also at Illinois, involved with the Framework. I was involved with a number of these documents as well and we could go on and on.

So while we've been doing this work locally and regionally, we've also been engaged nationally and obviously internationally. So here we are today at the 20th year 19th Annual Information Literacy Summit.

So Troy already mentioned this and it's been mentioned a few other times, but I think it's important especially for those of us who are not as familiar with Illinois. I want to take us back. First of all, really important to recognize a founding organization that is no longer prominent within our state but really deserves the credit which is NILRC the Northern Illinois Library Resources Consortium which of course just became NILRC. John Berry, once an ALA president, but also the executive director of that, with a real vision for what it means to support community colleges and doing this information literacy work.

And those of you not from Illinois may not realize quite how big our state is north to south. It's a seven hour drive from Chicago down there to Carbondale, and so it's quite a tall state, not nearly so wide but we're quite a distance from each other. And so the other thing that's been key from the beginning, and I went back and looked in all my files, these are all the places that I have gone to the Information Literacy Summit: Moraine Valley, of course John A. Logan, Illinois Central, Illinois State, and we of course have the engagement of DePaul and the College of DuPage. So I think this is one of the other unique things we can see in Information Literacy World. The summit has always been founded very strongly in the community colleges and their functional role within our state as higher education infrastructure for access and equity.

It's really only actually in the second year, except me that first year, where we brought in a slightly broader perspective. The very first summit was very focused on community colleges. What's the transfer student etc.? Universities and colleges coming in in 2003. High schools in 2004. That was something we tried really hard. We've had public libraries come in; we had surrounding geographies; and now with the virtual, we are now global.  

And yet I think at our core, we still also have this very strong identity. And I think what's also key is unlike other areas in higher education, where things get started, even with community colleges.  Where the moment the four year schools come in, that sort of dominates and takes away that cross dialogue. That is something I think we can be very proud of with the Information Literacy Summit here in Illinois.  That we've kept this commitment, and this centrality of the community colleges as important backbone, and also learning partners within the state.

We have had keynotes that really bridge the local and the global.  And that's I think one of the other guests, setting myself aside. We have been able to bring to our local community such wonderful keynote speakers over the years.  In fact, I literally two nights ago re-listened to Emily Drabinski's entire keynote on Critical Pedagogy in a Time of Compliance.  I really can't recommend that enough to you. If you are interested in thinking especially abedout the Framework. I was talking to Troy and I said, so interesting to listen five years later, what she said about the Framework, and what she saw it doing for us in the field, and to realize just how prescient how many of her comments were.

We've had creative speakers creative reflection Char Booth, Amy R. Hofer, Trudy Jacobson, Mirinda Hensley.  Some people now retired. Nicole Cook. So many people over the years who have really brought this national, global expertise to us. In order to have a conversation. I think we can't say enough, as well, about those keynote speakers, especially from outside the state who traveled to more than one location in order to give that keynote more than once.

So I thought I'd share a little bit. I've already alluded to this. Some of my own personal memories. The community across my career.

Although I started at Parkland Community College in 1995 as an academic librarian, and then went to Illinois State University in 1998, and then came to the University of Illinois in 2002, just after keynoting those summits in spring of 2002. It's really been a community across my career and it's an annual grounding, connecting, engaging, and celebrating. I was sort of thinking about it this morning, the degree to which this sort of annual, it's almost like a migration, that I could see. Where we come together in this very literal way historically. In order to refresh, to reconnect.

I don't know if Troy realizes that this 2002 keynote was actually my first keynote. I went back and looked at my CV. This was the first time that I was invited to this, so you know it's very meaningful to me in that way. And then also the opportunities, and the degree to which the summit has brought our MLS students in the state into community with us. And what I really love is that we have managed to do so over time at a very financially responsive way with free or a very very low cost for those MLS students in order to participate. I think that's really important because they've often been presenters as well and I love that they are brought immediately into our community of practice as presenters.

Also thought I'd share a couple more personal things. I associate the Summit with going to the Panera in Madison as we drove up, often leaving at 5am to get there on time. So that's our coffee stop. On the way home, Trader Joe's in Orland Park was always an important stop. I have a lot of photos of stopping at Trader Joe's with my grad students. Coffee Hound in Bloomington Normal. And the Firefly Grill in Effingham which is enroute if you're headed down south in Illinois. So, it's kind of interesting because there's like such a personal aspect of this as I think of all the people I've commuted to this conference with.

So this is the too long didn't read takeaway slide, but you know, please hang in here with me.

I was looking back. So I've actually keynoted this conference three times. And so my hair keeps getting greyer.  Apparently I do like this color palette though, because I noticed this.

But in 2002 when I looked back, I really spoke a lot about information literacy and the notion of engaged learning.  And I've really continued that theme forward in my career. In 2010, I talked a lot about Community of Practice and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. What it meant to inquire intentionally into the effectiveness of our instruction.

And as I thought about what this decade of my career has really  been a turn to, it's really been around Appreciative Inquiry and Reflective Practice as a mode of furthering and deepening my understanding of what it means to do information literacy work.

So, 2002, Troy, here we are.  I wanted to just share this a little bit to also give a shout out as well to Leslie Warren, the original coordinator to John Berry there on the right hand side Anna Marie Watkin over on the right hand side as well who was at that point was a library director at a community college. And just this, as Troy said, a little bit more humble than where we got to in the past few years.

I also was humbled to go back and look at my PowerPoint templates. I decided to be true to it and to bring forward these ideas, while using the actual slides. So the other thing, those of you who went to the U of I library school, right? Remember back to our Alexia email addresses which were going to be forever? They weren't forever. I still miss that email address.  It feels so definitive of my life.

So looking at this information literate community, really putting us back to this 1989 definition which still continues to be a touchstone in the field of what it means to be an information literate person. And one of the things I still think we need to stay grounded in, is that our programs serve people.  And it's people that are information literate, not our programs.

So an information literate person is a person who has a set of abilities and skills, which we've defined in different ways over the years. Hopefully, we as individuals are information literate, but our ultimate goal is to deliver that information literate instruction to help an individual become information literate. But they themselves might also develop those skills in other ways.

And back in 2002 we were also thinking about, What does it mean to have a student centered learning environment? Now, this seems almost bizarre these days to think that we might need to think about what a student centered learning environment is. But this was really quite radical to be thinking in a mode that said higher education would not be about delivering a lecture, but would be about fostering inquiry and problem solving. And so this quote comes from those ACRL Standards that had just been adopted in 2000. A project nationally led by Patty Iannuzzi.

The other thing I was doing back in 2002 was really trying to see where there were other standards of learning out in the fields. Where Community College librarians in particular, could connect this work of information literacy beyond the academic sphere. Because having worked in a community college myself, I knew that the programs and community colleges, of course importantly serve the transfer student. But they also need to serve the vocational student, the continuing ed student, the person who stops in to take one class.

And how do we connect to that, if our standards document is so deeply embedded within this notion of becoming an academic or a scholar? And so yes, we have these information literacy competency standards. But I also looked at this document called the SCANS Report from the US Department of Labor. The Equipped for the Future Content Standards, which was a literacy standard. Particularly looking at the work that community colleges do with bringing people into literacy. People who didn't even graduate from high school yet, and who are looking to skill and become educated, literate, second language learners, all sorts of things.

Also, then we had the Information Power Standards in K 12 and wow. To the degree that higher ed really innovated and iterated for our infolit standards. It's really critical that we look at what's happening with the K 12, because they've also had a significant change over time in their information literacy standards in K 12. And then some of us might remember when IT fluency and what was called the FITness Standards, the Fluency in Information Technology. So 2002 was also a time where we were battling a little bit to keep information literacy about information, and not about technology. And so we had to have this dialogue as well.

And this was the other thing that I was really highlighting at that time which is, how could libraries build partnerships on campus where they could look to who else we needed to work with? So it's a little bit of where we were thinking in 2002.

In 2010, I was really honored to come back. That was the year I was serving as the president of the Association of College and Research Libraries, and bring this sort of view, and how my national work there was shaping this. And this is where I really started getting into this notion of reflection and inquiry as professional practice. This is also, as I'm jokingly saying, these are my PowerPoint template minimalist days.

And so we see what it is. So this definition of community of practice is one that began to resonate with me, particularly during this time as I was thinking about what it meant to lead our national organization, particularly in light of the fact that libraries were experiencing a lot of budget pressures. And a lot of demands that we articulate what it is that we bring of value to the academic enterprise.

And so this community of practice definition is a group of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and they learn how to do it better by interacting regularly. Now I think that definition right there could practically just be something that we say the Information Literacy Summit is. It is: We are a community of practice. We are a group of people, the information literacy educators of the state of Illinois, who share a concern or passion for something that is information literacy education.

And it's something we do. And we learn to do it better by interacting regularly with this summit that we come together for.

I also brought to this, the work of Stephen Brookfield. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher is the book I was drawing upon, which is a book that we eventually began to use within the Immersion Program of ACRL as well.  Looking at the four lenses of how we can interrogate our practice as an educator, come to understand it, see opportunities for improving it, and also recognize where we have our struggles.  Brookfield talks about the autobiographical lens of ourself as a teacher and a learner.

So really understanding that what we do in the classroom, very much comes out of our own experiences as a learner and a teacher. Sometimes taking on practices. Other times intentionally pushing against practices. That we could look at instruction from the perspective of student experience, the student eyes. Our colleagues' experience, our peer review, our community of practice.

And then of course, what he calls the theoretical literature. I just call the literature, right? Some of it's theoretical, some of it's empirical. Some of it's advocacy. There's a lot of different literatures that we can draw upon to better understand our practice. Which really drew me more and more to the notion of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. That teaching itself can be construed and seen as an act of inquiry or an act of research.

This definition of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Problem posing about an issue of teaching and learning, study of the problem through methods appropriate to disciplinary epistemologies, applications of results to practice, communication of results, self reflection, and peer review. So really making scholarship something that is synonymous with the practice of teaching.

And I have to say as I was thinking back over this, I've become even more adamant about the notion that we've really done ourselves a disservice when we talk about teaching as distinct from research. And instead, we really should be talking about scholarly approaches, or inquiry based approaches to our practices. And that includes our teaching practices. Of course it could also include our reference desk practices, and all the other practices that we engage in. But taking an inquiry mindset. Something that says, I think I've designed this well. I think that based on what I've done, this should work.  But I want to know if it does. Because if it doesn't, I want to make it better. And if it does, I want to keep doing it. And to really challenge ourselves to continue to improve that.

And, just another example: this Taxonomy of Scholarship and Teaching and Learning Questions.  Where we can ask questions about what is?  Just a very descriptive, What's going on? Can we seek to describe it, not even evaluate it? What works? How can we see what works so we can do more of that? What might be possible? What haven't we thought of that we should strive for?

And then theory building. That whole notion of the frameworks and mindsets that we bring to our work.  Now, a little bit of that, of course, I love as a philosophy major in undergrad. But, I think we all approach the world with our own theoretical assumptions about the way we think the world works. That's our epistemology that we bring to that.

So here we are now in 2021 back to 2002. I want to talk a little bit about the space and place that we have today.

The other thing that this particular summit does for us, is it creates annually a space that we dedicate to reflective practice. A space where we set aside all the other things, all of which are important and need to happen. And we privilege for a day, this particular area of work. In this particular mode of engaging in this work by bringing our reflective practice to a public community, sharing it with each other, listening with each other, building each other up. Strengthening ourselves in order to continue to do this work.

And this particularly, now I'm drawing so much these days in my own personal practice, in my pedagogical practice in the classroom. Honestly, even in just my approach to getting through this pandemic time, which is to take this notion of appreciative inquiry.

So much of the time we approach our work with eagle attention to the problems. What's wrong? Where's our weaknesses? And what appreciative inquiry says, is that we searched for what's best. Because what's best in individuals or organizations, those strengths, those strengths are our opportunities. And if we focus on our strengths, and the things that we are best at, and best about the best version of ourselves, we will move more in that direction. We will become even better versions of ourselves, and it is that way, that we will compensate for the weaknesses. That we will overcome our deficits. Not by focusing attention on weakness and deficit, but by building up our strengths. So, this is a very robust sort of theoretical framework. And it's an organizational development framework. There's a lot of writing on it. So I can highly recommend spending a little bit of time with the literature, but I'm going to pull out a few points that are so key from my perspective.

So appreciative inquiry focuses on leveraging an organization's core strengths. What we are good at. What we do well. Rather than putting our attention on fixing deficits. Not to say that those weaknesses don't exist, but to not have all of our attention, all of our energy, all of our enthusiasm, drawn to this negative space.

Appreciative inquiry also says that organizations move in the direction of what they study. And so if you focus on your strengths, you will build up those strengths. They also talk about how this is a conscious choice. It's a decision to focus on what they call the positive core.

The other thing I like about this is, so many organizational development models are structured such where it's either the responsibility of the people on the ground, if you will, or it's the responsibility of leaders. And appreciative inquiry says it is neither of those. It is a whole system approach. So, for an organization to adopt appreciative inquiry as a mode of development, it has to be done on the ground, and in leadership, and across all of the various parts of the organization.

Now of course individuals might have responsibility in order to make that happen. But it's not a model or a framework that suggests that there's a kind of an us / them in it. It's all us. We're all the organization. We're all the community of practice.

So collectively then, going back to this community of practice definition which I just keep coming back to again and again and again in my own work. Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly, right? It's that focus on our positive core, our passion, that thing that we do well and want to do better at.

So, a little bit more about this communities of practice that I just wanted to bring in, which is this notion of levels of participation. The core group in a community of practice, that small group of people that energize and nurture the community, are often seen as part of the active participants. Members who are recognized and regularly engage with that community.

And then these more occasional participants, peripheral participants, and transactional participants. So we kind of go from the inside out, if you will. And this is one thing I appreciate about the communities of practice and really about the appreciative inquiry kind of mashed up together. Is that it recognizes that in reality, some of us are real central in some communities or organizations. And in other places in our lives, we're more on the periphery. It doesn't mean that we don't care. It means that we have different roles to play, and then we have different levels of commitment.

So, this is the kind of appreciative inquiry principles. There are five principles and you can see that there's a certain kind of a real humanistic language within this appreciative inquiry framework. The constructivist principle. That the way we talk about things creates the way we understand things. It creates our world. It creates our mindsets. And I'm thinking about Troy's presentation yesterday on neuroscience. There's so much in neuroscience and then in this model that I see some real resonance with. So the way we talk about things creates our feeling about them, our impressions about them.

The simultaneity principle, which is that inquiry creates change. That once you move into a mode of inquiry, you foster change, because people have new thoughts and they want to move forward because they're in this inquiry mindset.

The poetic principle. We have a choice. We can choose what we study, and what we study makes a difference. It creates the world we're living in by doing the work of living in it. And so we have a choice to focus on our positive core, as a mechanism for developing as an organization.

The anticipatory principle. That images create action. One thing I like about this is that the appreciative inquiry model or framework recognizes the value of visualization or imagination.  That what we see, we can begin to enact. And the real importance of images in helping us with that.

Finally the positive principle. That positive questions lead to positive change. So that if we ask positive questions, What went well in this case? What did you learn from it? These positive questions create positive change. We move in the direction that we want to see our organizations develop, and then ourselves develop. This is not Pollyannaish. There's not an attempt here to eliminate the reality that there are problems, deficits, weaknesses in our organizations. But pushes our attention to that positive core as a way of moving in the direction of positive change towards an aspirational future that we want to achieve.

So they particularly also have an appreciative inquiry process they put out. And like with many of these processes, they got into the D's, right? That as an organization or community of practice we would define our topic of inquiry.

We discover. What if we wanted to look at our teaching effectiveness we then asked, what's the best we do with this? Like when are we at our best with teaching?. And then dream. How could we be, what would it look like if we were even better? What would that world be that we want to push towards? Here I'm thinking of as well, one of the keynotes at the ACRL conference this month, Meredith Clark, where she talked about the imaginative futures and the power of the imagination in helping us create a more positive, just, equal world that we want to be pursuing. And then designing. So, like, okay. This is what could be. There's lots of coulds.

Unfortunately dreaming? There's also nightmares in there, right? So a little bit of future thinking there about what could, you know? Making sure we're paying a little bit of attention to what could be. And then starting to move towards, okay what should be, what should we do next. And then actually delivering on that destiny and creating what will be.

So that, obviously, is kind of a very big picture look. You can go to weeks of training around appreciative inquiry. But this has really been this notion of reflective practice, which is so embedded within the appreciative inquiry, has been such a theme that I've seen over this past decade of my work. So kind of you know, each keynote has been an opportunity to almost reflect back on, you know, eight to 10 years of professional practice and sort of see what those themes have been, that have been really structuring my work. Things that have helped me engage with the profession at large, as it develops its notions of information literacy and instructional practice. As I've struggled with some of the things, and disagreed with some of those things that may have been been happening. But really, also a way of sort of saying there's forward momentum here. You know, there's a conference online this year.

We, and honestly this whole past 18 months, we have accomplished things that we probably never could have imagined even. And so how do we keep the best, not the worst, but the best of what happened in the past 18 months? How do we keep that as a way of making the next 18 months the next 18 years, even better?

So as we got to this point, I kind of feel like it's such a privilege to get to be like, here's all the stuff I think about over the past, you know 20 years and in my career, but so many people here today have also been participating in this information literacy community of practice. And so I want to turn some of my keynote time now over to the chat, to q and a.

And this is a case where, there's an opportunity to actually just make a comment. So if you'd like to share a memory or a reflection on the Information Literacy Summit that we have here in Illinois, this is that opportunity for you. It doesn't have to be a question that's really a comment. I'm really soliciting an opportunity for you to share your reflections.

And so I do know there's a chat going on here. And as I open it up, I'm starting to see some of these memories.

So Troy, I think you're also maybe moderating a little bit here. If people have also any questions that they'd like to pose. So it's kind of like a hybrid time, right? Like reflections, comments, and then once we, we have a little bit of this time, I have a final slide and then we'll wrap it up.

Okay, Troy I don't know when you typed 'lol wow' so now I'm really curious.

Troy: Those old pictures that's all.

Lisa: Oh the old pictures, OK.

 

Troy: Some comments about first time I've been able to attend.  I've been a librarian in Illinois for 11 years, and I've always wanted to attend.

Yes. And so, just as another commercial, we will be sending out a survey to everybody. Because I think one of the big decisions in front of the planners will be, do we have a virtual summit or an in-person summit. So we definitely would love to have some feedback on that.

Lisa: Some other love for Trader Joe's. That's all of us who live in Champaign Urbana there are missing our Trader Joe's.

Kimberly. Shout out to Melissa Wong. Melissa and I went to library school together. Got our start together at the U of I library school working for Beth Woodard.

The person who's asking about slides: Yes I'll be providing them so Troy can put them up on the website or what have you.

Troy: Absolutely.

Lisa: Oh, Maria!  An Alum!

Troy: Lisa, can I ask. There's definitely some connections here with conversations that have happened. And especially the idea of the positve core, and thinking of Fobazi's talk this morning.  You know, really the value of finding a way to even say no. And to not be overloaded and to be healthy. And it seems like there's just such a good harmony between appreciative inquiry, and some of these abuses that can be out there. I wondered if maybe you could comment on that.

Lisa: Yeah you know it's interesting.  Because I first want to recognize that since I am at the University of Illinois I know a lot of I School students. I recognize that many early career librarians have a really negative experience working in academic libraries, and that troubles my heart. You know, on a personal level with the people I know, as well as a collective level, and of course we know how this is also playing out with respect to issues of inclusion and diversity, etc. in the profession.

One of the things that I sort of feel like appreciative inquiry might help us with is, I feel like what I hear a lot of early career librarians telling me, is they are not supported to do their best work. And so, you know, one thing that I feel like I've been able to do at Illinois in the time that I've been at the university, is, when I came, we had this culture that like, if a faculty member asked for instruction, like even if it was 20 minutes from now, we would try and do it, right?  Working at Illinois, I have worked really hard over the years to say it is our obligation to respect students' time and their learning, and to deliver. I mean I'll use the language of business here, it's our job to deliver a quality product.

And so we need to make sure that we give ourselves permission to say, "I will do instruction, but not in 20 minutes." Or I mean if you can do it in 20 minutes it's fine, as long as you feel it can be your best work.

And so that's where I feel appreciative inquiry can start to help reframe things like saying no, right? It's not like I'm not saying no, I won't teach a session in 20 minutes because I don't believe your students deserve instruction. It's because I do believe they deserve instruction. And what in my best I can do for them, is to be planned, thoughtful, well designed, have an activity, and I can't do that in 20 minutes. So I need to do my best work.

And so then we can start to say also, what do we need to do as organizations to structure things so people can do their best work? And I mean, I'm patting myself a little bit on the back here, but one of the things that was true at Illinois, you know, a lot of times our frontline instruction librarians were untenured, newer in their careers. I was like, send them to me I'll tell them no, I've got tenure, I'm the coordinator for info lit. You know, so that I guess is a kind of allyship. But it's also in my mind, it's sort of responsible professional practice that we have each other's backs in that way. And I think that is something that we've been able to make a turn at Illinois and really talk about what does it mean to deliver quality instruction. Develop thoughtful instruction so that our GAs, our early career librarians, or veterans like me feel like we can do our best work in the classroom.

Troy:  That's great. Allison in the chat has kind of echoes with some of that as a librarian who recently transitioned to an academic library, I feel a huge amount of vocaional awe and imposter syndrome. I question my ability to keep up with my colleagues and provide quality work to my constituents while also learning.  I think that's a great point.  There's definitely a learning curve and the more that you are on the job and in situations, the more prepared you are for similar situations down the road.  But in the beginning, it's very hard because there's so much mental lifting that comes into every new task that's put before you.

Lisa: Yeah. I see also. I mean I do think there are some connections with the imposter syndrome, but I also think sometimes that even though... So this is my mother. Sorry, in your 50s it turns out your mother is actually really smart. So her version of like, act yourself into a new way of thinking, is something I heard a lot as a teenager.  It was probably more about teenage sullenness. But act yourself into a new way of thinking. So I think sometimes with imposter syndrome, we let our thinking dominate our actions. And I'm not saying this is easy, but I think sometimes we...It's also the fake it till you make it statement.

So figuring out how to act confident, even when you don't feel confident, is also an important part of this. I think because, I think imposter syndrome can really also feed that vocational awe spiral in such a way where we just kind of can't get out of them.

I do also think that we have to say like, there are only so many things that individuals can do in the face of systemic problems.

And so we can have self care mechanisms, we can have Lisa having your back and saying it's okay to say no. But ultimately, these are systemic problems, and so they need systemic solution. So all of these individual practices are only stopgap measures that might help a given individual in a given moment, but it won't change the overall system of how we operate.

And that's also, I think, another piece that we have to grapple with organizationally. Which is how do we not just sort of suffer in a system, but how do we create a new system? And of course now I'm going to go back to appreciative

inquiry, where that model I think of. Okay if we don't like what we have right now what would we like instead? Because we need something to move towards, not just something to move away from. Because I'm sure we've all been in organizations where people move away from something, and end up towards something that's even worse. So we want to make sure that we have an intentional direction of what we're moving towards, that we've thought about.

And so we say, what we would like is a system in which we always get, I'm just going to make it up, two weeks warning. I'm making this very mundane right now. But so what would it take for us to get to that? We have to get our admin on board. We have

to get a form filled out. We have to, like, okay. So let's get those things happening. So be Emily Drabinski's organize yourself, kind of statement, right?

Troy: So a question from the chat. I was struck by your framing of information literacy as a relatively new core piece of responsibilities of the academic library. Do you think that this is an evolution of previous responsibilities, or simply a better articulation of what we actually can should be doing for something more novel?

Lisa: Yeah this is interesting. I mean we even have pieces back I mean Samuel Green back in at 1925 talks about the educational role of the librarian. But he really meant the reference librarian at the reference desk. So fast forward. The first time we really get notions of librarians as educators on the campus in the college classroom is Patricia Knapp, I think it's 1966, maybe 65? 62? somewhere in there. But you know, all the way through the 1980s if you go back to the literature, you will find this like strain of literature that argues that academic librarians have no role as an educator.

So even while the Bibliographic Instruction Section which is now the Instruction Section that gets created in ACRL around 1976. Through to 1980s, we have this very strong argument in the literature that that is not an appropriate role for the academic librarian. That these programs should not be being created. Librarians are not educators. And honestly, it ties back to this notion of neutrality. That it's not our job to be telling people what to think, telling them how to do their research. It is our job to take care of this collection, which we have somehow neutrally selected, right? So I'm resonating a little bit with Laura here yesterday.

And so, even once we have these standards, you still have people working in libraries, even today, who would argue that this is not our role and it's not one that they conceptualize as part of our work. I really think this does change around 2000 where it sort of is like, this is now the status quo that it is central to our work. But I still think that if you look at the actual resources that any given library puts towards this activity, no matter how much it might appear in the mission statement. It might be in your library director's survey from Ithaka as a central role. If we actually cost out on just even a mere capitalistic terms of like what's the investment in this activity, it's not exactly what you might think from a rhetorical strategies. So I'm not sure if I answered the question in the chat exactly spot on, but that's sort of how I see this evolution and that it's still actually somewhat contested ground. Though, certainly not nearly as contested as it was in the 80s. But I'm even thinking back, there's, the article that Stanley Wilder wrote in The Chronicle, in the time since the summit's been underway. I can't date it right off the top of my head here. But he basically wrote and said that librarians shouldn't be doing this info lit stuff and that's why they don't do it at Rochester.

Troy: Right. We've come so far, there's still so far to go. Another question from the chat. Do you think university faculty will want more virtual asynchronous, or pre-recorded, and synchronous sessions, as opposed to in-person library instruction sessions moving forward? The future of information literacy could be pre-recorded and virtual. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Lisa: Yeah, so this is an interesting thing because, you know, again, going back to my firm sort of always like to plant my feet, that information literacy is learning; it is not teaching.

It is absolutely the case that we can deliver kinds of information literacy skill development in, I mean in print, in a video. These are all modes of delivering instruction. Which are actually different than information literacy learning. And why am I making this emphasis? I've no doubt we will be asked to deliver instruction in those modes. It seems more efficient. It's not so annoying to have to schedule, etc. Which is why I think we firmly have to plant our work in the question of, And is it effective for learning?

So for pre-recorded lecture by the librarian, that is played in the course management system is effective for learning, then wow! We should be so happy that we have such a cost efficient approach that is effective for learning. My 25 years of experience tells me that having students watch a video is probably not effective for this learning.

So if we frame it as the effectiveness of learning, it might, if this is what we're interested in, give us a new way of having that conversation with faculty that isn't about the delivery of what the librarian does, but is about fostering student learning and ensuring that learning environments are designed, that are most effective for that end.

Troy: Absolutely. And, you know, even just in a very practical kind of nature. The more things you make, then how often do our websites change and shift? And there is a management cost in terms of staffing and just keeping up. It's always easier said than done on getting these videos into the world. And then it's like, whoa, I've got to edit 40 videos now because EBSCO changed its interface.

Lisa: And I mean I'm not against video tutorials if video tutorials work. So for me the yardstick is always first whether something works. I mean, maybe videos work really well and so it's a great thing to put that time into editing those videos.

Troy: Yeah, an interesting comment, that's, I think from Nell. Something that I noticed that resonated with me is when you mentioned that librarians doing infolit tend to be young, early career before being promoted out. It feels like that says a lot about how the world sees the importance of education in our role.

Lisa: Yeah. I think what it says is that there's not career paths within the teaching sector of our roles, and there's career paths in other sectors.  But our other reality is there's this question of whether information literacy work is something. How we structure it within our libraries is a really important question as well.

And so, yes. I mean I kind of agree with both the statement.

But I do think it has to do with if you want to get a raise, if you want like so I don't blame...

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I see a structural issue here. And I don't, I don't want this to sound like I'm blaming individuals for leaving the work of infolit. Because I think it's reasonable for people to want to be able to pay for their college, you know that college education of their kids and buy a house and so it's reasonable for people to want a better paying job within the library structure. So this is where I'm like, okay, don't blame the individuals. But yes, there is a structural problem. And the reason it works for someone like me at Illinois is because we're faculty. So I can stay in position and still be promoted through the ranks of Professor.

Troy: I feel like, at our college we've worked so hard to try to gain our credibility and footing as an organization within an organization. So you know me, as a kind of middle manager, I get nervous to say no because I just worry about losing any ground. And so Fobazi's talk, the pressures that we're under, it's been for those of us that are helping to manage our libraries kind of put things in perspective and to check it. Because for me I never want to see our library get pushed back or be treated as secondary.  I put in decades of battling to earn a place on our campus. But you can't do that by sacrificing your newest people.

Lisa: Yeah. I mean, the art of saying no is certainly something that can be its own sort of workshop right? It's both external pressures as well as our own internal, right? So, on a personal level I have strategies for that, right? It's like a reminder for myself of what am I saying yes to, by saying no to something else. So if I'm going to do my best work at this keynote, I have to say no to something else or, you know, that sort of thing.

But that only works at the individual level. I mean I have a real specific strategy which is:  I'm allowed to say no to anything immediately, but I can't say yes to anything without waiting 24 hours. That obviously doesn't work if somebody right in front of you, Will you teach my class in 10 minutes? But like, well it does because I say no. But for those things, I mean I think sometimes we're afraid of missing out, right? And so it's good to get to make yourself take a little break before you say yes to something.

Troy: How does appreciative inquiry work within a library that's the organization within the organization? So, if the organization is within a larger college or university that is less healthy. How does that set you up to interact with those outside forces that clearly were there to serve?

Lisa: Yeah, I think there is a role for leadership right? We don't want to discount the response, the role for leadership and the responsibilities of leadership right? So there is a degree to which academic libraries are always within this umbrella organization and we have to navigate and engage with that organization.

But at the same time, that organization does also expect us to sort of function as a unit, if you will. They asked for us to do a strategic plan that is sort of for the library or that sort of thing. So I think there's ways of structuring that internally. Where you still have that appreciative inquiry approach to developing your library. It might be, though, that your appreciative inquiry includes, you know, something like, We are developing the ability to be a nimble organization as a unit that responds to an environment that is, you know, not organized that way, or doesn't approach it's work that way. We can still have a strength in how we work in this environment, if we articulate it that way.

But I mean I think here's where I would also, you know, Kaetrena Davis Kendrick who's doing a number of keynotes with respect to her low morale survey and the like. She does kind of put, put it on the table at some point in almost every keynote I've heard her give, or talk I've heard her give, which is, you know, ultimately we as individuals cannot fix the organization and you might need to leave.

So hopefully people aren't, by and large, at that point. Because you know that's a real stressful point to be at with your career and your life and sort of your livelihood. But I do think there's a little healthy distance that can help with that too.

Troy: Right, absolutely. Okay. Are there any other questions people want to throw out?

Lisa: I've just really enjoyed browsing all the memories that people have of the Summit here.  So maybe I'll do my last two slides Troy and then turn it back over to you.

So I thought that I would also say, What am I taking forward?Because as I mentioned, I'm not retiring. This is not my last hurrah. I don't know, Troy, if we're still doing this 10 years from now, I'll save this slide deck.

So what do I take forward from these 20 years together? This reflective process? We have a generative process here of conceptualizing and re-conceptualizing information literacy in the field.  It is an opportunity for growth, and for rethinking and moving forward.

But we do have a challenge of achieving the envisioned. And so that is going to be, if you will, the work, the struggle. The challenge of achieving what it is that we're envisioning as we conceptualize information literacy. But I think there's also a great joy to be found in a community of practice. And, you know, I'm thinking about just how much laughter and fun.

And then this was physically embodied obviously at Moraine, but I'm thinking just even about the ways the catering changed over the years. That Moraine has eaten a lot of catering. Not more than Troy. But just the ways that we built that community and the joyfulness over the years. And the joy that we can take from coming together as a community of practice, whether across the stage or within our own libraries that really can also help us do hard work. And this is hard work that we're doing together.

And then, the importance of systematic and intentional inquiry as a way of seeing, but also as a way of sort of buffeting ourselves against the whims of a given individual and their biases or proclivities. And so, how taking this inquiry approach, this evidence approach, this systematic approach, can really help us stay the course, if you will, as we move towards developing our teaching practice and our instruction programs.

I've a real appreciation for those who gift us with this opportunity. Having put on conferences, helped put these things together. Even when we think we know how much work it is, it's really so much more than that. And I don't think we can understate the importance of the hospitality that those who have gifted us with this opportunity have created over the years, from those people who have planned the summit, to people who have literally put money on the table. We've had some grants over the years. I mean we've been kind of scrappy at times, and managed to figure it out.

So the final thing I take forward, is I look forward to my annual pilgrimage to wherever the summit is held next year. And so with that, my gratitude to leaders, past, present and future, for creating this space and place for us today and in the past and in the future.

Thank you so much.

Troy: Thank you so much Lisa. Virtual round of applause from everybody. Thank you for all that you've done. And this was a, this was a great talk.