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Augustana joins Libraries’ Assessment in Action

May  06, 2013

Augustana College’s Thomas Tredway Library has been accepted as one of the initial participants in the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Assessment in Action program. The program’s goals include creating approaches, strategies and practices that document the contribution of academic libraries to the overall goals and missions of their institutions. To that end, participants will be part of a one-year professional development program and carry out assessment activities on their campuses.

Along with Augustana, 74 other institutions from 29 states and three Canadian provinces are participating in this program.

The Augustana team will be Sarah Horowitz, Special Collections librarian; Mark Salisbury, director of assessment and institutional research; and Dr. Ellen Hay, interim director of the Community Engagement Center and professor of communication studies. They will explore how students’ work with Special Collections materials affects their ability to think critically and develop intellectual curiosity.

The project at Augustana is still in the planning stages, but some initial work is underway. The team hopes to explore questions such as “How do students take the skills that they learn in Special Collections and apply them to their work in other classes?” In addition, the project will help tie assessment in the library, and specifically in Special Collections, to the college’s learning outcomes for students.

“It’s a chance to provide a service, both to the campus community — by examining how student learning is affected by using original primary materials — and to the larger special collections community, through providing an example of how we might evaluate what students learn from using special collections materials,” said Horowitz.

Special Collections consists of Augustana’s collections of rare books and manuscripts, as well as the college archives. Special Collections was renovated and reopened in August 2012 as a part of the renovation of the library and addition of the new Center for Student Life, slated for completion in August 2013. The space, located on the first floor of the library, is now better equipped to meet the needs of contemporary undergraduate students and to support the large number of classes visiting Special Collections through the addition of a classroom space.

Special Collections works with about 30 classes and reaches more than 700 students each year, including about 25 percent of the first-year class and many upper-level courses from the history, English, geography, anthropology and French departments, among others. Special Collections is open to all students and to the community for both research purposes or just to explore the materials.

Sam Schlouch
Director, Public Relations and Arts Promotion
(309) 794-7833
samschlouch@augustana.edu