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Information Literacy and Accountability: Accreditation, Alignment, and Assessment


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Accreditation organizations, governments, and other stakeholders are putting increasing pressure on higher education institutions to demonstrate their value by providing evidence of achievement of student outcomes and student learning outcomes. In turn, these institutions are looking to their departments and divisions to provide evidence of their contributions to the achievement of campus mission and goals. Academic libraries face both challenges and opportunities in the face of these calls for accountability. Information literacy is widely recognized as a critical set of skills for college students, and many accreditation organizations include the phrase or equivalent language in their standards, creating an expectation that colleges and universities will integrate learning outcomes and assessment for information literacy into their programs.

By being aware of accreditation standards and aligning their strategic initiatives, goals, programs, and activities with those standards as well as their parent institutions missions, goals, and strategic plans, academic libraries can link their activities to the goals of their larger campus. Through assessment of their goals and programs, these libraries can provide evidence of their direct support to their parent institution’s teaching and learning goals. These objectives are challenging for any library, but can be particularly complicated for those of us situated in transnational education settings where multiple accreditation standards and policies may exist and overlap.

In this interactive, discussion-based session, Dr. Laura Saunders will first review current accreditation standards in the United States and examine how colleges and universities are responding to those standards. Then, she will provide an outline of best practices for demonstrating value and achieving accountability by aligning activities with accreditation and campus goals, and assessing achievement of those goals. Subsequently, Alanna Ross will discuss how regional and international accreditation agency directives have influenced the development, promotion and assessment of information literacy programming at the American University of Sharjah. Included in the discussion will be an overview of the opportunities, but also challenges that assessment has presented in demonstrating the library’s contribution to institutional teaching and learning goals.

Finally, Virgilio Medina will discuss these themes in the context of a school information literacy initiative at SEK International School, which is accredited by the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, and follows its college preparatory program. Virgilio will share details of an assessment project which gathers data on students’ digital literacy skills in order to meet and respond to both the IB standards and local standards set by the Ministry of Education in Qatar. After each speaker, opportunity for discussion between the speaker, the panel and the audience will be facilitated in order to draw out important applications and solutions.

Session Chair:

Dr. Alicia M. Salaz

Dr. A. M. Salaz is Reference and Instruction Librarian for Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Holding an EdD from the University of Liverpool and an MLIS from the University of Washington, Dr. Salaz brings over 10 years of cross-national professional and academic experience to the study of faculty members and scholarly communications. She has presented extensively in the areas of information literacy and library services and has been named ACRL Instruction Sections' Teaching Librarian of the Month. She serves as vice-chair of the Information Literacy Network, Gulf Region's Professional Development Committee, and resides in Doha.


Dr. Laura Saunders

Laura Saunders is an Assistant Professor at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, teaching and conducting research in the areas of reference and instruction, intellectual freedom, and academic libraries. She also has a strong interest in social justice issues related to libraries. Recently, she has been involved in a series of international collaborative studies on topics such as reference competencies and information behaviors. Her articles have appeared in a variety of journals including College & Research Libraries, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, and Reference & User Services Quarterly. She has written two books: Information Literacy as a Student Learning Outcome: The Perspective of Institutional Accreditation and Repositioning Reference: New Methods and New Services for a New Age co-authored with Lily Rozaklis and Eileen Abels. Laura has a PhD and a Master’s of Library and Information Science, both from Simmons College, and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Boston University.

Alanna Ross

American University of Sharjah, UAE

Alanna Ross is Associate University Librarian for Public Services at the American University of Sharjah (UAE) where she oversees co-ordination of the library’s information literacy programming and related assessment efforts. She holds an MA in Library and Information Science from Monash University, Melbourne and is a current PhD candidate at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. Alanna’s research focuses on information literacy pedagogy and outcomes assessment. She has lived and worked in the UAE for the last thirteen years.
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Virgilio Medina

SEK International School, Doha, Qatar

Virgilio G. Medina Jr. has worked in Middle Eastern countries as a school librarian for four years. With a Bachelor of Library and Information Science (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines, he is currently working at SEK International School and studying towards his Masters in Library and Information Studies at UCL in Qatar. His professional and research interests center on the development of school libraries as digital libraries and how these can be effectively marketed to support the school’s curriculum for a global society.