A Survey Experience from the Academic Library Trenches

Cheryl Hoover, MSLS, Distance Learning Librarian

Megan Thomas, MLS, Reference Librarian

Montana State University Billings Library


The necessity for library administration to conduct user surveys has increased during recent times by the need to make more data-driven decisions. Factors driving Montana State University Billings (MSUB) use of library user surveys include: campus-wide strategic planning efforts, including alignment of the library’s strategic plan with the over-arching campus plan; changes in library resources and services; increases in number of online students; requirements for regional accreditation reports; demands for limited financial resources; and the need to make more effective use of library resources.

Libraries excel at sharing information. While every library has its own situation, sharing results from a recent survey of MSUB students provides information to other academic librarians concerned about how college students use and value library resources.  Additionally, libraries may be interested to know what changes were made at MSUB Library based on survey results.

Background Information

Located in the largest city in the state, Montana State University Billings, home of the Yellowjackets, noted a fall 2012 enrollment of 5,081 students, with 68 percent of these students attending full-time.  Over 62 percent of the student body is female with an average age of 25 years (MSU Billings, 2013). MSUB has five colleges that offer education and training for Associate, Bachelor, and Master Degree programs. The colleges include: Arts and Sciences, Education, Business, Allied Health Professions, and City College, which is located west of the main campus and focuses on two-year degree programs. MSUB leads the state in offering online classes with more than 240 classes available online.

The MSU Billings campus has two libraries. The primary library, known affectionately as the Temple of Knowledge, is located in the heart of the main campus. A small branch library resides at City College and is staffed by two part-time library clerks. Staff in the main library includes the Library Director, six full-time librarians, and five full-time para-professionals. The main library is open 83.5 hours per week during the regular academic year, and the City College library is open 45 hours per week.

The library’s past experience in conducting user satisfaction surveys is limited. From 1994 to 2000, a few consumer behavior and perception studies were done by students in a marketing class on behalf of the library. In 2002 and 2004, general campus surveys of transfer and graduate students were conducted and included one or two cursory questions regarding the library. The library surveyed 100 percent of students, staff, and faculty using LibQUAL in 2006. The LibQUAL survey provided valuable information; however, participation was considered poor at 12.5 percent given the library’s financial investment. The response rate to the LibQual survey was not unusual. According to Hernon and Altman (2010), LibQUAL response rates tend to be between 12 and 22 percent (p. 89). The low response rate may be attributed to the survey being emailed to students at new campus email accounts rather than their preferred email accounts. Many students were unaware of these new email accounts, unable to log in, or simply not in the habit of using them. Another reason for the low response rate may have been the time-consuming nature of the survey. Anecdotally, some participants told library staff that they found the survey complicated. Most recently, a self-administered web survey of 100 percent of the faculty was conducted in March 2012. The response rate of this survey was 26.4 percent.

Other than these previous attempts to survey library users, a user satisfaction survey of students had not been conducted in at least a decade. In the past, information on user feedback was gathered through suggestion box and anecdotal comments. Usage data was collected through database reports, gate counts, interlibrary loan statistics, library instruction data, reference tallies, and circulation statistics.  As a student-centered institution, the library was overdue in conducting a student satisfaction survey.

Literature Review

Libraries of all types enjoy a rich history of tracking data and conducting surveys to obtain information on resource usage and user satisfaction. Qualitative and quantitative survey data results provide information to help guide decisions related to the current and future allocation of library services and resources. Using a web-based survey instrument can be a cost-effective method to obtain information from users; however; the value of that survey data varies based on how and if that information is ultimately used. Sharing survey results and action items with library users can foster good will.  Brown, Yff, and Rogers (2011) found that patrons appreciated having their opinions asked and they valued knowing the results (p. 24). Surveying sub-groups of library user populations provides additional useful information to library administrators.  For example, surveying distance students provides insight into how these students use the academic library’s resources remotely – or don’t use them. Pitts, Coleman, and Bonella (2013) reported that library services were not adequately promoted or utilized by distance students at Kansas State University (p. 74).  Surveys provide important baseline data for institutions and follow-up surveys demonstrate trends.  Creating action items based on survey data and informing library patrons and other constituents of outcomes can create an invaluable dialogue between the library and the users.

Library literature supports the widespread use of library surveys with a wide array of articles written to report different survey goals and experiences. Looking back, Berger and Hines (1994) reported that detailed survey data assisted Duke University librarians in their efforts to plan for the future library and target specific services to specific user groups. Regularly surveying library users provides important qualitative and quantitative data that can be used to improve library services and resources. Evans (2000) supports this by stating, “A regular assessment program can be helpful in gauging the service population’s attitudes about services and collections” (p. 38). According to Hiller (2001), the University of Washington Libraries found that regularly conducting large-scale triennial surveys was the best way to assess the effectiveness of library service programs and support efforts for faculty and students. The results from these surveys have been key to the library’s successful transition to becoming user-centered and provided influential information in the campus political arena (p. 605-606). Carefully constructing survey questions to identify what information is desired and from whom, creating action items based on survey data, and informing patrons of outcomes can increase the value of the survey experience for the library and the university as a whole. While the findings of many surveys go unreported in the library literature, the value of conducting user surveys is validated again and again in the literature and important lessons can be gleaned by libraries with varying levels of survey experience.


Following the successful response to the faculty survey in March 2012, the Library Director decided to conduct a similar survey for all students. During the spring semester of 2013, the MSUB Library surveyed students about services and resources in the library. The survey was created and administered through the affordable online service, SurveyMonkey, and consisted of ten questions. There were nine multiple choice questions, which included one demographic question, and a final open-ended question for a free text response. Five of the multiple choice questions also included the option to add comments.  The survey questions focused on the following categories: online library services and resources, on campus library services and resources, marketing, and free text comments. A full list of the questions and results can be found in Appendix A.

The survey was e-mailed to 5,274 students, the entire student population, at their preferred e-mail address. The survey was confidential, but the students had the option to include their e-mail to be entered into a drawing for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. This e-mail entry was not connected to the students’ survey responses. The survey was open for two weeks in March, with the initial invitation e-mail to participate and a follow-up reminder e-mail sent after a week. Information about the student survey was posted on the MSUB Library Facebook page. The library staff used the students’ preferred e-mails, sent a reminder, offered a prize, and marketed the survey in hopes of improving the response rate.


After surveying 100 percent of the student population, the number of survey responses received was 714, which is a 13.5 percent response rate. Recognizing that this is a relatively low response rate, library staff were nevertheless pleased with the response rate considering it was the first student survey to be conducted in a number of years. The campus as a whole prefers, but has had difficulty meeting, a 25 percent response rate goal. Therefore, the library’s survey response rate was not unusual. Of the 714 respondents, 84.7 percent self-identified as undergraduate students. This percentage included undergraduate students who take classes only online, only in-person, or a combination of the two. The other 15.3 percent of the respondents were graduate students also enrolled in online, in-person, and in a combination of the two.

The survey questions were broken into four categories, the first of which was online library services and resources. Fifty-four percent of respondents visited the library website more than five times in the last year, while 36 percent visited the library website more than 11 times in the past year. The two top resources used on the library webpage were the course reserve and the electronic databases, but students expressed interest in an online chat service. While 40 percent responded that the website was easy to use or very easy to use, there were also quite a few comments regarding the difficulties with the website (see Appendix B). The percentage of students that accessed the website from a mobile device was fairly low; however, staff had often observed students using mobile devices within the library. With the apparent popularity of mobile device usage by students, staff concluded that the website should have a mobile friendly version.

In regards to on-campus library services and resources, 48 percent of respondents visited the library in-person more than five times in the last year, while 38 percent visited the library on campus more than 11 times in the past year.  The three most popular activities in the library were using the computers, studying alone, and studying with a group. These activities were expected to score highly due to staff observations of prime study space being consistently used, as well as full computer labs during peak hours. The free text comments from students showed a trend of student interest in onsite tutoring and an increase in technology available to students (see Appendix B).  In the past, anecdotal information or observations were the primary way that library staff determined how students used the library on campus, so the statistics and student comments created much stronger proof on which to base decisions.

One of the last items the survey focused on was marketing of library services and resources. Course instructors proved to be strong library proponents as 76 percent of students indicated that they had heard about library services and resources from faculty. The library website and other students also ranked highly as marketers of library services and resources at 60 percent and 42 percent respectively. However, it became apparent in the survey, through student comments, that library staff needed to increase marketing efforts. Some students outright stated that the library needed to market their services more. Other student comments pointed to this through the obvious lack of knowledge the students had about library resources and services. Some students even stated that they were not aware of a certain service or resource until they saw it mentioned in the survey itself (see Appendix B). Again, student comments provided hard evidence for library decision-making.


The results from this survey provided valuable benchmark information regarding student use and satisfaction of library services and resources. From the survey results, a list of action items was developed. These action items provide direction to the Library Director and staff and help focus the use of library resources. The action items include:

  • Create a mobile friendly website
  • Offer additional technology‐rich group study areas
  • Enhance electronic collection with additional ebooks and ejournals
  • Simplify the main library homepage
  • Expand the LibGuide collection to create user‐friendly research portals
  • Initiate online chat service for students
  • Explore a potential collaboration with the writing lab for onsite tutoring
  • Visit with ASMSUB (student government) about launching a student advisory group

To date, several action items have been completed and others are currently in process.  The library now has a mobile-friendly website, new technology-rich group study areas, and has acquired new e-book and e-journal collections. Action items currently in process include a redesign of the library homepage and expansion of the LibGuide collection.  In the near future, library staff will begin exploration of the remaining action items. Although not a specified action item, library staff has also increased marketing efforts through social media outlets as well as the student newspaper. To continue a loop of feedback, survey results have been reported to some library constituents, including student government and campus administration. Library staff is continuing reporting efforts to other constituencies.

The Library Director is satisfied with the process of the online survey but seeks to improve response rates. Plans to conduct future surveys on a regular schedule are currently in discussion with ideas on how to increase response rates being generated. For example, adding another email reminder to prompt participation, adding multiple prizes to increase interest, and avoiding overlap with other campus surveys could improve response. While the response rate was less than optimal, there was still value in the responses received. Through a handful of questions and minimal expense, library administration was able to ascertain a wealth of information about student library use patterns, needs, and desires. As stated previously, a consistent survey schedule can create a dialogue between the library and the students. Now that there is baseline data, future surveys can identify improvements and resources or services that still need development. Since student input is now emphasized as a part of the foundation for future changes to library services and resources, those changes are more student-centered and meaningful.


Berger, K. W., & Hines, R. W. (1994). What does the user really want? The library user survey project at Duke University. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 20(5/6), 306.

Brown, C., Yff, B., Rogers, K. (2011). The library survey: Friend or foe? Lessons learned designing and implementing user surveys. Kentucky Libraries, 75(1), 22-25.

Evans, G. E. (2000). Information needs assessment. in Developing library and information center collections. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Hernon, P., & Altman, E. (2010). Assessing service quality: Satisfying the expectations of library customers. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Hiller, S. (2001). Assessing User Needs, Satisfaction, and Library Performance at the University of Washington Libraries. Library Trends, 49(4), 605.

Montana State University Billings. (2013). Institutional research: Quick facts 2012-2013. Retrieved from http://www.msubillings.edu/InstitutionalResearch/default.htm#Student_Demographics_

Pitts, J., Coleman, J. & Bonella, L. (2013). Using distance patron data to improve library services and cross-campus collaboration. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 18(1), 55-75. doi: 10.1080/10875301.2013.800014

Appendix A

Spring 2013 Student Survey 

Background Information

  1. Academic Status this semester
A Undergraduate student taking in person classes only 32.77%
B Undergraduate student taking online classes only 17.65%
C Undergraduate student taking both online and in person   classes 34.31%
D Graduate student taking in person classes only 3.08%
E Graduate student taking online classes only 6.44%
F Graduate student taking both online and in person classes 5.74%

Online Library Services and Resources


  1. In the past 12 months, how often did you visit the MSUB Library website?
A Never 13.48%
B 1-2 times 15.31%
C 3-5 times 17.70%
D 6- 10 times 17.28%
E 11 or more 36.24%
  1. Which of the library’s website resources have you used? (Please mark all that apply)
A Course Reserves 36.83%
B Electronic databases to retrieve articles 70.40%
C Interlibrary Loan 16.57%
D Power Search 29.18%
E Ebooks 17.85%
F Online tutorials 7.65%
G I have not used the library’s website resources 17.14%
H Other Text Comments (14 commented)
  1. How would you describe navigation of the library website?
A Very easy to use 14.85%
B Easy to use 39.75%
C Neutral 24.19%
D Difficult to use 7.21%
E Very difficult to use 0.57%
F I have not used the library website 13.44%

Comments: _______________________          Text Comments (65 commented)

  1. Have you accessed the library’s website using a mobile device? (i.e. Smartphone, iPhones, iPads, iPods, Other tablet computers, etc.)
A Yes 26.63%
B No 73.37%
  1. Please rank the potential online services by order of importance (1 being the most important and 3 being the least important):




A Online chat help 51.40% 29.60% 19.00%
B Brief recorded online help tutorials 36.62% 48.68% 14.71%
C Longer (30- 60 minute) online research workshops 12.06% 21.76% 66.18%

Physical Library Services and Resources

  1. In the past 12 months, how often did you physically visit the library?
A Never 24.04%
B 1-2 times 12.94%
C 3-5 times 14.79%
D 6-10 times 10.10%
E 11 or more 38.12%
  1. What do you do while in the library? (Please mark all that apply)
A Study alone 58.93%
B Study with a group 36.74%
C Use computers 65.42%
D Use KIC scanner and/or photocopiers 20.03%
E Get research help at the Ask Here desk 15.71%
F Check out academic books 24.50%
G Check out popular books 11.10%
H Check out DVD’s 15.85%
I Check out a Kindle or Nook 1.59%
J I have not been to the library in the last 12 months 22.62%
K Other Text Comments (42 commented)
  1. How have you learned about library services and resources? (Please mark all that apply)
A Library’s website 60.09%
B Class instructors 76.25%
C Other students 42.06%
D At the Ask Here desk in the library 18.31%
E Library information tours 15.59%
F Librarian visits to class 15.16%
G Campus TV monitors 5.87%
H Signs in the residence halls 5.44%
I Facebook 4.43%
J Other Text Comments (44 commented)
  1. I wish the MSUB Library would offer additional online or in person services and resources to students, such as _________________________________________________________________

Text Comments (320 commented)

  1. This survey is completely anonymous. If you would like to enter your name in a drawing for a Google Nexus, please fill out the following information. Your survey comments will not be attached to your personal information, so they will remain anonymous. (One entry per student)

Name ____________________________________________

Phone ____________________________________________

E-mail ____________________________________________

Appendix B

A Sampling of Student Text Comments

Regarding the Library Website:

“It is easy, but that is because I have had several tutorials on how to use it. It may be difficult for a person who is brand new. However, there is always someone available to assist with that if you are trying to search or access the website.” -Survey Respondent

“You have to know where things are in order to find them. I took a class where I learned how to use the library website. I shouldn’t have to do that.”  -Survey Respondent

Regarding On Campus Use of the Library:

“I print out all my assignments at the library. Don’t know what I would do without it.” -Survey Respondent

“Use the television downstairs for connection with laptops for study groups. Too bad there is not more of these resources available currently.” -Survey Respondent

“Tutoring in call classes not just some through tutor.com.” – Survey respondent

“Tutors on Saturdays…” – Survey respondent


Regarding Marketing of Library Services and Resources:

“I haven’t learned anything about the library from any source.” –Survey Respondent

“It would be great if there was a single webpage for newer students that explained just how many amazing resources the library has.” –Survey Respondent

“I would like to know all of the resources available to students. For example, I had no idea I could check out a Nook or Kindle until I took this quiz. Are there things such as scanners available? Etc.” –Survey Respondent

Spring 2013, vol. 63, no. 1

Welcome to the Spring 2013 issue of The Idaho Librarian! Please enjoy the articles and feel free to comment or share using WP’s features.


Spring 2013, v. 63, no. 1

Featured Articles

Notable and Notorious Idaho Women: An Annotated Bibliography

by Amy Vecchione

Time for Libraries to Take a Fresh Look at Wikipedia

by Alex Kyrios


Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone [Review]

reviewed by Christopher N. Fox

On the Dark Side of the Moon [Review]

reviewed by Cheri Rendler

Religion and the Public Conscience: Ecumenical Civil Rights Work in Seattle, 1940-1960 [Review]

reviewed by Karl Bridges

Sudden Death Over Time [Review]

reviewed by Michelle Armstrong

The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media [Review]

reviewed by Rebekah Hosman

For links to previous issues click HERE.

Your feedback is welcome; just email the editor and let us know what you think.

How I Survived Grad School: Five Tips to Help New Students Through Two Very Tough Years

by Beth Swenson

When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2006, I swore I would never do another day of school. I love learning, but I hate homework with the fire of a thousand suns. However, in 2009, an opportunity presented itself that would allow me to earn my master’s degree from the comfort of my own home, and I would have been foolish not to take it. The Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) worked out an agreement with the state libraries of Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming that created a learning cohort, nicknamed SWIM. This was for the University of North Texas to provide a way for interested librarians to get their master’s degrees online. I was highly encouraged by several people to apply for this program, and so I did. I was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship that eventually paid for all of my tuition. This was an opportunity that you just don’t turn down, and so, with trepidation, I found myself back in the world of academia. I’m not going to lie, the first semester was pure hell. There were many times I felt I had made a huge mistake in going back to school, and not only was I not going to excel, but that I was going to fail miserably. I know I’m not the only one who felt this way. For me, it had been a scant four years since I last hit the books. For others, I know it had been many more years. Many of us had fulltime jobs, families, and religious and community commitments. How were we going to get through this?

On August 18, 2012, I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I am proud to report that I earned an “A” in each class, and I aced the final week of tests. When my year anniversary came a few months ago, I started to reflect on grad school and some of the things that helped me get by. I hope that this advice will help those who are nervous about going back, or to those who have just started and are feeling as inadequate as I did.

1. Find your support group.

One of the only reasons I got through grad school is because my husband helped me in any way he could. He cooked, he cleaned, and when we had our daughter, he spent endless hours taking care of her so I could focus on getting homework done. He was my rock. I was also fortunate enough to have three of my coworkers and a close friend of my mother-in-law also in the same program, so I was able to rely on them when questions arose about specific assignments. It doesn’t matter who your support group is (family, friends, drinking buddies, etc.), just know who to turn to when the need arises. Grad school is stressful, and it’s nice to have someone who will listen when you need to vent, or help you keep your sanity as you try to juggle school with life.

2. Find the classmates and the mentors who can help you.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There are some really bad students out there, ones who don’t check in that often on group work, or who will write the most inane comments on your work that you’ll want to pull your hair out. Fortunately, I only met a few of them throughout my time at school, and I can tell you from personal experience that there is nothing more frustrating than someone who won’t pull his or her own weight. On the flip side, there are really good students out there, too – ones who take charge, have insightful comments, and are really good spellers. My hope is that all your classes will be filled with the latter type. I know this won’t always be the case, though. Strive to find those good students, or – better yet – become that student. Your fellow classmates will thank you.

As part of our SWIM agreement, all those who received scholarships agreed to become mentors to other students who are pursuing MLS degrees. In addition, there are other librarians throughout the state who have agreed to become mentors. For that information, contact Shirley Biladeau at shirley.biladeau@libraries.idaho.gov or (208) 639-4149. She will put you in contact with one of us, and we are more than happy to help you, even if it’s just a shoulder to lean on. Also, if you’re attending the same school we did, we can tell you which classes are really worth taking.

3. Find the time to get your work done.

I think it’s very natural to procrastinate (or maybe I just think this because it seems like I’m the queen of procrastination). However, in grad school, procrastination will quickly become your enemy, especially if you’re completing an online degree. For me, because I was doing an online degree and I wasn’t going to a regular class, it was easier for me to think that I could play now and do my homework later. I found out that “later” needs to be today. It is so easy to put things off until the very last minute, but it’s not always the wisest course of action. I remember one time when my in-laws called me concerning a medical emergency, and they needed me to watch their daughters while they were in the hospital. I had a five page paper due the next day, which of course added to my already high stress of the medical emergency. I was up late that night, and had to be up early the next day to get the girls to school. Fortunately, I got the paper in on time, and I think it was somewhat coherent. Of course, we can never plan when emergencies are going to come up (hence the reason they’re called emergencies), but that is why it is even more important in grad school to not put things off. Also, you should carve time out of every day to get schooling done. I would start mine about an hour after I got home from work and went until I needed to go to bed. After I had my daughter and because she had a crazy sleep schedule, I found myself studying at random times during the day (and night). Find the time that is best for you and your life, and stay on top of things.

4. Find your stress release.

This is my favorite thing to tell people. As stated before, grad school is very stressful, and I firmly believe that all students need to find the thing that calms them down the most. Maybe it’s a quick run, knitting, or cleaning. It doesn’t matter what it is, just be sure you have something you can do when school gets to be too much. My stress release was a punching bag, and this is how I found out that I needed one: In my first semester, which also happened to be my most stressful semester (mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing), I had to do a group project with some other classmates. Funny enough, I don’t remember what the project entailed, but I do remember that I was in charge of taking notes from our discussion and getting the whole project started. The next day, when I went to start the project, I couldn’t find those notes anywhere. My husband and I scoured the house, but we both came up empty. The pressure and the stress got a little much for me, and in frustration, I kicked the wall (I had wanted to punch it, but luckily I remembered my walls are pretty thick and I probably would have injured my hand). Then I burst into tears and sobbed for about five minutes straight. My poor husband was stunned and unsure what to do, as he had never seen me act this way. Eventually I was able to calm down and recreate the project from memory. We found a punching bag for me not too long after that. Anytime I became frustrated with schoolwork, I would go throw a few punches, and then get back to work. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s what worked for me. Sometimes, you just need to take a few steps back and do something that gets your mind off of whatever is stressing you out.

5. Find time to relax.

I can hear your questions now: “What? Find time to relax? Didn’t you just say not to procrastinate?” Yes I did, but I also think it’s very important to take some time away from studying. Catch a movie, read a book, or do game night with friends. If I didn’t take a break every now and then, I’m pretty sure I would have gone crazy. Take a night off and remember what life was like before grad school started. Trust me on this: you’ll be glad you did.

Grad school is not fun. Anybody that goes through it knows that. However, there is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when you get that piece of paper that proclaims, “I did it. I finished grad school. Now I can have a life again.” But until then, to use a phrase I heard constantly during my own schooling, just keep swimming. You can do it. You can make it through. It will be hard and miserable, and at times you will wish a pox on your professors for assigning all of the reading and papers. All of us who have our degrees are rooting for you and we understand what you’re going through. Good luck.

Beth Swenson is the Outreach Librarian at Twin Falls Public Library.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Exploring Inquiry with the Library of Congress

by Kathy Dorr

Bouvia image2Magic can happen when groups of dedicated educators gather together to share expertise, explore strategies for student success, and build upon the ideas of their peers. Magic did happen during two‐day workshops held this past summer in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Funded by a grant from the Library of Congress, the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program at NCCE offered two levels of professional development free of charge for K‐12 pre‐service and in‐service teachers. Level I introduced participants to the vast resources available at the Library of Congress, the primary source analysis process, and lesson development. Level II expanded on Level I teachings and focused more directly on Barbara Stripling’s Inquiry Model. Both sessions had educators participating in “hands on” activities that included group discussion and time for personal reflection.

One of the many activities during the workshop looked at the San Francisco Earthquake through a motion picture filmed at the time and provided two different newspaper accounts from opposite sides of the country. Participants discussed the issues of perspective and purpose and how a combination of primary sources could enrich and deepen understanding of a historical event.

An additional activity looked at the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and how it violated the mandates of Constitutional Checks and Balances. A close analysis of primary sources explored the perspectives of Andrew Jackson, Chief John Ross, Edward Boudinot, and John G. Burnett as they either supported or challenged the act that lead to the “Trail of Tears”. Participants were to either validate or repudiate the Indian Removal Act by providing evidence of their position based on the primary sources examined.

Bouvia image1Historical thinking skills formed a foundation for many of the activities and discussions that took place during both levels of the TPS program workshops. Using resources from Stanford’s History Education Group, a TPS Consortium member, educators created info graphics that highlighted both the process and the skills needed to assess historical thinking. Info graphics were introduced as an alternate means of assessment as they involve both text and graphic representations of knowledge and understanding.

The TPS program at NCCE workshops are taught by highly‐trained educators with many years of classroom experience. Activities presented are easily adapted to a variety of grade levels and subject areas. Many thanks go out to the teacher‐librarians and classroom teachers who have participated in the various workshops offered as their expertise and insights are greatly appreciated. With funds granted by the Library of Congress through 2014, opportunities to participate in the TPS program at NCCE will be available in the coming year.

For further updates and information on the TPS program at NCCE visit http://www.ncce.org.

To learn more about the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program and other resources visit www.loc.gov/teachers.

Resources Cited

Stripling, Barbara. Library of Congress, “Teaching Inquiry with Primary Sources.” Accessed August 4, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/teachers/tps/quarterly/inquiry_learning/article.html.

Stanford History Education Group, “Charting the Future of Teaching the Past.” Accessed August 4, 2013. sheg.stanford.edu.

Kathy Dorr is a Professional Development Specialist at Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE).

Muslim Journeys with the Ada Community Library Victory Branch

by Diane B. Rice

In October 2012, Ada Community Library, Victory Branch applied for the Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA). After successfully enjoying a previous blend of culture and literary exploration involving a Jewish Adult graphic novel discussions Let’s Talk About It (LTAI) series, (see: http://www.idaholibraries.org/idlibrarian/index.php/idaho-librarian/article/view/10/52)  this was a new opportunity to delve into cultural exploration in our community.

“The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is a collection of 25 books, 4 DVDs, and other programming resources selected to help public audiences in the United States become more familiar with the people, places, history, faith, and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the U.S. (One of these is Oxford Islamic Studies Online database: http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/) The Bookshelf is intended to address both the need and the desire of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about  Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations.” Bridging Cultures is an initiative that engages the power of the humanities to promote understanding and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad. (http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys or www.ala.org)

It is exciting to be able to combine a Mid-Life Adults focus with these current events.

In-house surveys at the library in October 2012 queried the Fit and Fall Proof class group of older adults and on-line library patrons about their interests. One choice expressed multiple times was “learning about other cultures.” Initial programs that introduced the Bookshelf Grant included an Idaho Humanities Council Speaker program by Michael Zirinsky Islam: A View from the West and Singing My Faith: Indonesian Javanese Folksong by Ery Djunaedy. Travis Porter and I visited with the Islamic Community of Bosniaks center to invite them and publicity was shared on http://boisemuslims.org.  We followed with two Learning Lunch programs, Islamic Artspots film clips on topics including calligraphy, architecture and gardens following two Art 21 programs. Great conversations shared were of travel, art, literature and community experiences including an Arabian Peninsula lobby display. We are developing ideas with Hillcrest Branch of the Boise Public Library in a collaboration of Worlds Connect programs with Muslim Journeys cultures over the next year. This will begin by hosting Bosnian dance group Mladi Behar here in October.

The Ada Community Library, Victory Branch applied for and received a next step “Let’s Talk About It” Muslim Journeys Grant from the NEH and ALA. In May 2013, NEH and ALA selected 125 libraries and humanities councils to participate in the project. Each participating site will focus on one of five Muslim Journeys themes, hosting a five-part, scholar-led reading and discussion series exploring the theme and related books. This library selected “Points of View”. Five books (both novels and memoirs, one a graphic novel) open doors to the experiences of adults and children living in Muslim-majority societies; while offering perspective on misunderstandings that confront the Muslim Community in America  and revealing shared values. Scholars Heike Henderson and Megan Dixon will present the books in the series. Interest expressed by members in our local community thus far, from all parts of their life experiences, has offered wonderful insight into how well diversity works in Boise. Connecting people, while positively engaging in community dialogue, inclusive to cultural differences, are our hopeful goals. Please consider participating if you live in the local Lynx Consortium area with further details offered at www.adalib.org/victory.

Diane B. Rice is Reference Librarian/Program Coordinator at Ada Community Library Victory Branch.

Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders [Review]

Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Lesley S. J. Farmer
Chicago: ALA Editions, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1181-5, softcover
264 pages, $35.00

reviewed by Gena MarkerMarker - Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Libraries serve all types of people and knowing how to provide services to those with special needs is an important part of any librarian’s job. A growing number of youth in America have a developmental disorder that falls within the autism spectrum: autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive development disorder. For library personnel who work with youth who have autism spectrum disorders, L.S.J. Farmer’s Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders is a must-have tool.

No matter if you work with youth in a school or public library, Farmer provides useful suggestions for every type of scenario. From an introductory-level understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) to teaching youth with ASDs and behavior management techniques, Farmer paints a comprehensive picture of how librarians can help youth with ASDs. Of particular interest to both school and public librarians is how to provide a positive social structure to help youth with ASDs develop social skills and feel comfortable in social settings within the library environment. Farmer points out that one way to achieve this goal within a school library setting is to allow youth with ASDs to serve as library aides, and that, “being a library aide should have a social dimension to strengthen group identity and foster cohesion” (139).  All types of library programs, from literacy-centered activities to maker-oriented ones can involve youth with ASDs and help them to foster new social skills. Farmer also provides tips regarding how to navigate the sometimes emotionally-charged world of youth with ASDs, including how to help them self-manage their emotions and move toward emotional growth and independence.

In addition, Farmer provides lists of resources that librarians can use, both with youth with ASDs, as well as those who work with them. Training ideas and applicable resources about how librarians can incorporate the principles of universal design when working with youth with ASDs, will help library staff provide better services to this special population. A historical and legal framework of how federal laws apply to those with ASDs, and how such laws affect libraries and library services, is a much-needed guide for all library workers.

Lastly, the appendix of resources (consisting mostly of websites), bibliography, and glossary, provide an extension to the many helpful tips and resources presented by Farmer. Overall, this book is a practical tool that libraries of all types and sizes should make available for staff training purposes, so that youth with ASDs are provided with the best possible library services.

Gena Marker is a Teacher-Librarian at Centennial High School, Joint School District No. 2 in Meridian.

Working in Sync: How Eleven Dartmouth Athletes Propelled Their College Sports Experience into Professional Excellence [Review]

Working in Sync: How Eleven Dartmouth Athletes Propelled Their College Sports Experience into Professional Excellence
Whit Mitchell
Eagle, ID: Aloha Publishing, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61206-036-1, hardcover
191 pages, $19.95

reviewed by Alex KyriosKyrios - Working in Sync

Have you ever been a part of a team where everyone just clicks and works together to accomplish much more than you could as individuals? Whit Mitchell has, and his Working in Sync takes his experience as a freshman crew coach at Dartmouth University and applies lessons learned to a business environment.

The book profiles eleven men who met over the course of the 1982-83 academic year at Dartmouth University and came together to form a successful crew team. Though some of them had never rowed or even played sports before, the young men who began the year as strangers went on to beat the highly regarded Yale team later that year. But as Mitchell argues, that year simply represented an early step in the course of eleven very successful lives. He isn’t the first person to draw a connection between collegiate athletic achievement and professional accomplishment, but his personal profiles and sermonic wisdom from each help set Working in Sync apart from the general pack of business and leadership books.

Mitchell himself serves as a consultant to business executives and collegiate and professional athletes. While this book will resonate best with readers familiar with these areas of experience, many of its insights about leadership and character are generalizable to almost any sort of team or group environment. And while some of the men profiled have success in business, others work in areas such as nonprofits and medicine, so the book also has lessons for people who rarely wear three-piece suits.

Each chapter focuses on one of the eleven Dartmouth student-athletes, opening with some basic biographical information followed by a brief description of the person’s experience with Dartmouth’s crew team (Mitchell largely avoids confusing crew jargon, and includes a brief glossary of certain terms following the book’s introduction). We also get a look at the man’s professional life, and Mitchell ends with a lesson from the subject’s crew or work experience. Topics vary, covering individual values, such as perseverance and accountability, and group ones, such as soliciting input from team members and investing in people. He also suggests ways to follow up or reflect on these lessons, including discussion questions and activities. This format makes the book a natural fit for a book group approach.

These profiles are frequently inspiring, so it’s perhaps a disappointment that the book doesn’t go into more detail about the individuals themselves. When reading about people like Hans Stander and Sam Hartwell, who have led efforts to invest millions in impoverished areas of the world, you can really see why Mitchell is so proud of having been involved with this group. At the same time, this brevity makes Working in Sync suitable for working professionals who might not have time for a longer book. Whether read in one sitting or over many weeks in a group setting, the book will encourage all readers to be conscious about how they work as part of a team, and how much those teams can accomplish when they work together with the coordination of a skilled crew.

This book is probably best suited to corporate libraries, although it will likely be valuable at public libraries as well. A single copy on the shelves in an academic library may not prove particularly useful, but it would likely supplement the curricula of business courses in higher education.

Alex Kyrios is a Metadata and Catalog Librarian at the University of Idaho.