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Clarence Maybee, Information Literacy Specialist, Purdue University Libraries

Clarence Maybee, Information Literacy Specialist, Purdue University Libraries

In Gershwin’s classic “Summertime,” the “livin’ is easy,” and for many who work in education, the summer months may be a bit easier—a time to take a break from the hectic pace of the regular academic year. But many faculty also take advantage of their summer downtime to take part in professional-development activities to advance their skills, hone their expertise, and become better educators for the school year ahead. That is exactly what more than 100 librarians did this summer in the Association of College and Research Libraries’ “Immersion” program.

In 2017, Purdue Libraries Associate Professor Clarence Maybee—who also is the Libraries information literacy specialist—was selected as an instructor for ACRL’s five-day long intensive learning program. The program is designed for those who contribute to the educational role of libraries in higher education.

Maybee is an advisor for IMPACT, or Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation, and he is a zealous advocate for librarians’ roles in higher education. Recently, he authored “IMPACT Learning: Librarians at the Forefront of Change in Higher Education,” a book that presents the ways in which academic librarians are making a difference in student learning and success, using IMPACT as an example.

In the short Q&A below, Dr. Maybee talks about the structure and benefits of Immersion and how he uses the opportunity to teach and to learn.

ACRL's Immersion Program 2018: Plenary Session

ACRL’s Immersion Program 2018: Plenary Session

Q: Why is the program called Immersion?

Maybee: Immersion is an intense five-day long experience in which librarians, who support the educational mission of libraries, take a deep dive into exploring and planning for a change in practice they want to take back to their campuses. This year, we sequestered ourselves at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Each day of the week brought a combination of learning about new ideas, receiving constructive feedback from colleagues, reflecting on what we heard, and working individually. Participants were truly “immersed” in their work—ending the week with a plan for what they want to enact when they get back home.

Q. How was Immersion 2018 structured?

Maybee: The 120 participants were divided up into eight cohorts. The program is built upon four cornerstones: critical reflective practice, design thinking, leadership, and information literacy. Before attending the ACRL Immersion program, participants were asked to identify a “change in practice” they are considering in their educational work. The change in practice could be anything, such as a new lesson, a new approach to teaching overall, or a new communication plan. The first few days of the program focused on introducing participants to new ideas related to each of the four cornerstone concepts. At the end of the week, the participants received peer feedback to help them advance their plans. Many participants told me this was the most useful experience of the week—allowing them to draw many ideas together and see things in a new way! As a teacher, I loved seeing what each group came up with on the last day of the program. On this day, the 15 participants in each of the eight cohorts created a visual representation of what they collectively learned through the week. Yes, there were scissors and colored markers involved!

Q. What was the most Tweetable comment/discussion point from Immersion this year and why?

Maybee: A participant pointed out that the program did not explicitly address the racism that exists in higher education learning environments. She volunteered to give a talk to participants about anti-racist pedagogy. Of course, we took her up on that. She introduced the group to many books that aim to help us see racism in teaching and learning situations and various ways of responding to it! I was so grateful for this participant’s willingness to share her knowledge with us. It was a memorable and important addition to the program.

Q. How do you take what you learned at Immersion and apply it to your work at Purdue?

Maybee: It is a two-way street! Many of the insights I have gleaned from working with Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation (IMPACT) helped me in my efforts to support participants in the Immersion program. Specifically, the techniques we use in working with Purdue instructors to think through pedagogic concerns were particularly applicable to working with Immersion participants. Of course, everyone at Immersion brings so much to the table. When working with the teachers and participants in the program, I am constantly learning innovative pedagogic ideas, which I bring back to my work at Purdue.

Q. How did you feel (and why do you think you felt this way) when the program concluded?

Maybee: Although I was very tired by the end of the week, I took solace in knowing that the participants, having really poured their hearts into their work, were even more exhausted. Everyone worked so hard on thinking through the change in practice each wanted to enact back at his or her institution. At the end of the week, everyone was invigorated—excited to get back home and improve education!

In a society named for the ubiquity of information, it is essential that everyone knows how to use information to continually learn in order to be successful in their professional, personal, and civic lives.” — Clarence Maybee, Assistant Professor of Library Science, Information Literacy Specialist, Purdue University LibrariesClarence Maybee, Information Literacy Specialist at Purdue Libraries

Information literacy is Clarence Maybee’s “thing” at Purdue University Libraries. He is, after all, the Purdue Libraries’ information literacy specialist.

So, it was with much excitement that he recently accepted a faculty position with the Association of College and Research Library’s (ACRL) Information Literacy Immersion Program. The week-long teacher development program is designed for academic librarians who want to enhance their teaching or programming skills related to information literacy. Maybee, who applied for the position in the ACRL’s recent national search for Immersion Program faculty, interviewed for the job at the American Library Association‘s annual Midwinter Meeting in January. He readily accepted the offer last month.

“As a faculty member in the Immersion Program, I will help craft the Immersion curriculum, work with the other Immersion faculty to facilitate the program, and mentor participating librarians in their teaching and programming roles on their campuses,” he explained.

In the Immersion Program, Maybee joins nationally recognized faculty, from college and research libraries around the nation, who lead the program, which provides instruction librarians the opportunity to work intensively for several days on all aspects of information literacy.

Below, Clarence shared a bit more information about his new opportunity with the ACRL and how his work in the Immersion Program will help serve the students and faculty at Purdue University.

Q. Tell me a little bit about your background, e.g., your work in libraries, as a librarian, a faculty member, as well as specifically what interested you in information literacy.

Clarence: I became a librarian in 2005 after completing my MLIS at San Jose State University (SJSU). Under the mentorship of Dr. Mary Somerville, then assistant dean of the library at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), I completed a master’s thesis in which I studied undergraduates’ experiences of information literacy. The research made me aware of how essential it is to understand the experiences of the learners for whom we are designing instruction. I began my career in librarianship in the role of Information Literacy Librarian at Mills College, and I served in a similar role at Colgate University before coming to Purdue.

Based on my research, which reveals that learners use information in more sophisticated ways when learning about course content, I focus my work at Purdue on integrating information literacy into Purdue courses. With colleagues from the Center for Instructional Excellence (CIE) and Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), I manage the Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation program (IMPACT), which aims to make undergraduate courses more student-centered. In 2015, I received a PhD from Queensland University of Technology (QUT). My dissertation thesis, “Informed learning in the undergraduate classroom: The role of information experiences in shaping outcomes,” received QUT’s Outstanding Thesis Award for its contribution to the discipline and excellence demonstrated in doctoral research practice.

Q. How do you think taking part in the Immersion program will help you in your position as an information literacy specialist at Purdue Libraries? How do you think it will help students and faculty at Purdue?

Clarence: Great new ideas come from diverse minds sharing and discussing the possibilities. The Immersion Program Faculty is comprised of nationally known information literacy experts. A cornerstone of the Immersion Program is bringing together academic librarian participants from across the U.S. and beyond. No doubt, the learning experiences generated by this group will give me insights and new perspectives to bring back with me to my work at Purdue.

Q. Tell me something that people may be surprised to learn about you…

Clarence: I used to be a poet in San Francisco.

Q. What do you know about yourself and/or your work now that you wish you would have known when you first started your career?

Clarence: Understanding learning theory better has really advanced my own teaching, as well as helped me in my work with librarians and other instructors.


Read more about information literacy at Purdue University Libraries at www.lib.purdue.edu/infolit, and learn more about the ACRL Immersion Program at www.ala.org/acrl/immersion.