UNM Today

Contact Us
Current Issue
Editorial Policies
Previous Issues
Publication Dates

Subscribe to
email edition



Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue:  May 6, 2002
Volume 37, Number 20

Libraries and learning centers working together
Expert Deese-Roberts faculty acknowledgement recipient

By Carolyn Gonzales

Susan Deese-RobertsSusan Deese-Roberts, director of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship in Teaching and Learning (CASTL) and associate professor in the UNM General Library, was recently honored as the faculty acknowledgement recipient from the General Library.

Since becoming CASTL director, Deese-Roberts retains only a one-third time position in the library, however as library faculty she has served in various fulltime capacities including director of Zimmerman Library Public Services and director of the Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS).

Deese-Roberts’ presentation, “Libraries and Learning Centers: Collaborations for Student Success,” addresses the commonalities between libraries and learning centers, like CAPS. She says, “The mission statements for each are very similar. Take out the research and scholarship component for the library and they parallel one another.” Both address the out-of-classroom learning that takes place at the university level. “Students go to libraries and learning centers when they want to study and learn. They might meet with a librarian or a tutor,” she says.

While working with the library instruction program, Deese-Roberts began to realize that students come in when they have a paper to write, a project to complete or an exam to study for. “The library gives them the material and the learning center gives them assistance with developing a final product,” she says.

Students show up at the CAPS writing lab not differentiating between the research that goes into a paper as something separate. “Students see it as one assignment, writing a paper. So, we provided the tutors with structured practice in using library tools so that they could help the students better,” she says.

As a result of her parallel experience in libraries and learning centers, Deese-Roberts has worked as a consultant to other libraries considering the addition of a learning center.

Many libraries are now relocating collections to remote storage or putting in compact shelving. “This makes it possible to develop more public service space, study space, in the library. New buildings are being designed to include it. Old buildings are being retrofitted to provide for it,” Deese-Roberts says. University of Nebraska at Omaha is including a learning center in its new library and North Texas State is planning one right inside the front door of its new library. In South Carolina, at Clemson University, they’re placing materials in remote storage and moving a learning center into the library facility, she says.

“The collaboration between libraries and learning centers is what is relevant here, not just space,” Deese-Roberts says. She says that library space consultant Jay Lucker concurs. He noted on his recent visit to UNM that out-of-classroom learning needs to be accommodated in the library. “It’s not about space,” she says, “it’s about service to the students.”

Deese-Roberts says that as UNM and other universities look to reform undergraduate education, retain freshmen, engage tenured faculty in teaching undergraduate courses, integrate technology into the curriculum and establish smaller classes, learning centers and libraries are taking on a central role. “Librarians are information literacy reform activists,” she says. “Librarians used to have a support role, now they are partners with faculty and learning centers in retention programs.”

In CAPS, the calculus lab, located in Centennial Science and Engineering Library (CSEL), helps the greatest number of students, Deese-Roberts says. While in Zimmerman Library, the writing lab is busy. Other subjects students get help with include chemistry, physics, algebra, writing, statistics and foreign languages. “Tutoring is available for almost every undergraduate course,” she says.

Recently, CAPS started offering math tutoring in the Hokona Cellar. “And we’re expanding to online tutoring,” Deese-Roberts says.

Taking tutoring programs to the students – in the SUB or dorms, for example – is another component of the learning centers, although a central locale for offices and administration still needs to be considered. At UNM, one idea has been to move CAPS into a renovated Mesa Vista Hall, should it be renovated with a student services focus. Even so, says Deese-Roberts, the writing lab could logically remain in Zimmerman Library and the calculus lab in CSEL.

“CAPS should not move just for more library space, services and programs should be considered. CAPS serves between 4,000 and 5,000 students each year. They are the stakeholders. We need to provide a safe, effective environment for them and the student tutors,” Deese-Roberts says. “I am sure that whatever decision is reached on the CAPS location it will be a good one made in collaboration between the library, CAPS and its users, and other campus stakeholders.”H