Dr. Stephanie Sterling Brasley is the Dean of the Library at California State University Dominguez Hills. She joined the Advisory Board of the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy in 2017. Here she talks about the critical role of information literacy in student success and life long learning, her support of OER, her experience at IDEAL '19, and more!
Question: Please tell us about a project or research or initiative you are currently working on.
I have been interested in open educational resources (OER) and open access issues for several years. Thus, I am trying to carve out time to turn my dissertation research on faculty adoption of open educational resources in higher education into an article. On the job front, at CSU Dominguez Hills, high impact practices (HIPs) are a focal point for the campus community and undergraduate research is one in which our library can make a positive contribution. I am excited about working this year with our Student Success Librarian, Cristina Springfield, to develop and implement an Undergraduate Library Research Fellows program to excite our students about the positive aspects of knowing how to and successfully engage in quality research. As a perennial information literacy enthusiast, I see implementing this program, which aligns with our information literacy goals, as being a win-win for HIPs and information literacy.
Q. What is the role of library leaders such as yourself in supporting and advocating for information literacy, given the broad scope of responsibilities you have?
I have had the privilege to work on library instruction and information literacy (IL) issues and projects for much of my professional career. In our digital, knowledge-based, technology-driven information society, being able to discover information, evaluate it, use or produce new knowledge from it, effectively and ethically, is of tantamount importance to an evolved citizenry. We as human beings ingest information bites all of our waking moments. Getting the right information to produce sound decisions or to solve problems is critical. That is why access to quality information is a fundamental human right in my mind.
Library leaders in all library environments should advocate for everyone to have fluency in IL. Particularly, in academic libraries, we have the opportunity, and I would say also the responsibility, to educate our campus communities about information literacy and its criticality for an educated and democratic world, and seek instances where we can forward information literacy goals. For example, at California State University, Dominguez Hills, we are fortunate that information literacy was set as an institutional learning outcome nearly a decade ago and it is also a WSCUC core competency. Carolyn Caffrey Gardner, our excellent information literacy coordinator, has worked diligently with her colleagues on setting forth the Library’s information literacy program learning outcomes and all have been successful at working with faculty to design assignments that align with the ACRL IL framework. Also, our Online Learning Librarian, Tessa Withorn, has led successful projects to embed the framework into digital learning objects, tutorials, and videos. We also have a promising IL assessment project with a psychology and biology capstone course that has been well received by faculty in those majors.
During our university’s re-accreditation process, I chaired the IL taskforce and took a central role, along with the IL Coordinator and our associate dean, in providing the evidence needed for the WSCUC IL core competency. I am happy to report that at the California State University system level, information literacy continues to be an important issue and goal for library deans within the system and we have a committee that focuses on IL issues and projects. Finally, I would say that I understand the emphasis on collections that exists at R1 institutions, having worked at one for many years. However, providing people with materials without teaching them how to effectively discover, access, navigate and use the information found in the materials is problematic. It is similar to buying someone a car in a city where that is the most logical mode of transportation, but then not teaching them how to operate it. That is where library leaders come in. We should make sure we elevate the discourse around IL and make sure it comes before the decision-makers and influence brokers in our information environments.
Q: Please tell us about a recent professional development activity that you participated in, that you found to be valuable. What was it and how was it valuable to you?
Recently, I attended the IDEAL (Advancing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility in Libraries and Archives) conference. It was a great conference with both depth and breadth in terms of session offerings. Several sessions stood out for me including those on first-gen students, an IL session by Kyzyl Fenno-Smith and Dr. K Morrison entitled “Cultural wealth, asset pedagogies and hip hop information literacy,” and the thought-provoking opening keynote by Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw, law professor at UCLA and Columbia law schools discussing the structures of racial inequality and the closing keynote by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a journalist with the New York Times and her informative and riveting talk about slavery in America and the 1619 project that “outs” the profound role that former and more recent Americans have played in the structural racial inequality pervasive in America today.
Q: Why did you join the TATIL Advisory Board?
I was honored to be asked to participate in the TATIL Advisory Board because, as I mentioned earlier, IL is a critical set of abilities to possesses in our global information society. Quality mechanisms to assess information literacy proficiency or fluency are also key to IL work. Having worked on the development of the Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) ICT Literacy Assessment, I knew the importance of having tools to gauge IL knowledge diagnostically and for identifying gaps in this knowledge set. The TATIL is an excellent, authentic assessment for this. In addition to outstanding modules that align with the ACRL Framework for IL, I really appreciate the accompanying dispositions integrated within the test.