Student Learning Objective 8
The student effectively collaborates for the achievement of individual, organizational, professional, and societal goals.
Few worthwhile goals are achievable unless approached collaboratively. Personal awareness of strengths and weaknesses is important to developing a good team with which to collaborate. It is important to develop a network of peer and specialist who can provide help and to whom help can be given. Some projects such as collection management are too great to be done alone. No single person can identify all the appropriate goals much less evaluate all the materials available. Developing relationships and trusting the judgement of others is key to effective collection management. Other projects require special skills that not everyone possesses such as technical aspects of websites and library services. Identifying the needed expertise and building working relationships with specialists in necessary. Clear communication is the key to effective collaboration when common goals exist. Goals need not be identical, but they do need to be compatible for collaboration to work. An effective team can achieve better results than individuals working alone.
A straightforward example of effective collaboration was the book evaluation project for the library materials class. The Group E project utilized the simple divide and conquer concept where each of us read and evaluated a few books then combined the work into a single report. Doing it well required each of us to identify and agree on the books for which we would be responsible. We chose the Google Slides platform because it allows for multiple, simultaneous editors making sure we all knew what the others were doing in real time. Communication regarding the nature of the content and the common labeling meant the work of each individual shared a common appearance creating a unified product. When finished we all benefited from the work of the other members in evaluating materials that might be appropriate for our collections.
Building and maintaining a website is another example of the need for collaboration. A website designer can make a site look beautiful and an engineer can make the design look good on all types of devices, but content for a library website depends on the expertise of the librarian. Working as a team will produce the most effective display of the content and give the best service to patrons and serve the goals of the library. Even within those specialties subgroups will produce better results than working alone. The school library site project shows the work of our team creating content while utilizing a template created by others. Developing our individual sections and offering advice to others produced a coherent product. Given the theoretical nature of the library and novice level of all of us creating the site it is not as polished as it would be for an actual library, but the experience was valuable in identifying the type of experience required to do it well and the massive number of things to consider. In actual practice it is not just the task of creating such a site, but the task of regular maintenance and updates. No single individual can effectively do such a task.
Collaboration is not optional for librarians. The vastness of information alone requires collaboration to manage and the limitations of personal skills is just one more thing on top of that. A single person can only do so much in a given span of time, but working in a coordinated fashion a group of individuals can reduce the overall time required for a project. Developing relationships either within the staff of a large institution or with people at other institutions for those serving in smaller libraries is the only way to make effective collaborative work possible. This requires intentional effort beyond any particular project and is one of the benefits of professional organizations be they formal or informal.