21:3 (2006:09) 21st Conference: Linking the Library and Course Management System

August 31, 2006 at 6:58 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment


Linking the Library and Course Management System

Claire Dygert, Electronic Resources Unit Coordinator, American University Library
Reported by Valerie Bross 

With increasing pressure to “be where our users are,” this session could not have come at a better time. Claire Dygert is responsible for both the institutional repository and the integration of the library into the campus management system (CMS); she was the ideal person to present this topic. 

The specific CMS at American University is Blackboard; but many of the strategies and services that Dygert developed have broad applications. 

Key factors that affected Dygert’s approach were: (1) the organizational structure and personalities at AUL; (2) faculty/instructor familiarity with the library and with Blackboard; and (3) the strengths of the library staff. 

At AUL, Blackboard is administered by the campus Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), a group with little knowledge of library services and resources. The first step in integrating the library into Blackboard was remedying this gap.  Dygert has worked vigorously to overcome some of the barriers with CTE.  She educated the CTE staff about the numerous virtual services available through the library: e-reserves, virtual reference, online pathfinders, information literacy support, streaming audio/video, and copyright information. 

The next step was the creation of a library site within Blackboard which allowed faculty access to services which they could embed in their course pages. One of the most important of these services is LinkMaker, an open source program that creates proxied, persistent links to library content (except, for now, LexisNexis). Faculty can use an input form to create links that are stripped of session-specific information or other data that might result in invalid links. Resources linked by LinkMaker include: licensed e-resources; e-reserves chapters; and streaming audio or video files in the library’s e-collections.  

Another service is a page that instructors can copy into their assignments to link students to the “Contact a Librarian” service. Similarly, the Blackboard library site has instructions to assist faculty in linking from assignments to the Library Information Literacy modules. Yet another service is a segment of copyright resources, both FAQs developed by the campus and links to other resources. 

Finally, to demonstrate to the faculty how to use these library services, the library developed a sample course page with links to various types of resources from the “Contact a Librarian” service to the Information Literacy modules. 

Having a useful service is never enough; marketing the service is essential. Dygert recommended targeting specific faculty to help integrate resources into their courses, for example,  through Content Clinics, sending messages to adjunct faculty and graduate assistants through their email lists, partnering with the group that administers CMS to provide workshops, sending out postcards, working with library liaisons to promote the service and partnering with distance learning programs on campus.     

Those interested in learning more about how American University Library integrated services into Blackboard are invited to visit the AUL site at: http://blackboard.american.edu (username: libguest; password: libguest).


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