Faculty/Librarian Partnership Profile: Stephen West and Kourtney Blackburn

After catching up on Winter break visits with family and some pointers on how to survive a variety of daycare-induced plagues, Stephen and Kourtney sat down to have a conversation about their collaborations over the last year, which have largely revolved around developing content and information literacy related to literary magazines within creative writing courses. To stay true to their preferred flavor of collaboration, they wrote together in Google Docs: Stephen typing furiously while sipping too much coffee in the Village Bakery while Kourtney tapped away at her desk in Lavery, listening to a “Happy Folk” Spotify playlist. [For an inside look at how Kourtney and Stephen work together in all of its meandering, inefficient-yet-generative glory, here is a link to the Gdoc they worked on together to create this post.]

Stephen and Kourtney

Kourtney: How did we even meet—I think we met virtually at first? You were requesting items you wanted for developing a class, and I reached out to suggest we buy some of the materials for our collection. We then met face-to-face in the English Major’s Seminar on grad school in the Spring.

SJW: Yes! That’s right–and I remember being very, very excited to meet someone at Fisher that was gung ho about purchasing texts related to creative writing… and working to purchase subscriptions to literary magazines! I knew you were an ally right away, and that I would be pestering you for help with relaunching The Angle, as that was a big project I had in mind at the time.

Kourtney: I remember being really excited about how gung ho YOU were, actually! We have some really cool and edgy literary magazines that are available to campus now, like Granta, Black Warrior Review, and DRAFT. I have really enjoyed working together in starting some subscriptions for the library and in your classes.

SJW: Yes, I think it is so wonderful that we have a growing collection of important literary magazines. I know I refer students to them all the time for assignments and inspiration! Another real challenge and rewarding experience that you helped SO MUCH with was when I developed a 7-week online flash fiction course in Spring 2016. I had never taught online before, so to translate a creative writing course with a workshop component into an online forum was tough. While Katie Sabourin helped me with the technicalities of course construction, you were so important to how I made information literacy a crucial part of the learning that course now offers students. I feel like it was a strong collaboration, not only in design, but in the actual teaching, with how integrated you were into that class. You were always chiming in the discussion threads and helping students to see how the knowledge practices connected with the work they were creating and how they were responding to one another within their critiques.

Kourtney: I so enjoyed that course, and I think it was extremely successful. I had never imagined a creative writing course moving online, but you made it a really natural fit! That was my first time being involved in a course where I wasn’t doing just a single session on library resources, but instead being present throughout the length of the course, like you said. It was a strong collaboration, and I think being integrated within the course was good because we learned so much about how the two of us can work together, but it was also valuable for the students—the more I was able to interact with them, the better I could tailor the help I gave each of them in their research and assignments.

SJW: I think it worked exceptionally well, and I wonder how campus-based courses might have faculty and library staff work as collaboratively. The nature of online teaching just allows more consistent “presence” by both faculty and librarian, whereas this is an obstacle in a traditional classroom.  

Kourtney: I think you’re right—it can be difficult in a face-to-face format, but working together throughout your face-to-face Editing and Publishing class last Fall was a good example of how it can be done! 🙂

SJW: Yes, I agree. A lot of that was on your willingness to adjust your schedule to come and sit in class with us. I remember how neat it was to have you there participating in class when the students discussed the aesthetic trends they observed after reading through the representative examples of The Angle across its many decades that Nancy Greco put together for my course. Beyond being game and present in those conversations, your contributions to the resuscitation and redesign of The Angle into ANGLES, Fisher’s new web-based literary magazine, have been and will continue to be vital!

Kourtney: I loved visiting the class! It helped me better get to know the students and how I could help them find and use materials like the lit mags we have in the library. Familiarizing myself with the course from the beginning helped me to expand the information literacy components already present in your course content: the “Authority is Constructed and Contextual” threshold concept relating to the creation of an Editor’s Manual and the “Scholarship as Conversation” threshold concept relating to the direction of ANGLES’ literary focus.  

SJW: Yes, you helped me understand how the students’ creation of the Editor’s Manual was related to information literacy. Our collaboration in designing that assignment helped students see how the work they were doing in creating both ANGLES and the manual that future student-editors will use was related to key knowledge practices. And as we move toward the eventual launch our first new issue, I see many ways that we will continue to collaborate, from updating the Editor’s Manual, to figuring out how to integrate ANGLES into Lavery’s archive in an effective way. If you’re willing, of course. 😀 

Kourtney: Of course, I can’t wait!

SJW: Thanks, Kourtney! We’ve done a ton, and I’m excited to see how these various projects continue to take shape. Off to get a coffee refill…

Kourtney: Me too! Enjoy your caffeine, and see you on the first day back!

 

Author: Kourtney Blackburn

STAFF @ 7/27/2010 11:59:32 AM

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