Library and Information Science


Eleanor Crumblehulme recently said, “Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague.” While a number of university libraries have received drastic budget cuts during the current recession, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) has chosen to invest in their library, keeping its services and materials up-to-date and relevant for student learning. Despite receiving the lowest appropriation per student among Michigan state universities, GVSU has embraced new practices in teaching public administration and other disciplines while balancing the need to serve more students with a reduced budget.

The greatest challenge amidst these changes is to continue providing students a quality education while ensuring access to the necessary resources. One of the most important resources is the library. The School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration (SPNHA) at GVSU has a designated liaison librarian to order books, teach students information literacy, and connect students and faculty with needed information. The librarian’s role in teaching and assisting students becomes more difficult as students transition away from the traditional classroom and enroll in hybrid or online courses. The increase in hybrid and online courses is one strategy for maximizing resources and minimizing costs in this age of austerity. Students enrolled in online classes find less time to visit the library in person and cannot always receive library instruction in the classroom. Additionally, many students in the SPNHA Masters programs are part-time students who are working full-time. They are seldom on campus and therefore GVSU has begun to offer alternative library services for online and distance students. These services include video tutorials, online library subject guides, a rapidly growing collection of eBooks, and email and phone reference consultations. Other student services are also expanding to include online offerings for distance students and to cater to the new education environment that is more heavily based upon remote learning.

This paper explores best practices in the provision of library services across course formats and across various colleges and universities. Recommendations are made for new practices for connecting students in hybrid and online courses with library resources such as library instruction and reference consultations. Recommendations are based upon a review of the literature, the services offered to hybrid courses over the past two years at GVSU, and recent practice at GVSU. Observations will include comparison of a Winter 2014 semester pilot of new library instruction for one online and one hybrid public administration (PA) class to an in-person PA course. Student pre- and post-tests as well as professor evaluations will be utilized to evaluate student learning outcomes from different instruction formats. These experiences will be used to inform the literature and provide recommendations on ways to increase student use of library resources in an age of austerity.


Presentation was presented at the 2014 Teaching Public Administration Conference. Liverpool, UK.