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Transforming the library's impact in the curriculum: receonceptualising the library's contribution to students' research skill development

Lyn Torres and Leanne McCann, Monash University

Wednesday 17 September 2014 – Concurrent session 10, 11:00am to 11:25am


Monash University Library (MUL) has developed an innovative teaching model between library and faculty to align curriculum and assessment design for the in-curricula development of students’ research skills.  MUL’s success is attributed to the adoption and implementation of the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework (Willison and O’Regan, 2006, 2012). The RSD underpins the teaching practice of librarians and learning skills advisers, co-located in the library and working collaboratively in dedicated faculty teams.

The RSD framework identifies disciplinary skills associated with the research process and scaffolds skill development incrementally in undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree by research.  Applying the RSD as a library-faculty collaborative model has demystified perceptions of professional and academic roles, strengthened and galvanised intra-professional partnerships and transcended traditional professional-academic silos.

MUL’ presents a reconceptualised collaborative model for developing the skills curriculum which is transforming, repositioning and maximising the library’s impact and value across the institution. Testimony to MUL’s successful initiative is the implementation of the RSD framework as a university-wide strategic priority in Monash University’s Education Strategy 2011-2015.


We identify our successful collaborative methods, key success factors and the obstacles we faced. Evidence presented describes the successes and challenges of our initiative by drawing key themes from qualitative interview data, as well as, workshop feedback collected over three years from participants across all Monash campuses various stages of the implementation. Descriptive statistics and timelines illustrate the dissemination process. 


MUL’s implementation of the RSD framework across the University is resulting in a renewed interest in the skills curriculum that is bringing pedagogical change. The outcome is a whole of university approach to improve learning outcomes for students, demonstrating the value of the library within the university’s educational agenda. Library-Faculty collaboration strengthened through engagement with the RSD has identified new applications for the RSD including the development of tools for mapping skills across coursework, informing skills audits and blended library learning modules. The result is a changing attitude to information literacy as a shared responsibility between library and faculty. Library teams have engaged with academics and students in all ten faculties at Monash affecting 25,000 students from 2012-13.  


The RSD framework has proved adaptable to multiple disciplinary contexts and to a diverse learning community at Monash, indicating that the approach could be replicated in other educational contexts. The common language afforded by the RSD has enabled innovative library-faculty partnerships that are transforming the Library’s teaching practice, and establishing a stronger nexus between areas and roles that have traditionally been perceived as quite distinct in higher education.


The paper will benefit libraries seeking to communicate their educational value within their institutions through transformative approaches to information literacy. We evidence that libraries are significant contributors to the educational goals of the institution and have the ability to initiate and drive university-wide strategies that are both pedagogically distinctive and innovative. University-wide adoption of a library initiated educational intervention is rare in higher education.

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