When I first started attending AAPT meeting in January, 2002, I started talking about information literacy. I was pleased to realize that several faculty were very interested in my ideas.
BYU was working on curriculum for their “Writing in Physics” class. Steve Turley and later Jean-Francois van Huele agreed to speak on a panel for me before they even had curriculum in place. Jean-Francois was very enthusiastic when he spoke at the summer meeting 2006. He spoke again on my panel at the winter meeting 2008 and will be speaking on my panel again at the winter meeting 2010, which will be a joint meeting with the APS. In addition, Jean-Francois organized a session at the summer meeting 2008 in Edmonton on “Scientific Communication and Writing”. One of the speakers was Dan Budny from the University of Pittsburgh. His talk was “Writing: An active Learning tool in Physics and Engineering Education”. When I identified myself as a librarian, Dan spoke in glowing terms about how helpful librarians are. Actually, a team of librarians, English faculty, and writing faculty sold the idea for the course to the provost for him.
Another “early adopter” is Ernie Behringer at Eastern Michigan University. Ernie arranges a series of session called “Physics at Lunch” . Librarians are invited to speak at these sessions. In addition, Ernie has been organizing panel discussions that high light the importance of writing in physics. Summer 2008 meeting in Edmonton, “Capstone Experiences and Required Upper-Level Projects” included a talk by Prof. Gary Chottiner of Case Western Reserve University “Capstone Birth Pangs”. Gary was kind enough to share his ppt lecture notes with me. He covers everything that I would cover about the literature search. He also points out the wonderful resources available in the library and how foolish a student would be to ignore those resources. Also included in this session were Steve Turley and Jean-Francois of BYU “Highlights of BYU Undergraduate Capstone Experiences”.
I think I am beginning to see a pattern here. These early adopters are helping me carry the banner for information fluency and physics.
On the home front, I have established a tradition of an hour orientation session with new grad students at Cornell. We wait a few weeks into the semester and then the Physics Graduate Society invites them to a pizza dinner at which the librarian introduces the resources available at Cornell.
This year, my colleague Kirsten Hensley has conducted several brown bag lunch time sessions on a variety of topics. Although I will be retiring soon, I am confident that the tradition will continue. The president of PGS for this coming year worked in the library as an undergraduate and is sold on how helpful these sessions are.
Recently I have been spending time cleaning out my desk area. I gave boxes of “stuff” that I had picked up at conferences to the man who teaches in the Cornell Institute for Physics Teachers. Within an hour, Marty came back with an idea for a lesson. A DVD from AIP has a segment on solar energy. Marty planned to show the segment over breakfast, present a lab activity on solar energy, and then have the teachers attending go out and do the activity. This is the perfect example of what I try to accomplish with outreach. I try to make materials like this DVD readily available to teachers.
So---my message is just go out there and get involved. You never know where the path will lead!