Teaching

Philosophy

The concept of practicality guides both my library instruction and my teaching of English. I believe in teaching students skills that they can apply across disciplines and across semesters. I believe in building solid research, study, and writing skills using engaging projects and activities.

Library Instruction

I perform library instruction for courses in art, architecture, music, and urban planning on the Auraria Campus. I also help train and mentor the library’s graduate assistants as they learn to perform library instruction.

English and First-Year Seminar Courses

First-Year Seminar: College Success 

During the 2015-16 academic year, I served as a member of CU Denver’s High-Impact Practices First-Year Subcommittee to help develop new sections of the first-year seminar that focus entirely on skills for college success. I taught sections of College Success (UNIV 1110) as part of the Summer Bridge program in Summer 2016, and again as part of the Undergraduate Experiences office’s offerings in Fall 2016. My students impressed me with their strength and inquisitiveness.

Postcolonial Literature

During Fall 2012, I taught a postcolonial literature course through CU Denver’s First-Year Experience program. The course was titled “Continental Divides: Literature from Five Continents” (ENGL 1111). I will teach it again in Fall 2014, retitled “Love, Blood, and Glory: Literature from a Changing World.”

The course description reads:

“The academic content portion of the course is an introduction to literary studies. Readings will focus on fiction, essays, and poetry frompost-colonial cultures – those that have gained their independence since the mid-20th century. The pieces we read in class will reflect evolving cultures on five continents, and the lives of the individuals who have struggled and thrived among them. They also represent some of the highest quality, most engaging literature and commentary written in the past 60+ years.”

English Composition

While completing my MA in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I taught two levels of English Composition: English 11 and English 12 (now retitled English 101 and English 102). Both courses placed emphasis on the process of writing and revision.

Research

Major Themes in My Research

My ongoing research focuses on three major themes:

  • LIS education, both for MLS students and for librarians
  • Librarians’ roles as teachers in the university community
  • Instruction practices for specific undergraduate and graduate populations

These themes appear in various combinations throughout my work. At present, I am finishing up a research project that touches on the first and second theme and also includes new territory. Along with my friend and colleague Pete Ramsey of Baylor University, I am exploring the work of academic librarians who teach semester-long courses in various departments across campus. Pete and I conducted a data-driven study that looks into the prevalence of such arrangements, academic qualifications, and many other related topics. He and I both teach credit-bearing courses. We aim to support colleagues who wish to do so at their institutions.

Guiding New Researchers and Writers

One mission that has evolved naturally is guiding new researchers through their first research projects or publications. Since 2011, I have often collaborated with new librarians on their first research projects, national-level presentations, articles, or book chapters.

I am deeply thankful to the colleagues at CU Denver and elsewhere who guided me through my first efforts at scholarship. Working with other new librarians is a way of sharing that gift. I also believe that all librarians have insights that are worth researching and sharing.

Presentations

My Presentations and Poster Sessions (Selected)

Refereed

(Forthcoming) Poster presentation, “Enacting the Library as Transformational Space.” ALISE 2018 conference, Denver, Colorado, USA. February 2018. (With Zachary Newell.)

(Forthcoming) Workshop, “Building a Practice of Social Justice: In Our Libraries, Our Communities, and Ourselves.” BOBCATSSS 2018 conference, Riga, Latvia. 25 January 2018. (With Zachary Newell.)

Workshop, Academic Libraries as Centers of Equity on Campus. BOBCATSSS 2017 conference. Tampere, Finland. January 2017. (With Zachary Newell.)

Presentation, The Impact of Creativity on Information Literacy Instruction. BOBCATSSS 2017 conference. Presentation. Tampere, Finland. 26 January 2017. (With Zachary Newell.)

Poster session, Engaging with the ACRL Information Literacy Framework Conference, 10 March 2016, Albany, NY: “The Professor-Librarian: Exploring Arrangements Under Which Librarians Teach Credit Courses.” (With Pete Ramsey and Galin Jones.)

Poster session, American Library Association Annual Conference, 24 June 2012, Anaheim, CA: “Thinking Critically about Classroom Technologies using the TPCK Framework.” (With Margaret G. Grotti.)

Poster session, American Library Association Annual Conference, 23 June 2012, Anaheim, CA: “Measuring Anonymity in Academic Virtual Reference.” (With Kristin Grabarek Roper.)

Presentation, Library Orientation Exchange (LOEX) Annual Conference, 7 May 2011, Fort Worth, TX: “Teaching with WorldCat Local: What’s Different?” (With Margaret G. Grotti.)

Presentation, Computers in Libraries, April 2010, Washington, DC: “Gen X Librarians: Leading from the Middle.” (With Nina McHale and Lisa Carlucci Thomas.)

Presentation, American Library Association New Members’ Round Table, 11 July 2009, Chicago, IL: “Starting Out? Start With You: What Every New Librarian Needs to Know.” (With Lisa Carlucci Thomas.)

Presentation, Reference Renaissance, 5 August 2008: “Apples & Oranges: A Comparison of Proprietary Chat Reference Software Versus Free Instant Messenger Services.” (With Nina McHale and Lorrie Evans.)

Poster session, American Library Association Annual Conference, 28 June 2008: “Working Smarter, Not Harder: Teaching Students and Staff with Screencasting.”

Poster session, Colorado Academic Library Consortium, 23 May 2008: “Why Do Freshmen Visit the Reference Desk?”

Presentation, Fourth Annual Conference on Colonialism, 3 June 2004, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland: “Golden Age Mythology and Women in Yeats and Tagore’s Nationalistic Writing.” Included in session titled “India and the Irish Literary Revival.”

Invited

Online Presentation, Educating Librarians in the Middle East (ELIME), 5 March 2013: “Free Online Technologies for Teaching and Learning.” (With Joan Petit.)
Total attendance for two sessions: approximately 105.

Presentation, University of Colorado Denver Master of Science in Recording Arts program, 16 November 2011, Denver, Colorado: “Preparing for Scholarly Publication.” Presentation given to Lorrie Evans and Linda D. Tietjen’s graduate course titled Introduction to Graduate Studies.

Presentation, Indiana University School of Library and Information Science, 28 February 2011, Bloomington, Indiana: “Assessment of Library Instruction.” Presentation given to Dr. Cassidy Sugimoto’s graduate course titled Evaluation of Resources and Services.

Panel Discussion, Reference Renaissance, 8-10 August 2010, Denver, CO: “Virtual Reference: Variations on a Theme in Academic Libraries.” Panel of four librarians from across the United States.

Online Presentation, American Library Association Virtual Conference, 7 July 2010: “Starting Out? Start With You: What Every New Librarian Needs to Know.” Reprise of our presentation from the American Library Association’s Annual Conference. (With Lisa Carlucci Thomas.)
Attendance: 185.

Presentation, American Library Association Annual Conference, 26 June 2010, Washington, DC: “Starting Out? Start With You: What Every New Librarian Needs to Know.” (With Lisa Carlucci Thomas.)
Attendance: 230.

Panel Discussion, American Library Association, 24 January 2009, Denver, CO:
RUSA Hot Topics in Frontline Reference Services: “Beyond Meebo: New Alternatives in Instant and Text Messaging Reference Services.”
Panel of Denver librarians.

Campus-Wide

Panel session. “Turning the First Year Experience into an Informed Learning Journey.” With Hilary Hughes, Carole Basile, John Lanning, et al. Part of the Auraria Library’s Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program. 26 April 2011.

Poster session. Evans, Lorrie, Ignacio J. Ferrer-Vinent, Karen Sobel, Diane Turner, William Tietjen, and Christy Carello. “Your Teaching Library: Partners in Mapping Source Literacy into the Metro Curriculum.” Metro Spring Forum. Auraria Campus, 1 April 2011.

Connections Faculty Seminar Series: “WorldCat Local.” Auraria Library, 30 October 2009. With Lorrie Evans.
Connections Faculty Seminar Series, 28 August 2009, WorldCat Local. Co-taught with Lorrie Evans.
Denver Transfer Initiative: “Where is Your Future Without the Library?” Auraria Campus, 15 May 2009. With Lorrie Evans, Orlando Archibeque, Diane Turner, and Linda Tietjen.

Connections Faculty Seminar Series: “Resources in Literature.” Auraria Library, 24 April 2009. With Nikki McCaslin.

Connections Faculty Seminar Series: “What to do when your students say, ‘There’s nothing on my topic!’” Auraria Library, 20 March 2009. With Lorrie Evans.

My Books

Mastering Subject Specialties: Practical Advice from the Field

mastering

During my research sabbatical in summer and fall 2015, I guided a team of sixteen academic librarians to write a volume titled Mastering Subject Specialties: Practical Advice from the Field. In each chapter, an experienced academic or research librarian presents perspectives on how to succeed in his or her specialty area. Mastering Subject Specialties: Practical Advice from the Field primarily speaks to MLIS students, as well as new librarians preparing for their careers. The book can also assist seasoned librarians who are interested in new paths within librarianship.

See Mastering Subject Specialties on Amazon or at ABC-CLIO.

Information Basics for College Students (ABC-CLIO, 2012)

Nominee for the 2013 Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award

During my first few years as a research and instruction librarian, as well as during my time as a graduate assistant at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Undergraduate Library, several librarians who teach others to perform library instruction made the same comment to me. They said that they wished there were a book that provided a variety of information that new instructors need to know. Many of these librarians spent quite a lot of time searching out materials that would help guide new library instructors. Some of it came from scholarly or professional publications, some came from a range of library and information science textbooks, and the practical parts often had to be written by hand.

In 2010, ABC-CLIO offered me the chance to write a book that presented all this information in a single volume. Information Basics for College Students aims to help both MLS students and others who are new to librarianship as well as experienced librarians who are learning to provide library instruction for the first time.

Major sections of the book include:

  • What first-year students really know
  • Assessing needs and learning
  • Planning your instruction
  • Special student populations
  • The library and the campus community
  • Continuing to build your instruction skills

Colleagues on three continents commented on draft after draft and helped make sure that it covered real librarians’ needs. We feel that the final result can be used as part of MLS coursework, as part of internships in library instruction, and also as a source of reference on the job.

Check it out on Amazon or at ABC-CLIO.

 

Honors


excellence_librarianshipUniversity of
Colorado Denver

  • Excellence in Research/Creative Activities Award (library level; candidate for university level), 2017
  • Excellence in Service Award (library level), 2013
  • Excellence in Research/Creative Activities Award (library level), 2012
  • Excellence in Librarianship Award (university level), 2011
  • Excellence in Service Award (library level), 2010

Journal of Academic Librarianship

In 2009, the Journal of Academic Librarianship, one of the premier publications in library and information science, honored two of my articles in its “JAL Guide to the Professional Literature,” by Laura Reiner and Leslie Stebbins. The Guide appears in volume 35, issue 6 (200), on pages 609-619. The articles cited are:

Brown-Sica, Margaret, Karen Sobel, and Denise Pan. “Learning for All: Teaching Students, Faculty and Staff with Screencasting,” Public Services Quarterly 5.2(April-June 2009), 81-97.

Sobel, Karen. “Promoting Library Reference Services to First-Year Undergraduate Students: What Works?” Reference and User Services Quarterly 48.4(Summer 2009), 362-371.

Association of College and Research Libraries

My book, Information Basics for College Students, was nominated for the 2013 Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year award. Although it did not win, I greatly appreciate all the support I received from librarians worldwide.

Articles/Chapters

Refereed Articles (National and International)

(Accepted for publication) Sobel, Karen. (2018). “First-Year Seminar Faculty: Recruitment, Supports, Motivators, and Challenges.” Teaching & Learning Inquiry. Accepted for publication 3 October 2017.

(In press) Sobel, Karen, T. Peter Ramsey, and Galin Jones. (2018). “The Professor-Librarian: Academic Librarians Teaching Credit-Bearing Courses.” Public Services Quarterly.

Sobel, Karen. (2017). “Root Cause Analysis: Parsing Complex Challenges in Academic Libraries.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 43(4): 312-318. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2017.05.003

Newell, Zachary and Karen Sobel. (2017). “The Impact of Creativity on Information Literacy Instruction.” Conference Proceedings of the BOBCATSSS 2017 conference, Tampere, Finland. 2017: 126-130. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-03-0524-6

Sobel, Karen, Susan Avery, and Ignacio J. Ferrer-Vinent. (2016). “Teaching Them to Teach: Programmatic Evaluation of Graduate Assistants’ Teaching Performance.” Public Services Quarterly 12.3: 189-231.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15228959.2016.1168724

Sobel, Karen and Josiah Drewry. (2015). “Succession Planning for Library Instruction.” Public Services Quarterly 11.2: 95-113.

Pretlow, Cassi and Karen Sobel. (2015). “Service Blueprinting for Public Services in Academic Libraries.” Public Services Quarterly. 11.1: 1-12.

Sobel, Karen and Margaret G. Grotti. (2013). “Using the TPACK Framework in the Academic Library Instruction Classroom.” Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 25.4: 255-262.

Roper, Kristin Grabarek and Karen Sobel. (2012). “Anonymity versus Perceived Patron Identity in Virtual Reference Transcripts.” Public Services Quarterly, 8.4: 297-315.

Sobel, Karen and Dr. Cassidy R. Sugimoto. (2012). “Assessment of Learning during Library Instruction: Practices, Prevalence, and Preparation.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 38.4: 191-204.

Grotti, Margaret G. and Karen Sobel. (2012). “WorldCat Local and Information Literacy Instruction: An Exploration of Emerging Teaching Practice.”Public Services Quarterly. 8.1: 12-25.

Sobel, Karen and Jeffrey Beall. (2011). “Humanities Research, Book Digitization, and the Problem of Linguistic Change.”  Journal of Library Innovation2.2: 3-15.

Ferrer-Vinent, Ignacio J. and Karen Sobel. (2011).  “A Study of Master of Library Science Candidates and Librarians at a Practicum Site Library.” New Library World 112.7/8: 365-376.

Sobel, Karen and Kenneth Wolf. (2011).  “Updating Your Toolbelt: Redesigning Assessments of Learning in the Library.”  Reference and User Services Quarterly, 50.3: 245-258.

Brown-Sica, Margaret, Karen Sobel, and Erika Rogers. (2010).  “Participatory Action Research in Learning Commons Design,” New Library World 111.7/8: 302-319.

Brown-Sica, Margaret, Karen Sobel, and Denise Pan. (2009). “Learning for All: Teaching Students, Faculty and Staff with Screencasting,” Public Services Quarterly 5.2: 81-97.

Sobel, Karen. (2009).  “Promoting Library Reference Services to First-Year Undergraduate Students: What Works?”  Reference and User Services Quarterly 48.4: 362-371.

 

Refereed Articles (State-Level)

Sobel, Karen.  “Evaluating and Enhancing the Latino Literature Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.”  North Carolina Libraries 67:1/2 (Spring/Summer 2009), 22-23.

 

Book Chapters and Conference Proceedings

(Accepted for publication) Newell, Zachary and Karen Sobel. “Building a Practice of Social Justice: In Our Libraries, Our Communities, and Ourselves.” Conference Proceedings of the BOBCATSSS 2018 conference, Riga, Latvia.

(Accepted for publication) Sobel, Karen. “Making Yourself Marketable for Academic Library Positions.” In The Future Academic Librarian’s Toolkit, edited by Megan Hodge. Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries.

Newell, Zachary and Karen Sobel. “The Impact of Creativity on Information Literacy Instruction.” Conference Proceedings of the BOBCATSSS 2017 conference, Tampere, Finland. 2017: 126-130. PURL: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-03-0524-6

(In press.) Sobel, Karen. “Kinda Helpful, Kinda Confusing”: Coding Affective Information in Free Responses with the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. In Learning Theory for Librarians, Ed. Jenny Dale and Lauren Pressley. (2016).

Sobel, Karen. “Information Literacy.” Chapter in the University of Colorado Denver’s online First-Year Seminar textbook (2013).

Grotti, Margaret G. and Karen Sobel. “Teaching with WorldCat Local: What’s Different?” In B. Sietz (Ed.), Proceedings of the 39th National LOEX Conference (Library Orientation Series No. 44). Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian Press, 2011. Avery, Beth, Elizabeth Brodak, Julie Fronmueller, Nancy Huling, Paul M. Mascareñas, Erin McCaffrey, Sylvia Owens, and Karen Sobel. “Virtual Reference: Variations on a Theme in Academic Librares.” In Leading the Reference Renaissance: Today’s Ideas for Tomorrow’s Cutting-Edge Services, ed. Marie Radford.New York: Neal-Schuman, 2011: 181-194.

Grotti, Margaret G. and Karen Sobel. “Teaching with WorldCat Local: What’s Different?” Library Orientation Series No. 44. Ann Arbor, MI: Published for the University Library, Eastern Michigan University by Pierian Press, 2011.

Thomas, Lisa Carlucci and Karen Sobel. “Stuck in the Middle with You,” The Generation X Librarian: Essays on Leadership, Technology, Pop Culture, Social Responsibility and Professional Identity, ed. Martin K. Wallace, Rebecca Tolley-Stokes, and Erik Sean Estep. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2010: 49-57.

Evans, Lorrie, Nina McHale, and Karen Sobel.  “Apples and Oranges: Creating A Hybrid Virtual Reference Service with Proprietary Chat Reference Software and Free Instant Messaging Services.” In Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends.  Ed. Marie L. Radford and L. David Lankes.  New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2010: 163-173.