A Fantastic CLIR Workshop at Goucher College, aka Nancy Fried Foster is an Indefatigable Goddess

Am finally getting a bit caught up after having been at the Intermediate CLIR Workshop on Participatory Design in Academic Libraries last week, and wanted to fill you in on the workshop overall. Number one, our Goucher College hosts were superb: thanks to Nancy Magnuson, Goucher College Librarian, Liz DeCoster, User Services Librarian, and Kristen Welzenbach, Digital Systems and Services Librarian, for a most gracious welcome to their amazing library / Athenaeum.

Next, my thanks to Nancy Fried Foster and Alice Bishop for assembling and delivering a magnificent workshop. This time around we did: retrospective interviews with Goucher students (who are amazing, BTW) about recent research projects, multiple observations of library spaces (an incredibly cheap, aka FREE means of assessing use of spaces and facilities simply by noting patterns of use throughout the day), photo interviews (a relatively inexpensive means of getting the context behind students’ use of the library and research resources), planning activities (with detailed instructions for planning participatory design projects back at home base), and a lot of discussion throughout, about Asking the Right Questions, analyzing and interpreting data, and specific methods for how to go about all of this, from start to finish. Nancy packed an amazing amount of information and techniques into 2 days.

I can’t say enough good things about this experience and how much I learned from it. Thanks to CLIR for putting these workshops together. And some good news: it sounds like Nancy and Alice are working on doing a third workshop in the series ‚ if at all possible, I’m there!

More as it happens in assessment, affordably, substantially, and sensibly,

P.S. at the end of the workshop, I asked Nancy if she ever works with “personae“; she replied that she does not ‚ instead she picks out several students and faculty who are representative of that institution’s students and faculty, since there really is no average person, but several real people can be very representative. Since I trust Nancy wholeheartedly on this, and since (I admit) I’m in total agreement, this answer was especially good to hear. C.

P.P.S. Just got an e-mail from Nancy F., who, along with Alice Bishop, wanted to let me know that “behind the scenes, Randi Kennedy, Assistant to the College Librarian, did an enormous amount of work and was absolutely invaluable. [She] kept working to make sure everything was just right.” So my thanks to Randi at Goucher, too! C.

Cheryl LaGuardia About Cheryl LaGuardia

Cheryl LaGuardia always wanted to be a librarian, and has been one for more years than she's going to admit. She cracked open her first CPU to install a CD-ROM card in the mid-1980's, pioneered e-resource reviewing for Library Journal in the early 90's (picture calico bonnets and prairie schooners on the web...), won the Louis Shores / Oryx Press Award for Professional Reviewing, and has been working for truth, justice, and better electronic library resources ever since. Reach her at claguard@fas.harvard.edu, where she's a Research Librarian at Harvard University.


  1. Katie Clark says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Nancy! Working with her is always fantastic, every single time.