Campus librarian recognized for innovation

Leslie Hurst

Leslie Hurst, head of teaching and learning at campus library / Marc Studer photo

By Douglas Esser
For University of Washington Distinguished Librarian Leslie Hurst, “fake news” is the latest skirmish in a battle librarians have been waging for years under the banner of information literacy.

As part of their jobs at the University of Washington Bothell Cascadia College Library, librarians routinely work with faculty to conduct information literacy workshops. They specifically teach new students how to use the library and generally how to conduct valid research. In the wider view, they teach how to recognize what is true and what is not.

For leading such collaborations, Hurst was selected to receive the 2018 University of Washington Distinguished Librarian Award. It’s the first time a UW Bothell librarian has won the tri-campus award, which was established in 2008. It recognizes excellence in librarianship, especially as it benefits the academic community through innovative approaches to practice, research, teaching and learning.

Hurst supervises 13 librarians who help faculty teach the research process. “Evaluating information is something we hit hard in a lot of classes,” she said.

Hurst wants students to question validity: Who’s the author? What are their credentials? How can you find out? Who’s the publisher? Where might the funding have come from? Does it bias or influence the findings? Hurst also urges students to guard against implicit bias that leaves them in a self-reinforcing information bubble.

“It boils down to thinking critically,” Hurst said. “Don’t just consume anything and everything. Pause a moment and think about where it might be coming from, how they might be trying to influence you, how their perspective might be biased in certain ways.”

Hurst credits Library Director Sarah Leadley for integrating librarians into the curriculum from the first days of UW Bothell. And, Hurst thanks Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Jeffords for supporting their work.

Hurst has been with the library nearly since the beginning. She started in 1999 when the library was a room in a business park building that UW Bothell temporarily occupied. She physically helped move some of the books to the library on campus. She also worked at the library while earning a UW master’s degree in library and information science.

Since 2004, Hurst has been head of teaching and learning at the library, where she supervises the librarian liaisons who help UW Bothell and Cascadia students develop critical thinking skills.

“The collaborative culture on campus, particularly between and among librarians and faculty, that’s what really allows us to do the in-depth instruction work we do for students,” Hurst said. “Our saturation into the curriculum is pretty unique for an institution of higher education.”

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