May 21, 2022

New Report From CLIR Published Today: “A Splendid Torch: Learning and Teaching in Today’s Academic Libraries”

The following report was published online by the Council on Library and Information Resource (CLIR) today.

A Splendid Torch: Learning and Teaching in Today’s Academic Libraries  features essays written by current and former CLIR postdoctoral fellows that cover the evolution of the learning commons, information literacy instruction, digital humanities teaching in libraries, spatial literacy, collaboration in digital special collections, and 3-D printing and pedagogy.

“In crafting these chapters, the authors and editors used the collaborative writing framework to build consensus, test that consensus, and find examples of teaching and learning within academic libraries that best illustrate current practice,” write editors Jodi Reeves Eyre, John C. Maclachlan, and Christa Williford in their introduction.

2017-09-13_11-32-20Starting with “Handing on the Splendid Torch,” which considers three examples of how academic communities are adapting libraries as learning spaces, the volume focuses on how libraries and librarianship affect student learning while undergoing rapid change. “Creating Contact Zones in a ‘Post-Truth’ Era” reconsiders the challenge of designing programs that help students gain skills in information seeking and critical thinking in a way that is fully integrated with course curricula. “Exploring How and Why Digital Humanities Is Taught in Libraries” looks at several examples of library-based digital humanities research and research support initiatives, noting the affinities and tensions with the broader purposes of academic libraries. “Current Use and Prospective Future of the University Map Library” brings together multiple disciplinary viewpoints about the value of exposing students to maps and GIS data through academic libraries. “New Opportunities for Collaboration in the Age of Digital Special Collections” considers the potential for students and faculty to engage more deeply with special collections and archives through digital libraries. The authors of the final chapter, “Shiny Things,” provide an overview of recent developments in 3D printing, examining the potential to integrate library-based “makerspaces” with curricula. Each chapter uses a combination of contemporary narratives and case studies to ground discussions in experience.

“The essays in this remarkable collection describe and exemplify some of the most important and vital contemporary reformations of our traditional concept of higher education,” writes CLIR President Charles Henry in the report’s foreword. He adds that they speak to the benefits “of unwinding and redefining inherited social hierarchies, disciplinary boundaries, methods of knowledge organization, and the procedures of discovery in academia.”

In an afterword to the volume, Lauren Coats and Elliott Shore, longtime leaders of the fellowship program’s education activities, write “We have been moving rapidly toward a post-secondary landscape in which the scenes of teaching and learning are reoriented, with the library returning as one pivot of this reorientation. The authors point toward a world in which teaching and learning take place throughout the institution.”

Direct to Full Text Report: A Splendid Torch: Learning and Teaching in Today’s Academic Libraries  (158 pages; PDF)

Note: This is the second volume by CLIR postdoctoral fellows that was written using a collaborative group process. The first volume, The Process of Discovery: The CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the Future of the Academy was published in September 2015. 

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.