The Library and the CMS:

Establishing Library Presence in Sakai Writing Course Sites

In this account, we describe a pilot project that our team has been working on at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), since August 2006. Our campus has been piloting various open source course management systems (CMSs), including one called Sakai. For this project, we are developing model Sakai course sites for the Writing Program that employ different techniques for integrating library materials with writing assignments. This project addresses both global and local concerns. At the global level, open source programmers for Sakai have been focused until recently on the technical aspects of creating tools. Pedagogical issues, although important to the Sakai community, have taken a back seat. In particular, like most CMSs, Sakai initially downplayed the student and faculty services (other than courses) that make education possible, including library services. At the local level, the UCSB librarians have had a long history of collaboration with the Writing Program faculty. However, as research materials have become electronic, the roles that librarians play in providing access to and instruction on the materials have been rendered invisible. This project aims to create a substantial and relevant "library presence" in the CMS, one that goes beyond a token link to a library's homepage. Currently, we are testing several options for integrating access to library materials within the course sites, and here we detail our rationale and progress so far. We offer our account in media res--just as our campus is about to decide which CMS to adopt--with the hope that our experiences will spark discussion on other campuses about how to integrate educational resources in meaningful ways.

In this piece, we combine text and short Quicktime videos made with Camtasia Studio to replicate the look and feel of Sakai sites at UCSB. After the introduction, there are two sections: an overview of Sakai and then an account of our library integration project. If you are familiar with Sakai, we would still encourage you to view the first video, Overview, to see the system's configuration at UCSB. All materials can be accessed through the left-hand menu. We invite you to respond to this project on our Kairos PraxisWiki Entry.