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Nicole Webber

Liaison Librarian to Business and Communications; Assistant Professor of University Libraries at the University of Northern Colorado


Growing Library Presence and Information Literacy Beyond the One-Shot:
The NINJA Project

Library Instruction West 2018
Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, CO
July 18 - 20, 2018


Nicole Webber
Assistant Professor & Liaison Librarian
Lin Allen
Lin Allen, Ph. D.
Professor of Communication Studies


Click the thumbnail image of our poster to see it in full-size PDF:
Webber Allen LIW 2018 Poster Thumbnail


From Prof. Webber:

Q: In what way did the ninja theme shape the collaboration from a librarian’s perspective?
A: When Dr. Allen suggested a ninja theme for her course, it led to an opportunity for me to break out of my usual information literacy instruction boxes and to think more critically about how the research process would be unique for students studying debate. I did not want to force another acronym upon students carelessly, but the pieces for a NINJA acronym came together quite smoothly and it seemed promising that it could enhance student understanding of the material and research process (the idea that it could also inform the collaborative process came as later bonus). The initial suggestion, however, helped me to adjust my initial assumptions and questions (Investigate) in order to more effectively address the needs of Dr. Allen’s students and her goals for the course.

Q: What one thing would you keep in the current mode of collaboration?
A: I would certainly retain many aspects of our current collaboration. The aspect I appreciate most is each of our abilities to suggest and try new, creative ideas while justifying how they will add to each student’s experience. Dr. Allen incites me, and others, to think in new and different ways.

Q: What one thing would you change in the current mode of collaboration?
A: From our first semester working with this particular project, I would like to improve my ability to appraise and adjust as activities were unfolding. We were able to make some changes during the course of the semester, but I think I could have done more, so I look forward to the project’s next iteration.

From Dr. Allen:

Q: What did you like best about collaborating so closely with a librarian?
A: Debate is research. This competitive activity requires taking on issues with an exploratory mindset, letting the evidence guide the development of contentions to be advanced and refuted. I can think of no one more qualified to help guide students through research than our Communication Studies subject librarian, Nicole Webber. Working with an expert in research who was proficient in guiding students in finding compelling research resources from which to develop and refine their arguments for topics was very gratifying. Having Nicole in the classroom audience for our debate tournaments allowed us both to see our collaboration in production.

Q: What did you find most challenging or surprising about the collaboration?
A: The element most surprising to me was how the course selected for our collaboration, Argumentation and Debate, quickly became my favorite class to teach. I was also (pleasantly) surprised by how swiftly students were able to grasp and apply the Samurai metaphor to their investigative process.

Q: Why did you choose a NINJA theme?
A: A Star(bucks) Idea is Born: Starbucks morning coffee, i-pad, pop-up ad for Nutri-Ninja, circa summer 2017...  
This serendipitous promo inspired the idea of “blending” imagination and logic in a way that would issue in a new way to brief controversial issues that are debate’s insignia. By introducing a characterological component as the organizing principle for the debate process, the NINJA theme serves as a polestar from navigation to adjudication. Students were encouraged to become “NINJA Debaters”—as debate requires refined skills and a somewhat cunning nature.

References & Further Reading

Gray, B. (1989). Collaborating: Finding common ground for multiparty problems. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.

McNamara, M. W. (2016). Collaborative management and leadership: A skill set for the entrepreneur. In J. C. Morris & K. Miller-Stevens (Eds.), Advancing collaboration theory: Models, typologies, and evidence (pp. 116-132). New York, NY: Routledge.

Raspa, R., & Ward, D. (2000). The collaborative imperative: Librarians and faculty working together in the information universe. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.

Reale, M. (2018). Collaboration with Faculty. In The indispensable academic librarian: Teaching and collaborating for change (pp. 47-59). Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.

Stoltz, D. (2016). Inspired collaboration: Ideas for discovering and applying your potential. Chicago: IL: ALA Editions.

Williams, C. M., Merriman, C., & Morris, J. C. (2016). A life-cycle model of collaboration. In J. C. Morris & K. Miller-Stevens (Eds.), Advancing collaboration theory: Models, typologies, and evidence (pp. 116-132). New York, NY: Routledge.

Supplementary Materials

Comm 211 NINJA Handout Thumnail

See the handout we used for the course Comm 211: Argumentation & Debate, which details the steps for becoming a "NINJA Debater" and a "NINJA Researcher".

Inspired Collaboration - Stoltz Thumnail

Inspired Collaboration, while geared toward public librarianship, has worksheets in Appendix A and Appendix D that can help you organize your collaborative activities.