Library Faculty Publications

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Book Chapter

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Library Service and Learning: Empowering Students, Inspiring Social Responsibility, and Enhancing Community Connections

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In this unique project, college students in a first-year Three-Dimensional Concepts art course are partnered with a local youth writing project to create short films based on participants’ writings. This experience was born out of a campus Service-Learning Institute (SLI) to train faculty on best practices. The mutual goals included giving voice to area youth and connecting college students to the community. All participants explored and reflected on the importance of community engagement and citizenship by acknowledging their similarities and differences through creative lenses.

Participants from both groups generated ideas through shared journal exercises that the youth writers then used as inspiration for their written works. Art students at the University of Northern Iowa created short, stop-motion films based on the writers’ works using Rod Library’s Digital Media Hub. A faculty-coordinated hip-hop literacy group made up of area youth created the soundtrack for one film, providing another level of campus-community collaboration.

The goal of the information literacy portion of the service-learning project was to ground the university students in facts and data about the community, public arts, citizenship, and the community partner. By confronting stereotypes or lack of information with evidence and empathy, the authors hoped students would have a clearer sense of who their community partners were and the value of collaborating to create works of art.

This chapter will describe the project, its inception, and its exploration of social engagement as fine arts practice, learning objectives, lessons learned, and supplemental sources, including final projects. Student, youth participant, instructor, and librarian reflections will be highlighted, with emphasis on the areas of motivation, engagement, and learning outcomes, both formal and informal.


Rod Library


First published by ACRL as Chapter 7, pages 115-143.

Gruber, A.M., Pratesi, A., & Waseskuk, A. (2018) Moving words: Building community through service learning in the arts. In McDevitt, T. & Finegan, C. (Eds.). Library service and learning: Empowering students, inspiring social responsibility, and enhancing community connections. Chicago: Association of College & Research Libraries.

ISBN: 978-0-8389-4609-1

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UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa


©2018 Anne Marie Gruber, Angela Pratesi, and Angela Waseskuk

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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