November 21, 2017

Carolyn Brodie and Greg Byerly | Movers & Shakers 2003

Kidding Around

2003_Carolyn_Brodie_Greg_Byerly

How deep is the collaboration between Kent State University (KSU) professors Carolyn Brodie and Greg Byerly? Just take a look at their résumés. Brodie’s is studded with grants worth in aggregate hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the end of each one is the notation, “with Greg Byerly.” Similarly, Byerly’s résumé includes a section on literacy workshops conducted with Brodie that have attracted upwards of 4000 participants. Together they write a column on instructional web sites for School Library Media Activities Monthly.

Brodie offers several reasons for their successful partnership – a strong work ethic, institutional support, similar professional objectives – before getting to the heart of the matter: “We just like working together.” This much is clear even from a brief conference call: it’s been ten years since they first teamed up to win a $63,000 grant to run an institute on information technology, and the two speak with the practiced rhythms of a vaudeville duo. The Brodie & Byerly show’s latest hit is the Children’s Resource Center at KSU, constructed with a $240,000 grant from Cleveland’s Reinberger Foundation.

The Children’s Resource Center replicates a children’s library – minus the actual children – for training librarians specializing in youth and student populations. The 1800 square foot, loft-style space will house the children’s book collection of Kent State’s SLIS and provide classrooms and videoconferencing resources. The center will be wired to broadcast interactive video courses to satellite locations around Ohio. Brodie says they plan for the center to function as a “model children’s library.” Already vendors are vying to use the space to showcase the newest, most advanced equipment and materials. “There’s nothing else out there like this,” she says.

Although the technology is cutting edge, according to Byerly, he’s filling an old-fashioned need. “I think anyone will tell you that fewer and fewer schools of library and information science are emphasizing children’s and young adult librarianship,” says Byerly. “We want to meet the need in that area.”

Improving the quality of instruction at Kent State is a long-term project for both professors. Their working relationship began in 1993, when Brodie showed Byerly one of her first grant proposals. “I think she just wanted me to look at it,” remembers Byerly. “But we started brainstorming,” and he became part of the project that eventually morphed into their first federally funded institute, which brought together 50 school library media specialists, 50 teachers, and 50 school superintendents.

Brodie and Byerly bring very different sets of experiences. Brodie is trained as a children’s librarian and specialized in children’s literature. By contrast, Byerly served for ten years as head of systems at KSU. As a consultant, he helped established INFOhio. He has been a high school librarian and believes a strong technology background is essential to working with kids.

Together they teach advanced information and literacy skills to librarians and teachers. A 1999 workshop covering “Social Studies, Electronic Information and Information Literacy Skills” attracted over 750 attendees. Similar workshops covering science and literature have drawn hundreds more. This spring marks the sixth year the pair will load up a car and hit the road to conduct workshops for Ohio librarians.

“It’s unusual – two people working together for this long on this many projects,” says Brodie, “but we know what we do and we just do it.” “It’s certainly worked for us,” adds Byerly. “It also works for the school.” “It works for the students,” says Brodie, before letting Byerly get the last word.

 


Vitals

Greg Byerly

Current Position: Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Kent State University, OH

Degrees: Ph.D., Higher Education Administration, Kent State University, 1979; MLS, Kent State University, 1975

Carolyn Brodie

Current Position: Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Kent State University, OH

Degrees: Ph.D., Library Science, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, 1988; MLS, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, 1982

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