Top 5 Articles About Creating Learning Objects

By Kim Wobick and Carrie Girton

With the start of a new school year, many of us are or will soon be creating and updating learning objects for our students. Whether you’re working on tutorials, infographics, or modules, these articles have great tips to get you started and help you create captivating and helpful learning objects.

To read more articles about learning objects, take a look at the citation list the Research and Publications committee has compiled.

To view the entire bibliography we have compiled, visit the DLS Zotero library.
Please note: this list contains items that have been published since the last DLS Bibliography. Our post from May 10, 2017 provides more detail and explanation of the new format.

Ferrance, C., & West, P. J. (2017). Standardizing and managing online tutorials for improved learning. In ACRL 2017 Proceedings (pp. 656–661). Baltimore, MD: ACRL. Retrieved from

This paper outlines the challenges faced by the George Mason University libraries to assess and organize the varied collection of library-created tutorials that had been produced over time, with the goal of unifying the look and feel of the tutorials as well as making them easier to locate by all users. This project was assisted by the creation of an Instructional Design Librarian position, as well as the Learning Technologies Lab, which provides the software and hardware needed to create tutorials in one central place.

A working group was formed to formally evaluate existing tutorials, organize the storage of these objects, and design a template that would be utilized for all future products. Tutorial content is also mapped to both the ACRL information literacy framework as well as the Mason instructional learning outcomes, assisting in forward planning for tutorial creation. It took three years for the goal of a unified bank of tutorials to be achieved, working through challenges such as web site redesign, negotiations for server space and equipment, and bureaucracy. The end result produced a bank of 120 uniformly branded tutorials which were more easily accessed by users.


  • Partnerships within both the library and the institution are important. Having buy-in and assistance from librarians, faculty, as well as the IT department is critical to achieving project goals.
  • Maintenance of storage and backup processes and spaces ensure that tutorials don’t get lost in the shuffle and are easily retrieved by creators for editing and revision when needed.
  • As with any major project, the ability to be flexible and patient with every aspect of the work is critical.

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Call For Nominations: Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award!

Do you know or could you be the next recipient of the Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award? If so, the ACRL DLS Awards Committee wants to hear from you!

This prestigious award, sponsored by the Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, honors an ACRL member who has made valuable contributions to the field of distance librarianship. The winner receives:

  • $1,200 to attend the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA (June 21-26, 2018)
  • A commemorative plaque presented at an awards luncheon during ALA Annual.

The applicant should demonstrate achievement in one or more of the following areas:

  • Support for distance learning librarianship and library services, e.g., service to students and faculty, innovation, and/or leadership
  • Participation in the creation and/or implementation of distance library programs or services of exemplary quality
  • Successful collaboration with faculty in support of information literacy and/or other aspects of library instruction or services for distance students
  • Significant research, publication, and/or presentations in areas related to distance learning librarianship

Submissions are due by December 1, 2017. Self-nominations are welcome.

For more information about this award (including a list of previous winners) and the application form, please visit

Questions? Contact DLS Awards Committee Co-Chairs:
Rebecca Nowicki:
Cynthia Thomes:

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DLS Bibliography Top 5 Articles (2Q)

Betsy Williams and Andrea Hebert, DLS Bibliography Committee

Summer is here, and dreams of exotic destinations abound. Just in time for summer vacation, the DLS Research and Publications Committee offers you a sampling of articles focused on library services for those lucky students and faculty in far flung destinations.

Chan, K. P., Colvin, J. B., Vinyard, M., Leach, C., Naumann, M. A., & Stenis, P. (2015). Libraries across the sea: Using a virtual presence and skilled student assistants to serve students abroad. Journal of Library Administration, 55(4), 278–301.

The authors, all from Pepperdine University, describe their challenges and successes in supporting students studying at international campuses in Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Florence, Heidelberg, and Lausanne. Pepperdine’s international campuses each include a small library; however, the limited number of students (40-75 per semester) do not make it practical to staff the libraries with a full-time librarian. Instead, one study abroad student is hired at each campus to staff the library for five hours per week. The librarians developed a two-pronged approach to support their study abroad students: creating LibGuides specifically designed for the international programs and beefing up the training provided to the student workers.

The new LibGuides include only information that is relevant to the international programs and courses. Students can easily find cultural and academic information, and custom-built search boxes ensure students retrieve only what they can access, such as e-books. Partnering with Pepperdine’s International Programs office was key in creating accurate and tailored course guides.

The new training program for the student workers includes time devoted to customer service. Ongoing training and feedback from the student workers has helped them feel they are valued members of the library community and motivated them to exceed expectations. Continue reading

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Become the next DLS Leader. Get on the Ballot!

The Distance Learning Section (DLS) of ACRL is seeking:

  • Two candidates to run for Vice-Chair on the 2018 ballot, a three-year total commitment.
  • Two candidates to run for Secretary/Archivist Elect on the 2018 ballot, a two-year total commitment.
  • Two candidates to run for Member-at-Large on the 2018 ballot, a two-year total commitment.

See explanation of the responsibilities for each position.

This is a great opportunity to get more involved in DLS and make your mark as a leader in ACRL! (It also look really good on your resume or CV. Just sayin’)

All nominees must be current DLS members and have consented to their candidacy. Only two candidates may run for each office so if more than two candidates are nominated, the DLS Nominating Committee will select the two candidates to run on the Spring 2018 ballot. Elections will be conducted by ballot. All candidates will be notified of the election results via email by April 2018.

If you are interested in nominating yourself or someone else (with their permission, of course) please send a brief biography and statement of interest to the DLS Nominating Committee Chair, Stefanie Buck ( by August 1, 2017.

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User Studies and Distance Learners: Top 5 Articles to Read this Quarter

Carrie Bishop and Angie Thorpe, DLS Bibliography Committee

Several years ago, the ACRL Board of Directors approved a set of Standards for Distance Learning Library Services ( Among these was the specification that, “a comprehensive bibliography of recent literature on distance learning library services” be made available on the DLS website. This is a smart idea: In an emerging area of librarianship like distance services, wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a curated and annotated list of current literature from actual practitioners? The DLS bibliography earnestly responded to this call, and those who worked on the first through sixth editions must be recognized for their insights and contributions – their work surely filled in the picture for librarians with responsibilities in this area.

However, as every library that has shifted from “classic” to “new” resource formats knows (i.e. every library ever), the ways in which we consume and organize the scholarly record have changed. Thus, the 2016-2017 DLS Bibliography Committee felt it was also time to revisit the Bibliography of Library Services for Distance Learning. It’s a fact that librarians are pressed for time, so we appreciate others taking the time to steer us toward the literature that can help us improve in our jobs. In a growing area like distance librarianship, however, the literature was growing faster than the bibliography could keep pace with, and the Committee worried we were missing new ideas and developments that could help others TODAY. Thus, the Committee voted to transition from providing a comprehensive bibliography of distance librarianship literature to a quick-and-dirty top 5 on a specific distance-related topic. We know you have a lot to do, so we want to help you stay current in areas we think you’ll find interesting.

With that as background, this first post is about the top 5 articles we found relating to user studies as a basis for planning, delivering, and improving services to distance learners. As your distance services have grown in the past few years (probably because your institution has increased its hybrid or 100% online course offerings), the emphasis on assessment of everything has probably grown in tandem. User studies help libraries determine what’s going well and what can use improvement with any service. Carrie Bishop and Angie Thorpe of the DLS Bibliography Committee reviewed articles that specifically addressed user studies relating to distance services. We present to you our top 5 recommendations for further reading on this topic:

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