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:

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

DLS Instruction Committee Free Spring Webinar

Join the DLS Instruction Committee for our FREE Spring Webinar:

Collaborative Instructional Design: Leveraging Resources to Build Online Learning Experiences

Student interest and participation in online courses and learning experiences are growing, but library budgets and resources are typically not. Collaborative instructional design is one way to leverage existing staff and technology to create library learning experiences for patrons in online spaces.

Joelle Pitts, Instructional Design Librarian for Kansas State University, will discuss the case for collaborative design and guidelines for successful implementation based on her work leading an inter-institutional library instruction consortium. Particular focus will be given to the design and development phases, including the use of the rapid prototyping model, and the logistics of team testing and assessment. Critical questions, transferrable tips, and common challenges will be shared.

Date:  May 19th

Time: 9am PDT, 10 am MDT, 11am CDT, 12pm EDT

Register here:

This webinar will recorded and shared. Questions? Email Natalie Bennett or Anjali Bhasin, DLS Instruction Committee co-chairs

Click here to learn more about Joelle Pitts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Deadline Approaching!

The deadline for submitting Paper Presentation proposals for the next Distance Library Services Conference is April 23!

What is a Paper Presentation? The Paper Presentation format requires that you write a paper and then present at the conference. Your paper will be published in both the conference proceedings and later in special issues of the Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning. Your presentation is an opportunity to share issues, findings or conclusions related to your paper.

The average attendance for the past three conferences was 273, so in addition to your paper being published in the Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, you will benefit by presenting at a smaller, focused conference with ample networking opportunities.

Proposals should fall into one of three general tracks:​

  • Teaching & Learning (e.g. technologies, strategies, instructional design, assessment, best practices, successes/failures)
  • Marketing & Outreach (e.g. advocacy, assessment, collaboration, strategies)
  • User Experience (e.g. assessment, best practices, initiatives, student success)

If you want to share your research, projects, or ideas with others providing library services online or at a distance, this conference is the place to do it! Submit your Paper Presentation proposal soon!

To submit a proposal, please visit

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Round Table Discussion April 18th

Topic: Assessing Asynchronous Engagement

April 18th at 3:00 pm EST

The ACRL Distance Learning Section Discussion Group invites you to join us for the next DLS Round Table Discussion!

A large portion of distance librarianship depends on teaching, supporting, and collaborating with students asynchronously. Motivation, engagement, and participation in asynchronous courses was the focus of our first round table discussion. Now we would like to expand upon our strategies for assessing these interactions – both assessing student learning outcomes as well as keeping track of our interactions..

We encourage new and experienced librarians to take part in this discussion. These discussions are about learning and sharing. You will be a valuable addition whether you are just getting started or you have all the answers.

Register to participate in this interactive session now! Participation is limited to the first 90 registrants!!

Please send any questions to the DLS Discussion Group Co-Chairs, Kristin Heathcock ( and Lindsey Wharton (

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feedback Requested!

The DLS Strategic Planning Committee updated the DLS Section Manual and the draft is available for feedback, comments, etc. The areas in the manual that were updated include:

  • charges to reflect the new committee structure
  • membership data
  • past leadership information
  • names of committees throughout the document where necessary

Please review and make comments by COB  April 7, 2017.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment