ACRL DLS Membership and Event Committee Member of the Month: October 2018

The ACRL Distance Learning Section (DLS) Membership and Event committee started a “Member of the Month” initiative to highlight our diverse members.  Here is our highlight on Mike Courtney, Outreach & Engagement Librarian, Indiana University.

If you are interested in being or nominating an ACRL DLS “Member of the Month”, please fill out this brief nomination/sign up form.

Name: Mike Courtney

How long have you been a DLS member?
6 years

Where do you work and what do you do there?
I am the Outreach & Engagement Librarian at Indiana University. I am also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information and Library Science, School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University where I teach Education of Information Users (information literacy instruction pedagogy and practice) as well as User Services and Tools (reference).

What is unique about your institution, and how does your work as a distance services librarian support the mission?
Indiana University has long offered instruction at a distance through many modes of course content delivery, yet this only became more centralized in recent years. This has helped the Libraries improve its services and support for distance learners as well as expanding our reach to programs and curricula across the multi-campus system. I have a particular focus on our campus mission’s commitment to culturally diverse and international educational programs and communities and to meaningful experiences outside the classroom by actively engaging with service learning courses, collaborating with global and community engagement projects, and supporting overseas study and research.

How do you bridge the distance with online learners? What’s one way you create community for your distance learners?
Being available and accessible through as many channels as possible really helps student engagement. I am often embedded in online courses where students can reach out to me virtually in several roles I might occupy: librarian, instructor, mentor, and collaborator. Synchronous engagement via video/voice applications or even simple text/SMS is so convenient for both the librarian and the student and can alleviate lengthy email exchanges for otherwise quick problem solving. As trite as it sounds, technology has vastly reduced (and continues to do so) the geographic limitations of distance learner engagement.

How do you recharge your knowledge of distance library services?
Short answer: my DLS colleagues. I learn so much from working with so many of our expert colleagues in DLS as well as other ALA/ACRL units and sections. Many of those same colleagues contribute to the scholarship that I routinely consume. I continue to be impressed and heartened by the culture of sharing that permeates our section.

What’s something fun that you’re doing now (outside of your work as a distance librarian)?
I’m building a library in northern Rwanda! Since late 2014, I’ve been at the helm of a project I initiated to create a library at a very rural, underfunded primary school. This connects so many of my personal and professional interests in global community engagement, service learning, and cross-cultural information literacy. l developed and taught a multi-day workshop on the fundamentals of library science and information literacy for school teachers this summer while I was in Rwanda and this Fall I am developing a formal credit-bearing internship for MLS students to keep the project moving forward. I’ll return to Rwanda next summer to continue my work.

What are you reading right now?
Mrs. Teal, my Year 4 primary school teacher in Suffolk, England, insisted we read at least 5 books at a time. To that end, I am currently reading: David Arnold’s The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik (YA); Jay Coles’ Tyler Johnson Was Here (YA); Sheila Turnage’s The Law of Finders Keepers (CYA); Jorma Kaukonen’s Been So Long (Autobiography); and, John Lewis’s March series (Graphic Novel).

Twitter, LinkedIn, or other handles you would like us to share?
Twitter: @liboutreach

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Distance Learning Section 2019 Candidate Nominations being Sought

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

  • Two candidates to run for Vice-Chair on the 2019 ballot, a three-year total commitment.
  • Two candidates to run for Secretary/Archivist Elect on the 2019 ballot, a two-year total commitment.
  • Two candidates to run for Member-at-Large on the 2019 ballot, a two-year total commitment.

See explanation of the responsibilities for each position.

We realize this is a fast turnover but the great opportunity to get more involved in DLS and to make your mark as a leader in ACRL is happening right now! (It also looks 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 2019 ballot. Elections will be conducted by ballot. All candidates will be notified of the election results via email by April 2019.

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, Cheryl Blevens ( by October 14, 2018.

Cheryl (Past-chair, DLS Section)

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Top 5 Articles on Reference Services & Information Literacy, July-September, 2018

Compiled and annotated by Kim Wobick and Beth Tumbleson, members of the DLS Research and Publications Committee.

Fall is here, the semester has begun and our thoughts revolve around reference and information literacy! These articles report on some great ideas and research on different ways to meet with students and raise awareness of your library’s resources that you can try out.

Bezet, A., Duncan, T., & Litvin, K. (2018). Implementation and evaluation of online, synchronous research consultations for graduate students. Library Hi Tech News.

Librarians at Northcentral University (NCU) identified the opportunity to assess their online synchronous research consultations for students, to both distinguish these consultations as a distinct library service as well as to measure the impact of these consultations on students’ learning and success. Almost 100% of the research consultations are provided to students at the graduate and doctoral level, with students actively working on their dissertations. Users requesting this type of appointment fill out a form on the library web site, with the option to choose a specific librarians. It is also required that all students view or attend the Searching 101 workshop before the appointment, so that the focus of the meeting is more advanced searching techniques. To assess the quality of the instruction and value of the information in these sessions, a post-survey was sent to both the student and their dissertation chair. The results of these surveys indicated high levels of satisfaction from both the student and faculty members.


Continue reading

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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 Distance Learning Section (DLS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) 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 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC (June 20-25, 2019)
  • A commemorative plaque presented at an awards luncheon during ALA Annual

Nominees 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 7, 2018.  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:

Melissa Atkinson:
Cynthia Thomes:

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Webinar Recording: “But I’ve Never Met You!”: Serving Graduate Students from a Distance

Watch the recording of the DLS DG Spring Forum, “But I’ve Never Met You!”: Serving Graduate Students from a Distance.

Working with graduate students online? Want to gain new ideas, share your innovations, and vent your frustrations? Join the Distance Learning Section Discussion Group’s Spring Forum! We’ll start with an experienced keynote speaker, Johanna Tunon (see bio below), who will talk about trends and changes in services to graduate students. We’ll then have four breakout sessions – 15 minute moderated chat discussions – where we’ll introduce a topic and then invite YOU to ask questions, talk about what you’re doing, and brainstorm how to better serve our graduate students. Can’t come for the whole thing? Join us for the parts that you can…or just for what interests you!

Johanna Tunon is the retired Director of Distance and Instructional Library Services at Nova Southeastern University in south Florida. She now teaches MLIS classes at San Jose State University and other graduate classes at the University of Maryland University College. Johanna has served as the chair of the Distance Learning Section and the Florida chapter of ACRL and won the Routledge Distance Learning Conference Sponsorship Award in 2014. Most recently, her chapter entitled “Reference and Intermediation Services” was published in the second edition of Information Services Today: An Introduction.

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