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Monthly Archives: May 2017



ACRL DLS Chair: Kristin Miller Woodward
Vice-Chair: Natalie Haber
Secretary: Andrea Hebert
Archivist: Mike Courtney
Webmasters: Tim Ream and Katie Stewart (dlswebcontact@gmail.com)

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 (http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/guidelinesdistancelearning). 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: