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


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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.


Although students were required to view or attend the Searching 101 workshop, many of these advanced students still lacked a basic awareness of introductory search techniques such as phrase searching and Boolean operators. Further work will include conversations on the timing of assessment surveys with faculty members to better gauge the effect of consultations on the student work, as well as more outreach by the library on advanced research techniques for dissertating students.

Johnson, M. (2017). Library instruction for first year students using a CMS meta-course: Scalable and customizable! Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 11(1/2), 262-268. Retrieved from https://doi-org.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/1533290X.2016.1221612

Appalachian State University librarians developed a self-paced, non-credit information literacy course to be used in required First Year Seminar courses that rely on inquiry-based learning and a flipped classroom method.  The hybrid meta-course is located in the university course management system.  Librarians developed four modules which are delivered by FYS instructors. It is a scalable program that allows librarians to focus on research assignment design. Then librarians are free to develop more advanced information literacy content for upper level courses.  A graded test is used to assess the program.  Librarians will collaborate with instructors via consultations, guides, pre-test, and online repository.


A standardized, integrated information literacy curriculum delivers greater awareness of library resources and services to instructors and students alike, and librarians no longer have to teach 150 face-to-face 1-shot sessions. The development of this meta-course has the potential to increase collaboration between faculty and the librarians.

Peters, T. (2018). Online students’ use of virtual reference services. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 30(1), 1-8. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/1941126X.2018.1443901

Central Michigan University librarians studied distance students’ use of virtual reference.  During 2010-2016 more off-campus students enrolled in online courses than in face-to-face, off-campus courses but used virtual reference services less.  This shift resulted in a reorganization of the library, especially as it related to research and instruction.  In 2017, units from the Global Campus and on-campus were merged to become the Library Research & Instruction Services. This new unit serves all users, wherever located, and taking courses in any format.  Reference statistics revealed that online students, whether on-campus or off, use librarian help less frequently.  Unfortunately, marketing of library services via course syllabi and email did not yield greater use of embedded librarian services.  Research findings corroborate the tendency of online students to be less engaged and feel more isolated.


Initiatives and partnerships involving librarians (online course building, data projects) will hopefully increase library presence in online courses, strengthen collaboration among faculty, librarians, and students and result in higher usage of library services.

Rich, L., & Lux, V. (2018). Reaching additional users with proactive chat. The Reference Librarian, 59(1), 23-34.

The library at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) has been utilizing a chat service for almost 20 years, and reviewed its service model in 2014-2015 to ensure that all library users were aware of it and that it was accessible to all. This review was prompted by the development of a proactive chat widget (pop-up widget) by the product used, LibraryH3lp. There are many considerations to implementing a proactive chat, including timing of the pop-up widget and exactly on which library web pages to place the widget. After a review of chat usage and transcript reviews, BGSU placed a proactive chat on the library home page, other selected library web pages, as well as within Summon and the databases in EBSCO. Transactions more than doubled over a 9-month period in 2016, prompting a reorganization of how the librarians and staff were scheduled on chat. There was now too much traffic for all chat transactions to be handled at the Research and Information Desk, so the Desk staff became the backup for chat, and librarians in their offices became the primary chat staff. This workflow reorganization successfully helped all staff better manage the chat traffic.


Library proactive chat services provide a vital service to all students, and makes library services and librarians more accessible to all students both on-and off-campus. This awareness is especially valuable to those who are unable to visit the library in person, and serves as a good reminder to them that librarians are available to help them wherever they are.

Wissinger, C. L., Raish, V., Miller, R. K., & Borrelli, S. (2018). Expert teams in the academic library: Going beyond subject expertise to create scaffolded Instruction. Journal of Library Administration, 58(4), 313–333. https://doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2018.1448648

Four Pennsylvania State University librarians explore how expert librarian teams contribute to teaching and research.  The nursing liaison, online learning, information literacy and assessment librarians reviewed learning outcomes from ACRL Health Sciences Interest Group Taskforce’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Nursing.  They scaffolded these learning outcomes throughout the curriculum by grade level for online learners.  Combining expertise through teamwork improves information literacy programs.  Subject and functional (assessment, copyright, data, online learning,) expertise are both needed to enhance complex curriculum projects.


This team-based approach maximizes different librarian perspectives, delivering a better user experience.  In addition, the local campus environment needs to be mapped as programs are developed.  Relying on a library team’s expertise transforms teaching, learning, and research and empowers students.

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