October 2021 Site of the Month

The Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online (PRIMO) Committee of the Instruction Section of ACRL is pleased to announce that a new Site of the Month interview has been posted to our committee website.

October 2021 Site of the Month: Advanced Search Techniques Tutorial, Beginner: Keywords Tutorial
Creator: Renae Watson
Institution: Colorado State University

Project Descriptions:
Advanced: Search Techniques Tutorial
This is a highly interactive tutorial covering the Boolean operator NOT, truncation, phrase searching, and nesting for database searches. The tutorial includes a certificate of completion once the user completes all four modules. The tutorial was created using Articulate Storyline 360 as part of an internal grant and was made to meet accessibility standards.

Beginner: Keywords Tutorial
This is a highly interactive tutorial covering the basics of generating and selecting keywords. The tutorial includes a summary quiz with a certificate of completion. The tutorial was created using Articulate Storyline 360 as part of an internal grant and was made to meet accessibility standards.

Interview with Renae Watson: Creator Renae Watson has recently been interviewed in March 2021, for the tutorial Beginner: Search Techniques Tutorial. Read the March 2021 interview for more information on Renae’s creation process!

Archive of previous Site of the Month interviews

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Call for Nominations: ACRL Instruction Section Featured Teaching Librarian

Do you know someone who is an amazing teaching librarian? 

If yes, consider nominating them as a Featured Teaching Librarian!  
If you’re an amazing teaching librarian, consider nominating yourself.  

The ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee wants to highlight excellent teaching librarians.  Several times during the year, the committee selects and interviews a librarian who demonstrates a passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning.  This feature provides a way to showcase amazing teaching librarians on the ACRL Instruction Section website and share their best teaching practices with others in the field. 

Consider nominating yourself or someone you think is amazing! 
Nominations are due by Friday, October 1st, 2021.

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2020 Teaching Methods Virtual Event Recording

On May 1, 2020, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee presented the virtual event, “Let’s Get Visual, Visual!: New Instructional Approaches for Visual Literacy,” with speakers, Maggie Murphy, Sara Schumacher, and Dana Statton Thompson. The recording of the event may be viewed here.

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2019 Teaching Methods Virtual Event Recording

On May 30, 2019, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee presented the virtual event, “Describing Realities, Imagining Directions: Critical Race Pedagogies,” with speakers, Jennifer Brown and Jorge López-McKnight. The recording of the event may be viewed here.

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Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Events

The ACRL Instruction Section Virtual Engagement Committee has completed the first version of the document Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Events. It reviews the logistics of how ACRL IS committees organize various events including panel discussions, webinars, small group discussions, and Twitter chats! There is also a section on accessibility considerations as well as sample templates for calls for proposals and advertisements. The 2019-2020 committee started this document and the 2020-2021 committee completed it. We thank them for all their hard work! Questions and suggestions can be shared with the current Committee Chair. You can always access the document at https://bit.ly/ACRLISVECbest

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New Selected Resources

The ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee has added new committee-recommended sources to their Selected Resources for Teaching Methods and Instructional Design in Library Instruction and their Selected Resources for Assessment in Library Instruction Lists. The committee will be updating these lists with new resources and annotations annually.

You can see the committee’s entire lists, including materials the committee curated as part of the “First-Year Experience and Academic Libraries: A Select Annotated Bibliography.” and the “Teaching and Learning Information Literacy Skills Textbooks” in Zotero.

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Call for nominations for the ACRL Instruction Section Executive Committee 2022

The ACRL Instruction Section is seeking nominations for officers to serve on its Executive Committee. These elected offices include Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, Secretary/Archivist, and three Members-at-Large. You can view the responsibilities of these officers here.

Please consider nominating a colleague or yourself. Potential candidates should have an interest in contributing to leadership of the Instruction Section’s activities, which can be found on the IS website. The leadership work of the Executive Committee involves collaborative decision-making, information-sharing, liaising to IS committees, and visioning the future of the Section.

Previous committee or leadership experience in the Section has been one path for individuals to prepare for roles on the Executive Committee, but we welcome nominations of candidates who have shown leadership potential at their institutions, in other professional organizations, or through other collaborations.  

Election to an office does not require conference attendance. Nominees must be members of ACRL and the Instruction Section at the time that they consent to be on the ballot in September 2021. The election will take place in March 2022. 

The deadline for nominations is Sunday, August 8, 2021. You can submit nominations through this online form or by emailing Meghan Sitar at msitar@umich.edu. Please also feel free to email me with any questions you have about making a nomination.

Note: If you previously submitted a nomination for 2022 through the past webform, please resubmit that information as the form was not working correctly and any submissions were lost. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Meghan Sitar, ACRL Instruction Section 2022 Nominating Committee Chair

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ILBP Exemplary Programs Interview with Silvia Lin Hanick and Ian McDermott at LaGuardia Community College

Interview completed by Michael Courtney, Outreach & Engagement Librarian, Indiana University Bloomington; Brianna Buljung, Teaching & Learning Librarian, Colorado School of Mines; Shane Roopnarine, Assistant Librarian, University of Central Florida Libraries; and Maya Hobscheid, Instructional Design Librarian, Grand Valley State University.

The ILBP Committee recognizes programs that embody best practices from the Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline. We recently interviewed Silvia Lin Hanick, First Year Experience Librarian, and Ian McDermott, Coordinator of Library Instruction, at LaGuardia Community College, whose program exemplifies Program Sequencing and Pedagogy.

Share some historical background on your program. How has it developed over time?

At LaGuardia Community College (CUNY), we teach 1-credit and 3-credit research strategies courses and between 680-790 one-shot library sessions in an academic year. Every part-time and full-time faculty librarian teaches, regardless of their primary assignment. ​The total number of instruction sessions has been rising overall in spite of declining enrollment at the College. English (ENG 101, 103) and First Year Seminar (FYS) instruction classes made up at least 75% of all classes in a semester. The remaining classes fall across the disciplines, including sessions for Introduction to Paralegal Studies, The Woman Writer, Organic Chemistry, or the Hospitality Club.

As a part of our effort to incorporate more conceptual learning in our information literacy instruction, we started conversations with the English Department about how best to deemphasize database demonstrations in their Library sessions. One small, but interesting change that resulted was an edit to the survey that we send out prior to the Library session. We ask instructors to select the aspect of information literacy that is most relevant to their current coursework:

  • Choosing Information
  • Analyzing Information
  • Incorporating Information

While sessions still typically conclude with an overview of, and exploration in a subscription database, the session is framed around a big picture concept that guides the class in a productive way.

Our FYS Library sessions have a more complicated history. In Fall 2014, a required Library session was introduced for FYS for the Health Sciences and Liberal Arts majors. By March 2020, there were fifteen different FYS courses. Each FYS course required a different disciplinary approach. The Library did not have a coordinated approach to this area of instruction until Fall 2017, when we created lesson plans that were aligned to the ACRL

Framework and LaGuardia’s General Education Core Competencies and Communication Abilities.

How is information literacy integrated throughout your institution’s curriculum?

LaGuardia Community College has identified three overarching Core Competencies to structure its general education framework:

  • Inquiry and Problem Solving
  • Global Learning
  • Integrative Learning

Students demonstrate Core Competencies using one of three Communication Abilities:

  • Written Communication
  • Oral Communication
  • Digital Communication

The Core Competencies and Communication Abilities are assessed, annually, via benchmark readings and ​rubrics​ adapted from the AAC&U’s VALUE rubrics.

As a part of our programmatic assessment, we went through the rubrics and connected dimensions of each rubric with the relevant information literacy topics. The rubrics may not use the phrase “information literacy,” but it is clear that our teaching content supports the competencies and communication abilities. For example, the Inquiry and Problem Solving rubric includes dimensions like:

  • Framing the issue to address a research question
  • Evidence gathering by assembling, reviewing, and synthesizing evidence from diverse sources of relevant knowledge
  • Analysis using evidence to address questions, test hypotheses, and evaluate claims and solutions

We connected those dimensions information literacy topics like:

  • How to turn a topic into a research question
  • How to expand or narrow a search using keywords, connectors, and filtering options
  • How to locate additional sources using a list of references from an article
  • How to locate appropriate sources in support of, or to challenge a thesis

This exercise allowed us to make explicit connections between our instruction content and the General Education curriculum.

How do you use the ACRL Framework to leverage the importance of information literacy in student learning?

In AY 2016-2017 the Library Department received a grant from the College to connect our FYS instruction with the ACRL Framework and the Core Competencies and Abilities. At LaGuardia, a one-hour Library class is built into every FYS. While this additional hour of Library instruction was a welcome opportunity to reinforce the information literacy lessons introduced in required sessions for English classes, it also introduced a content challenge. Each FYS was designed to introduce students to their chosen discipline; fifteen different FYS meant fifteen different disciplinary priorities. Even within the same FYS, content might vary—while one professor used Malcolm Gladwell’s ​Blink​ as a textbook, another used the principle of mindfulness to anchor hers. The Library Department, then, had to answer an important question: How can we teach meaningful library instruction sessions for each FYS course?

The ACRL Framework gave us a starting point for this conversation. It gave us the vocabulary and structure to be specific and ambitious about our teaching content. Working together, librarians mapped each FYS course to a frame. Business FYS students, for instance, were introduced to the “Information Has Value” concept via conversations about the role of high-cost information in gaining or protecting market advantage. Then, we worked together to write lesson plans for each FYS based on the assigned frame.

What excites you most about the future of your program?

It will be exciting to build upon the work we’ve done over the last few years. As the FYS program at LaGuardia has expanded to include new courses, from computer science to fine arts, the Library has provided course-integrated instruction. It is always exciting to work with Library faculty colleagues to develop new lesson plans–we are all engaged with and invested in library instruction. We love working with faculty in other academic departments, who are more often than not eager to work with us.

Teaching online during a global pandemic is challenging but we are motivated to support students. It has been exciting to create and share teaching materials that address our current situation; the Library has been closed since mid-March 2020. This situation has exposed our need for concise modules focused on skills (e.g. developing keywords) and basic information (how to chat online with a librarian). Other materials require updates due to access. Some vendors expanded access early in the pandemic, increased access to online textbooks was especially useful, but that’s no longer the case. On the other hand, we can now tell students they can pick up books from select public libraries across the five boroughs. These modules also need to work in synchronous and asynchronous situations! We teach many sessions in addition to the required ones for FYS, ENG 101, and ENG103. Similar to our work with the English Department described above, these courses have heterogeneous needs.

Even so, it’s fair to say that our efforts are almost always focused and coordinated. Programmatically, we think about how instructional materials fit into the big picture of our information literacy instruction. We also take these opportunities to create instructional materials that reflect Laguardia students’ lived experience, or that incorporate the work of BIPOC authors, artists, and thinkers.

What about your program’s development has most surprised you?

We were ill-equipped for online teaching. From teaching materials (slides, handouts, videos) to experience with instructional technology (Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate, the two primary programs used at LaGuardia), we were underprepared for the transition to remote learning. This new reality forced us to change the way we teach, and to teach each other. Our program was designed for in-person instruction, with students sitting in front of computers.

For example, it was surprising how quickly we reverted to demo-based instruction. We may have been concerned that students would only have one library session to access the skill-based instruction they may encounter more frequently via in-person Reference, or we may have opted for what felt easier for everyone, us included. These changes were also driven by the preexisting inequities and injustices foregrounded by the pandemic. Do students learning at home have access to a computer or are they using a phone? Do they have a quiet place to do their school work? Are they forced to attend school while they are at work? A database demonstration had to, suddenly, account for many more variables.

We need time, without a pandemic raging through New York City, to develop meaningful, effective information literacy instruction. Still, as we have moved away from the worst moments of the pandemic, it is surprising to feel confident about where we need to improve, and where we need to focus our efforts. We are finding ways to re-incorporate creative, active learning into synchronous or asynchronous online instruction; this is an opportunity to think about how online instruction fits into the broader instruction program when we get on campus. This year forced us to learn together, more than usual, and to confront our own gaps in knowledge. It has been impactful and left us feeling somewhat hopeful.

What advice can you provide for other programs that are looking to develop in those areas?

We have been working with the ACRL Framework since Spring 2016; the lesson plans written then have been revised, and revised again. As the Framework reminds us, Information Creation is an (iterative) process! Committing to, and prioritizing continuous revision of our teaching has been crucial.

At LaGuardia, full-time Library faculty meet twice each year to discuss and update our instruction content. Recently, we’ve decided to introduce a standing Instruction agenda item for our Department meeting; we’ll take turns sharing new activities, tools, or stories about our teaching. Our progress in this area is a reflection of departmental collaboration and consensus about what we teach when we teach information literacy. The Framework does not have to be everything for everyone; it does not have to replace or usurp the parts of your instruction program that already work. It can, however, offer a path into building a supportive practitioner community.

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Teaching Methods 2021 Virtual Event Recording

On April 27th, the Instruction Section’s Teaching Methods Committee hosted a virtual event titled: Enabling the Teachable Moment: Motivating for Learning Readiness. Presenter Laura Saunders drew on learning theory related to “desirable difficulties” prior knowledge, and motivation to suggest that we can take steps to enable the teachable moment with our students. In taking these steps, we can reframe narratives about “struggling” or “reluctant” learners to focus on environmental, rather than internal, factors to help move the learning forward. We invite you to view the recording here.

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2021 Dudley Award Winner Interview: Nicole Pagowsky

Nicole Pagowsky, Associate Research & Learning Librarian and Instruction Coordinator at the University of Arizona, is the 2021 recipient of the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award.

photo of Nicole Pagowsky, a white woman with long hair. She is holding a tabby cat.

Considering your many accomplishments over the years, what are you the most proud of?

I’d say more generally rather than just in one project I’m the most proud of taking risks to create more opportunities for others to take risks themselves. I’ve tried to do this through book editing, conference organizing, articles I have authored solo or co-authored, and from developing plans and documentation for critical instruction programs that a number of other libraries have implemented.

Your scholarship and related projects have made an impact in the field related to library instruction programs and critical pedagogy; where do you see your work as having been most influential and what are you the most excited about moving forward?

I would say I’m most proud of opening up more possibilities for conversation and action surrounding critical instruction programs and inclusive pedagogy. Growing these efforts throughout numerous projects continues to build on itself. I certainly didn’t start this work as it existed before I even entered the field, but just expanded from others’ already existing efforts. Moving forward, what I’m most excited about is focusing in more on the specifics of critical library instruction programs and where EDI aspirations might conflict with reality. I’ll use this space to share my recent guest editorial for C&RL (May 2021 issue) on one-shots that is accompanied by a CFP for a special issue on the topic: The Contested One-Shot: Deconstructing Power Structures to Imagine New Futures. I’m also always so enthusiastic to teach my LIS class for the UArizona iSchool, LIS 581: Information Literacy Pedagogy, and for having helped create the first-ever Instruction and Teaching for Librarians and Information Professionals Graduate Certificate.

As LIS adjunct faculty teaching a pedagogy course, what advice do you have for LIS students interested in instruction (or for new teaching librarians)?

I would say being able to think more holistically about instruction is better for teaching practice and also sustainability. Understanding how higher education functions, the library’s role in curricula, and the role of a teaching librarian within the instruction program will help situate LIS students or new teaching librarians. To create the Instruction and Teaching graduate certificate, research was examined looking at the gap between education/skills and library instruction position expectations. Students either don’t have ready access to instruction courses and/or have little options to engage in teaching practice. Sometimes it’s assumed this coursework isn’t necessary and that teaching is easy because when we all have our own experiences in school we think we know all it entails (similar to the invisibility of library work); but there is a lot of theory, planning, design, and juggling going on behind-the-scenes that require education and practice to be successful. Some wind up having to learn on the job where it can be exponentially stressful to get your bearings and feel like you’re catching up. If possible and if it’s offered, I recommend taking instruction coursework while in an LIS program, and securing opportunities to put it into practice.

Could you describe a pivotal point in your career?

A job in my past (I won’t say which) was an incredibly toxic and abusive work environment. It took a lot of support and advice from my ACRL-IS mentor at the time, Katherine O’Clair, who I’m still greatly appreciative of for helping me figure out how to get out and what to do next. I still owe so much to her for her guidance during that awful time. During that stress and confusion, I was motivated to look beyond my immediate situation and engage more in scholarship and service. I wound up being accepted to the Emerging Leaders Program and found ‘my people’ for future collaborations and started from there. So, although taking that job felt like a mistake (and let’s be honest, it was a mistake), made me miserable, and gave me the worst, everlasting case of imposter syndrome, it was pivotal in putting me on a trajectory that led to better things with the support of an excellent mentor.

Who has inspired you over your career?

There are so many. I first became interested in librarianship from reading an early aughts Punk Planet article about librarianship’s natural fit with activism. In that article written by Alana Kumbier, Jessamyn West was featured, among others. From there I found Radical Reference (and Jenna Freedman) and volunteering with all those brilliant people was influential. Annie Pho has been a great friend and collaborator for 10+ years now and I always admire her ability to be outspoken and take on trailblazing projects. We have been each other’s soundboards and advice-givers. Good friends inspire and keep you grounded over the years. Other mentors, peers, and peer-mentors I’ve valued for their support and advice are Erica DeFrain, Jaime Hammond, Candice Benjes-Small, Meredith Farkas, and Kathryn Deiss; and at my library, Yvonne Mery, Niamh Wallace, Leslie Sult, and Elizabeth Kline. And to list a handful of those who have had an impact on me from their work within critical approaches to teaching and librarianship are Karen Nicholson, David James Hudson, Maura Seale, Veronica Arellano Douglas, Sofia Leung, and Nicole Cooke in LIS education. I will stop here to keep this a reasonable length even though there are so many more I’d love to highlight who I admire and appreciate.

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