Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award Winners



Head, Alison J., Barbara Fister, and Margy MacMillan. Information literacy in the age of algorithms: Student experiences with news and information, and the need for change. Project Information Research Institute, 2020.

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The authors explore how college students conceptualize online information and navigate online platforms. finding that a majority of students know that websites use algorithms to collect personal data, are concerned about how these platforms filter and shape content, and in some cases, use strategies to protect their privacy. Findings also show that understanding and managing information from search engines and social media is rarely mentioned in the classroom, even in courses emphasizing critical thinking and information literacy. The authors provide four recommendations for educators, librarians, administrators, and journalists. The report was selected for conveying the importance of teaching algorithmic literacy in modern information literacy education.


Folk, Amanda L. “Reframing Information Literacy as Academic Cultural Capital: A Critical and Equity-Based Foundation for Practice, Assessment, and Scholarship.” College & Research Libraries 80, no. 5 (July 2019): 658–73.

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Highlighting an important need in our field for scholarship that explores the relationship between information literacy and racial and social-class achievement gaps in higher education, Folk pushes for academic librarianship to delve deeper into issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Folk describes an equity lens through which information literacy is viewed as a form of academic cultural capital, but also goes beyond theorizing to offer specific pedagogic strategies librarians may use to build capital among students with identities that have been traditionally marginalized in higher education. Folk introduces Estela Mara Bensimon’s equity cognitive frame to consider the ways in which librarians can ground our practice, assessment, and scholarship in our professional values of equity and inclusion.


Bluemle, Stefanie R. “Post-Facts: Information Literacy and Authority after the 2016 Election.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 18, no. 2 (2018): 265-282.

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This article addresses the challenge that post-truth politics poses to teaching authority in information literacy. First, it isolates an element of the post-truth phenomenon, an element it calls post-facts, to elucidate why teaching source evaluation is not, by itself, an antidote to fake news or other evidence of Americans’ media illiteracy. Second, it addresses the implications of post-facts politics for the concept of authority as defined by the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. “Bluemle’s article explores the timely issue of ‘post-facts’ in today’s world and the implications for those engaged in information literacy work,” said the award committee chair. “More than just talking about ‘fake news,’ Bluemle traces the development of the issues that have contributed to the current climate of post-facts. The article pushes academic librarians to question their own notions of what authority is in light of these larger cultural trends.”


Nutefall, Jennifer E., ed. Service Learning, Information Literacy, and Libraries. ABC-CLIO, 2016.

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Service Learning, Information Literacy, and Libraries covers a critical and emerging gap in information literacy literature,” said the award committee chair. “As many colleges and universities begin focusing on civic and community engagement, this book may act as a primer for librarians who wish to incorporate service learning into their practice. This timely book pushes the field in new directions as it encourages librarians to consider new and innovative methods of teaching information literacy concepts and skills.” This book brings together a wide variety of contributors for chapters that provide a larger context for librarian involvement in service learning, the integration of theory and pedagogy, and practical examples of service learning partnerships.


Pagowsky, Nicole, and Kelly McElroy. Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook. Association of College and Research Libraries, 2016, 2 vols.

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“The two-volume Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook balances theory and practical application of critical pedagogy in information literacy instruction for the novice and well-versed librarian,” said the award committee chair. “Bringing together many diverse voices, Pagowsky and McElroy compile approachable and broadly applicable essays, workbook activities, and lesson plans for library instructors to implement in their classrooms and everyday praxis. The committee believed these volumes propel the profession forward as the field continues to work within the context of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” In two volumes, the Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook works to make critical pedagogy more accessible for library educators, examining both theory and practice to help the busy practitioner explore various aspects of teaching for social justice. These two volumes provide a collection of ideas, best practices, and plans that contribute to the richness of what it means to do this type of work in libraries. Volume One, Essays and Workbook Activities, provides short essays reflecting on personal practice, describing projects, and exploring major ideas to provide inspiration as educators begin or renew their exploration of critical pedagogy. Volume Two, Lesson Plans, provides plans covering everything from small activities to multi-session projects.


Swanson, Troy A., and Heather Jagman, eds. Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think about Information. Chicago, Illinois: Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, 2015.

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Not Just Where to Click is an extremely useful and well-designed volume that considers information literacy instruction from a variety of perspectives,” noted the award committee chair. “It brings together a collection of essays on how librarians can not only rethink their own instruction practices in terms of changes in what students ‘bring to the table,’ but that also challenges practitioners to go beyond the mere fact of teaching research skills to suggest that librarians engage in teaching students to think critically and consider how information helps them interpret and understand their world. The committee was impressed by the authors’ ability to produce a volume that could be used in tandem with the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” This book is an anthology of articles that explore information literacy and epistemology, exploring how librarians and faculty work together to teach students about the nature of expertise, authority, and credibility.  It provides insights into epistemological gaps between librarians/faculty and students as well as provides practical approaches to help students learn to examine their beliefs, biases, and ways of interpreting the world.


Drabinski, Emily. “Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 40, no. 5 (2014): 480-485.

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“Given the recent discussion and examination of the ACRL IL standards within the profession, Drabinski’s article couldn’t be more timely,” said the award committee chair. “She offers a new approach to information literacy, one that will withstand the test of time by constantly adapting to new realities. The use of Classical Greek theory is an interesting way to reconsider the way librarians interact with students and develop teaching strategies that engage students and promote critical thinking. This exceptionally written thought piece is a must read.”  This paper offers an alternative organizing heuristic for instruction in libraries. Kairos is an ancient Greek theory of time married to measure. Used by both Plato and the Sophists to understand the emergence of truth from context, kairos has been deployed by composition studies to gain a critical perspective on teaching student writing. Used to understand the context that generated both the first set of Standards and their revision, kairos can usefully direct the energy of teaching librarians toward their particular students and classrooms.


Holliday, Wendy, and Jim Rogers. “Talking About Information Literacy: The Mediating Role of Discourse in a College Writing Classroom.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 13, no. 3 (2013): 257-271.

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“Holliday and Rogers’s study is important because it challenges us to think about how the words we use to describe the research process in the classroom affect student learning and engagement in research,” said the award committee co-chairs. This paper reports on the findings of an observational study of information literacy instruction in a college writing course. Using a sociocultural approach, the study explores how classroom discourse can influence the ways in which students conceive of information literacy and the process of research and writing. The authors found that a discourse that emphasized “finding sources” more than “learning about” might limit students’ engagement with information and the process of inquiry. This article concludes with recommendations for modifying discourse and instructional practices in order to help students engage more deeply in the research process.


Townsend, Lori, Korey Brunetti, and Amy R. Hofer. “Threshold concepts and information literacy.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 11, no. 3 (2011): 853-869.

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“Any librarian who has struggled with turning theory into practice when it comes to information literacy instruction will appreciate this article,” said the award committee co-chairs. “The awards committee appreciates this excellent mix of the theoretical and practical and believes it presents a new and exciting way to think of what and how we teach…It offers ‘a way to focus and prioritize instructional content’ in ways that lead to more engaged learning. The authors present a model through threshold concepts that can truly transform information literacy teaching, as well as students’ understanding of information literacy and its relevance. This article provides great potential in moving the conversation on effective information literacy teaching forward.”  This paper describes a pedagogical approach to information literacy that helps instructors focus content around transformative learning thresholds. The threshold concept framework holds promise for librarians because it grounds the instructor in the big ideas and underlying concepts that make information literacy exciting and worth learning about. This paper looks at how this new idea relates to existing standards and posits several threshold concepts for information literacy.


Booth, Char. Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators. Chicago: American Library Association, 2011.

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“The Instruction Section Awards Committee chose Booth’s book because it provides new librarians entry into the world of instruction, while also giving experienced librarians tips to freshen their teaching skills,” noted the award committee co-chair. “In Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators, Booth deploys a warm, conversational tone that draws in the reader. Though recently published, librarians are already using this book in reading groups at their libraries. Every instruction librarian can learn something from Booth’s book.” In this book the author introduces a series of concepts that will empower librarians at any level of experience to become better instruction designers and presenters, as well as build their confidence and satisfaction as library educators. A four-part framework is outlined, which includes Reflective Practice (tools for improving learning in the moment and developing a teacher identity, as well as approaches to collaboration and creating communities of practice), Educational Theory (evidence-based strategies in learning and instructional research), Teaching Technologies (evaluating and integrating technology in learning using a practical “toolkit” approach), and Instructional Design (a systematic and outcomes-based strategy for developing and assessing learning experiences). This foundation is supplemented by the USER Method, a step-by-step approach to creating learner-focused instruction.


Oakleaf, Megan. “The Information Literacy Instruction Assessment Cycle: A Guide for Increasing Student Learning and Improving Librarian Instructional Skills.” Journal of Documentation 65, no. 4 (2009): 539-560.

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“The Instruction Section Awards Committee chose Oakleaf’s article because it presents a blueprint for continual information literacy assessment,” said  the award committee co-chair. “In ‘The Information Literacy Instruction Assessment Cycle,’ Oakleaf clearly and thoroughly describes step-by-step how information literacy coordinators can assess their information literacy program. Getting started with assessment can be overwhelming, and this article gives librarians a place to start and a way to continually improve.” The aim of this paper is to present the Information Literacy Instruction Assessment Cycle (ILIAC), describe the seven stages of the ILIAC, and offer an extended example that demonstrates how the ILIAC increases librarian instructional abilities and improves student information literacy skills.


Jacobs, Heidi L. M. “Information Literacy and Reflective Pedagogical Praxis.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 34, no. 3 (May 2008): 256–62.

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“The IS Awards committee chose Jacobs’ article because it represents simultaneously timely and timeless appreciation and inspiration for both the intellectual underpinning and the practice of information literacy pedagogy,” noted the award committee cochair. “‘Information literacy and reflective pedagogical praxis’ expands upon dialogues within composition and rhetoric to examine information literacy pedagogy. It considers how academic librarians can theorize our profession in a way that inspires us to ask new questions of our teaching, our educational purpose. In so doing, Jacobs’ work fosters creative, reflective and critical habits of mind regarding pedagogical praxis.” Drawing on discussions within composition and rhetoric, this article examines information literacy pedagogy. It considers how academic librarians can work toward theorizing our profession in such a way that we may ask new questions of it and foster creative, reflective, and critical habits of mind regarding pedagogical praxis.


Radcliff, Carolyn J., Mary Lee Jensen, Joseph A. Salem, Jr., Kenneth J. Burhanna, and Julie A. Gedeon. A Practical Guide to Information Literacy Assessment for Academic Librarians. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007.

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A Practical Guide to Information Literacy Assessment for Academic Librarians provides a comprehensive treatment of assessment tools for instruction, including their costs and benefits, and addresses how each tool can be applied within academic libraries,” said the award committee chair. “This book is innovative in the extent of its coverage, original in its accessibility to librarians at all levels of institution and experience, and timely in its response to the nationwide emphasis on outcomes assessment in higher education.” Information literacy assessment applies to a number of contexts in the higher education arena. This practical guide provides an overview of the assessment process: planning, selection and development of tools, and analysis and reporting of data.


Ragains, Patrick, ed. Information Literacy Instruction That Works: A Guide to Teaching by Discipline and Student Population. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2006.

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“Patrick’s book is both timeless and timely, rendering it an invaluable resource for instruction librarians as it informs, guides and supports their work,” said the IS awards committee chair. “Although the work is aimed at librarians who teach distinct user groups and subject areas, academic library instruction programs must embrace and provide service to all of these groups, be they college freshmen, students in specific disciplines or distance learning students. Contributions are provided from 18 leading experts around the country; however Ragains knits together their chapters and provides the essential framework so that instruction librarians can take this work to both integrate information literacy standards into their respective curricula and to establish firm pedagogical foundations within their programs.”  Readers will find strategies and techniques for teaching college and university freshmen, community college students, students with disabilities, and those in distance learning programs. They will also find proven approaches to teaching students in the most popular programs of study, including English literature, art and art history, film studies, history, psychology, science, agricultural sciences and natural resources, hospitality, and international marketing. Three additional chapters guide instructors through teaching legal information, government information, and patent searching. Each chapter covers instructional design, lesson planning, library/faculty collaborations, marketing, and assessment.


Elmborg, James K., and Sheril Hook. Centers for Learning: Writing Centers and Libraries in Collaboration. ACRL Publications in Librarianship, no. 58. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2005.

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“Considered as a whole, Centers for Learning represents a cogent, original unification of theory with multifaceted practice,” said the IS awards committee chair. “Elmborg and Hook have assembled a compelling case not only for treating research and writing as a holistic process, but for leveraging the unique strengths of writing centers and information literacy programs to improve student mastery of the process.” Centers for Learning examines the potentials inherent in partnerships between libraries and writing centers. By focusing on shared concepts and practices, the editors suggest that such partnerships might respond more coherently to the needs of today’s students. Case studies highlighting the possibilities of collaborations form the body of the book. A conclusion reflects on the implications of these case studies from a writing center perspective.


Simmons, Michelle Holschuh. “Librarians as Disciplinary Discourse Mediators: Using Genre Theory to Move Toward Critical Information Literacy.” portal: Libraries & the Academy 5, no. 3 (July 2005): 297–311.

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“With her article, Simmons challenges us to broaden our conception of information literacy beyond the skill and task orientations that continue to dominate our professional discussions, to encompass the notion of discursive practices that differentiate the disciplines from each other,” said the award committee chair. “With her provocative assertion of the affinity between information literacy and genre theory, and of the librarian’s unique interdisciplinary vantage point within the academy, Simmons offers an ambitious vision of the librarian’s role in addressing a longstanding gap in undergraduate education.” Simmons encourages librarians to develop an anthropologist’s sensitivity to culture, to learn the characteristics of the academic disciplines, and then help students learn these characteristics as a way for them to understand the rhetorical practices in these fields.

Prior to 2006, this award was known as the IS Publication of the Year Award


Jacobson, Trudi E., and Lijuan Xu. Motivating Students in Information Literacy Classes. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2004.

“Motivation is a key component of student learning, perhaps made even more important by the limitations many librarians have to work within when teaching information literacy concepts,” said the IS award committee chair. “Jacobson and Xu have created a well written and accessible introduction to motivation and learning theory, which they apply to the various types of information literacy instruction, while at the same time presenting practical models that can be applied to many different modes of instruction and different types of institutions.” Motivating Students in Information Literacy Classes focuses on developing student interest in information literacy courses and sessions. Addressing credit courses, course related instruction, drop-in sessions, first year programs, and web-based instruction, Jacobson and Xu provide practical suggestions for increasing student engagement. Included are exercises and assignments, models of teaching behaviors, methods for increasing student participation, and advice for assessment and grading.


Grassian, Esther S., and Joan R. Kaplowitz. Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2001.

“Grassian and Kaplowitz’s book is a seminal work that pulls together information about information literacy instruction that heretofore has had to be gleaned from a myriad of resources,” said the award committee co-chairs. “The broad scope of the book’s coverage, including the history of information literacy, pedagogical and instructional design theories, methods of assessment, and instructional technology, and its knowledgeable grasp of ‘real life’ issues related to these topics, will be useful to any librarian seeking to develop a solid understanding of our field. Written by practitioners in the field, the book approaches each issue from both a theoretical and a practical perspective, offering exercises and sources for further reading at the end of each chapter. This book will serve as a foundation stone for aspiring instruction librarians in graduate programs, as well as for those who are already teaching but who never have had formal training in instruction.” Chapters cover the history and background of user education in libraries; the psychology of learning as applied to library teaching; conceptual models for teaching critical thinking; program management, planning, and politics (on and off-campus); assessment and evaluation; designing and developing print and electronic teaching materials; classroom management and teaching techniques; learning technology; visions for the future and much more.

Grafstein, Ann. “A Discipline-Based Approach to Information Literacy.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 28, no. 4 (July 2002): 197-204.

“Grafstein’s article is a hallmark in our field that should be required reading for all campus administrators and faculty, as well as librarians,” noted the award committee. “It proposes a discipline-based approach to teaching information literacy, one that persuasively articulates what it is that a discipline needs in order to nurture lifelong learning. Succinctly written, this article breathes fresh life into the notion of faculty/librarian collaboration by explicitly delineating the complementary roles of faculty and librarians in teaching information literacy.” Grafstein argues that the responsibility for teaching information literacy should be shared throughout an academic institution, rather than limited to the library. An outline of the complementary responsibilities of librarians and classroom faculty in teaching information literacy is presented.


Elmborg, James K. “Teaching at the Desk: Toward a Reference Pedagogy.” portal: Libraries & the Academy 2, no. 3 (2002): 455-64.

The committee noted that Elmborg’s article reminds “public services librarians who work at the reference desk that teaching isn’t just something that happens in the classroom. It can—and should—happen at the reference desk, as well. Using constructivist learning theory and drawing upon the close connections between teaching composition theory and teaching research strategies, Elmborg develops a pedagogy for the reference desk. He encourages librarians to resist the temptation of simply doing students’ work for them at the reference desk and, instead, to take advantage of the ‘teachable moments’ reference transactions often provide.” This article proposes that we use constructivist learning theory—primarily composition theory—to develop a pedagogy for the reference desk. This approach implies that reference is a form of teaching, and that to maximize their educational effectiveness, academic librarians need to approach reference transactions as academic conferences where teaching and learning take place.


Baker, Betsy. “Values for the Learning Library.” Research Strategies 17, no. 2/3 (2000): 85-91.

In this article, Backer proposes values to guide academic librarians in a shift to focus on learning rather than teaching. Highlights include making connections to a wide range of information and ideas and offering easy access to library resources. The committee noted that Baker’s article is a “clear and inspiring vision of the learning library and its core values: converge, convey, conduce.”


Shirato, Linda, ed. Special issue of Reference Services Review 27, no. 3 (1999): 213-90.

Titled “”eference and Instructional Services for Libraries in the Digital Age,” this special issue of Reference Services Review is a collection of articles that look back on the history of library instruction while simultaneously looking forward to assess where the field is headed. The committee felt the collection was “an excellent primer for those newly entering the field of instruction and a refreshing update for those long involved.”


Lindauer, Bonnie Gratch. “Defining and Measuring the Library’s Impact on Campus-wide Outcomes.” College & Research Libraries 59, no. 6 (1998): 546-70.

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Lindauer’s article addresses how and why libraries need to be participants in campus assessment and accreditation processes. Using accreditation and ACRL sectional standards/criteria, the author identifies important institutional outcomes to which academic libraries contribute, describes specific performance indicators whose measures of impacts and outputs provide evidence about progress and achievement, and offers a conceptual framework of assessment domains for the teaching–learning library. The committee noted, “Based on sound research methodology and a thorough literature review, Lindauer’s article provides an excellent tool for use by librarians to help them become true players in their institutions’ assessment and accreditation processes. Information literacy is ideally a campus-wide phenomenon, and assessment of instruction programs must be understood by all members of the campus. Lindauer gives us the means to achieve this goal.”


Bruce, Christine. The Seven Faces of Information Literacy. Adelaide, Australia: Auslib Press, 1997.

In this book, based on her doctoral dissertation, Bruce explores the ways in which information literacy is experienced by people and posits a relational model of information literacy rather than the more traditional behaviorist model. She creates a new theoretical framework for understanding the phenomenon of information literacy, suggesting seven new concepts, or conceptions, of information literacy based on user definitions. The committee noted, “Christine Bruce’s work is provocative and challenging and presents a unique interpretation of the ‘phenomenon’ of information literacy. . . . Bruce’s work has made a significant contribution to the literature of information literacy and will likely generate further research in the burgeoning and increasingly important field.”


Leckie, Gloria J. “Desperately Seeking Citations: Uncovering Faculty Assumptions about the Undergraduate Research Process.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 22, no. 3 (1996): 201-08.

Leckie explores the assumptions faculty make about students’ research skills, how these shape the nature of research assignments, and the challenges students encounter as a result. She makes recommendations for librarians, including encouraging faculty to teach information retrieval skills in their courses. The committee described the article as “a clearly written, thought-provoking, and insightful discussion of what might be a major contributor to typical undergraduate anxiety and frustration when it comes to doing research in the library for course assignments: the gap between faculty assumptions about their assignments and the research process and students’ abilities (and limitations) to undertake this research.”


Hardesty, Larry. “Faculty Culture and Bibliographic Instruction: An Exploratory Analysis.” Library Trends 44, no. 2 (1995): 339-67.

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Hardesty examines faculty culture, identifying cultural values that create challenges for instruction librarians who seek to collaborate with faculty. The committee selected the article as a, “thoughtful and thought-provoking piece that every academic librarian should read to gain a better understanding of their teaching faculty colleagues and the culture in which they operate” and believed, “it will prove to be a seminal article in the literature of librarianship and library instruction and that it is likely to stimulate further original research in this subject.”


Jacobson, Frances F., and Michael J. Jacobson. “Representative Cognitive Learning Theories and BI: A Case Study of End User Searching.” Research Strategies 11, no. 3 (1993): 124-37.

Jacobson and Jacobson discuss an online searching instructional program for high school seniors and propose an approach to applying learning theory to library instruction. The topics the authors address include concept-based teaching, novice versus expert search methods, mental models, cognitive flexibility theory, and situated cognition. The committee noted, “This article presents a groundbreaking merger of three theories of cognitive learning which are then applied within the environment of bibliographic instruction. Jacobson and Jacobson present a flexible example which can be emulated in programs of instruction at all levels. Their synthesis of recent developments in learning theory is masterful, yet easily comprehended within the context of current theory in instruction. This article serves as a model for excellence in both arenas – theory and practice – and demonstrates that it is indeed possible to ‘practice what you preach.’”


Mech, Terrence F., and Donald W. Farmer, eds. Information Literacy: Developing Students as Independent Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992. Also published as New Directions in Higher Education, Issue 78 (1992): 1-125.

This collection of essays explores the concept of information literacy and argues that it is an essential characteristic of an educated person, necessary for living and working in the Information Age. The award committee noted, “Higher education institutions are being challenged to develop students who can assess and evaluate information from a variety of sources. Information Literacy effectively articulates the efforts of several universities and colleges to meet this challenge.”