Featured Teaching Librarian: Amy Snyder

Several times a year, the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee selects and interviews a librarian who demonstrates a passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning.

Name

Amy Snyder

Institution: 

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

Job Title:

Education Librarian

Number of Years Teaching:

9


Why did you become a librarian?

I did not start off thinking I would become a librarian. However, when I was younger, I read a lot, which led to me volunteering and then working at the public library in high school. After I graduated college, I realized how rewarding I found helping others and went back to working in a library, and then went for my master’s degree in library science.

What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?

Being in nature; I try to hike every weekend and set a personal goal last year to try to visit all of Pennsylvania’s state parks, which I am still a long way from reaching.

Describe a favorite activity that you use with students (this could be for a face-to-face class, online, or hybrid class).

One of my former colleagues shared the idea of using online shopping in information literacy instruction. I took that idea and applied it to evaluating sources. Our English Composition class is typically one of the first classes where I see students, so I like to start off with something they might already be familiar with— in this case, online shopping. I have students write down on a piece of paper what criteria they use when making a purchase. Then I have them get up and swap papers with other students. This gets them moving and means everyone should hopefully have some ideas to share. From there, we crowdsource a master list of criteria that we can use when purchasing, as we do not want to buy things that do not meet our needs. I then take the students shopping online. I often have us shop for a yoga mat as a tie-in to our college offering fitness classes. The students help me decide what criteria are important for our purchase and how we might add them to our search. For example, do we value price, the length of the yoga mat, whether it has good reviews, what shipping options exist, etc.? Often, non-yoga-mat items pop up and that is a way to mention keywords and how they work. We repeat these ideas in the context of sources and searching in library databases, showing how the things they might already be doing in their personal lives can apply here, too.

Are you involved as an embedded librarian?

I am embedded in a lot of classes in our college’s learning management system. For in-person/synchronous online classes, being embedded might mean posting a follow-up class announcement with takeaways from our session, posting reminders later in the semester as deadlines to assignments involving information literacy skills approach, and putting library resources in their course at the point of need. For asynchronous online classes, that might mean a lot of the same things, but I sometimes go beyond that by participating in class activities or collaborating with faculty to include content. Personally, I make a spreadsheet at the beginning of the semester that lists the courses I am working with and when projects/assignments will be coming due, to keep track of what I want to target in the courses.

Name two things you would share with a librarian who is new to teaching.

1. Focus on your objective: I have heard others share this advice too, but it is still something I need to remind myself of. I find it tempting to want to pack a lot of information into a session, especially when that might be the only time I see those students during their program. However, I have to remind myself that pointing out extra things can take away from what I really want them to leave the session knowing.

2. You are not alone: At my first academic library job, I was encouraged to observe my colleagues teaching. It was a nice way to see that there are a number of different styles and not one way to teach. I also really appreciate having others to bounce ideas off of or go through my tutorials to make sure they get my point across. Some of these individuals are my current colleagues (in the library and outside the library), as well as individuals at other institutions. I enjoy being a part of local professional organizations, as that can be a great way to meet other librarians and share ideas, too.

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