Featured Teaching Librarian: Justina Elmore

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.

Justina ElmoreName:

Justina Elmore


University of Rochester

Job Title:

Outreach Librarian for the Social Sciences

Number of Years Teaching:

13 (eek!)

Are you a dogs or cats fan?

I have a dachshund the size of a cat… .

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Abbott’s Chocolate Almond Frozen Custard

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

I’m embedded in a writing class called Comics and Culture, where I provide information literacy instruction sessions for research and visual literacy. Over the course of the semester, students develop an argumentative research paper, transform that work into a multimodal project, and present their projects at a Comic-Con event held in the library. The lesson plan for the visual literacy session is available in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox under a Creative Commons license .

Tell us about your favorite teaching tools (e.g. cool apps, clickers, etc.).

In the past few semesters, I’ve been working with classes to create digital scholarship projects using our Digital Scholar platform powered by Reclaim Hosting. For example, I’m embedded in a political science class which paired with a community partner in need of data to support advocacy for the creation of a Landlord-Tenant Court in Rochester, NY (which would require state legislation). Students in the course gathered and analyzed data on landlord-tenant cases heard in Rochester City Court during the 2017 calendar year to better understand landlord-tenant issues and the eviction process. The data analysis conducted by students was presented as a website using WordPress pages through Digital Scholar. I also love Mentimeter for polling in classes. During pop-up events, I’ve used Twitterfall to create an easy twitter wall on our 4K screens. Finally, if I’m teaching in a classroom without a whiteboard, I use Web Whiteboard. I like this tool because it’s easy to use and you can quickly get to it and share it without logins.

What class do you teach the most and how do you keep it fresh?

I am an embedded librarian mostly for introductory writing classes or upper level courses in psychology, political science, or gender, sexuality or women’s studies with a designated writing component. One of the easiest things to do is to get creative with and change up the anticipatory set. If it hooks you, it’s more likely to hook your students. I am also always looking for new/different approaches to hands-on activities (making these the bulk of any class!).

Are you involved as an embedded librarian?

Yep. When I negotiate with a faculty member, I always try to come armed with assignment ideas or assignment modifications to make it worth their while to change their syllabus and/or give up class time.

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

If at first you’re given a no by a faculty member (whether you’ve pitched a one-shot or are trying to flip one into something more embedded), keep trying! Building relationships with faculty takes time and effort. Keep making yourself useful and they’ll come to trust you. Second, use wait time consciously and try not to call on the same student twice. Ask students open-ended questions and don’t fill the silence; it’s okay for them (and you) to feel a little uncomfortable in order to get them to engage.

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