ACRL IS Current Issue Discussion Digest – ALA Annual 2011

Library Instruction in Tough Economic Times

Convener: Joan Petit, Portland State University

Sunday, June 26, 4:00-5:30pm
New Orleans Marriott Studio 1&2 | New Orleans, LA

Hiring freezes, budget cuts, and increasing enrollments mean tough times for instructional services in academic libraries, and many of us are faced with difficult decisions about how to improve or even maintain our levels of service with fewer resources. We always want to do more—teach more classes, meet with more students, build more resource guides and tools—but without more people, it may not be possible to do it all.

Rather than lament the past, in this future-oriented session, we will discuss and brainstorm strategies for efficient and effective instruction offerings that meet our students’ needs without exhausting ourselves. As a group, we can generate creative strategies and solutions that may not occur to any of us individually. Even libraries that haven’t faced cuts can benefit from considering how to approach library instruction programs with more strategy, to be proactive rather than reactive.

Through individual brainstorming, small group discussion, and large group discussion, our conversation will revolve around these issues:

  • How do we prioritize different students’ need for instruction?
  • How can we, and should we, use technology in lieu of library instruction sessions?
  • How can we, and should we, use library staff and student workers in lieu of librarians?
  • How do we choose where to focus our efforts and what to stop doing given limited resources?
  • When is our goal “good enough” rather than perfection?
  • How do we improve planning, evaluation, and assessment when we’re in the classroom much of the day?
  • How do we avoid the temptation to try to do it all ourselves?

Suggested Readings

Ostrow, Michele, Meghan Sitar, and Cindy Fisher. “Letting Go: Giving Up Control to Improve First-year Information Literacy Programs.” ACRL National Conference 2011.

Signature Course Faculty Toolkit
This website supports the UT-Austin program discussed in the presentation above.

Faix, Allison I., Margaret H. Bates, Lisa A. Hartman, Jennifer H. Hughes, Casey N. Schacher, Brooke J. Elliot, and Alexander D. Woods. “Peer Reference Redefined: New Uses for Undergraduate Students.” Reference Services Review 38.1 (2010): 90-107. DOI: 10.1108/00907321011020752

Senior, Heidi E. K. 2010. “Student Workers at the Reference Desk.” OLA Quarterly 16, no. 2: 5-6.

Ford, Emily. “How Do You Say NO?” In the Library with the Lead Pipe. Dec. 16, 2009.


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