Featured Teaching Librarian: Hannah Gascho Rempel

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: Hannah Gascho Rempel
Institution: Oregon State University
Job Title: Science Librarian & Graduate Student Services Coordinator
Number of Years Teaching: 12

What are you reading right now?
I just finished When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin. My kids participate in our state’s Battle of the Books program, so I’m trying to get a jump on next year’s reading list.

Where do you do your best thinking?
Walking—anywhere that gets me away from my desk—around campus, in the library, or on trails.

What is your favorite class to teach and why?
I teach several Zotero workshops each term—sometimes in a drop-in workshop format targeting graduate students and faculty, and sometimes as a guest lecturer in classes for undergrads or grad students. I really enjoy teaching Zotero for a number of reasons. One reason is that my practical side appreciates introducing learners to a tool that isn’t particularly abstract and provides tangible ways to help with their research journey. Another reason is because I use Zotero myself as a researcher, so my instruction is rooted in my own experiences. By modeling my research workflow—and emphasizing some of the idiosyncrasies of that workflow—I often see learners begin to think about their own research needs and how they might use Zotero to create meaning and connections from the sources they find. Seeing that light bulb go on for learners is always exciting. The third reason I enjoy teaching Zotero is because the tool itself changes just often enough to keep me on my toes and to provide me with new learning challenges, but not so often that I dread opening the program each time I’m in front of a new class.

What class do you teach the most and how do you keep it fresh?
In my role as the liaison to the College of Agricultural Sciences, I work with an upper-division undergraduate Animal Sciences class each term called “Ethical Issues in Animal Agriculture.” Students are tasked with writing a fairly standard research paper based on a range of sources, including peer-reviewed articles, and must use a journal-specific citation style. When I first started teaching this class, I approached it in a fairly standard kind of way—cover what peer review is, show some databases, practice searching for articles. Since then, I have made many changes to how I approach the class, and anticipate that I will continue making changes in the future. Part of what has kept the class fresh is my ability to make those changes. I have worked with the same course instructors for many years. They value my input and have rolled with my need to try new things in the class. Initially, some of the changes I made were driven by my desire to incorporate more active learning elements, such as topic mapping or small group brainstorming, into the class. More recently, the changes have been initiated because I wanted to try out new pedagogies based on theoretical frameworks. For example, when the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education was introduced, I wanted to try focusing the class more on the Research as Inquiry frame. Because this class focuses on ethical issues and sources can be drawn from many arenas, I wanted to spend more time in class developing dispositions related to open-ended exploration. This meant I needed to flip some of the content. The instructors were happy to give me both a pre-library and a post-library assignment to cover more of the procedural skills so we could spend more time in class modeling how to navigate sticky questions. More recently, I have used Wineburg and McGrew’s 2017 study on lateral reading to model how to approach the research (which includes reading) process. I look forward to trying variations of that approach again this term.

Tell us about the library instruction program at your institution. How many librarians at your institution teach?
At OSU, I am in the Teaching & Engagement department. Our department has eight members. While our department provides the majority of the input on strategic instruction initiatives, about 20 librarians total are involved in teaching in a variety of ways at OSU. Being surrounded by so many teaching librarians gives me a support network of other highly engaged teachers to bounce my ideas off of and gives me opportunities to observe and borrow from other great librarian teachers.

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Recordings Available: Building Virtual Community Brainstorming Sessions

Recordings are now available for the ACRL Instruction Section Building Virtual Community Task Force Brainstorming Sessions.

Materials for the May 25 session on Virtual Tools for Professional Development and New Avenues for In-Person and Virtual Social Connections are at:

Materials for the May 29 session on IS Policy, Leadership and Committee Structure, and Website are at:

The Zoom recordings do not include the chat window where much of the discussion took place, so we recommend also downloading the chat file to follow along (available in the folders above).

You, too, can participate in the ongoing discussion on IS’s transition to virtual using the feedback form at https://bit.ly/2LtkvCk. This form is a place for you to offer your perspective; please feel free to use it more than once.

The Task Force would like to thank everyone who attended and contributed to the brainstorming sessions, in particular Lori DuBois for her help with IS history.

ISBVCTF Co-Chairs:
Liz Barksdale, embarksdale@gmail.com
Joe Goetz, goetzje@gmail.com


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2018 IS Annual Virtual Discussion Forum

Critical reading is defined as reading for a “. . . deeper understanding of how information is constructed, valued, and embedded within larger conversations.” But how can we best integrate critical reading into our professional practice? Join the ACRL Instruction Section’s 2018 Annual Virtual Discussion Forum for a panel discussion on defining, teaching, and promoting critical reading. This panel will view the issue from a variety of perspectives including: teaching critical reading to different student groups, using effective teaching strategies for credit-bearing versus one-shot instruction, supporting critical reading in the university curriculum, and understanding research on critical reading. The ACRL IS Discussion Group Steering Committee presents:

Critical Reading for Learning and Social Change: A Panel Discussion

Panelists will include:

  • Hannah Gascho Rempel, College of Agricultural Sciences Librarian & Graduate Student Services Coordinator, Oregon State University (moderator)
  • Anne-Marie Deitering, Associate University Librarian for Learning Services, Oregon State University (moderator)
  • Anne Jumonville Graf, First Year Experience Librarian/Associate Professor, Trinity University
  • Rosemary Green, Graduate Programs Librarian/Adjunct Professor, Shenandoah University
  • Stephanie Otis, Associate Dean for Public Services, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The virtual panel will take place on Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 from 1:00pm-2:00pm Central Standard Time. More information is available on the ACRL IS discussion digest: https://acrl.ala.org/IS/2018-is-annual-virtual-discussion-forum-2/

Register now, as space is limited:


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April 2018 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.

April 2018 Site of the Month: Research Essentials Online

Interview with: Dani Wellemeyer and Jess Williams
Interviewer: Liz King

Project Description: This site showcases the online learning materials developed in-house at UMKC Libraries for the Research Essentials information literacy instruction program. Research Essentials is taught to three levels of writing and speaking courses in online, hybrid, and face-to-face configurations. Each level (100, 200, 300) features a lesson and quiz; each lesson contains a learning path of information literacy topics; and each quiz covers all the material from the corresponding lesson. The 100 lesson is introductory and focuses on the information cycle as a way of beginning to cover many concepts, including authors, audiences, and source types. The 200 lesson focuses on specifics of source types, fundamentals of searching, and source evaluation. The 300 lesson goes further in depth with its treatment of information creators and the research process. The learning objects on this site are assigned to online courses and used as flipped classroom material with hybrid and face-to-face courses, in which students spend classroom time on practical application of concepts learned beforehand through the online material. Each module was created using eCoach, a cloud-based e-learning authoring tool with rapid release, which allows for updates to the deployed learning objects at any time. Each module features video, images, infographics, and interactive elements, combining OERs with original content in modules designed specifically to support the university’s general education learning outcomes. In credit-bearing courses students complete Research Essentials lessons and quizzes as SCORM items in their instructor’s course site in the university’s LMS (currently Blackboard) so that scoring data is visible to each instructor for use as a grade.

The full interview is available at: http://acrl.ala.org/IS/instruction-tools-resources-2/pedagogy/primo-peer-reviewed-instruction-materials-online/primo-site-of-the-month/april-2018-site-of-the-month/

To see the archive of previous Site of the Month interviews, please see http://acrl.ala.org/IS/instruction-tools-resources-2/pedagogy/primo-peer-reviewed-instruction-materials-online/primo-site-of-the-month/

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Instruction Section committee appointment process for the coming year

Submitted on behalf of Meghan Sitar, Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, ACRL Instruction Section

I have completed the Instruction Section committee appointment process for the coming year. Following Merinda’s lead from last year, I wanted to make the process more transparent for the Section by sharing a rundown of the numbers from this year’s round of appointments.

# of Opportunities Compared to # of Volunteers

  • In total, there are currently 175 slots for volunteers across the Section.
  • 94 of those 175 slots were filled by continuing or reappointed committee members, including appointments of Chairs and Vice-Chairs. Attention was paid to committee members not exceeding five years of consecutive service to any one committee when reappointments were made.
  • That left 81 open slots across all committees and task forces after reappointments were made to existing committees.
  • This number includes 26 new slots created this year through the creation of two new task forces and the addition of member slots to existing committees where appropriate.
  • We had 185 unique IS member volunteers for these 81 open slots. This means 104 volunteers regrettably did not receive any appointment.
  • Because volunteers can express interest in more than one committee, these 185 unique IS member volunteers expressed interest 581 times across committees. For example, 80 people volunteered for the 3 open slots on the Teaching Methods Committee.

# of Opportunities for First-Time Appointees

  • Of the remaining 81 slots, 53 went to members who were first-time appointees to any type of IS volunteer opportunity.
  • 28 slots went to members with previous experience serving in IS. In some cases, these were instances where a committee appointment was the result of a selection process (for example, the Publications Editor on the Communications Committee) or a standing appointment (for example, the appointment of the Section’s Past Chair to the Awards Committee)
  • In the case of the two new task forces, 4 first-time appointees and 4 experienced appointees were added to each group.

Guiding Principles

I used the following guiding principles to choose between available volunteers.

  • Priority was given to volunteers who had not yet served in the Section and who did not already have an appointment to other ACRL committees at the section or division level.
  • Information provided by the volunteer in their application was carefully considered, with priority given to IS members who connected their professional interests to the work of the Section or the specific committees for which they volunteered.

I want to sincerely thank all of the Instruction Section members who volunteered. I know it can be disappointing to not immediately have a way to continue participating in the Section’s work if you did not receive an appointment. In order to create opportunities for our newer members and first-time volunteers, returning volunteers who have dedicated their time and talents in the past may not have received an appointment. The lack of appointment does not reflect a lack of value attached to your membership and involvement in the Instruction Section. I encourage you to volunteer next year and to keep your eyes peeled for additional opportunities that will likely emerge for contributing during this year. I also encourage you to share your work in response to calls for proposals by the Discussion Group Steering committee and other groups doing programming for the Section. Finally, please consider volunteering as an Instruction Section Mentor for our very successful mentoring program when it begins recruiting at the end of the summer.


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Recording for Collective Learning: Developing an Instruction Community of Practice

On April 11th the Instruction Section’s Management and Leadership Committee hosted a virtual event titled: Collective Learning: Developing an Instruction Community of Practice. Amanda Peters and Doreen Bradley (University of Michigan) and Marybeth McCartin (New York University) and Nicole Brown (UC Berkeley) spoke about their experiences establishing communities of practice at their institutions.

We encourage you to view the recording of the event.

Slides are also available for both sets of presenters:

Thank you to our speakers and to everyone who participated!

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Featured Teaching Librarian: Becky Canovan

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: Becky Canovan

Institution: University of Dubuque

Job Title: Assistant Director of Public Services

Number of Years Teaching: 10

What’s your favorite season? Fall. Fall in the Midwest is best. I love wrapping up in a sweater, jeans and flip flops and taking a coffee out to my favorite park on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi. I’m not a big nature person, but I love being outside and “nature adjacent” when the bugs aren’t trying to eat me alive. Plus, because I’ve spent so much time in my life in academia, fall is a time of new beginnings and clean slates, even if it doesn’t look that way outside.

Where do you do your best thinking? I do my best creative and productive thinking in my car—the worst place for good ideas! I’ve been known to call my mom or a friend to ask them to email me an idea before I forget it. I also have a bunch of ideas in voice memos on my phone, including two different maid of honor toasts I’ve given in the last few years.

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

In an upper-level sociology class, the students have to find 15 scholarly sources to weave into a one- page executive summary for an actual client. Stress levels are high in the class, and one semester a student asked me if we were going to talk about summarizing strategies for that many sources. I hadn’t planned on it, but decided to add a pair of activities to the instruction days. I have students describe an iSpy picture I provide in a maximum of two sentences. Then we share them and identify summarizing strategies like grouping (by color, theme, use, or feeling), listing, generalizing, and identifying outliers.

There happens to be a giant gold alligator in the middle of the picture that is a great metaphor for those outlying articles you might find that don’t quite fit the rest of your research. Seeing how students deal with that is illustrative. I’m sure to stress the importance of finding sources that work together to answer their question, not just discuss their topic. In a later session in the class, I use a similar technique with snippets of scholarly studies and a research question to help them practice the skill. Again, I craft the question and sources so it’s not a simple or singular correct answer. The idea of an alligator article definitely permeates the class now. [See associated Research Guide, scroll to bottom to see iSpy picture.]

Tell us about the library instruction program at your institution. How many librarians at your institution teach?

Our instruction team of four professional librarians and the library director teach about 400 IL sessions a year. A little over half of these come in Core Curriculum courses. The librarians collaboratively build a framework lesson plan, slides, and research guide for these courses. However, because we all have different teaching styles and strengths, we take those frameworks and tweak and adapt them to fit our style while ensuring our students learn the same skills and cover the same outcomes using similar techniques.

We each also work with liaison departments to provide IL instruction and resources. Last year we worked with 19 different disciplines to do one-shots, sequenced sessions, online support, and create research guides. The director doesn’t teach in the Core, but does teach credit-bearing IL courses in two of our graduate programs.

Our instruction team also includes four paraprofessional staff members who assist in classes. Some of our classes and orientation sessions are large enough that hands-on learning in class requires another person to assist. Our archives assistant is frequently in classes that utilize our archive materials. Our office manager helps with poster and graphic design. And most importantly, our reference staffers assist in Core classes to see what we teach to better help students at the reference desk.

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

  1. Think about your approach to the instruction and be purposeful in that approach. I approach instruction from two perspectives: the professor and the student. I start with the faculty member’s goal for the assignment and work my way backward to identify the skills necessary for the students to be successful. Then I approach the assignment as the student would in order to see what hurdles they might encounter. That combination of skills and hurdles make up the backbone of my instruction and helps me figure out how to break down what is usually a large and complex process into a series of manageable ideas, steps, or concepts.

  3. Get creative! Use both concrete and abstract strategies. Practicing a skill, like critical thinking, over and over in the same way is not always the most effective way to learn it. Design activities and learning objects that might shine light on an abstract concept in ways many might think are ‘out of the box.’ For example, I teach summarizing strategies using iSpy pictures or explain the research process as a murder mystery. I liken research studies to baking chocolate chip cookies. Lit reviews are totally the academic version of Googling recipes to compare!
    Skill practice can be spiced up, too. For an activity on creating and delivering presentations, I took inspiration from the cooking show Chopped. I gave students a digital basket of all the materials to create a presentation on why not to cite Wikipedia: outline, images, quotes, citations, etc. Before the judging by a panel of my coworkers, each group had to justify why they selected what they did and why they designed it the way they did. I wanted both the students and faculty member to see that a presentation without a corresponding paper is about more than just slapping together a PowerPoint. You can see the activity on my old Google site.
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ICYMI: Teaching Methods Virtual Event Recording

On April 11th the Instruction Section’s Teaching Methods Committee hosted a virtual event titled: Gendered Labor and Library Instruction Coordination. Veronica Arellano Douglas and Joanna Gadsby, authors of Gendered Labor and Library Instruction Coordinators: The Undervaluing of Feminized Work, examined the structures and expectations inherent in the role of instruction coordinators through a critical feminist lens. Following their presentation, Veronica and Joanna responded to lively questions and facilitated discussion with the attendees.

It was a wonderful event and we invite you to view the recording if you were unable to attend.

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ACRL Instruction Section Members Needed for Interviews

Dear ACRL-IS members,

As the Instruction Section transitions to a virtual community, we are exploring innovative and exciting ways to engage members! An enthusiastic and creative group of 2018 ALA Emerging Leaders are crafting a plan for member engagement alongside the work of the IS Building Virtual Community Task Force. To ensure their plan is the most beneficial for our members, they’re asking to interview volunteers about their experiences in the Instruction Section. Phone or virtual interviews will last between 20-40 minutes and will consist of questions about social media use, professional development needs, and how the Instruction Section can best engage you virtually and in-person.

They are looking to interview members at different places in their careers and at different kinds of institutions. Please consider helping our Emerging Leaders! Interviews will be entirely confidential and results will only be shared in the aggregate.

Click here to volunteer!

Meghan Sitar
Vice-Chair, ACRL Instruction Section

on behalf of our Emerging Leaders Project Team

Brittany Fiedler
Michelle McCarthy-Behler
Ashlyn Velte
Jenny Yap

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Building Virtual Committee Task Force

Instruction Section colleagues,

Beginning with the 2018 American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans, the Instruction Section (IS) will no longer hold in-person events at the ALA Annual Conference. This will complete the section’s transition to working virtually, as for some years IS has not held official meetings at Midwinter. The IS Building Virtual Community (BVC) Task Force is working to address the challenges posed by this transition and looking for new opportunities to grow our professional community.

How will our virtual section be welcoming and inclusive to all members?

How will we expand opportunities for members’ professional development?

How will our committee and leadership structure adapt to this new model?

What tools will we use to facilitate digital collaboration, and in what new regional or national venues will we meet each other in person?

The IS BVC Task Force needs your input on these and other questions as we craft  recommendations for the section’s virtual communication and work in 2018 and 2019. Please see our task force charge at http://www.ala.org/acrl/is/acr-instfbvc, then offer your feedback and ideas at https://goo.gl/forms/r5o5fYa58zEoYgD53. We also invite you to contact the committee co-chairs if you have any additional questions or comments regarding the transition to a virtual section:

Liz Barksdale: embarksdale@gmail.com

Joe Goetz: goetzje@gmail.com

Thank you for sharing your ideas and perspectives during this exciting transition!

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