October 2019 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.

October 2019 PRIMO Site of the Month: Reading Scholarly Articles. Interview with creators Amanda Nichols Hess and Joanna Thielen and interviewed by Rachel M. Cooke.

A description of the project has been provided by the creators:

“Reading Scholarly Articles is a three-lesson, freestanding e-learning course that students can enroll in to learn more about effectively understanding peer-reviewed articles. The lessons provide chunked information with formative assessment opportunities throughout so that students can check their understanding about the concepts addressed. Students can select from a number of discipline-specific articles and formative assessment options so that they can get hands-on, practical experience in their subject area. The outcomes for this e-learning resource are that, upon completion, students should be able to:

  • Describe the kinds of information they will find in scholarly and popular articles, and identify the differences between these kinds of resources;
  • Identify the sections of a scholarly article as well as the kinds of information they can expect to find in each section; and
  • Explain strategies to read scholarly articles meaningfully and intentionally, and pick out the strategies that will be most useful as they read scholarly articles in their discipline.

Once students have worked through the three lessons, in order, they can take a quiz to test their knowledge; a score of at least 80% earns the Reading Scholarly Articles badge, which is a static credential of completion.”

The full interview is available here.

See the archive for previous Site of the Month interviews.

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Announcing ACRL Liaison to the Conference on College Composition and Communication

The Instruction Section and Literatures in English Section is happy to announce the appointment of Dr. Kathy Anders to the position of ACRL Liaison to the Conference on College Composition and Communication. In this 3-year appointment, Kathy will be responsible for outreach, education, and communication between the CCCC and ACRL in order to form strong relationships and advance the interests of ACRL, IS and LES.

Kathy is an assistant professor and graduate studies librarian at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include the intersections of information literacy, writing studies, and scholarly communications. She enjoys interdisciplinary collaborations that bring together libraries and writing programs.

Thank you to everyone who expressed an interest in this role.

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Do you know the next recipient of the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian of the Year Award?

The ACRL Instruction Section is now accepting nominations for the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian of the Year Award. This award recognizes an individual librarian who has built a record of contributions that have advanced the pursuit of teaching and learning in a college or research library environment. The winner will receive a $1,000 prize.

Nominees should be highly accomplished in aspects of librarianship such as leadership of a library instruction program, production of a body of research and publication, outstanding participation in organizations at the regional or national level, and/or consistent mentorship or professional development of other library professionals.

For more information about the award criteria, nominating process, and a list of past recipients, please see the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award web page: http://www.ala.org/acrl/awards/achievementawards/miriamdudley.

To nominate someone for the Dudley Award, complete the online nomination form.

  • Nominations must include the name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number of the nominator and the nominee.
  • Include a letter of support detailing the nominee’s qualifications for the award.
  • Additional letters of support (up to three) are encouraged and will be considered as part of the nomination packet.
  • Nominations must be submitted electronically
  • Deadline for nominations is December 6, 2019

Questions? Contact Meghan Sitar, Dudley Award Chair, at msitar@umich.edu

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ACRL IS and LES seek liaison to Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC)

The ACRL Instruction Section (IS) and Literatures in English Section (LES) are currently seeking applications to serve a three-year term (through July 2022) as the ACRL liaison to the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). CCCC, a conference of the National Council of Teachers of English, supports postsecondary teachers of rhetoric, composition and communication.

This is a new liaison position, recently approved by ACRL.  Liaisons are responsible for outreach, education, and communication between the CCCC and ACRL in order to form strong relationships and advance the interests of ACRL, IS and LES.

About the CCCC

CCCC, according to its mission statement, “advocates for broad and evolving definitions of literacy, communication, rhetoric and writing (including multimodal discourse, digital communication, and diverse language practices) that emphasize the value of these activities to empower individuals and communities.” CCCC’s advocacy for a broad definition of literacy, which includes digital and multimodal literacy, dovetails very nicely with ACRL’s goal to advance student learning and advocacy for information literacy and other literacies. As both CCCC and ACRL are looking to collaborate with institutional partners to improve curricula, it makes sense to bring these two organizations together. 

Deadline for Applications

September 1, 2019

Submission Requirements

Nominees must submit:

  • An email of application articulating qualifications to Meghan Sitar, Past-Chair, ACRL Instruction Section, msitar@umich.edu
  • A current vita


  • Liaison attends CCCC Annual Convention, which takes place in March.  
  • Liaison must be willing to identify opportunities for collaboration with CCCC members on research and scholarship to advance understanding of ethical and effective teaching practices, shared frameworks, and other emerging focus areas.
  • Liaison should effectively share information about ACRL strategic initiatives and agendas to CCCC.
  • Liaison must submit a report jointly to the Executive Committees of IS and LES and contribute a newsletter item following attendance at the conference, providing a summary of the experience. 
  • Liaison will also report to the ACRL Liaisons Assembly.



  • Current member of IS or LES.
  • Experience working with composition and writing programs as a librarian.
  • Interest in coordinating activities to increase interaction between the CCCC, ACRL, IS, and LES.
  • Financial support to attend the CCCC for the length of the three-year term if not funded by ACRL (Note:  Liaison may apply for conference funding from the grants working group of the ACRL External Liaisons Committee, but funding is not guaranteed. The current deadline to apply for Spring 2020 conference funding is September 15, 2019.)
  • Experience with or interest in outreach and advocacy to campus stakeholders engaged in writing instruction.
  • Excellent communication skills


  • Record of serving IS, LES, and/or ACRL on committees, task forces, etc.
  • Experience conducting research on the collaborations between composition instructors and librarians.

IS and LES are committed to assessing applicants promptly in order to allow the liaison to apply for funding through ACRL’s grants program. 

If you have any questions about the process, please contact msitar@umich.edu.

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2019 Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award: Megan Oakleaf

Megan Oakleaf is the 2019 recipient of the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award. Megan accepted this award at the ACRL Annual Conference on April 11, 2019. The 2018/2019 Awards Committee would like to share her acceptance speech as a means of honoring Megan for her many accomplishments, and to continue to inspire instruction librarians to engage in this community, critically reflect on our role as instruction librarians, and continue to assess our teaching.

Many thanks to ACRL Instruction Section for this award, and for your kind words Merinda! I’m so honored to receive this award and share this moment with Sharon, and I too want to acknowledge many of the other Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian Award winners who I have had the pleasure to connect with and who have had such a lasting impact on my career, both in practice and research, including: Mary MacDonald, Lisa Hinchliffe, Esther Grassian, Beth Woodard, Craig Gibson, Randy Hensley, and of course my professional heroes: Betsy Wilson, Patty Iannuzzi, and Deb Gilchrist. I’m so grateful to be in their company and to belong to a profession that values this work—the “instruction librarian” work so many of us do, oftentimes from our first days as a librarian and sometimes right through to retirement.

I don’t know whether the teaching role of librarians has always had primacy among the many roles a librarian undertakes. I do know that the teaching role of librarians has never been more important than it is now. Indeed, in this place and time, those who teach and those who provide information—and more importantly, provide a means of engaging with information in useful, meaningful, and ethical ways—those are the people, we are the people, who endeavor to develop in learners what someone recently described to me as “intellectual health.”

This “intellectual health” resides both in our heads, where we identify information needs, seek out ways of filling those gaps, and determine whether the information we’re consuming is worth our time and our trust, and it also resides our hearts, where we learn to process information in a different way, look for deeper meaning, seek personal connections, and empower a desire to be compassionate in our dealings, prompting us to ask ourselves:

  • Does our use of information help us attain our goals in positive ways?
  • Does it help others?
  • Does it help us all work toward the greater good?

In other words, are our information practices healthy for our minds and our spirits and for those of the people we share the world with? This work that we do to help learners pursue intellectual health—this work of using our teaching skills to enable the use of information in service of healthy heads and hearts—this is challenging, important, and essential work.

That’s one of the reasons why I value this community so much. I’ve been a teacher all my adult life, and I’ve been a librarian for two decades. And I deeply believe that our work as instruction librarians is essential, within our libraries, across the academy, and throughout society. Our work is core to helping students build lives of the mind in line with their hearts.

And because this work is so core, essential, and consequential—because it matters so much that we get it right—it is imperative that we question ourselves. We need to continuously inquire about whether we are doing things right, whether we are doing the right things, and whether the lens we use to decide what’s right is really, well, right. That introspection, that reflection, that listening to ourselves, our students, and each other is foundational for being responsible practitioners of this most important work.

There’s a word for that kind of inquiry, reflection, introspection, lens-checking, and listening. You knew this was coming, right? That word is assessment. Assessment, as a word, is kind of crummy. First of all, it doesn’t start well. But as a concept? As a concept, it’s central to the work we do.

You cannot teach well if you do not assess.

That sounds dramatic, I suppose, but can you teach well if you don’t reflect on your teaching? Critically inspect your past practice and question whether it could be better? Check your lens to see if somehow it slipped out of focus and needs recalibrated to center your teaching on what grounds and what inspires student learning? Can you teach well if you know nothing about your learners? Can you teach well if you’ve fallen out of touch with the contexts they live in and contend with? Can you teach well, if you’re not listening to them? Really listening?

No, of course you can’t. And so you don’t. Rather, you teach AND you assess.

Throughout the course of my career, I’ve been so inspired by this community, and its ever-growing commitment to assessment, admittedly not always with that moniker. During my time in our profession, our community has committed:

  • to connecting with learners in order to assess the gap between what they know and what they need to know;
  • to assessing whether we’re teaching well or could be teaching better;
  • to gauging the degree to which students learn from their experiences with us;
  • to investigating the impact and, yes, value of teaching and learning in the library;
  • to listening to students and prioritizing their voices as co-creators of their own learning experiences; and, as is evidenced by many programs here in Cleveland,
  • to critically checking our lenses and being open to radical change.

This work—the work of the many instruction librarians in our community to support the intellectual health of students—is a source of constant motivation and inspiration to me, as I’m sure it is to you as well.

So thank you. Thank you for this award which means so much to me, and thank you for including me in this community. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do next!

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New Resources from the Teaching Methods Committee

The ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee has added new committee-recommended sources to their Selected Resources for Teaching Methods and Instructional Design in Library Instruction and their Selected Resources for Assessment in Library Instruction Lists. The committee updates these lists with new resources and annotations annually. You can see the committee’s entire lists in Zotero.

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Call for Nominations: ACRL Instruction Section Featured Teaching Librarian

Do you know someone who is an amazing teaching librarian? 

If yes, consider nominating them as a Featured Teaching Librarian!  
If you’re an amazing teaching librarian, consider nominating yourself.  

The ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee wants to highlight excellent teaching librarians.  Several times during the year, the committee selects and interviews a librarian who demonstrates a passion for teaching, innovation, and student learning.  This feature provides a way to showcase amazing teaching librarians on the ACRL Instruction Section website and share their best teaching practices with others in the field. 

Consider nominating yourself or someone you think is amazing! 
Nominations are due by September 9th, 2019.

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June 2019 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.

June 2017 Site of the Month: Arizona State University (ASU) Tutorials: Understanding Fair Use, Using Videos for Teaching, Writing a Research Data Management Plan
Interview with: Deirdre Kirmis, Anali Perry, Matt Harp
Interviewer: Rachel Cooke

Project Description: “Understanding Fair Use” is an interactive web-based tutorial designed to introduce students to recognizing and understanding Fair Use in everyday situations, as well as how to conduct a Fair Use evaluation.

“Using Videos for Teaching” is an interactive web-based tutorial designed to help instructors understand the provisions which allow them to use copyrighted videos in their courses.

“Writing a Research Data Management Plan” is an interactive web-based tutorial designed to teach students why it is important to prepare a research data management plan, and what the most important components are for the documentation. It teaches the importance of planning for metadata creation and for establishing policies on access, sharing, and reuse of your data.

The full interview is available at: https://acrl.ala.org/IS/instruction-tools-resources-2/pedagogy/primo-peer-reviewed-instruction-materials-online/primo-site-of-the-month/june-2019-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/

Look for more interviews in the fall!

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Teaching Methods Virtual Event – Describing Realities, Imagining Directions: Critical Race Pedagogies in Teaching & Learning

Title:  Describing Realities, Imagining Directions: Critical Race Pedagogies in Teaching & Learning

Time: May 30, 2019 @ 1:00-2:00PM EST |12:00-1:00 PM CST | 11:00-12:00 PM MST | 10:00-11:00 AM PST

Please register at: https://ala-events.zoom.us/webinar/register/94586843c7c66f667c24e00bf0acd2b8

In this presentation, two academic librarians, Jen Brown and Jorge López-McKnight, who are currently practicing and imagining race-focused critical pedagogies, will discuss their teaching and learning approaches that will provide attendees with perspectives, ideas, and strategies to transport to their teaching. Critical race pedagogies draw from a range of theories and concepts that are grounded in affirmation, sustainment, and the centering of the racialized and intersectional information worlds of our learners and communities. Critical race pedagogies are committed to critiquing dominant oppressive power structures, while aiming to provide transformative learning experiences in the spaces we teach, learn, and live in.

Time for Q&A will follow the presentation.


Jen Brown is the Design & Technologies Librarian at Barnard College. In her current role, she oversees day-to-day operations of the library’s new Design Center and teaches learner-focused workshops around DIY projects that draw on makerspace technologies for college students.

Jorge López-McKnight is a library worker at the Austin Community College Riverside Campus, in Austin, Texas. In his current and past library position(s), he participates in various teaching and learning activities with a wide-range of learners.

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Featured Teaching Librarian: Marisa Méndez-Brady

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.

Marisa L. Méndez-Brady

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

Job Title:
Reference and Instruction Librarian

Number of Years Teaching:


Are you a dogs or cats fan?

I love both, but I do have an adorable dog named Baxter, so I’ll have to go with dogs. He’s a rescued pittie-mix from Texas that I’ve had for about eight years now.


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

In my free time I renovate houses with my partner! We started renovating homes in Austin for our then-landlords back in 2010 and just got hooked on taking something decrepit and making it beautiful again. We are currently working on our house in the San Fernando Valley in California. We’re about a year into the renovation and we’re finally almost moved in!

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 favorite activities that I use with students is commonly referred to as the “Teach-In.” The “Teach-In” activity is the central activity in many of my lesson plans, and relies on a structured open-ended exploratory approach to teaching and learning. Typically, this activity addresses the ACRL Information Literacy Frames “Searching as Strategic Exploration” and “Research as Inquiry.” The rough outline for the activity is as follows. First, break students up into small groups and then assign each group a resource to explore (e.g., database, website, journal index, etc.). The key is that all students should be exploring the same concept/topic, but using information sources that will each provide a different perspective. Then, the students should have ample time to explore each resource, basing their exploration on the prompts provided by the library instructor. Once the different groups have explored the assigned resource, each group then presents their information source and teaches the class about how they might use that source for that topic and/or any upcoming assignments.

This activity works the best when there is an upcoming assignment that can ground the learning and the teaching librarian has enough time to plan out the activity in detail. Since this is very much an active learning activity/lesson plan, it requires that the structure is in place that guides the learning and directions are crystal clear. Make sure to include: (1) what should the students be looking for in that resource? and (2) what key things do you want the students to include in their presentation to the class?

I love this activity because it helps create a wonderful dynamic in the classroom where students are centered in the learning community. Plus, I always learn something new from the ways students approach learning library resources!

How do you avoid teaching burnout?

I avoid teaching burnout through collaboration. Bouncing ideas off of peers, colleagues, and mentors helps me get excited about working with students and reminds me why I chose to go into academic librarianship.

When I was at a larger institution, I regularly sought out co-teaching opportunities with colleagues whose work I respected and who I wanted to learn from. Each co-teaching opportunity both helped me learn new skills and pushed me to continually grow as an instructor. Brainstorming lesson plans with others and then watching colleagues in their teaching element really inspires me to keep going, even when I’m feeling burned out.

Now that I am at a smaller institution, I still try to collaborate and brainstorm as often as I can, although I admit it requires more intentionality to find collaborators. I try to collaborate with faculty and graduate student teaching assistants whenever possible in my local environment. That being said, most of my collaboration takes the form of digital communications. To foster connections to other teaching and learning librarians I use Slack and Google Hangouts to brainstorm new techniques and lesson plans. I also regularly schedule video chats where I can see my collaborators and feed off of their energy.

I also think it’s important to acknowledge when the burnout feelings start manifesting and not push them down or ignore them. Academic librarianship can be really lonely and isolating, especially for those of us in smaller institutions. It’s so important that I have a network of like-minded people I can scream, cry, and work through my burnout with.

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

(1) You are absolutely entitled to push back against unreasonable demands from faculty, supervisors, administrators, and colleagues. If you need two weeks to prepare for library instruction, then you are absolutely entitled to ask for that much advance notice. If you need additional support, then ask for additional support. If it makes sense to ask the faculty/instructor to have the students complete a pre-or post-class assignment, then go ahead and do so. Teaching is hard, so make sure you have what you need to be your best teacher self! You know yourself, and you know what you need to do your job.

(2) Don’t be intimidated in the space or feel like you should already have it all figured out. Most librarians don’t have a background in pedagogy/andragogy and most libraries are constantly trying to figure out where they fit into the greater teaching and learning landscape. Experiment, try new things out, and go boldly into that classroom! And then find yourself a group of colleagues (either at your institution or beyond your local environment) to talk through the things that went well and the things that didn’t go so well in the classroom. Almost all of my favorite activities were terrible the first time I tried them out and got better through taking iterative approaches.

What’s your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is succinctly summed up by this bell hooks quote from her book Teaching Critical Thinking: “When everyone in the classroom, teacher and students, recognizes that they are responsible for creating a learning community together, learning is at its most meaningful and useful” (2010, 11).

To elaborate, my approach is focusing on developing critical consciousness around a concept or approach, as opposed to teaching a specific database/tool/strategy. The term “critical consciousness” was coined by philosopher Frantz Fanon and popularized in educational circles by Paulo Freire. Critical consciousness focuses on achieving an in-depth understanding of the world, allowing for the perception and exposure of social and political contradictions. In instruction, instead of relying on information transfer as pedagogical practice (e.g.,”sage on a stage”), the teacher guides and structures the learning so that students arrive at the learning objective(s) on their own as their critical consciousness is raised. Building a learning community in the classroom requires decentering my own authority and instead, centering the diversity of student experiences by allowing for flexibility and self-expression.

James Elmborg introduced the term to instruction librarianship via his 2006 article, “Critical Information Literacy: Implications for Instructional Practice.” I highly recommend this article as a must read. I also like to think a lot about sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s notions of habitus, or the ingrained habits, skills, and dispositions that together build one’s world view. It is the way that individuals perceive the social world around them and react to it. At the center of my lesson plans is almost always the question: How can we break students’ habitus to raise critical consciousness?


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