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Wildcard Wednesdays

Building an Instructional Menu

A nine-square grid with three columns labeled in person, virtual, and self paced with rows for objectives 1, 2, and 3. Three squares have a X marked on them. The grid is titled 'Design your library instruction menu!'

We love it, we hate it, we can’t escape it: gallons of physical and digital ink have been spilled over the library one-shot, where we spend an hour telling students everything they might ever need to know about research and the library. When I started my position, one-shots were the library’s primary way of providing instruction. Our most frequent visitors were English classes, as both English 101 and 102 are required courses for most degree paths. Unfortunately, library visits aren’t required – some instructors build us into our schedule, while others pass us by. I began to notice that some students got variations of the same presentation over and over, while others never saw us at all. Surely there had to be a better way.

I reached out to the heads of the English department and made my case. At best, students were getting a haphazard grounding in valuable research skills. Inconsistent coverage meant librarians had no opportunity to build on concepts between English 101 and 102. The faculty I spoke with agreed. They’d also noticed student dissatisfaction with current library instruction practices. It was time for a change.

The English faculty generated a list of library skills they wanted their students to master. I converted these into objectives and began designing synchronous lesson plans and asynchronous instructional materials for each one. Our goal is to allow English faculty to choose from a “menu” of synchronous and asynchronous options, so they can build a library instruction program that fits their schedule and course format.

The asynchronous materials, and a form allowing instructors to sign up for live library instruction, will be hosted on libguides to keep everything organized and easily sharable. The English 101 libguide isn’t quite ready for students yet, but you can preview the draft here.

I’m excited to see how faculty and students respond to our new plan for English library instruction. Although this could decrease live library visits if instructors favor the asynchronous options, I hope it will provide students with more consistent exposure to library instruction. Additionally, librarians teaching more specialized or advanced instruction sessions can assume a shared baseline of student knowledge. Other disciplines may even show interest in developing their own instructional menus!

A note on feasibility: Experience with video creation and a recent instructional design degree has helped me with this project. However, instruction is not my full-time role, and I’ve had to combine this initiative with my other duties. I believe a collaboration like this is feasible for most community college librarians, although the form your materials take and the timeline for development may depend on your personal skills and workload. If one-shots aren’t working for you, I encourage you to think outside the box. You may find your faculty are just as eager to come up with something new!

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