Tech Tuesdays Technology

Using Chat in Online Instruction

orange sheets of paper lie on a green school board and form a chat bubble with three crumpled papers.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Moving to synchronous virtual library instruction during the past year, I have experimented with lots of different types of technologies such as Google Docs, Padlet, and Poll Everywhere.

 I found that one of the easiest ways to make online instruction sessions interactive is simply using the chat box built into the web conferencing system. The advantage of this is that students are already familiar with the tool, and they don’t need to leave the web conferencing interface in order to respond. Also, students can choose to respond to the whole class or just to the instructor. I find that students often use this feature when I point it out in my introduction.

Here are some questions that my colleagues and I have used in chat during instruction: 

  • What is one question you have about doing research?
  • What is one tip you have for other students about doing research
  • Find an article about your topic. Put 2-3 new ideas from the article in the chat.
  • Ask students to respond with a number for quick feedback, e.g. Have you used the research databases before?
  • Find an article and copy and paste the citation information in the chat.

A technique I have used a lot is to give students time to search and then ask them to cut and paste the citation for an article that they found in the chat box. This can be very helpful to see if students are on the right track. Students often send a private chat during this time if they are having trouble, and I can give them tips. When we get back together as a group, we can look together at one of the articles shared. It is also a way to make sure students know that databases can generate citations and that sometimes those citations need to be tweaked to follow proper formatting.

How do you use the chat box in online library instruction?

Instruction Presentations Tech Tuesdays Technology

How I Use Google Docs as a Community College Librarian

For years, I mostly used Google Docs as a tool to jointly write, give feedback, and edit documents with colleagues. More recently I’ve been experimenting with different uses of Google Docs that leverage anonymous participation and the fact that all contributing can see what others are writing in real time. Below are a few ways I use Google Docs in my job as a community college librarian. I’d love to hear how you use Google Docs.

Warm up for Library Instruction

When I do instruction for Composition 2 classes, I like to start by finding out what students already know. When teaching in person, I sometimes do this using post it notes. Teaching online, I started giving students 5 minutes at the beginning of class to respond on a Google Doc called Share Your Experiences with Research. I ask students to share either a research tip or a question. Then we discuss what they wrote. It is a great way to warm up and get students active at the beginning of class. Later in the class, I use the same Google Doc to ask students to brainstorm keywords for their topic. It is helpful to have all of these activities together in one document, so I can share one link for the interactive parts of the lesson.

Shared Document for Online Resource Fair

When our face to face college resource fair couldn’t happen last year due to the pandemic, we wanted to figure out a way to put it online. I set up a Google Doc for the Online Resource Fair and asked representatives from the different student service and academic affairs areas who usually attend the fair to add the top 3 questions that they get from faculty and/or students. Then, during the faculty professional activity (PA) days, we provided access to the Google Doc from the PA Day Website. We told faculty they could read the information and also add questions. Staff checked the document at the end of PA Days and responded to questions. Although only two questions were added to the document, faculty did report that they found the information was helpful. And using Google Docs was an easy way to gather information from many different units on campus and present it to faculty. I did some editing after the information was added to standardize the format, but it was a lot easier that putting together information from a lot of emails.

Interactive Transcript Review Activity

At a recent online conference presentation about virtual reference, I used a Google Doc to help facilitate an interactive Transcript Review Activity. I put the directions for the activity at the top of the page, provided the text of a transcript to review, and gave space for librarians to share their observations. Then we discussed the observations as a group. I plan to repeat this activity with librarians at our college as it was a great way to review virtual reference best practices in an online format.

Group Brainstorming during a Staff Meeting

Last year, our Library was part of a renovation project and we needed to discuss what to name our new space. It was a difficult issue to discuss as we all had very strong feelings about the topic. For our online meeting, I created a Google Doc and asked all staff to spend 10 minutes making suggestions and asking questions on the document before we had a discussion. Because it was something people felt very strongly about, it was helpful to have time to write down our ideas first, before speaking. More staff had a chance to weigh in, as some might have been reluctant to speak up during the meeting. And we coiud all see a variety of ideas on the shared document before we started to discuss them as a group.

Your Ideas

How do you use Google Docs in your work? Are there other technology tools you’d like us to feature in this monthly column?

Instruction Resources

PIL’s Provocation Series Essays

Project Information Literacy (PIL) is publishing the Provocation Series, a series of essays “about what ‘literacy’ means in all its manifestations. At a time when finding reliable news and information is more difficult than ever, we publish a new long-form essay every two months to spark discussions about pressing issues, ideas, and concerns.”

The essays published so far include:

Learn about forthcoming essays and access discussion questions for each essay to use with reading groups on the Provocation Series website.

On my campus, instruction librarians have discussed how to integrate concepts from the essays in information literacy instruction. We have also shared the essays with faculty on campus in liaison communications.

How are you using these essays on your campus to prompt discussions among librarians, students, faculty, staff, and beyond?

Photo by Olga Lioncat from Pexels

Get Involved! CJCLS Leadership Opportunities

ACRL’s CJCLS (Community and Junior College Libraries Section) seeks six (6) candidates for the 2022 election cycle. Two candidates each are sought to run for Vice-Chair, a three-year total commitment, Secretary and a Member-at-large position, both two-year commitments. All three positions will take office on July 1, 2022.

CJCLS Vice-Chair / Chair Elect

The Vice-Chair serves successive one-year terms, first as Vice-Chair, then Chair, and finally as Past-Chair. The Vice-Chair will begin their term at the conclusion of ALA Annual 2022. The successful candidate will represent the section at leadership sessions at the Midwinter and Annual conferences during their term as Vice-Chair and Chair. Position is from July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2025.


The Secretary takes and distributes minutes for all Executive Committee meetings, the Section’s annual meeting, and any special meetings and may preside over meetings in the absence of the Chair and Vice-Chair. Position is from July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2024. 


Member-at-large is a newly created Executive Committee position. The incumbent’s role varies from year to year and might include a special project or appointment to an ad hoc committee or task force. Candidates should be flexible and proactive, volunteering to contribute as opportunities arise. Position is from July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2024.

All nominees must be current members of CJCLS and have consented to be a candidate. The deadline for nominations is August 13, 2021. Please consider nominating yourself or someone who you think would be a great candidate. Send a brief biography and statement of interest to the CJCLS Nominating Committee Co-Chairs, Sandy McCarthy ( and Shawna Thorup ( Read more about the positions and CJCLS Governance.

Events Outreach Presentations Programming

CJCLS Events in June

CJCLS Virtual Awards Ceremony

Thursday, June 3, 2-3pm EST

Come join us as we honor our section award recipients this year! Following the award presentation, the awardees will be doing presentations on their work. Register for the Awards webinar online by June 1.

Yumi Shin of Lamar State College, Port Authur has been awarded the CJCLS EBSCO Community College Learning Resources Leadership Award

Photo of Yumi Shin

Yumi will present on various leadership roles she has had, including: managing a grant to promote library services to high school students, creating a student centered learning environment, and adapting to Covid-19.

Anjali Parasnis-Samar and Alice Wilson, both of Monroe Community College have been awarded the CJCLS EBSCO Community College Learning Resources Program Award

Anjali Parasnis-Samar photo Alice Wilson photo

Alice and Anjali will present the MCC Libraries’ College Researcher Badging Program, a set of online tutorials intended to help community college students learn college-level research skills.

Please contact Laura Mondt, CJCLS Awards Chair, with any questions or concerns:

Scholarly Research Committee Webinar

Thursday, June 10, 3-4pm EST

Are you a community college librarian interested in publishing in LIS Journals? Want to learn more about when, where, and how to submit? Are you curious about workflows for review, editing, and publication? Register for the Scholarly Research webinar online.

Join us for a panel discussion and lively Q & A with editors from three key LIS publications. Our participants include:

  • Kristen Totleben, College & Research Libraries
  • Marianne Ryan, portal: Libraries and the Academy
  • Matt Roberts, Journal of Library Outreach and Engagement

This event is sponsored by the Scholarly Research Committee of the Community & Junior Libraries Section of ACRL (CJCLS). Free, and open to all community college librarians.

CJCLS Executive Committee Meeting

The CJCLS Executive Committee will be meeting on Monday, June 28, 2021 from 2-3pm EST. We will be reviewing the accomplishments of this last year and brainstorming plans for 2021-2022.  Please join us. 

In June, the Zoom meeting link will be shared on the CJCLS Section page.


CJCLS Listserv moving to ALA Connect on May 1, 2021

ALA has begun transitioning all discussion lists from Sympa to ALA Connect. The CJCLS listserv will be closing as of May 1, but all of us, ALA members and non-members alike, can continue the conversation and even make our ALA Connect community behave much like the listserv has — particularly by receiving and posting via email.

What is ALA Connect?

ALA Connect is an online platform for discussion and collaboration. We’re working to make Connect the centralized online communication space for colleagues, whether they’re part of a formal ALA committee, membership group or just want to share questions and ideas with other library professionals.

What does this mean for my group?

All group posts, conversations, and documents will reside in ALA Connect. The ALA Connect platform will provide privacy, while serving as an easily searchable repository. (ALA staff is working on a way to maintain access to archived listserv posts.)

How do I post to my new list?

Your ALA Connect space is now available — you don’t have to wait for May 1 — and you can begin using our discussion list address:

When you send a message to the above email address, it will generate a post directly to the CJCLS ALA Connect Community — just like posting to this listserv! Please note that in order to post, you must send your message from the email address associated with your Connect profile.


  • You can adjust your Connect email settings to receive individual email notifications or a digest format. This short tutorial also shows how to adjust these settings.
  • You will be able to post a response directly via email, or by logging in and responding to the discussion post via the ALA Connect website.

Please note, you can only post messages if you are a member of the CJCLS Connect Community. See steps below on how to join this Community.

Posting Attachments

If you are sending an email to the Connect address and it has attachments, the files will automatically be posted as an attachment in the discussion post you make as well as added to the main folder in the group’s library. Once posted, your group’s community admin can move the attachment within the Connect Library to keep the group’s files and folders organized.

How to Join the CJCLS Community

Current ACRL Members

All ALA members have an ALA Connect account connected to their ALA login. You are automatically added to your ACRL interest group’s Connect space when you join that interest group as part of your ALA/ACRL membership.

If you know you are a current ACRL member and cannot access the ALA Connect space for CJCLS in Connect, you may need to add CJCLS to your ACRL membership. Your ACRL membership allows you complimentary membership to any ACRL Community of Practice. Please call ALA Member & Customer Service at 1-800-545-2433 ext. 5 for assistance or login to your account to check your membership status.


Non-members are welcome to create a free ALA Connect account. As a non-member, you can view and post to the CJCLS Connect Community once you create a free account, log in and join the CJCLS Connect Community.

Watch this video about Free account sign up or visit the Connect FAQ page for more information.


If you have any questions related to our upcoming move, please email Ken Simon at As your moderator on the listserv — and in our new Connect Community — he’ll gladly answer what he can and investigate what he doesn’t know yet.