Top 5 Articles

Top 5 Articles on Instructional Design in Library Instruction

Compiled and annotated by Camille Abdeljawad and Ella Gibson, members of the DOLS Research and Publications Committee.

Academic librarians are increasingly being asked to participate in instructional design, whether for library instruction or other university-related tasks. The five articles in this collection explore instructional design and the various roles librarians play in the process. These articles provide insight to other institution’s practices as well as valuable take-away tips.

George, K. W., & Casey, A. M. (2020). Collaboration between library, faculty, and instructional design to increase all open educational resources for curriculum development and delivery. Reference Librarian, 61(2), 97–112.

This article describes utilizing Open Educational Resources in collaboration with instructional designers. This trial was conducted at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) which has a global reach of 130 campuses and 18,000 part-time degree-seeking students, with various models including hybrid, blended, and synchronous courses. Ultimately, this article conducted a trial of utilizing Open Educational Resources in online course development. Library staff curated resources and provided support to instructional designers and staff considered the trial a success. This article inspired me to consider innovative collaborations within my campus community to support student success.


  • This article discusses building inter-institutional collaborations, such as instructional design and library services
  • This trial started small but has opportunity to grow and scale with other universities.
  • The library opted to support course design with OERs out of motivation to save students money. The authors estimate a cost savings of $150-$300.

Hostetler, K., & Luo, T. (2022). Understanding academic librarians’ one-shot instructional design process via a Delphi study. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 48(2).

This January 2022 article describes Information Literacy instruction. This study was conducted to understand the teaching librarian’s instructional design process. 17 participants volunteered to participate and met the criteria of teaching at least 100 sessions in a library and having earned an MLIS in the United States and received a survey to provide feedback. The study found that there is often a lack of focus and preparation for instructional design in librarians’ MLS programs. However, librarians utilize experience gained while in practice in the profession to better understand and apply instructional techniques, such as demonstration and collaboration. This article was chosen due to its relevant insight into instructional design as a teaching librarian.


  • There is a consensus that teaching librarians do not receive adequate training in their degree training, and experiential learning is an opportunity to develop this within the degree program.
  • The backwards design model may provide assistance to librarians feeling overwhelmed by the instructional design process.
  • Instructional priorities are an important component of instructional design and can help focus instructional librarians’ lesson plans.

Bergstrom-Lynch, Y. (2019). LibGuides by design: Using instructional design principles and user-centered studies to develop best practices. Public Services Quarterly 15(3), 205-223.

Focused on LibGuides, this article seeks to examine where instructional design principles could be applied to LibGuide best practices. The author postulates that there is a disconnect between how the librarian creating the guide and the student using the guide organize information. This in turn makes the guide less usable to students and has been a focus of some research. The author uses the ADDIE model to implement best practices based on user-centered studies. One key facet of this is that the Evaluation phase of the ADDIE model has librarians examining the end-user impact of the LibGuide which can lead to continual design adjustment.


  • This article discusses how instructional design principles can be implemented into the best practices of LibGuide creation.
  • Understanding how students consume or organize information is important as we as librarians are creating these tools for them.
  • Continual evaluation of the LibGuide can enhance the overall impact of the instructional product.

Black, E. L. (2020). Instructional design for single information literacy sessions. Public Services Quarterly 16(3), 161-171.

Understanding by Design, which incorporates elements of connecting big ideas and backwards design, is not a new instructional concept for librarians, but it is not often used in single-session information literacy sessions. Using their own institution, the author utilized Understanding by Design to implement a new set of single information literacy sessions in a group setting. Stages were utilized to conceptualize, assess, and plan the workshops and of the six proposed four came to fruition. This allowed for prior knowledge and experience of the librarians involved to be accessed and found successful. The author noted, though, that those with limited instructional experience may need more support in order to maximize student learning and engagement.


  • Understanding by Design as a design process can be utilized to create one-shot information literacy sessions.
  • Backwards design and understanding the key takeaways for students seemed key to the ultimate workshop creation and success.
  • While focused at a single school, it presents the opportunity to be replicated elsewhere when revising or creating new workshop models.

Carroll, A. J. & Klipfel, K. M. (2019). Talent, schmalent: an instructional design/action research framework for the professionalization of teaching in academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 45(2), 110-118.

The authors argue against innate teaching abilities and that instead academic librarians must implement a measure of deliberative practice to enhance their instructional skills. They postulate that using instructional design principles allows librarians to utilize their knowledge of teaching practice to transfer it into plans for instructional materials, activities, and information resources. Action research in particular also reinforces a reflective element of practice which reminds teacher librarians to consider the effectiveness of what they did. The key, though, is that this framework is centered around growth. However, the authors do acknowledge that this will take time, money, support, and training to be effectively implemented and model the trends toward experiential learning in higher education.


  • Teacher librarians should be recognized for their expertise and their training should also reflect that.
  • Action research promotes continued growth through reflective practices.
  • If librarians think of teaching as an innate ability, they need to stop and reconsider. It is a skill that can grow and develop with time.