ACRL 2011


Meghan Sitar, Instruction and Outreach Librarian, University of Texas Libraries
Cindy Fisher, First-year Experience Librarian, University of Texas Libraries
Michele Ostrow, Head, Library Instruction Services, University of Texas Libraries

Summary: I really appreciated this session in that the presenters shared their experience where they agreed to teach information literacy as part of a first-year program but found themselves overcommitted without the additional staff that they were promised so they had to give up some control of teaching information literacy. Instead, they focused on providing faculty with the information and training necessary for them to teach their students information literacy; they became part of the pedagogical process. Challenges include assessing the impact of their efforts and the anxiety that comes with relinquishing control. However, there were benefits such as having information literacy more integrated into the classes and not limited to just a 50 minute session. Also, it allowed for innovative new ways librarians could remain involved in student’s information literacy learning. For example, students in some classes blogged about their information literacy assignments which gave librarians the opportunity to read and comment on their work.


Cynthia Snyder, Reference/Instruction Librarian, Rollins College
Elizabeth Dolinger, Information Literacy Librarian, Keene State College
Eliza McKnight, Reference Librarian, Bishop’s University
Annie Zeidman-Karpinski, Science & Technical Services Librarian, University of Oregon
Daniel Bromby, Reference Librarian, Bishop’s University

Summary: This session gave some examples of how various campus have embedded librarians into classes on their campus. Most of the examples involved either a weekly credit “research lab” as a mandatory part of the class or as required for credit library class existing on its own. Some of the issues that arose were garnering institutional support, union concern, spreading staff too thin, students not wanting to pay for more classes, and librarians did not get paid more for teaching credit classes. On the plus side, many had faculty who loved it and administrators liked having the library bring in revenue from those classes.


Heidi Steiner, Distance Learning Librarian, Norwich University
Beth Filar – Williams, Coordinator of Library Services for Distance Education, University of North Carolina Greensboro


Tips from both a small private milatary university and large public university on how to make the library more visible and accessible to distance students. Ideas include:

  • Providing auto-authentication of library resource through the LMS
  • Creating customized web portal (built by developer, library maintains all content)
  • ebrary – heavily used (interface is challenging for users)
  • Sending current collection to student (library pays shipping there; student pays to ship back)
  • Offering synchronous non-mandatory library instruction with Illuminate
  • Join Me – screen sharing software (for IM reference)
  • Take advantage of the course roster to email students about library information (more likely to read an email than a post)


Barbara Burd, Dean of Library Services, Coastal Carolina University
Jennifer Shinaberger, Assistant Director of Distance Learning and TEAL, Coastal Carolina University
Tracy Gaskin, Sr. Blackboard Administrator, Coastal Carolina University
Casey Schacher, Reference/Emerging Technologies Librarian, Coastal Carolina University


This presentation talked about the efforts undertaken at Coastal Carolina University to bring together the library, the information technology department, and the instructional technologies department to provide unified service to students, faculty, and staff. They brought their Teaching and Education to Advance Learning Center (comparable to our CETL) into the library. They worked together to educate each other about their roles and what they do. They found it was very helpful to those working with their LMS to know what librarians do because it helped they promote library services and instructions to faculty, and librarians began participating in the faculty trainings. It also helped the individual departments train their student workers to direct frontline questions to the appropriate place.

I was wondering when Learning Management Systems were going to adopt official librarian roles in their systems. I learned at the ACRL 2011 that D2L has added an official librarian role. I couldn’t find information about it on the Desire2Learn site, but according to this Montana State University site, these are the tools librarians have access to within the learning environment:

  • Content – can view content
  • Discussions – can post messages
  • Dropbox – can grade submitted assignments
  • Quizzes – can grade quizzes and and work in question library
  • Classlist – can view classlist
  • Groups – can view groups
  • Chat – can participate in chats
  • Surveys – can view survey reports (if instructor releases them to Librarian role)
  • Checklist – can view checklists

I’m very glad to hear this. I wonder if other LMS will be catching on too.


Andrew Colgoni, Science Fluencies Librarian, McMaster University
Krista Godfrey, Liaison Librarian, McMaster University
Karen Nicholson, Teaching & Learning Librarian, McMaster University


This session was a competition between the presenters and their 3 different approaches to embedded librarianship. The first presenter was Andrew Colgoni who spoke about being an imbedded librarian in an intensive 4 year science program at his university. As part of his role as embedded librarian, he has an office in the program headquarters, works on committees to create curriculum, and is “deeply embedded” in the program’s curriculum. The second presenter was Krista Godfrey who talked about the part I was very interested in – embedding virtually into classes. Some of the means and tools through which she instructs students virtually includes: quizzes, discussion forums, subject guides, learning objects, and chat/IM (all of which we are doing too). She also makes the library available to students both on the community level and class by class. Some of the pluses of this time of embedding include that it serves multiple learning styles, allows for asynchronous review, provides point of need help, allows for anonymity, and promotes the library. The third model, discussed by Karen Nicholson, involves a librarian embedded a teaching and learning center which works with works with faculty to improve instruction (probably much like  CETL at our institution does). Her salary is paid by the teaching and learning center and she works to launch communities of practice and design courses in digital media literacy.


Anthony Pash, Zayed University
Dunstan McNutt, Reference & Instruction Librarian, SUNY Delhi
Carrie Donovan, Head, Teaching & Learning, Indiana University, Bloomington



This session discussed applying pedagogical theories on critical thinking to information literacy instruction. The first speaker, Anthony Pash, introduced the idea of critical information literacy which encourages librarians and educators to focus more on getting students to think critically about the information they work with rather than just concentrating on the transfer of information. One thing we have to keep in mind is that information needs to be viewed in regard to economic, political, racial, and gender context. We also needs to be wary of our current system which has historically benefited a limited cultural heritage and understand that most educators today are products of that system.

Carrie Donovan spoke about using this theory to inform practice. Librarians come late to pedagogy and often teaching is user needs based which doesn’t promote informed consciousness. Some ideas include focusing on the learner’s perceptions rather than the information and addressing bibliographic privilege such as how the author’s race, gender, social and political views may and how that may affect information. Also, encourage looking at underrepresented voices with your teaching.

Dustan McNutt discussed applying contextualist theory to critical information theory. Current standards often reafy traditional norms. The theory of contextualism is that all knowledge is situated in context but at the base there are core truths (which makes it different from relativism). The challenge is to get students to think about their own information seeking in context. One way to do this is to emphasize qualitative data over quantitative and encourage students to track their beliefs during the research process.

This was a lot of meaty stuff to take in at 8:00am but I’m glad I went. I think it is worth considering how we can apply these theories of critical thinking and contextualism in the instruction classroom but also while providing reference instruction (both in person and virtually).

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