ACRL 2011 – One Good Turn Deserves Another

Oops, just noticed that this was still saved as a draft!

One good turn deserves another: Arming instruction librarians with the necessary arsenal

Michelle Costello & Kimberly Davies-Hoffman @ SUNY Geneseo

Showed the pay it forward commercial for Liberty Mutual.

Many of us are on the job w/o any formal pedagogical training. Director started thinking about ways to strengthen instruction program – started by asking ed. faculty if anyone wanted to work with them. Dr. Jeff Liles stepped up. Semester long grad-style seminar with Liles – he provided theory and they reinforced what library instruction involves.

Asks us to think about a mentor or guide, what they’re like, what we learned. [Ed. Note: Linnea! – always let me try my ideas and backed me up, would give feedback but if she ever quashed any (did she?) it was with good reason. Able to be myself, and she helped me be my best self. Great working atmosphere.]

Now think about our own characteristics: [creative, detail-oriented, plan ahead.] How does this connect to our mentor?

Teaching Tips from the Trenches: One-day workshop focused on new librarians (< 3 years). Then “Passing the Torch” – those folks pass it on. Then LILAC: Lib Instruction Leadership Academy – semester-long seminar.

Teaching Tips from the Trenches:

  • challenge – funding. Keep it cheap, use library space, get volunteers to run logistics, volunteer presenters. Total cost $1500, funded by SUNY Lib Assn.
  • challenge – lack of mentors. Enlist experienced folks for the workshop. Plant them throughout the discussions, spark conversation, etc. PPT running throughout breaks & lunch with tips & advice
  • challenge – filling gaps from MLS curriculum. Focus workshop on < 3 years experience, get mix of MLS students, public, school and academic librarians to present. Presenters modeling what they’re teaching, no sage on the stage.
  • Polled MLS students – prepped to teach? Majority said yes. But, second ? “attend lower cost/free workshops?” Majority said yes. Conference results, satisfied with workshop.

Passing the torch

Top students from Teaching Tips turned into presenters

  • challenge – limited funding. Offer workshop at conference people are going to anyway.
  • challenge – lack of mentors. Mentees actively turned into mentors. Train the trainer. Group work to learn from others, make sure there’s a mix of experience levels.


Semester-long academy. Previous participants liked the sessions but wanted more than just a one-day conference or workshop.

  • limited travel funding – apply for a grant (received! $3,500) minimal participation fee, in-kind support ($29,000).
  • lack of mentorship – group mentorship vs one-on-one. formalized one-on-one programs difficult to get going [Ed. Note: And of mixed success, I had a mentor through the Instruction Session and I’m not sure either one of us felt it worked out all that well].
  • challenge – gaps from MLS curric. Do it as a semester-long course. Grounded in pedagogical theory, theory to practice, teacher observation, lots of topics & presenters.
  • Polled at end of academy and majority of participants were already using what they’d learned in the classroom. [Ed. Note: Great that they could immediately try out ideas! Got some great ones from this conference so far but instruction season is winding up.]
  • Part of application process was that participants would pass it on somehow, workshops, papers, etc.