Managing The Instruction Balance

On Monday ACRLog carried a report on the Bright Ideas session held by the Management of Instruction Services Committee of ACRL’s Instruction Section. The session took place at ALA Midwinter. As promised here is a report on the companion program co-sponsored by the Teaching Methods and Education Committees of ACRL’s Instruction Session. This report comes to us from from Michelle Lee Jacobs of University of California, Merced:

This year’s Instruction Section Discussion Forum took form as the traditional Teaching Methods Brainstorming Session. With approximately 200 librarians in attendance, the turnout was the largest that any of the Teaching Methods Committee members could remember. The large turnout was a major indicator that that “Instruction Balance” is on everyone’s mind. For academic librarians that have multiple responsibilities in addition to instruction, the program sought strategies for balancing instruction with those other duties and managing and coordinating instruction requests. The forum also was an exchange of information about the ways in which instruction programs are structured, and who within the library performs instruction activity.

The conversations at each small group (whether sitting at a table or on the floor) were intense, bringing up several problems to address as well as many great ideas on achieving the proper instruction “feng shui.” The participants impressed the committee by using the time constructively to share solutions. Ideas included:

• using materials created by our colleagues to avoid “re-creating the wheel,” such as the Library Instruction Wiki , PRIMO, and resources from the Information Literacy in the Disciplines Web site;
• implementing a “Training the Trainers” program to reach those courses with a large number of sections taught by TAs;
• determining the best way for instruction requests to come into your library – perhaps a central person who then divvies up the classes;
• piloting “new” instruction ideas – programmatic and individual teaching methods, with a core set of librarians to work out kinks and “gently” change the culture; and
• establishing a “constructive downtime” (whether it’s an information round table or retreat) for your instruction librarians to brainstorm and team build.

A big thanks goes out to those who volunteered to facilitate small group discussions, and apologies for anyone who was turned away due to lack of room. A summary of the all the session’s ideas will be posted to the ACRL Instruction Session Web site in the near future. What is most clear from this particular discussion group is that we need an easy-to-access forum to continue this conversation. For now, please share your ideas or programs on the ILI-L listserv and include links if you have them.

Many thanks to Michelle Leigh Jacobs for providing this report.

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