Library Instruction West 2016

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I attended Library Instruction West last week: June 8-10, 2016 in Salt Lake City! It was a fantastic conference, I had lots of interesting conversations with awesome people.

Here are my biggest takeaways by day and session:

Thursday, June 8

  • Keynote: Dr. Donna Lanclos
    Dr. Lanclos said that she is an anthropologist that studies higher ed. Great keynote! My biggest takeaway from her talk was that it’s important to show vulnerability in digital spaces, since people go online to connect with other people. I felt very validated by her statement that academic values dehumanized voices and “real” scholars don’t have emotions – not only are we to write in the third person, but we are discouraged from talking about families and feelings at work. Personal life? WHAT personal life? I must pretend I don’t have one, because academia is everything! Anyways. Obviously I had lots of feelings from her talk.
  • Walking the path together: creating an instructional design team to elevate learning
    This session was about how an Instructional Design Librarian (IDL) and an Instructional Technologies Librarian (ITL) work together at UCSD. LOVED it. Basically, Dominique, the IDL, does the big picture stuff and the politicking and the meeting with library clients, and Amanda develops whatever elearning product was requested. As the only Instructional Design Librarian at my institution, I wish I had someone to help me out with ID stuff, but I have NO idea which of these two roles I would want to play. I do prefer elearning development to the politicking and strategizing, but I also like having a lot of control over picking and choosing my projects according to my own interests/the library needs that I identify. Of course, UCSD probably has a much larger library with more demands.
  • Engaging with empathy: Mapping the path to insightful instruction
    Great presentation! Kimberly led us attendees through through an activity where we practiced constructing a “persona” that we might encounter in our jobs, and what kinds of needs that person might have. My group constructed the persona of a first-gen college student that attended hybrid classes on a commuter campus, and we imagined the challenges that student might face and how we might create more meaning in our library instruction to help that student feel connected to campus. It was a really great exercise.
  • Then I presented on using WordPress as a learning object repository!
    I talked about how challenging it is to be a new librarian, and how sharing your instructional materials can help make new librarians’ lives better. I feel like I struck a bit of a nerve – more than one new librarian told me they identified with this description. I got some great questions and had some good conversations. This felt like the best conference presentation I’ve given yet.

Friday, June 9th

  • Canvas Commons: Scaling library instruction in the LMS
    I already Tweeted it, and I’ll say it again: Francesca is doing great work at Nevada State College as their Instructional Design Librarian! She created a beautiful set of guides that are built directly into her school’s LMS. And now, when instructors create new classes, the appropriate subject guide is automatically built into that new course. Super cool, and her guides really are beautiful. My campus has Moodle, but I almost wish we had Canvas just for the Commons, which is a built in learning object repository where you can access objects from EVERYONE that uses Canvas. Alas, Canvas Commons is not open to the public. You have to have Canvas.
  • Digital research notebook: A simple tool for reflective learning at scale
    UCLA librarians came up with this nifty little library assignment (longer version) that they are OK with anyone reusing! Basically, they have students copy a Google Doc that walks them through the research process. Librarian Julia assertively tells her faculty to assign the notebook as a *mandatory* pre-assignment to a one-shot (and they do!!). Students are asked to share the completed doc with their instructor and the librarian. Julia does spot-checks to see how well students did. Check this assignment out, it’s a great idea. It forces students to get reflective about the research process and gives librarians insight into where students struggle.
  • Addressing cultural humility and implicit bias in information literacy sessions
    Another great session! Seriously, this was the best conference. Anyhoo, two librarians from the hosting institution, U of Utah’s Marriott Library, gave us a great overview of recognizing your own bias and some strategies on how to overcome your own biases. We all have biases! If you’d like to discover yours, presenter Twanna recommends completing tests over at Harvard’s Implicit Bias Project. They’re a great way to discover your “implicit” biases, which are those biases you didn’t know you had. They’re also a great way to feel terrible about yourself! In any case, knowledge is power, and you need to know about your biases. Also, AWESOME handouts with TONS of further reading, and a great glossary of related terms.
  • Navigating the sea of information: Creating DLOs to empower students to develop their own information literacy compass
    CSU Northridge librarians are doing some really great work on developing online materials to teach info lit, more specifically, the Searching as Strategic Exploration frame. Check out the mini-course that is part of Felicia’s info lit toolkit. Students work through a series of videos, readings, and quizzes to get an intro to the research process. Cool stuff! And a great example of how to scale up your instruction.

The conference’s special events were also fantastic – we did an opening reception at Westminster College (we drank booze in an academic library!). And we did a social at Tracey Aviary in Salt Lake – wonderful Mexican food from Red Iguana and beautiful birds! Everyone from Salt Lake professed their love of living in Salt Lake. The moment that someone told me that you’re only 30 minutes from skiing in the winter, I said SIGN ME UP, I’m moving to Salt Lake! Plus, both Westminster College and U of Utah had beautiful libraries.