Third Year Adventures as an Instructional Design Librarian

I’m now halfway through my third year as an Instructional Design Librarian! This is officially the longest I’ve ever held a single job. This is also the first time I think of my stay here in terms of which year I’m in as a result of the tenure-track process. I had to turn in my 2nd year file in fall 2015, I had to turn in my 3rd year abbreviated file in fall 2016, and in fall 2017 I have to prepare another full portfolio to justify my continued existence. I suspect that, once I get tenure, I’ll miss the progress of the tenure-track even though it’s a lot of work!

Anyhow, I’ve been meaning to take stock of where I am and how I’m doing as a new librarian. I still think of myself as a new librarian. I’m less lost than I was, but still feel inexperienced, young, and naive. I’m still stubbornly maintaining my optimism, though! It’s what keeps me motivated.


Two years ago I wrote The Making of an Instructional Design Librarian over at ACRLog about my experiences as a brand new librarian. I’m surprised and pleased to find that my goals and plans for this position were not only on the right track, but I’ve accomplished most of them. I’ve developed lots of new video tutorials, I’ve developed several interactive tutorials that issue badges (and concurrently advocated for and then built the infrastructure to make the badges happen). I also developed a mini learning object repository that will be transitioned over to our forthcoming institutional repository. I’ve worked with faculty and staff on lowering the cost of textbooks for their students and done several trainings for my colleagues related to instructional design and educational technology.

I have two peer-reviewed articles being published this winter (my minimum tenure requirements are MET!), a book chapter is in the works, I’m working on an article with a colleague in another department, I have three (THREE!) national conference presentations coming up, and also, I’m lecturing part-time for our Master of Instructional Design and Technology program.

Life is good!

Academia is STILL Weird and Will Apparently Always Be

I feel like I’ve written a lot about how I find academia to be a strange cultural experience, since I’m a first-generation college student and I come from a blue-collar family. Seriously, I’m the only one in my family with a college degree, let alone two masters degrees. I identified a lot with a recently published article in the Chronicle, “I Fit in Neither Place,” about a first-gen PhD that doesn’t feel like she fits with her colleagues nor with her family and friends outside of academia.

This is a weird thing that I would like to help other first-gen colleagues with, but to do so, we’d all have to out ourselves as not fitting in. It unfortunately tends to cause sideways glances and awkward silences with my colleagues when I say blue-collar things. On the flip side, my family has no idea what I’m talking about when I talk about publishing in journals and pursuing tenure. They do not share or apparently comprehend my excitement at getting not one but TWO proposals accepted to ACRL!

I am very pleased, though, to work at an institution with an incredibly diverse student body and a very high percentage of first-gen students. If my colleagues don’t get what they’re going through, I do, and I can help students. My family is still proud of me even if they don’t know what I do.

Continuing Projects

I’m really happy with the success of my Spark Tutorials, which are Storyline courses embedded in our Learning Management System – I’ve issued 2,907 badges so far to students for tutorial completion. This adds up to about 500 hours of library instruction that did not require in-person librarian time. I’m working on developing more tutorials in collaboration with my colleagues and am continuing to market these to faculty. This program will continue to scale up our instruction.

I continue to work with our Faculty Development Center and Online Education and Training department to help faculty find low-cost or free replacements for their courses’ expensive textbooks. I’ve dived deep into navigating Fair Use, Creative Commons licensing, and troubleshooting permalinks. I enjoy all of these things.

I love teaching in our Master of Instructional Design and Technology program! It’s entirely online but I’ve gotten to know my students well. I taught my first class last fall and am teaching another this spring. I’m enjoying the time off, though, from teaching right now until classes resume in two weeks.

I still struggle to balance all of the things I’m supposed to do: Ref Desk, online reference, research consultations, subject liaising, committees, research, publishing, presenting, more committees, service, collection development, instructional coordinating, plus my core duties as an ID librarian. I wish I could devote more time to developing elearning, it’s kind of my favorite thing, but also the most time-consuming!

While I have a full plate, I also want to start my own side business for freelancing in elearning development. Stay tuned!