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Ditching the Script: video making in coronatimes.

In March of 2020, when NYC went under “stay at home” orders, and CUNY campuses closed, instruction librarians had to spontaneously reconceptualize library instruction, alongside everyone else in education. As other librarians on this blog have documented, the teaching faculty on our campus were so overwhelmed by having to move their entire lesson plans online that most of them did not take us up on our offer of zoom lessons. And so the rest of the spring semester (April and May) became instead a blur of instructional curation and creation: videos showing students how to search for articles, enhanced FAQ pages, multimedia LibGuides, free or free-for-now resources for faculty to share with students. It’s hard for me to remember exactly how many instructional videos we posted initially, but I would estimate it was around 15. It was a strange time: far-flung librarians isolated in separate homes, searching for videos we could share or quickly make ourselves.

I can’t overstate how little I wanted a global pandemic to descend on our city, but I was not sad about moving some instructional content online. The truth is, I had been thinking about how to better serve our commuter student campus already, and I was already convinced that we needed to boost up our online instruction presence. Our library instruction team had previously built a suite of tutorials using the CUNY-installed Guide on the Side software, and while they technically perform the duties of online instruction (information, side-by-side searching, assessment) for me those modules lacked something that would make them truly effective. For instance, when I was a kid, I learned that I was an audio/visual learner. I never did well on tests or worksheets, I think because I found the work too dull to captivate my mind. However, any time our assignment allowed us to be creative, I would overachieve and create elaborate home movies (I taught myself claymation as a kid and rendered the themes of The Lord of Flies through moving clay figurines, for instance). In high school I figured out that if I had to memorize huge sets of facts for a test, I could not retain the information by ordinary studying. However, if I set up my microphone and pretended to be a radio DJ, I could recount the information aloud and play it back, which further cemented the information in my mind. This is not because I think I’m an excellent radio DJ, just that audio and visual learning styles work better for me. So I had been thinking we needed a more dynamic audio/visual online learning software for library instruction, but a few obstacles existed. The most obvious one is that the most popular video editing packages (Captivate and Camtasia) cost money, and I was never successful at getting CSI to pay for it. (CUNY finally got a license this year during the pandemic, but by then I was at home, using my apple laptop for work, and it has imovie installed on it already). But the other obstacle, for me, is the expectation that these videos be scripted and directed, using animation and images, the campus logo, maybe a clever catch phrase. I know I just bragged about making claymation clips in middle school, but now that I work in a full-time academic position that mostly encompasses professional committee meetings, conference appearances, publications, and on-the-ground librarianship, flexing the amateur directing skills I honed in middle school felt at best ambitious and at worst dreadfully embarrassing.

This is where this blog post gets a tad controversial, but I’m just going to say it: I find many amateur librarian videos clunky and slow. There are also some out there that are very slick and impressively professional, but I’m not sure how libraries make truly professional videos without hiring filmmakers on their teams. I’ll just speak for myself: every time I have tried to stage direct a movie on iMovie or Camtasia, I find the experience frustrating and the end result is cringy to watch. The conventional wisdom in our media services unit on campus and in librarian literature generally is that you have to write up strategic goals, align them to specific learning outcomes, and make a script. When I read from a script, however, my voice is stilted and robotic–I need spontaneity to keep my voice light and energetic. I can’t successfully read a script and be interesting at the same time. A lesson plan, yes. A verbatim script, no.

Meanwhile, back in my office which was also my apartment, my wife had lost her job at a high-end restaurant that closed its doors forever on March 13th. She was stressed out, walking in circles in the apartment, and doom scrolling the news, so she decided to lean in to her Poshmark side hustle. It turns out, she’s really good at locating high ticket items in old thrift stores and marking them up 30-40 times what she paid for them. She also found solace in watching “thrift haul” videos on YouTube. Young [mostly] women commune with their fellow poshers and shoppers by sharing videos of themselves describing their recent purchases, what they like about the clothes, and how they plan to price them. Because my office is right next to my wife’s now, I overheard a lot of these videos and developed my own favorites. “Ooooh, is that Becky talking? I love her!” is a statement I said frequently. Becky may have a ring light and a charming style of discourse, but there is nothing professional about her videos. She just sits in front of the camera and talks about her thrift haul. Another example: during the pandemic I started sewing cloth masks, and because sewing is new for me, I learned how to do it by watching YouTube videos. Would I have watched a video if the sewer pulled up a powerpoint screen and read the words verbatim from the screen “I am going to show you how to sew a cloth face mask…”? I WOULD NOT! In these videos, I just wanted to watch people sewing, live, right there on the screen, while talking off-hand about the process so I could hit pause and bust a move on sewing my own masks. This video style is refreshing to me, and tells me a few things: 1. one can be interesting and engaging off the cuff, and 2. Gen Y and Z are used to watching videos made in this casual style. Why would we need to create corny powerpoints and script videos for students at the end of the generational alphabet, whose own styles are the opposite of scripted?

At a LILAC meeting, a fellow librarian Meagan Lacey showed us her videos using a screencasting software called Loom, and it clicked for me. My favorite thing about her videos is that the screencast captures a video of her, as well as her screen, so the viewer can experience a taste of what it’s like to be in a classroom with her. I felt pulled in to the videos, like she was literally telling me how to locate an article directly, and not like I was watching a poorly directed amateur powerpoint film. I downloaded the software and made a quick video of myself describing the instruction webpage and how I hoped to change it for my chief librarian, and then emailed it to her. She wrote me back and said [paraphrasing], “Wow, that video made me feel like you were right here in the room, showing me the website. I could right away see the issues.” The combination of video/audio worked better than describing the issue in written form, and better than telling her on the phone via disembodied voice (that’s what I call phone-calls, by the way. “Shall I email, or call you with my disembodied voice?”) This is the other thing about my teaching style, which I hadn’t thought of before the pandemic: I teach with my whole body. I gesture wildly while speaking, I move around the room to emphasize the concept of internet space. When describing Boolean operators, I put my arms up one on top of the other and then move them around like they are search terms telling the database secrets. Sometimes, when the students seem to be losing interest, I do a little dance. I’ll say something like, does anyone know the answer when I do this [insert dance]? And so for me, the physical body is an instructional tool, something one loses when the video shows the screen but not the person talking.

Since then, I’ve been using Loom to make casual, direct videos that show students how to use databases and locate articles. I’ve also used it to make quick videos showing faculty things, like how to link to an article using the permalink, or how to get your free NYT Academic Pass. A colleague of mine started using Loom internally, to make a video for colleagues when they have questions about creating a LibGuide, or whatever. My videos are probably still a bit embarrassing, but guess what: I didn’t have to apply to film school to make them! There is a lot more I would like to do to amplify this unstructured style of video-making, like embed internal responsive quizzes to make sure the student is following along, and insert final quizzes to inspire faculty to use our videos in their lessons (faculty love assessments).

Anyway, if you have tips you’d like to share, please do so in the comments! All I ask: don’t tell me to write a script! I’m never going back!

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LILAC co-sponsors a Critical Pedagogy Symposium

Keynotes: https://mnylc.org/cps/?page_id=79

Full Schedule: https://mnylc.org/cps/?page_id=325 

Registration: https://criticalpedagogysymposium.eventbrite.com/ 

LILAC is among the co-sponsors of a Symposium on Critical Pedagogy and Librarianship on May 17th – May 19th, each day, 11am – 4pm EST (add time). The event will be held virtually and is open to everyone. The Symposium’s goal is to explore a pedagogy that interrogates and explores structures of power, is designed to address frameworks of anti-oppression, and articulate a vision of justice within the field of library professionals. The symposium was organized by a Committee (see below) and includes workshops, panels, posters, presentations, and lightning talks. 

A critical pedagogy focused on Race 

A critical lens can provide us with tools to understand and dismantle the structures of power and oppression within the library and baked into the positionality of the library itself. In particular, a critical pedagogy that draws in Critical Race Theory (CRT) demands that we understand the centrality of race, racism, and the complexities of intersectional marginalities. CRT understands racism as a phenomenon that is both ordinary and aberrational. Though CRT stemmed from legal studies. It interoperates with multiple fields, including education, and has expanded to communities that center race alongside political identities (TribalCrit, QueerCrit, etc.) to deepen intersectional modes of criticality, furthering the combat of white supremacy.  

Critical Pedagogy has been woven into theoretical spaces within LIS for years now, from  the Library Juice’s 2010 publication of Critical Library Instruction (Accardi, Drabinski, Kumbier Eds. Library Juice Press) to MIT press’s 2021’s, Knowledge Justice  edited by Sofia Leung and Jorge R. López-McKnight, the first collection to directly focus on CRT in LIS. The theoretical frameworks in these texts and many others are now the spine of faculty librarian positions opening at academic libraries. For instance, Critical Pedagogy Librarian roles are being integrated into traditional library teams. What impact might this have on the profession and on institutions? This conference will be a place to think about how we might truly actualize the aspirations of this moment.

How did the Symposium come to fruition?

Initially, the idea was to explore methods of teaching in a remote environment. Co-sponsored with New York based groups such as the Reference and Instruction Special Interest Group (SIG) by the Metropolitan Library Council, ACRL/NY’s Information Literacy/Instruction Discussion Group, the Symposium’s groundwork was laid by two previous Case Studies in Critical Pedagogies forums held in November 2020 and February 2021

The coordinating Committee has 50% BIPOC representation and 50% queer representation. We bring a variety of experience and positionalities to this work, all as providers of public services in libraries. As symposium organizers, an underlying goal is to hold ourselves to a deeper accounting, and to think more rigorously and clearly [by inviting] critiques along the lines of race/ethnicity, indigenous and decolonial perspectives, issues of labor and class, and inclusive of gender/sexuality.

What will the Symposium offer?

The Symposium features more than 50 presenters, showcasing over 30 panels, presentations, workshops, posters, and lightning talks, with two amazing keynotes. Some subjects range from critical analysis to practical applications in: reference by mail to prisons, diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), LGBTQ+ cataloguing, MLIS interrogations, race-centered services, indigenous studies, silos, echo chambers, COVID implications, public libraries, zines, and womanism.

The Opening Keynote will be presented by Jamillah R. Gabriel, the founder of Call Number, a book subscription box specializing in Black literature and authors. Gabriel also co-hosts LibVoices, a podcast that interviews BIPOC librarians and information professionals about their experiences in LIS. Gabriel’s research focuses on issues at the nexus of information and race via a critical theorist lens, and interrogates how hegemonic information systems and institutions impact Black people and communities will get us started. Our closing Keynote is a conversation between the co-founder of Cite Black Women, Christen A. Smith and the co-founder of Black Women Radicals, Jaimee A. Swift. Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Engagement at NYU, and co-organizer of the Symposium, will moderate.

Registration & More Information

Registration is open and is first-come, first serve. The Symposium will be held on Zoom with closed captioning and recording for both keynotes (other events will not be recorded). Interested library folks and anyone interested in criticalities in libraries can register here.

Symposium Committee members:

Emma C. Antobam-Ntekudzi
Instructor/Librarian, Bronx Community College, CUNY

Vikki C. Terrile
Assistant Professor, Public Services and Assessment Librarian & Co-Coordinator of Information Literacy, Queensborough Community College, CUNY

Dianne Gordon Conyers
Associate Professor & Periodicals Librarian, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

Kate Adler
Director of Library Services, Metropolitan College of New York

Linda Miles
Assistant Professor, Head of Reference & OER Librarian, Hostos Community College, CUNY

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz
Associate Dean, Teaching, Learning & Engagement, New York University Libraries & Visiting Assistant Professor, Pratt School of Information

Elvis Bakaitis
Interim Head of Reference, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Stephanie Margolin
Associate Professor & Instructional Design Librarian, Hunter College, CUNY

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Ain’t Miss Debatin’

Every semester, I teach two sets of information literacy sessions for one of the Speech Communication faculty, one session to work with the students on their informative speeches, and one for their persuasive speeches. These include one marathon day of back-to-back-to-back classes and then one lone class on another day.

Way back in the other lifetime that was pre-COVID, in the fall of 2019, the marathon sessions for the persuasive speech happened to fall on Halloween. Another QCC librarian and I had been talking for weeks about dressing as Tina and Louise Belcher from the animated show Bob’s Burgers and even though this fell through (she had to go to a conference–not sure if she took the bunny ears), I decided to stick with it and dress as Tina.

I was a children’s librarian for a long time so thematic programming is ingrained in me and I knew that if I were dressing as Tina while teaching three SP211 classes, it needed to connect with something. I am a big fan of the show and wracked my brain until I finally rewatched the “Ain’t Miss Debatin'” episode (S07E15) and found the perfect fit. I prepped a clip from the episode where the characters discuss how everything can be debated, laced up my black knock-off Chuck Taylors, fastened my yellow barrette, and went to class.

I’m at the age where I feel completely out of touch with popular culture, so it was immensely gratifying that the students immediately knew I was Tina Belcher. For the rest of the day, walking around the library, I would hear “Oh my God, she’s TINA!” in excited hushed voices and then I’d be called upon to dance (I declined) or groan.

In the SP211 classes, the students laughed at the clip from the show, enjoyed a piece of Halloween candy, and seemed to make the connection that while everything can be debated, it’s important to have good supporting evidence for those debates. I’m not sure that there were any additional impact on their learning (I am the assessment librarian, so I probably should have looked into that) but I am pretty sure they remember the librarian who dressed up like Tina Belcher that time, and that’s not a bad thing to be remembered for.

 

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Where’s My Blackboard? Do I Have Enough Food?: Thinking Back on Our Pandemic Pivot

It has been just over a year that CUNY instructors made a swift pivot into online teaching and learning. Having taught Blackboard-based English classes and a hybrid research-and-library instruction class on Canvas for other colleges, I volunteered to be the ersatz library liaison to my CUNY campus’s teaching faculty during the rather surreal pivot week from in person to distance learning: in other words, the final week on campus, when all classes were abruptly cancelled and teaching faculty got daily, breathtaking crash courses in radically rethinking their jobs. Every day of that pivot week, I’d sit in our library instruction room with teaching faculty, who represented a range of comfort levels with online teaching. I found myself assisting those who had never logged into their respective Blackboard course shells to offering vague assurances to other colleagues that all would be just fine. One adjunct instructor, in particular, was so overwhelmed by the pivot–she owned no computer–that she ended up leaving the class and the job, I found out later. Just. Quitting.

The week after pivot, we were off campus, alone, siloed–working from our respective living spaces, trying not to quit, attempting to replicate what we were used to doing. I emailed my “regulars:” teaching faculty I’d occupied classrooms with semester after semester. As a self-appointed cheerleader for online teaching and learning all during pivot week, the outreach emails I composed were the same, teeming with robust paragraphs, layered with frenetic tones, exuberant abandon: “Let’s do this! We have synchronous and asynchronous versions of library instruction! We want to be in your Blackboard!”

The vocabulary was fresh; the conditions were new. How could teaching faculty resist? Resist they did. I got very little response. If the instructors did respond (and many did not), they were polite, but sounded a bit rattled. Overwhelmed. One wrote back, “I’ve decided to excise the research component from my syllabus this semester. It feels like too much.” Taking quick stock, I gathered that the practical, even compassionate thing to do was to just calm down and pare down. Simplify. Nonetheless, we kept reaching out. We got some bites. We did some Zooms. Asynchronous and synchronous! We learned together, not just about this new model of teaching, not just about this new iteration of “campus” in an early epicenter of the pandemic–but we learned about lowering expectations and that that was not only fine, but ideal.

For this post, I went back into the Google doc I kept during spring semester 2020: What I found was that I’d succeeded in showing up for Web Ex meetings, that I’d managed to download Zoom for the first time. But among the work-related notes, there were others: “Today I feel feverish?” “Do I have enough food?” “I am emotionally exhausted and want to be silent.” “Today was rough. I sobbed.”

A year into this pandemic, I have been rethinking outreach and the value remote librarians provide. I am trying to keep what I can offer simple, not just for my teaching colleagues but for myself: and most importantly, with an exuberance that’s deeply, optimally empathetic.

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Lesson Plans Sheet

This Lesson Plans sheet is a collection of instruction material from contributing CUNY libraries, organized by LILAC. Our collection includes lesson plans, tutorials, handouts, and libguides focusing on library instruction, both one-shots and credit courses. For each lesson/learning object, we include the college that created the material, the teaching topic(s) covered, format, and relevant links.

Our goal is to provide a space that brings together instructional content from CUNY libraries that can be viewed, shared and and adapted by those doing synchronous and asynchronous teaching.

The document will be periodically updated. If you have questions or would like to submit instruction material please contact LILAC co-chairs Stephanie Margolin (smargo@hunter.cuny.edu) and Emma Antobam-Ntekudzi (emma.antobam-ntekud@bcc.cuny.edu).

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Dis-Connected

I have taught a lot of synchronous IL instruction since we went remote a year ago. I did my first ones— a marathon morning of three speech classes in a row—on March 24, 2020 and since then, have taught another 55 session. Fewer sessions than what I would have done in person, but enough that I feel like I could do Blackboard tech support in my next life.

Information literacy in a remote classroom is…weird. Per policy, the faculty cannot require students to have their cameras on, which is fine for me as I don’t really like to have mine on, either. I still feel like I’m talking to myself, especially when I’m sharing my screen and can’t see what’s happening in Blackboard. In fact, last week I did a session one of my teaching faculty partners scheduled during their office hours and no students showed; I did the session with invisible students so that it could be recorded for them to watch later. And in those moments, I realized that this was how teaching online feels all the time, even when the students are (ostensibly) in the room—like performing for an empty auditorium.

This has been a big challenge for me. My teaching and presenting have always included some comedy, some improv—I was a children’s librarian for 20 years so I do ham it up a bit and I know how to play to a crowd. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that in my synchronous IL, I still make jokes and then laugh at myself because I don’t hear any response from students. Not being able to judge the room, I plow on; there are times I catch myself getting nervous and tongue-tied because I feel like I’m flopping and even with the tips and tricks for online teaching I’ve learned, it seems like there’s no way out.

But the hardest part of this faceless format is the loss of connection. Literally, of course, as many of us experienced last week when Verizon, Microsoft, and Google all had outages and emergency updates simultaneously. But those actual losses of connection are outside of my control, and worries about hacking and cyberattacks aside, are stressful, but mostly in that moment. Much worse is not being able to connect with students in ways that feel meaningful and genuine. I also do a lot of one-on-one sessions with the students I see in IL if they need and request it, and those moments do feel like lifelines to me. My teaching partners have said they see a difference when students meet with me about their research and citations, but even these connections, helpful though they may be, don’t feel exactly real.

The bottom line is, I miss my students. I miss the ones I knew “IRL” who will likely have graduated before we return to campus so I won’t see them again. And a year’s worth of new students who have never stepped foot in the library, never attended a live IL session, Research 101 workshop, or Research Party. I miss having the chance to make those often serendipitous connections with students at the reference desk or computer or during class. I know that once we are all able to be back on campus safely, this will be what I will be most grateful to experience. Until then, I’ll plow along, laughing at my own jokes, and hoping my connections hold.

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LILAC Instruction Chat 2/23/21

On this installment of the LILAC Instruction Chat, we heard from Emma Antobam-Ntekudzi, on her experience conducting instruction for a Nursing 100 (Gerontology) class.

The class was tasked with finding evidence based practice research with very specific criteria (authored by a nurse, published in a nursing journal, published within the last 7 years, etc.). The traditional approach to this course included a one shot session with a librarian followed by appointments with individual students or groups who needed more help. The sessions were more demonstrative with scheduled follow ups expected later.

Challenges to the session included the short time constraints, the difficulty of the research parameters and too much time spent reviewing citation tools like Refworks rather than learning and attempting the research process. The students also proved challenging as they had different levels of experience in research, were often hesitant to research things of their own interest (more interested in finding and writing about an easy topic to research) as well as anxiety about the course load of the nursing program in general.

Instructor Emma Antobam-Ntekudzi decided to change the format of the session in the hopes of creating more time for group work and conversation. The instructor divided the session equally between a lesson and group work. The instructor demonstrated how to use the PICO model (Patient/Population/Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome) to identify sources as well as explaining what an evidence based research article includes. Students were asked to conduct research and then answer specific prompts: provide article citation, what were your keywords, does the article have methods, result, and conclusion (Evidence Based Research), what journal is it coming from, and lastly an explanation of the article based on the abstract. While some groups were able to complete the assignment, others were not.

Future suggestions for the session include additional sessions to spend more time helping the students, requesting more session time from the professors, reviewing and discussing the assignment parameters with the nursing program, and creating a flipped model to give the students more time to observe and learn the research process before arriving to the session.

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Critical Pedagogy Symposium – CFP deadline March 8

CRITICAL PEDAGOGY SYMPOSIUM: Call for Proposals [mnylc.org]
May 17-19, 2021
CFP Deadline: March 8, 2021
More info: https://mnylc.org/cps/

A “working symposium” intends to give professionals within the library and information field, with or without the MLS, including students, the space to learn, collaborate, and engage with critical pedagogies. Our working definition of critical pedagogy includes: teaching and learning in the library that interrogates power structures, distributions of labor, histories, queer, racial inequities, environmental and social justices, and other forms of anti-oppression frameworks. We seek proposals from the perspective of reference, instruction, and fostering relationships outside the library through outreach, liaison work, and programming. Proposals may come in the form of:

  • Individual presentations
  • Panel presentations
  • Discussions
  • Workshops
  • Posters
  • Lightning talks

We envision a symposium that is a participatory learning environment where speakers and participants alike come together in community. Thematically, your work should align with anti-oppressive critical frameworks – such as race, disability, gender, ability, class, etc. We welcome descriptions of current projects, imagined projects, failed projects or theoretical discussions that speak to the following questions:

  • How has the year of mass protest in response to police shootings of black communities impacted instruction practice?
  • How has your library adapted to remote instruction?
  • What are some strategies that you’ve used when engaging with Library patrons?
  • What practices did your library or college develop to support remote instruction?
  • How has the pandemic and its emerging racial and social disparities affected your experience of librarianship?
  • How have you applied critical feminist pedagogycritical librarianship, or the totality of critical race theory to a remote teaching environment?
  • What is your experience in library school in relation to critical librarianship?

We welcome proposals from all positions within the library and information field, with or without the MLS, including students, and invite you to consider proposing on your various departments and experiences in relationship to the above questions and themes.

Proposal and Symposium Timeline: 
Proposals due: March 1, 2021
Notification of accepted proposals: Week of April 1st, 2021
Schedule released: April 12th, 2021
Free registration begins: April 19th, 2021
Symposium: Monday, May 17th – Wednesday, May 19th; 12pm – 4pm

Proposals can be submitted using this google form [forms.gle].

If you have any questions or comments, let us know at criticallibrarysymposium@gmail.com

The May Working Critical Pedagogies Symposium collaborators are:
Reference and Instruction SIG co-leaders: Kate Adler, Director of Library Services, MCNY, Linda Miles, Hostos Community College, & Shawnta Smith-Cruz, Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Engagement, NYU,

Chair of the ACRL/NY Information Literacy/Instruction Discussion Group, Dianne Gordon-Conyers

Library Information Literacy Advisory Council, CUNY: Elvis Bakaitis, Graduate Center, Vikki Terrile, Queensborough Community College, and co-chairs Stephanie Margolin, Hunter College, and Emma Antobam-Ntekudzi, Bronx Community College

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LILAC in 2020 / Welcoming 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic would forever change the way librarians live, socialize, work and teach. Prior to March 16, 2020, I remember a life that was made up of commuter traffic, in-person meetings, and face-to-face time with students and teaching faculty. Soon an emerging virus would became deadly and very quickly the stay-at-home orders were initiated. Everything changed.

The remaining months of spring 2020 became a semester consumed with figuring out each day while thinking about how best to move forward. CUNY Librarians worked swiftly on plans to provide all our services 100% online. It felt like a scramble to quickly adjust professionally and personally in this new normal. Just as other CUNY groups, LILAC and its members navigated teaching information literacy fully online. Our meetings were a break from the overwhelming transition. Throughout the spring they continued to be a place for us to share ideas, see faces and discuss online instruction success and failures. By the end of the semester there was a palpable collective exhaustion. We decided to scrap plans for a traditional Spring Training; instead we imagined a spring event that  would allow the CUNY community to reconnect and reflect on an unprecedented semester. 

This two day event took place on Thursday, June 4, 2020 – Friday, June 5, 2020. Attendees were given the opportunity to be part of conversations on asynchronous instruction, synchronous instruction, outreach and access. Small groups were facilitated by LILAC members and everyone was encouraged to reflect on their experiences. The event showed how much we had in common. We learned that consistent synchronous and asynchronous instruction requires a lot more work ahead of time. We learned that CUNY Librarians trained themselves those first few months. We utilized familiar tools while incorporating new ones (usually free online tools). Outreach became more about building relationships. The challenge was in keeping the Librarians’ availability “visible” to students who no longer see us on a daily basis. During the accessibility session, many understood the necessity of implementing universal design principles into online instruction material. Notes from the session reveal Amy Wolfe’s (CUNY Central’s Accessibility Librarian) Accessibility Toolkit was especially helpful.

By the fall, we were more prepared. Some of CUNY’s IT Resources for Remote Work and Teaching provided online conferencing options, some video creation, and editing tools. Similar to all other committees and groups, LILAC currently functions completely online. In-person presentations are now virtual and thanks to Linda Miles (Hostos Community College), Ian McDermott (LaGuardia Community College), Robert Farrell (Lehman College), and Christine Kim (Queensborough Community College) we’ve had a great start to the Instruction Chats. We look forward to sharing these recaps with the CUNY Community via our blog. We enter the new year more seasoned and with an openness to keep learning. We are committed to continuing to foster information literacy throughout the CUNY community in our new normal. We will continue to provide a space for members to share teaching materials, tools, and tips for remote instruction. There remains much uncertainty but our resilience proves the adaptability of information literacy. 

This year LILAC is proud to work alongside ACRL/NY’s Information Literacy/Instruction Discussion Group and METRO Reference & Instruction Special Interest Group (SIG) planning the Critical Pedagogy Symposium. This major event will take place on May 17, 2021 – May 19, 2021. It will replace LILAC’s annual Spring Training.  

We are in this together and you are invited to step into a bright future with LILAC.

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Spring Training Reports – Final Installment

Here are the last reports from the 2019 LILAC Spring Training. Looking forward to a great new school year with everyone!


Culturally Responsive Teaching through the Intersectionality of Collection Development and Information Literacy

Presented by Madeline Ruggiero, Queensborough Community College

Blog post by Linda Miles (Hostos Community College)
Madeline Ruggiero discussed the rationale and strategies for including exploration of materials from the library’s print collection within information literacy instruction. Over time, Madeline has been augmenting the library’s collection with student assignments and common topics in mind, topics that often reflect students’ own cultural identities. She has built print collection exploration activities into her lesson plans, including searching for, retrieving, and navigating within books to identify additional sources or related lines of inquiry. These materials enrich students’ research exploration, heighten engagement, and highlight the excellent print collection of the library.

Google Forms: Differentiating Instruction, Condensing Feedback
Presented by Danielle Apfelbaum (Farmingdale State College)

Blog post by Linda Miles
Danielle Apfelbaum presented a novel method for using Google Forms to accomplish two goals: to differentiate instruction and to manage instruction feedback data from classroom faculty. First, she takes advantage of the branching function of Google Forms, initially asking students to self-assess their knowledge or preparedness for the assignment at hand. Depending on how an individual student responds, the form then asks them to complete a developmentally appropriate hands-on task and enter a response. Student who indicate that they are totally confused by search interfaces would be given a different set of instructions than that given to students reporting a great deal of prior success using library search engines, with each set tailored to their respective level of experience.

Danielle asks students to provide their names to motivate compliance, and, as their answers are submitted via the form, she displays a spreadsheet with those responses (without names) to the class. Since many activities require students to provide URLs to resources they have found or even permalinks to search results, Danielle is able to use these to help guide class discussion.

To manage faculty feedback data, Danielle uses the “use existing spreadsheet” function in Google Forms to collate into one spreadsheet the responses to separate forms, which are each specific to a given faculty member/course section. This keeps all the data together in one place, and allows her to do some cross-section or cross-departmental analysis.

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