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.