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CUNY LILAC sponsors the Critical Pedagogy Symposium May 17-19, 2023

Registration is now open for the Critical Pedagogy Symposium, which will be held virtually May 17th – May 19th, 2023, 12pm – 4pm EST. The virtual event is open to everyone. Use this link to register

CUNY LILAC is proud to once again sponsor the Critical Pedagogy Symposium (CPS). CPS is a working symposium that is focused on creating space for library workers to learn, collaborate, and engage with the critical theoretical issues that underpin our profession.

CPS understands Critical Pedagogy as a praxis that interrogates power structures, distributions of labor, histories, queer, racial inequities, environmental and social justices, and other forms of anti-oppression frameworks. 

In 2023, the Symposium is devoted entirely to exploring critical race theory within Library and Information Science (LIS).

To learn more about the theoretical framing and practical approach to the Symposium, listen to the CRTCollective’s podcast episode featuring CPS organizers Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, Symphony Bruce, and Hebah Emara here:


The Symposium will feature an Opening Keynote from David James Hudson (University of Guelph) and Closing Keynote with Emily Drabinski (City University of New York Graduate Center) in conversation with David James Hudson and Baharak Yousefi (Simon Fraser University), moderated by Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz (New York University).

mid symposium Plenary titled, Critical Race Theory and Critical Pedagogy Librarianship: Intersections, Explorations, and Practice with Critical Pedagogy Librarians Jamillah R. Gabriel (Harvard University), Robin Gee (Cornell University), Tova Johnson (Oregon Health & Science University), and Symphony Bruce (New York University) will also place us into context with the practical applications of this work on the ground in our libraries.

The entire three-day symposium will include presentations, peer review, discussions, and lightning talks, some of which are listed below:

Wednesday, May 17th:

Thursday, May 18th:

Friday, May 19th:

For more information about the program, check out the Critical Pedagogy Symposium website which has the full schedule, email criticallibrarysymposium@gmail.com, or follow on Twitter @crit_pedagogy.

The Critical Pedagogy Symposium is a collaborative project sponsored by ACRL/NY, CUNY LILAC, Barnard College, METRO, Library Juice Press and Library Juice Academy and NYU Libraries. Additional sponsorship is provided by the CRTcollective, a community of international, interdisciplinary, and intersectional scholar-activists who are committed to cultivating knowledge and information across borders.

Symposium Committee:

Dianne Gordon Conyers 

Associate Professor & Periodicals Librarian

LaGuardia Community College, CUNY


Emma C. Antobam-Ntekudzi

Assistant Professor/Reference & Instruction Librarian

Bronx Community College, CUNY


Hafeezah Hussein

Instruction Assessment Associate

Undergraduate & Instructional Services, NYU


Hailey Byrd

Dual Degree Student MA Costume Studies, NYU Steinhardt

MLIS, LIU Palmer School of Library Science

External Engagement Intern, Division of Libraries, NYU


Hebah Emara

Librarian for Open Innovation

Bern Dibner Library, NYU


Lia Warner

Reference and Instruction Associate

Reference Services Department, NYU


Liam Adler 

Director of Collections Strategy, Access, and Engagement

Librarian for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS)

Barnard Library & Academic Information Services, Barnard College


Linda Miles, MLS, MA, PhD

Assistant Professor, Head of Reference

Hostos Community College, CUNY


Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz 

Associate Dean, Teaching, Learning & Engagement

New York University Libraries

Visiting Asst. Prof., Pratt School of Information


Stephanie Margolin 

Associate Professor & Instructional Design Librarian

Hunter College, CUNY

Symphony Bruce

Critical Pedagogy Librarian

Undergraduate & Instructional Services, NYU

Welcome to Fall 2022

Welcome to the fall 2022 semester! LILAC meetings will continue virtually until further notice. Future meeting dates are: 9/13, 10/18, 11/15, 12/13. We look forward to chatting with you about instruction and working on our new projects.


Sharell Walker, LILAC Co-Chair

Spring Training Schedule

Please join us for our Spring Training on 6/1 and 6/2. You can view the schedule below and there is still time to register!

Wednesday 6/1Thursday 6/2
Session 1
12:00 - 12:50
Junior Tidal & Martha Lerski- Privacy in Information Literacy Instruction - 10 Minute

Brooke Duffy- Contemplative Instruction Coordination: Lessons from the Pandemic - 30

Q&A- 10
Session 1
Jesus Sanabria - "The Internet is Down" Ten Tips to Practice While Teaching Via Zoom. - 10 minutes

Aditi Bandyopadhyay - Teaching Library Instruction classes during COVID-19: Opportunities, Advantages and Challenges- 30 minutes

Q&A - 10
10 minute transition10 minute transition
Session 2
1:00 - 1:50
Madeline Ruggiero- Incorporating UDL Theory when Designing an Interactive Tutorial - 20

Logan Rath- TEAMing up with Students and Faculty: Using Microsoft Teams to Increase Student-Librarian Interaction in Asynchronous Learning. -20

Q&A- 10
Session 2
Romel Espinel - Black Boxes: Rituals and Performances in Online Information Literacy 20 minutes

Q&A - 10
10 minute transition10 minute transition
Session 3
2:00 - 2:50
Tatiana Usova -Intro to Mentimeter - live polling and engagement tool- 20 minutes

Lisa Czirr - Sprouting Perennials: Revisiting what's growing in the classroom after a year back in person - 20

Q&A - 10
Session 3
Megan Benson -Connect and Engage in Packback Discussion Board - 20 minutes

Nicole Williams - Teaching Students How to Learn More Efficiently Using Active Recall, Spaced Repetition, and Anki- 20 minutes

Q&A - 10
Closing of day 1
Thank you and come back tomorrow! Thank you
Thank you

Spring Training – Call for Proposals

LILAC Spring Training Call for Proposals

Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2022  – Thursday, June 2, 2022
Time: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm (both days) Eastern Standard Time
Format: Online

Spring Training is back! We are looking forward to reflecting and reconnecting! LILAC is seeking proposals for 10, 20 and 30-minute presentations or workshops.

Topics may address but are not limited to:

-Online tools to support pedagogy
-Neither fish nor fowl: hybrid and hyflex teaching challenges and strategies.
-How do you engage actively, build community, and assess learning with a screen full of zoom boxes? Tips, tricks, best practices?
-“I never taught online until Covid” – Discoveries of people new to online teaching.
-Pedagogies of inclusion and equity
-Teaching about Covid-era misinformation
-Back to “normal”: What should we keep from teaching during lockdown?
-Any form of classroom assessment
-Using Springshare to enhance teaching

Please submit your proposals by Tuesday, May 10 @ 11:59pm: PROPOSAL FORM.
All attendees (presenters and non-presenters) can REGISTER HERE.

*LILAC will hold an in-person social gathering on June 3rd!
Details TBA

LILAC Spring Training Committee
Sharell L. Walker, co-chair
Emma Antobam-Ntekudzi, co-chair
Mason Brown
Linda Miles
Haruko Yamauchi
Stephanie Margolin
Christine (Mi-Seon) Kim

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!

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.


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.

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).


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.

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.