Friday, May 21, 2021

IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group Spring Conference 2021

Thanks to all who were able to attend this year's IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group meeting! Especially now, it felt great to connect with wonderful colleagues from around the state! This was a new conference format being fully online, but the conference planners did bring back some familiar elements by continuing to combine the Iowa Library Association ACRL conference with the IPAL conference. We had 28 people attend the IL Discussion Group breakout room on May 21, 2021. We began our time together with our familiar Solution or Sympathy activity where participants reflected using Padlet. Then we transitioned into New, Old, & On-Trend - an activity where participants reflected on new things they tried this year and wanted to keep, things they used to do but now realize energy is better spent elsewhere, and those things that we used to do/are still doing that aren't going away anytime soon. This year instead of more breakout rooms, we transitioned Table Topics into an asynchronous format for folks to share and reflect. All are linked in the embedded Google Doc below. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group Spring Conference 2020


it's time to take a breather - Let's catch back up spring 2021 (coronavirus permitting)

This spring has turned our worlds upside-down. (Perhaps a better description is that we're stuck in a constant cycle between heavy-duty spin and tumble dry?) Either way, with the shift of both IPAL and ILA/ACRL to a shortened, online meeting rather than an in-person schedule, we decided to take a moment this spring and give each other some grace. 

We so value being able to learn from one another, exchange ideas, and connect in this way and we're excited to catch back up (Coronavirus permitting) at the next spring IPAL and ILA/ACRL gathering! 

Already looking forward to spring 2021!

Monday, June 3, 2019

IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group Spring Conference 2019 Recap

Info Lit Interest Group 2019 by dbqreference

Thanks to all who were able to attend this year's IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group meeting! How fortunate are we to have such rich conversations and be able to connect with wonderful colleagues from around the state?! This was the second year for the new conference format which combines the Iowa Library Association ACRL conference with the IPAL conference. We had 31 people attend on May 23, 2019 at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids. We began our time together sharing out wins from the year. We celebrated victories, big and small, with the large group. Then we transitioned into Table Topics groups. The various topics and associated group notes are embedded below. 

Thank you to all who attended and shared ideas, resources, and experiences! We're looking forward to carrying the conversations and connections into the next year!

Monday, June 4, 2018

IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group Spring Conference 2018 Recap

IPAL/ILA ACRL 2018 by cstone

Thanks to all who were able to attend this year's IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group meeting! We had rich conversations and were able to connect with many colleagues from around the state. We had a new conference format which combined the Iowa Library Association ACRL conference with the IPAL conference, and we had 27 people attend on June 1, 2018 at Drake University in Des Moines. We began our time together sharing out ideas for Professional Development on a shoestring. Those ideas are embedded below.

 After that we broke into Table Topics groups. The themes were:
  • Communication: how can we communicate with colleagues and college constituents? convey value of IL, libraries, and more?
  • Across: how can we collaborate across institutions for research, presentations, scholarship? 
  • Resource bias and "real news:" how do we acknowledge bias in sources and translate that into resource credibility/assessment understanding w/ patrons
  • Techniques and strategies: successful instruction and student engagement strategies, lessons that worked, teaching/class activities, ways to engage through IL
  • Social justice: diversity, equity, inclusion in the IL context
We've done our best to interpret handwriting, but let us know if we missed something! We've embedded those notes below.

Finally we wrapped up with Solution or Sympathy. We've embedded below the talking points, and we'll also include the asks we weren't able to get to in person -- feel free to continue the conversation in the comments on this post!

Thank you to all who participated in the conversation and for your helpful feedback and interest in helping in the future! We're so grateful to work in a state with such wonderful colleagues!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group Spring Conference 2017 Recap

Eighteen attended this year's in-person IL Interest Group session. We began with brief introductions sharing IL instruction session successes and then shifted into Conversation Circles. Attendees could choose from one of the following topics for their discussions:
  • IL Reflection 
  • Lesson Planning
  • Instruction Materials and Management
  • Reluctant Instructors
  • Distance Learners
As you'll read below, the conversations were rich and the idea sharing was valuable! We allowed folks to rotate after about 30 minutes of discussion, because sometimes it's hard just to choose one topic! Embedded below are the notes from those conversations, as well as notes from the Solution or Sympathy activity. One additional thing to note was the election of Sarah Slaughter, University of Dubuque, to serve as a member of the Richard Fyffe Scholarship Selection Committee. We thank her for her willingness and enthusiasm to serve!

Conversation Circle & Solution or Sympathy Notes:

Monday, May 23, 2016

IPAL Information Literacy Interest Group Spring Conference 2016 Recap

Twenty-three attended the Information Literacy Interest Group session held March 19, 2016 at Grand View University in Des Moines. We began with brief introductions followed by a guided reflection on teaching characteristics and non-traditional learning objects or experiences based on Char Booth’s Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional literacy for library educators. Individuals articulated influential instructors from their past or peer group and the attributes they most admire or wish to emulate in their own teaching. Participants also identified three memorable non-classroom-based learning experiences that connected them with a meaningful way to learn. That prompted a lively small-group discussion.

Kristy Raine provided an instruction example that modeled connecting instruction and outcomes to the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The small groups then reconvened to discuss and brainstorm how they may apply the Framework and modify their current instruction. Each small group recorded their Framework brainstorming, which is shared below.

If you are interested in being part of the planning process for future events like this, fall ILA conference meet-ups, online hangouts, or would like to contribute guest posts to the blog, please indicate your interest here:

Below are the materials used or created during the event.

Reflective Teaching Activity prompts/chart:

Kristy Raine's lesson example connecting instruction and outcomes to the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education:

ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education Pocket Guide:

Framework "Solution or Sympathy" group brainstorming:
Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

IPAL 2016 IL Interest Group - May 19 Preview

In the world of bibliographic instruction, librarians know that “anything goes.”   Your role varies with each class, instructors’ expectations, planned activities, goals in teaching, and the inevitable chaos (and joy) that can result.

You are invited to join the morning session of the Information Literacy Interest Group (IPAL) to discuss challenges, successes, and other unique situations that are part of a teaching librarian’s life. The IPAL Conference will be held on May 19, 2016 at Grand View University in Des Moines.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a description of a recent teaching activity.  The session will feature time to explore your selection in light of the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education. Those with an interest in library instruction, whether you’re from a small, private college, or a large, Regent university, are welcome to attend! This session runs from 10:15 a.m.-noon.

 Questions about the upcoming IL group session can be directed to Cara Stone, Grand View University (cstone [@], Becky Canovan, University of Dubuque (BCanovan [@] dbq.ued), and Kristy Raine, Mount Mercy University (kraine [@]

Friday, April 15, 2016

Idea Generators from Social Media 

I lurk on social media. 

I watch and listen and wait for inspiration to strike (or ideas to steal). Occasionally I’ll post a note or share something in a group, but mostly I listen and appreciate the community that is librarianship. But there’s a certain level of pressure associated with social media. Who should I follow? How much should I participate? What if I want to stop following this big, important, well-known library person because it winds up I’m not interested in their kitty pictures (because sometimes, I’m just really not in the mood). Just as it takes some of us a bit longer to realize that it is okay to give up on a book that’s just not doing it for us, we can do the same with social media. I quit Snapchat so hard, and I’m more than okay with that. We all have the right to say “Nah, that’s not my deal” and walk away.

But sometimes I need a reminder, so here are some things I remind myself about social media:
  • It is what you make of it, and what you want it to be. Do all of it or none of it or something in between. It’s okay.
  • You can’t read everything on Twitter, or even Facebook, now. There’s just too much content. It’s ok to sit back and see what rises to the top. If it’s important it will likely be shared more than once and you’ll catch it then.
  • What rises up will likely be under this bubble or filter of bias, meaning like people share similar views and, thus, similar things. Remember to step outside of that bubble to get multiple perspectives, especially if it is something that is important to you.
  • Different networks are for different things, even though the same content is sometimes shared across multiple platforms. Try out a few, figure out which is the best fit, and go from there.
  • Feel free to lurk. I lurk in Facebook groups, on Twitter, on Foursquare, and learn a lot about what I like and don’t like about certain formats.
  • If you have something to say, if you feel like it’s worth sharing then put it out there! We’re all just learning from each other!

In terms of library idea-sharing, which groups do I appreciate the most? Here are just a few (certainly not a complete or exhaustive list), along with a brief description:
  • LMaO - Library Marketing and Outreach:
    • This group is so awesome! I love the pictures and questions shared! The group description says, “An ACRL group created for Academic Librarians interested in Marketing and Outreach. Please share ideas and events from your libraries! This group is for: - Sharing ideas, resources, websites, software, etc. to help us market our libraries and their services. Emphasis on FREE or low cost resources! - Show off the work you do: your success stories and your failures, ask for help from others, and plan for local meet ups in your state to exchange ideas!”
    • According to the description, “This is a group for anyone who is interested in developing e-learning for library purposes. We will share ideas and engage in discussion about e-learning.  Public, academic, school, and special library staff are all encouraged to join. E-learning can include screencasts, tutorials, videos, and any other training delivered in an online format, and may be for library staff or patrons.”
    • I love taking ideas and seeing how many different formats I can deliver it with--Can I take an online video idea and turn it into a classroom activity? Let’s try! Plus, learning about new tech tools is always a good idea!
    • I love staying connected with local folks and hearing about issues, successes, and everything in between, so this group is great! “Iowa Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries division discussion group. Membership in this Facebook group is open to everyone, everywhere. Maintained by ILA ACRL Electronic Communications Committee.”
    • I know there are tons of folks who absolutely love this group. I was in for a bit and decided it was 1) too much stuff, and 2) not always relevant to me in my small-library life.

If you’re looking to lurk on other libraries’ pages, check out this compilation of links from 2013:
Pages I don’t follow but probably should:

Things I forget about on Twitter until they pop up:

Where do you lurk to find the best ideas? Where do you find the best sense of community online? Share in the comments below!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Guest Post: Taking a Step Back: When Instruction Basics Need to be Revisited in a New Environment

iLOVE welcomes a guest post from Holly Schettler, Reference & Instruction Librarian at Morningside College in Sioux City, IA.


Humans in general are always looking forward. Time pushes us onward even when we wish to reminisce or scrutinize the past. It only makes sense, then, that we do the same in our careers. Librarians focus on building the literacy skills of our students, creating a scaffolding that will (hopefully) carry them through their future research; but what happens when that scaffolding fails? Without a strong enough foundation, that is exactly what we face--students that fall short of their research goals.

Academic research is often associated with peer-reviewed academic journals or other resources deemed to be purely scholarly, yet such a narrow viewpoint has its downfalls. More and more freshmen are entering college with a limited knowledge of library databases and keyword searching; these “digital natives” are immediately drawn to Google to find resources for academic research. Often their default search-engine-instinct results in research based upon unreliable sources. I listen to faculty lament their students’ failed attempts at quality research, despite the abundance of subscription resources supplied by the library.

So what is a librarian to do in this situation? I suggest we look to a new environment to build these research skills--Google. Yes, students are already using Google to do their research. Yes, they are not finding great resources by doing so. But if we can teach students to use Google (and other search engines) effectively and truly evaluate online resources before using them (instead of as a mindless default), then those skills can carry them forward into unknown territory--that of library databases.

Thankfully many of our first year course instructors have embraced online research due to the nature of their topics or themes. Some common themes we see include: popular culture, environmental awareness, science and technology, current issues facing the world, etc. These themes lend themselves to utilizing both resources we find in our databases as well as resources that can be found freely available online.  In these cases, we can start where the students are familiar (Google) and build up to using more advanced platforms (library databases). We can evaluate resources on the web, and then transfer those skills to different types of resources provided by the library. Instead of saying “NO! Don’t use Google!” and causing students to lose confidence in the way they have been researching, we can say “Google is an appropriate starting place for your research in these types of cases...”

The concept extends beyond first year courses as well. Consider the business department--a number of sources utilized by business students can be found free (or at least partially free) online: Forbes, Business Insider, Advertising Age, and Bloomberg Business, just to name a few. When doing company research, where should students start? The company website, of course! But often, without teaching students how to find, use, and evaluate websites, they land on the company’s consumer website, not the site that will give them the information they need for their research. Surprisingly, most students I have worked with do not even know how to locate the “About” page on a website in order to evaluate the source! If the information is not in plain sight, most students will give up or use the resource without evaluating it. Thus, we need to invest time into training students the proper way to “Google,” particularly for first year students and those in specific departments like business.

Once students have mastered their skills in Google, the next logical step would be a discovery service, where students can search in a manner similar to Google but locate resources provided by their library. Again, we are building skills and scaffolding information literacy, but simply starting the process in a new environment--one that most students believe they are familiar with already. Essentially, this allows students to build confidence in their research skills without having to get over the initial shock of being told they can’t or shouldn’t use Google for their research. It is a tale some of them have heard before in high school--a knee-jerk reaction to the overconfidence of digital natives--but one that should not be continued in college.

It should be noted that some students will have received more preparation for scholarly research in high school than others, meaning some students may be more comfortable jumping into library database research immediately. I am not proposing a complete abandonment of library resource training in the first year courses. At Morningside, we also cover basic database usage in our first year classes, including research within Academic Search Premier and Opposing Viewpoints in Context. But even for students who are somewhat familiar with certain library databases, effective Google searching is important. Many digital natives do not realize how poor their search skills are and can become increasingly frustrated by not being able to locate that for which they are searching.

Of course, this discussion of beginning research skills in Google lends to a discussion of information literacy skills being taught in high schools, which unfortunately are lacking due to the inadequate number of librarians employed in those institutions. A revisiting of the topic may be warranted upon a change in the landscape, but currently most college librarians are left starting from scratch when it comes to educating students on information literacy. So what can we do in the current landscape? Build a foundation of skills that is strong, and that will carry the students forward, even if that foundation is in Google.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Guest Post: Resist the Urge to Google: IL Challenges with Business Students

iLOVE welcomes a guest post from Kristy Raine, Reference Librarian and Archivist at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, IA.


In the early-2000s, my campus’ library began its consultant program, pairing staff with academic programs and departments.  Most of us, at the time, were “humanities kids,” literature and history types. As we divided up responsibilities, someone had to take the business department. Knowing the gaping hole in my knowledge about the field, I volunteered to assume the role, a “baptism by fire approach,” as my mother would say.  A decade later, I am still working with business students and have seen several changes in the department, including two thriving graduate tracks (MBA and MSL), now accounting for almost 250 students.

Our campus is commonly known as a “nursing school,” but we have twice as many students in business. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including a high volume of adult students working on a Bachelors or Masters’ degree at night.  We also have a significant number of adjuncts teaching night courses, many with long-term associations to the campus, implying they know my role with the department and that library services are available for them and their students. My usual, shameless approach to ingratiating myself with an adjunct is to help with some task and then ask if his or her students will also need to know the same process.  If so, how about letting me come to class to show them how to find a company report? Search a subject in one of our databases?  Find a book in the collection or compare company financials?  It’s a slightly wicked way to step into a class, but nonetheless, has started many nice relationships with faculty.  Most are quick to acknowledge that they needed help, and in turn, students should ask for help too.

As the web continues to promote content that passes as “business research,” we keep pulling our students back to subscription databases that offer them reliable options.  We know the Internet is not a level-playing field. Explaining that reality with a CRAP test or your favorite, similar mechanism can be a healthy wake-up call for students at any point in their journey.  At times, I feel like a lawyer, cross-examining a witness, asking him/her to explain one’s reasoning and why a website appears in their source list. However, if this grilling makes them reconsider using commercial content (aka “garbage”) for a class assignment, I am delighted.  This phenomenon of poor resource choices exists across the spectrum of students and courses.  Giving students hands-on activities that evaluate web content continues to be a part of my work, with the idea that we move from simple to complex situations, all the while applying the same criteria to the evaluation.  I’ve seen graduate students laugh at my declaration of a “CRAP test,” but those same students then struggle to explain why a website should or should not be used in a formal writing situation.

Our library also has a second sword to bear -- APA style.  The business department mandated (some years ago) that it would be the standard for citing.  Some instructors are highly familiar (and talented) with the conventions, given their own research.  Some have a general sense of the structure, and others have no clue as to the mechanics.  Despite this variety of scenarios, students are told to use it, even though many receive no guidance in class as to why we use it, what it looks like, what the components mean, etc.  How do we face that mountain? Some years ago, our library designed our own APA guide, a blue handout that remains the library’s most popular offering for academic support.  We take it with us to class visits, share it online, and promote it with faculty.  We offer class visits specifically to give practice with citing, explaining how it works, and answer questions whenever they come in person, by phone, email, or chat.  We’ve recently expanded our APA offerings to include instructional videos, sample papers, and advanced help with more complex scenarios.

I am no master of APA, no matter how often I hear that comment.  I’ve practiced it for years, sometimes believing I can see it in my sleep during spring paper rushes when a hundred or more students ask for a second pair of eyes with a references list. This fall, I decided to make sure that our upperclassmen could prove they “knew” APA.  Confident, this group of seniors was excited when I declared that we’d be doing an activity called the “APA Olympics.”  I noted that there would be no partial credit, no second guesses, and prizes for the top three teams (medals, you know).  Following three blistering rounds of heading hurdles, a citation marathon, and an in-text citation relay, I had scared some of them, which truly, was my intent.  They spoke to their faculty, mentioned how the activity had shown them they still needed help, and we saw more of them at the desk than we’d seen in some time. The activity can be modified for any sort of subject or course -- it’s just the paces you put them through that counts.

In spite of this litany of challenges, I thoroughly enjoy my relationship with the business department and know that the faculty want the best opportunities for their students.  They advocate for the library’s services, and we continue to break down the wall that seems to keep management and marketing students from regularly gracing our doors.  If that means being a roving librarian with handouts and candy, I’ll do it.  If it means a five-minute presentation to a class, I’ll try it.  Night and weekend class visits are also a reality, as is the new APA information series offered to our graduate students.  Making connections to the students is crucial for all of us, and we’ve felt some success with these efforts.  We’ll keep looking for new ideas and activities to share the importance of quality research and successful citing. And somewhere in the midst of this journey, I hope business majors are running away from Google, running very far away.