As the Spring semester is concluding, academic librarians can take this “downtime” to assess their semester. I love finding out what books I can purchase to read over the summer so I can apply new ways of thinking about library instruction. The Association of Research and Academic Libraries’ online store is one of my favorite places. When a new book is released, I put the title on my list to purchase it later. I enjoy this time to recalibrate and learn something new. How do you use your time to think about library instruction during the summer?
Experts in our field write library instruction resources, and Xan Y. Goodman is one of those librarians. Xan Y. Goodman is a health sciences librarian and associate professor who works at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas Libraries. In this blog post-interview, she will discuss the resources that have shaped her teaching. In addition, Xan will speak about the importance of seeking professional development opportunities like webinars and conferences to enhance your library instruction knowledge and skill set.
Jamia: How did you develop your instruction style?
Xan: My teaching style was developed by learning in class, reading, and watching other teachers teach. For my own learning, I took an instruction course at Wayne State University taught by Veronica Bielat and another instructor; both were passionate about teaching. This showed me how enthusiasm for teaching could be a part of your style.
I learned from Dr. Paul Nickel to care about students by looking at others, and I was one of his teaching assistants. Although he taught a large lecture course, he learned the names of the students and checked if they did not appear in class. In a PWI with more than 40,000 students, I had never experienced that, and it taught me to learn the names of students and to care.
Somebody else whose style of teaching I admire is John Michaud. John is a tireless legal librarian who I have watched respectfully treat everyone. I remember marveling at the way in which he had ongoing consultations with a man whom I found particularly difficult. John listened attentively every time I saw him with the person. He dealt with people as if they were important and took their questions seriously. I remember how he told me that people had problems that they were trying to solve. I always remember that.
Later on, I began to learn more about bell hooks and her work on teaching, and there are two good books she wrote that also inform my instruction style, Teaching to Transgress and Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom.
Jamia: How do you keep updated on the latest instruction style and techniques?
Xan: I attend webinars given by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) or by organizations offering teaching webinars. I also go to conferences on education. My colleagues are also excellent sources to learn teaching techniques. When it comes to instruction style, I follow a bunch of BIPOC scholars who write and teach about teaching. One of my personal favorites is Dr. J. Luke Wood. I also have to share two other essential books; one is What the Best College Teachers Do by Dr. Ken Bain and McKeachie’s Teaching Tips.
Jamia: Can you please discuss your most-used instruction assessment tools?
Xan: The two tools I use all the time for the assessment are Dr. Tom Angelo’s Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, and the other is Classroom Assessment Techniques for Librarians by Melissa Bowles-Terry and Cassandra Kvenild.
It is helpful to gain insights on the journey of library instruction from experts in our profession, so we know that it takes time, energy, and effort to become a great library instructor. As information professionals, we provide resources to people daily, so we have to gather our own resources to take our skills to the next level. Hopefully, during the summer, you will have the opportunity to do this.
Xan Y. Goodman is a co-editor of the ACRL publications Co-design: Integrating the Information Literacy Framework into Disciplinary Courses: Case Studies from Faculty-Librarian Collaborations Abroad (2020) and Disciplinary Applications of Information Literacy Threshold Concepts (2017). Goodman has presented on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education to regional, national, and international audiences. Xan is a health sciences librarian and associate professor who works at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas Libraries, where she supports four schools in the Division of Health Sciences: the School of Integrated Health Sciences, School of Public Health, School of Dental Medicine, and School of Nursing. Xan is also a Distinguished Member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP) of the Medical Library Association and an ALA Spectrum Scholar.