Just in Time: Rapidly Developing Your Library’s Self-Guided Help for Immediate Impact is a poster in the 2020 PNLA Virtual Poster Session. We encourage you to engage in discussion by leaving a comment on the page. The author of the poster will respond to comments the week of August 4-7, 2020.
Presenters: D’Arcy Hutchings, Anna Bjartmarsdottir, Daria O. Carle, Ruth D. Terry, & Jennifer McKay
Track: Academic, Public, School, & Special Libraries
Abstract: During this pandemic environment, the uncertainty of in-person access to the library makes providing some kind of 24/7 help even more critical. In an ongoing project begun several years ago, librarians at the University of Alaska Anchorage created a series of self-help guides, tutorials, and FAQs to serve students with their most basic research needs. As the project developed, we gained a better understanding of how to create and improve self-help content, organizing it into an easily accessible format for our users, whether or not the library building is open.
The project was initially developed when we had more time and the ability to meet in person, but when the pandemic hit, we realized our long term project could be distilled down to the essential elements and shared with others in a modified, rapid version. We have compiled our best practices so that you too can learn how to create or improve help content efficiently and effectively. With so many universities and K-12 schools still undecided as to their status in the fall, this is a timely opportunity for you to present your library’s self-help content in an easily accessible 24/7 format to meet your user needs.
About the Presenters:
D’Arcy Hutchings is the Instructional Design Librarian at the UAA/APU Consortium Library at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She holds an MLIS from University of Alabama and a Master’s of Education from University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Anna Bjartmarsdottir is an Instruction and Research Librarian and liaison to English, Writing, Creative Writing, and Theater at the UAA/APU Consortium Library at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She holds an MLS from the State University of New York at Albany, and an MA in Theater and Film Studies from the University of British Columbia.
Daria O. Carle is the Science Librarian at the UAA/APU Consortium Library at the University of Alaska Anchorage and serves as liaison to engineering, mathematics, and the natural sciences. Her MLIS is from the University of Wisconsin Madison.
Ruth D. Terry is the Business and Government Information Librarian at the UAA/APU Consortium Library at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her MLS is from Texas Woman’s University.
Jennifer McKay is the Nursing and Education Librarian with the Alaska Medical Library at the UAA/APU Consortium Library at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She holds an MLIS from San Jose State University.
Nice poster, everyone!
This is fabulous – thank you! I’ve been thinking about how to share/organize some information on our internal website, and I think this will be a great help for the project.
I’m so glad that you found this useful. It is always a work in process, though!
Thank you for the feedback! I appreciate you letting us know this was helpful for you.
Thank you for this excellent presentation! In particular, the Before and After slides were very helpful in seeing the improvements you made. It applies in public libraries as well as academic ones because the content of tutorials might be different for a public audience, but the principles of accessibility, ease-of-use, logical organization, and so on are universal!
Yes, I think it applies to all kinds of libraries for the reasons you mention. We have definitely learned that it does help to have several sets of eyes to ensure that all of those considerations are applied.
Thanks for sharing your process – that was lovely and succinct and I liked how the end products were so clear. Well done!
Thanks for the feedback! We’re so glad this was helpful for you.
Does your group create all tutorials for the library, or do other librarians also create their own materials?
Great question! The majority of our librarians have created tutorials and currently have “ownership” of them — they determine the content and are responsible for keeping them up to date. Prior to the formation of our group, virtually all tutorials were done this way. However, over time we realized that it wasn’t the best approach to have a librarian independently working on a guide that all librarians and students use. It also put a lot of burden on librarians to keep shared content up to date. We have revised and created (and continue to create) just the tutorials that have been deemed as general purpose how-to tutorials, if you will. We do not as a group create any tutorials that are specific to specialty databases, specific courses, specific subjects or topic areas, etc. These are all still done by the appropriate liaison librarian.
Just as D’Arcy says, most librarians in our library create their own tutorials, and they are generally related to the subject area (if they are liaison librarians) that they work with.
What has the student feedback (or usage stats) been since COVID-19? Do you find your videos and tutorials are getting used?
Thank you for your question! I am going to see what I can pull in the form of stats limited to the time of COVID-19. I will defer your question about feedback to my colleagues as I personally have not worked directly with students during these last 5 months.
I went in to our data for the Get Help page and several of our tutorials to specifically look at the numbers limited to the COVID-19 time period (from when all our classes immediately went online after extended spring break, to present). It’s a mixed bag. Some have more hits, others fewer. Some were higher this summer vs. last summer, some lower. The same is true when comparing the latter portion of spring semester 2020 vs. the same period 2019. That said, with enrollment numbers being down in 2020 and without seeing a clear drop in our usage numbers, my impression is that we are likely getting slightly more hits per enrolled student. I am also inclined to conclude that more of the hits we are getting are from students seeking out these resources on their own. This is because our reference numbers and our instruction volume (one-shot sessions) declined significantly in this period while the hits on our Get Help page and key tutorials did not. We promote and use these resources in our instruction and reference so a good number of the 2019 hits are attributed to these activities. Hopefully that makes sense! Please let me know if it does not and I will happy to explain another way.
That makes a lot of sense to me. Lower enrollment numbers, less instruction, yet not a significant drop in usage seems to indicate a greater use with the students that we do have. I suspect that the fall semester will really provide greater detail in terms of what is going on.
I don’t have any numbers on hand, but anecdotally I can say that they get used a great deal. We use them in the classroom (zoom) to point to when providing instruction and we point to them during reference interactions. Now, with Covid, that’s been especially useful.
I like this, particularly the emphasis on not waiting for perfect. I do a LOT of videos for the library instruction sessions I do for online classes..I make them brief (less than 10 minutes), focused (background info, studies, navigating the library and contacting me) and send multiple mini-videos for each class and they are NOT fancy or perfect, but they are telling them how to find resources for THAT paper in THAT class, so the students use them a lot. I’m the kind of girl who throws out directions to everything but my sewing machine, so I do understand why kids don’t use a lot of resources that would help them understand the research process and how to navigate the library, so making it as easy to find, as jargon-free, and as acessible as possible are all good plans!!! Good work!!!!
Yes, not waiting for perfect is a great take-away. We know that we wouldn’t be able to get all the content out there quickly if we had to wait for that. I’m glad you mentioned the short videos for online classes. I do the same thing these days for some of my Writing classes. It really helps to chunk things up for students and it’s easier on us to create that way.
Thank you for sharing this. It was super interesting and informative. It comes at such an important time where now, more than ever, self-assistance is paramount and remote learning/ online instruction takes some innovation.
Thank you for the feedback! We are so glad you found this helpful.
Thanks for sharing and documenting the great work you put in to make your library more relevant for remote learning. I am going to share this with my libraries’ tutorial taskforce to see if they can gleam some lessons from your experience.
So glad you found this helpful! Thank you for letting us know.
I think it’s great that you have a Taskforce for tutorials, as that will be a natural group to work on a project like this, or even to just think about what can be tweaked for the times that we are currently in.