Scaling Up: Rebuilding an Instruction Program with Limited Resources- Outline


Because of current trends and fiscal challenges in higher education, particularly in the state, during 2017, the CARLI Instruction Committee decided to explore different ways libraries and librarians are adapting to provide quality service and meaningful instruction with different and/or fewer resources. The theme for the year was “Evolving Library Instruction: Negotiating Change in Uncertain Times” and the committee planned a series of webinars from librarians in the region who are being innovative in their response to institutional, fiscal, or programmatic changes.

The outline that follows was compiled by the Committee and is intended to assist librarians viewing the recorded webinar:

Scaling Up: Rebuilding an Instruction Program with Limited Resources
Amy Hall, National Louis University, and Sarah Leeman, National Louis University

Webinar presented on December 7, 2016


National Louis University’s Library & Learning Support (LLS) unit has experienced significant changes over the past few years. Shifting trends in higher education, new university programs, a departmental reorganization, and university-wide resizing all continue to impact a variety of library services. In this webinar, NLU librarians discuss their plan to rebuild their instruction program, focusing on targeted outreach efforts and curriculum-embedded information literacy instruction that allows LLS to maximize student impact even in a time of limited resources.

The Librarians at National Louis University have addressed the ongoing changes at their university by shifting their library instruction approach while harnessing current library trends. By collaborating with faculty and staff outside of their department, they were able to help craft a program in which information literacy was fully integrated into the course curriculum. Using the flipped approach, as well as co-teaching, librarians were able to delve deeper into topics and create more impactful relationships with students and faculty alike. For programs that were too large to address with in-class sessions, librarians created modules with interested faculty that were automatically embedded in specific courses within their learning management system. This helped them to reach students whose instructors may not have requested an in-class session, but are still able to access the modules created by librarians. Additionally, some faculty members were more empowered to teach these ideas having collaborated on the creation of the modules. Both these methods were helpful for students, but also helped librarians align with the administration for future curriculum development.


Amy Hall is a Teaching & Learning Librarian and Assistant Professor for Library & Learning Support at National Louis University in Chicago, where she helps a diverse community of students and faculty grapple with issues in digital information literacy. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in library & information science from Florida State University. Thanks to previous experiences as an online student and as an instructional designer for online programs, she is particularly interested in using technology to support critical thinking and learning.

Sarah Leeman is an Online Learning Librarian and Assistant Professor at National Louis University in Chicago, where she develops information literacy curriculum, teaches credit courses and instruction sessions, and works closely with students and faculty. She is most interested in critical information literacy instruction and user experience as it relates to library resources and course design. Sarah holds bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and English from Ripon College, and a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Background on National Louis University (NLU)

NLU is a private, nonprofit university with campuses in the Chicago area (5) as well as Tampa, Florida, and increasingly online. Students are largely enrolled in programs of study in the National College of Education and College of Professional Studies and Advancement which include psychology, business, criminal justice, etc. Most students are graduate, part-time, nontraditional, adult learners.

  • 6 = total number of librarians for all these campuses

Library & Learning Support

Several years ago, there was a university-wide resizing which decreased the number of faculty librarians. This resulted in scaling back on the number of one-shot library instruction sessions to embedding modules into online courses.

  • Department restructuring brought together Learning Support Specialists, the Writing Center, and Librarians all in the same department, allowing for more collaboration to respond to trends in both instruction and the changing student body.
  • Instruction model shift because sustaining one-shot sessions was not possible with the ratio of librarians to students and decreased enrollment in credit-bearing courses.
  • To respond, librarians have increased their presence in CMS’s, using flipped and blended approaches as well as embedding modules and working closely with faculty on curriculum development

Example: NLU Harrison Professional Pathways Program (HP3)

  • HP3 was designed to be an affordable general education program for traditional aged undergraduates (new for NLU).
  • Librarians, Learning Support Specialists, and Success Coaches worked closely together and created a flipped and adaptive learning model for students, with wrap around support.
  • The cohort was made up of 80 students who were mostly African-American or Hispanic and also first generation, low-income college students. Many students were below the ACT standard of “college ready.”

Student Success Seminar
Librarians got involved with HP3 via the Gen 103: Student Success Seminar, a required course for students to take during their first term. It covers college student success skills and researching careers.

  • Librarians were asked to develop 3 weeks of content for the course, which was an Introduction to the Research Process (included: developing a research question, finding and evaluating sources, evidence to support a thesis, citing or plagiarism) and ended with students creating an annotated bibliography.
  • The course was taught by librarians or co-taught with instructors. Using a flipped model, librarians were able to cover everything in-depth (with the framework in mind), more efficiently than a one-shot model. Other benefits to this approach include: easily replicable each year and a great way to get to know faculty and students.

HP3 & GEN 103: Scaling for Continued Growth
Year two of HP3 was challenging because the program was so popular it became unmanageable for librarians. In the fall 2016 semester, the HP3 Chicago campus cohort had 292 new students, with only 2 librarians to teach 9 sections of GEN 103.

  • Librarians transitioned from co-teaching to instructor support. They met with all instructors (both individually and in groups, based on availability) to review curriculum in detail and answer questions, sent weekly emails with reminders and tips for each module, and visited all classrooms in first week of unit to introduce ourselves and offer support to students (made face to face connections). Librarians taught brief classroom sessions only in areas instructors found most challenging (primarily database searching). NLU Librarians also encouraged one-on-one research consultations for students needing additional help, and kept loose office hours.
  • This is an example of high level integration, lots of Librarian participation, with many face-to-face interactions with students.

Integration on a Smaller Scale: Embedded Modules

Embedded modules refers to instructional support resources and activities that are placed directly in the learning management system (i.e., Blackboard). The library content is integrated with the rest of the course content, usually at the point of need and without needing a request from faculty teaching the course. Consequently, if there’s a research assignment for the course, the library research assistance is packaged with this. Advantages to embedding the library/info lit content in the learning management system (LMS) include having a library presence in every course (regardless of teaching faculty requesting library instruction), and students don’t have to leave the LMS to access the library.

Example: ECE 582G: Writing and Editing for Effective Communication

This course has two primary objectives: teach professional and academic writing skills and orient students to the university and the program. This is a 10-week, 1-credit, online “gateway” course for the Early Childhood Administration master’s degree program. The program coordinator (also the primary instructor) noticed students consistently struggling and reached out to LLS for help.

  • Embedded Support in the LMS (NLU uses D2L) - The program coordinator, writing specialist and librarian worked together to integrate new instructional resources. The writing specialist updated writing quizzes and self-assessments and incorporated LLS writing guides and support materials into course content, eliminating need to link primarily to outside resources.
  • Library & Learning Support Module - The librarian created the Library & Learning Support module with two goals: 1) introduce library resources and services, and 2) provide basic library research instruction for Reaction Paper Assignment, where students are asked to support their viewpoint with at least one scholarly article from the library. The short and basic module included links to their assignments and activities. The module is built in D2L, which allows for the use of some LMS tools, including instructor's ability to edit. Unfortunately, it is not a live page, so it isn’t as up to date, and there is not as much control.

Leveraging LibGuides for Embedded Modules

Example: LAP 660: Professional Writing in Community Psychology

This is an example of how to embed the library in the LMS but still have some control over updating the content.

  • Librarian offered an online literature review workshop that was made a requirement. Requirements were also built into a course that was more subject specific.
  • Every box in LibGuides 2.0 has embed code you can copy and paste into another online location such as the LMS.
  • The content can only be updated from the LibGuide which allows for more flexibility. Any future student in this LAP 660 course will see this embedded LibGuide, even if library instruction isn’t requested. Faculty are comfortable teaching these ideas because librarians worked with them on developing the course.

Future Projects

  • New Undergraduate College development. NLU is creating a new Undergraduate College (which will include the HP3 program). Librarians and learning support specialists volunteered to serve on multiple workstreams: Course & Pathway Development; Academic Support; Faculty Workload and Governance. Librarians and LSS participation ensures that LLS instruction and services are embedded in general education curriculum.
  • New GEN 103: Student Success Seminar. This includes a redesign for all undergraduate programs, both online and face-to-face. The instructional designer and general education director will work to incorporate class activities and support resources aligned to course and module learning objectives.