Top Twenty-Five of LIRT's Top Twenty Instruction Articles

As part of the celebration of LIRT's 25th Anniversary, the Continuing Education Committee would like to present the Top 25 Instruction Articles from the past 25 years. To select the articles, the committee reviewed LIRT's Top 20 lists of 1985-2001. To cover the years from 1977-1984, we have chosen Hannelore Rader's retrospective article: "A Silver Anniversary: 25 Years of Reviewing the Literature Related to User Instruction." All of these articles were selected based upon their lasting contribution to the discipline and literature of bibliographic instruction. This bibliography is also available as an MS Word document.

Continuing Education Committee Members:

Jonathan Helmke, Chair
James Millhorn
Frances Nadeau
Ericka Arvidson Raber
Elizabeth Walker



ACRL Bibliographic Instruction Section, Emerging Technologies in Instruction Committee. "Teaching Methods for End-User Searching: A Checklist for Planning." College & Research Libraries News 52 (July/August 1991): 431-36.

The Committee presents a thought provoking planning document, in outline form, with each point stated as a question. Conceptualized and compiled over three years, the authors make a valid claim when they state: "It is a testament to the good conceptual bones of this document that it has managed to effectively weather the dramatic shifts in online tides since its conception."

Allan, George. "The Art of Learning With Difficulty." College & Undergraduate Libraries 6.2 (2000): 5-23.

Penned by a retired philosophy professor, this article offers an excellent, thought-provoking examination of the pedagogical principles underlying all serious inquiry. Allan's range of reference is extraordinary in that not only does he invoke philosophical immortals such as Plato and Aristotle, but also employs analogies to the piano and football to make his arguments. He makes it clear that many of our current problems are in fact perennial issues. As librarians and faculty, we are all concerned that students have more than a rudimentary knowledge of locating information, and that they cultivate a habit of leaving no stone unturned. In other words, educators should strive to instill an element of artistry and aesthetic pleasure into inquiry. This is an inspiring article for all teaching librarians.

Baker, Betsy. "Bibliographic Instruction: Building the Librarian/Faculty Partnership." The Reference Librarian 24 (1989): 311-28.

Author advocates the integration of bibliographic instruction into the research process and stresses the need for cooperation among faculty, librarians and students. Librarians orchestrate the balance where faculty plan courses and librarians facilitate the research objectives, so that students can learn to acquire, assess, and interpret information.

Behrens, Shirley J. "A Conceptual Analysis and Historical Overview of Information Literacy." College & Research Libraries 55 (July 1994): 309-22.

The author analyzes major definitions of the term "information literacy" since the 1970s. Over time the meaning of information literacy has evolved and expanded. The skills and knowledge required to be information literate within the developing definitions are noted, as are the responses by the library profession. The article concludes by identifying three major trends from the 1990s.

Bodi, Sonia. "Teaching Effectiveness and Bibliographic Instruction: The Relevance of Learning Styles." College & Research Libraries 51 (March 1990): 113-19.

The article offers an overview of learning styles and a practical explanation of how David Kolb's experiential learning model was applied in bibliographic instruction. The author believes that meeting the various learning modes of students may be the key to improving the effectiveness of teaching and learning.

Bruce, Christine Susan. "Information Literacy Research: Dimensions of the Emerging Collective Consciousness." Australian Academic & Research Libraries 31.2 (June 2000): 91-109.

Although information literacy research is a relatively new field, Bruce reviews its evolution and attempts to analyze the current state-of-the-art. The bibliographic instruction movements of the 1980s produced models and lists of skills. In the early 1990s, researchers surveyed employers for desirable skills and related information literacy skills to student learning. Researchers in the late 1990s identified a number of different paradigms associated with information literacy. Bruce predicts that current research will extend beyond the workplace to the community and will recognize the fundamental importance of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural investigations.

Eisenberg, Michael B. and Michael K. Brown. "Current Themes Regarding Library and Information Skills Instruction: Research Supporting and Research Lacking." School Library Media Quarterly 20 (Winter 1992): 103-09.

The authors review the four themes of library and information skills instruction: 1) Value of instruction, 2) Scope of instruction extends beyond skills to problem solving and the research process, 3) Instruction must be integrated into curriculum, and 4) Use of innovative methods and technologies can enhance instruction. They summarize the research already conducted and the explore the need for further research.

Farber, Evan. "College Libraries and the Teaching/Learning Process: A 25-Year Reflection." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 25.3 (1999): 171-77.

This article discusses the instructional role of the college library and how it has changed over the last 25 years. Now library instruction has a key role in the institution's educational programs. The convergence of bibliographic instruction and the electronic sources of information has resulted in widespread success. It is a fitting historical account to vital field of interest.

Hull, Tracy L. and Kelley Ann Lawton. "The Development of a First-Year Student Library Instruction Program at Duke University." The Reference Librarian 73 (2001): 323-36.

The article charts the progress of a cooperative venture between Duke's Lilly Library and the freshmen writing program. In the course of five years the program was revamped continuously. Initially starting as a one-shot lecture and workbook program the class advanced to two sessions with an increasing emphasis on hands-on learning and also an increasing reliance on electronic formats. The authors offer a solid account of how to launch a successful program. It is also instructive to examine the superb workbook that accompanies the course. The workbook is located at: http://www.lib.duke.edu/libguide

Jacobson, Frances F. and Michael J. Jacobson. "Representative Cognitive Learning Theories and BI: A Case Study of End-User Searching." Research Strategies 11 (Summer 1993): 124-37.

Jacobson and Jacobson discuss several learning theories (Transforming Mental Models, Cognitive Flexibility Theory, and Situated Cognition) and their applicability to instruction in database searching for high school students. Common themes from these theories include: the active role of the learner in constructing knowledge, the importance of knowledge-based learning, and the importance of expert knowledge and performance as a model for novice database searchers. The authors present one possibility for instructional design based on these theories.

Kuhlthau, Carol C. "Information Search Process: A Summary of Research and Implications for School Library Media Programs." School Library Media Quarterly 18 (Fall 1989): 19-25.

Hypothesizing that research is a complex process, the author conducts five studies and develops a model of the information search process. The six-stage model of the research process and the corresponding feelings, thoughts, and actions of the students are described.

Leckie, Gloria J. "Desperately Seeking Citations: Uncovering Faculty Assumptions about the Undergraduate Research Process." The Journal of Academic Librarianship 22 (May 1996): 201-08.

The article discusses the discrepancies between the faculty's expert model for research and the information gathering behavior of undergraduates. The author recommends a stratified approach to typical research paper assignments and advises librarians of possible roles in communicating with faculty members.

Martin, Lynne M., ed. "Library Instruction Revisited: Bibliographic Instruction Comes of Age." The Reference Librarian 51/52 (1995): entire issue.

Building on two previous special issues devoted to bibliographic instruction, this double issue of The Reference Librarian explores the history, progress, current status, and future challenges of BI. The articles reflect the "coming of age" of BI over the past decade, as well as the current issues of learning theories and pedagogy, collaboration and cooperation, technology and instruction, and diversity and multiculturalism.

McClure, Charles R. "Network Literacy: A Role for Libraries?" Information Technology and Libraries 13 (June 1994): 115-25.

This article provides a broad view of network literacy in an electronic society. The author examines types of literacies, including computer, media, and information literacy, and the development of information problem-solving skills. Issues such as increasing awareness of the importance of network literacy, reinventing education and libraries for the networked society, and creating a level playing field between public and private interests are addressed by the author.

McFadden, Thomas. G., and Theodore. J. Hostetler, eds. "The Library and Undergraduate Education." Library Trends 44 (Fall 1995): entire issue.

Contributors to this issue of Library Trends explore the library's role in undergraduate education and the future of library user education programs. Common themes or issues that emerge include the importance of reading, literacy, and critical thinking, and the impact of rapidly changing technology. Many of the authors encourage librarians to redefine their role and take steps toward strengthening their involvement in undergraduate education.

Mellon, Constance. "Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theory and Its Development." College and Research Libraries 47 (March 1986): 160-65.

Reports that students' initial response to libraries is fear that stems from a feeling of inadequacies in their library skills. Gives suggestions on what the library can do to alleviate this anxiety.

Moore-Jansen, Cathy. "What Difference Does It Make? One Study of Student Background and the Evaluation of Library Instruction." Research Strategies 15 (Winter 97): 26-38.

A six-year study of students' backgrounds and their evaluation of library instruction showed the greatest correlation between subject interest (anthropology in this case) and evaluation of library instruction. There was little correlation between evaluation of instruction and demographics, previous library instruction, or prior use of library resources. This study is important for its scope and methodology and for the length of time the course was studied.

Pappas, Marjorie L. "Managing the Inquiry Learning Environment." School Library Media Activities Monthly 16.7 (March 2000): 27-30, 36.

After summarizing several definitions of "inquiry," Pappas reports that inquiry learning engages the student and utilizes questioning techniques that are fostered by coaching from the teacher or school library media specialist. The inquiry environment is open and flexible, with the student accessing primary resources and interviewing people. Management of the inquiry environment requires collaboration between teacher and school library media specialist to teach students to gather and use information; to engage in questioning and reflection; to work with others in groups; to plan their learning experiences; and to engage in assessment. For each of these management tasks, Pappas cites models. Finally, the author acknowledges the difficulty in changing from traditional approach to inquiry learning and suggests beginning with one curriculum unit.

Pitts, Judy M. "Mental Models of Information: The 1993-94 AASL/Highsmith Research Award Study." School Library Media Quarterly 23 (Spring 1995): 177-84.

Presents the findings of a research study of a group of teenagers' information-seeking behaviors. The main question addressed by the study was: When students are seeking and using information, why do they make the decisions they make? The study found that a learning experience is made up of numerous "learning strands" (content, information seeking and use, life skills, and production). The strands are intertwined and when a learner experiences difficulty with one strand, the learner relies on prior learning involving another strand. The students in the study had no support or misguided directions for their information-seeking school assignments. The article concludes with recommendations for school library media and classroom professionals, professional preparation programs, and researchers.

Rader, Hannelore. "A Silver Anniversary: 25 years of Reviewing the Literature Related to User Instruction." Reference Services Review 28.3 (2000): 290-96.

This is an excellent article reviewing the literature from 1973 - 1998. It lists the most influential publications, books and articles, and includes a list of 26 major bibliographies.

Shirato, Linda, guest editor. "Special Issue: A LOEX 25-Year Retrospective." Reference Services Review 27.3 (1999): entire issue.
The entire issue of this pathbreaking journal dedicated to bibliographic instruction and latter-day information literacy is worthy of note. A select list of authors including Evan Farber, Hannelore Rader, Carol Tenopir, Linda Shirato herself, and others who have played a leading role in bibliographic instruction, reflect and reprise on what has been accomplished and the many changes that have taken place in the field over the last quarter century. The issue features fifteen articles devoted to divergent areas of bibliographic instruction activity. The articles furnish not only a road map of the past, but also offer state-of-the-art reviews of current practice. Author L. Hardesty wrote "Reflections on 25 Years of Library Instruction: Have We Made Progress?" which offers a thought-provoking look at the status of library instruction on campuses yesterday and today. J. Nims contributed, "Marketing Library Instruction Services: Changes and Trends" which focuses on responding to user needs. H. Rader wrote "The Learning Environment-Then and Now" which is a great overview of instruction during the last 30 years. T. Kirk contributed an excellent article, "Course-related Bibliographic Instruction in the 1990's," a history of the library instruction back 25 years. L. Shirato wrote "A LOEX 25-year Retrospective" which is invaluable for an historical perspective.

Simpson, Antony E. "Information Finding and the Education of Scholars: Teaching Electronic Access in Disciplinary Context." Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian 16.2 (1998): 1-18.

Simpson argues that the new information technologies have reached such an advanced level of sophistication, especially with regard to upper level courses, that librarians should now play an integral role in teaching and initiating students to research practices. As a consequence BI should no longer be restricted to one-shot sessions where the librarian plays the role of guest lecturer. In short, Simpson insists on the need for librarians to play a vital role in shepherding students through the research process.

Stripling, Barbara K. "Quality in School Library Media Programs: Focus on Learning." Library Trends 44 (Winter 1996): 631-56.

Presents an overview of the history of instruction in school library media programs from 1950 to the present along with the developing roles of the school library media specialist.

Todd, Ross J. "Integrated Information Skills Instruction: Does it Make a Difference?" School Library Media Quarterly 23 (Winter 1995): 133-38.

A report on research at Marist Sisters' College (Sydney, Australia) explores the impact of integrating library skills and science instruction in a high school course. Data indicates that mastery of both library skills and science content were improved in classes with integrated instruction. This article provides some concrete data to support intuitive concepts about effective approaches to instruction.

Truett, Carol, ed. "School Library Reference Services in the 90s: Where We Are, Where We're Heading." The Reference Librarian 44 (1994): entire issue.

In this issue of The Reference Librarian, attention is focused on school media specialists, with many articles addressing the instructional role of media specialists. Among the issues discussed are: articulation of library skills from high school to college, resource-based teaching, the impact of the whole language movement on librarianship, teaching critical thinking through online searching, library instruction in the sciences, and the changing role of library media specialists.
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Last Updated: Content: 22 January 2003 -- Billie Peterson-Lugo; Graphics: 15 April 2001-- Jana Ronan