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Each year, ProQuest proudly sponsors the ACRL Instruction Section Innovation Award. The award is granted to an academic librarian or team to reward a project that demonstrates a creative, innovative, or unique approach to information literacy instruction or programming.

This year’s award recipients (Photo at right: Meredith Farkas, Amy Hofer, Lisa Molinelli and Kimberly Willson-St. Clair, all from Portland State University) are recognized for their work on the software Library DIY, which assists students in finding the information they need quickly.

Here they are describing a bit about the award-winning project.

You were recently awarded the ACRL 2014 Instruction Section Innovation Award for your work on the software Library DIY program. Tell us about the project.

Library DIY is a system of learning objects designed to give students the quick answers they need for point-of-need support. The content and information architecture of Library DIY is designed to mirror a reference desk transaction. Students can drill down to the specific piece of information they need rather than having to skim through a long tutorial to find what they’re looking for. Each piece of instructional content in Library DIY is designed to answer a student’s question and get them back on their way in 1-2 minutes.

In March, we open-sourced Library DIY’s Drupal-based platform, so any library or other institution can create a similar system themselves. I know of quite a few librarians that are already in the process of setting it up at their own institutions.

How did the idea for this program originate?

Some of us were frustrated with traditional library tutorials that are usually designed based on the way we teach in the classroom. While that’s fine when the tutorial is replacing classroom instruction, it’s not very helpful for point-of-need support, where a student is looking for a specific answer to a specific question. We also recognized that for every student who asks us for help at the reference desk, there are probably a dozen others who have the same question but for whatever reason, don’t feel comfortable asking for help.We envisioned Library DIY as an online tool that would provide quick answers to support students who don’t want to ask for help.

Fortunately, around the time we were talking about these ideas, we hired a part-time instructional designer, C. K. Worrell, who has amazing graphic design skills. He came up with a mockup for Library DIY, which is very similar to what it looks like today. That really helped provide us with the push we needed to move forward with what became a two-year labor of love.

Do you have any other projects or plans in the works and if so, can you tell us about them?

Right now, we’re still focused on improving Library DIY. We did some usability testing in the spring and are working on making changes to the content and information architecture of the site over the summer. We also want to work more on marketing Library DIY to students and faculty.

We’ve spent the past few years building a wealth of online instructional content for various purposes and programs, and now we’re at a place where we need to spend time maintaining and improving that content, to make sure it gets utilized!

08 Jul 2014

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