Book Reviews

Cinthya M. Ippoliti and Rachel W. Gammons. User-Centered Design for First Year Library Instruction Programs. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries Unlimited, 2017. 192p. Paper, $60.00 (ISBN 9781440838521). LC 2016-032797.

Information literacy is evolving. To address this evolution of library instruction, the authors of User-Centered Design for First Year Library Instruction Programs argue that the student and his or her needs must take center stage when designing library instruction programs. A rapidly changing digital and information landscape requires librarians to adjust how they teach and what content is included in those instruction sessions. The new era of “fake news” requires librarians to move away from focusing on students’ current needs and instead step back to consider the future where critical thinking is the ultimate tool in a student’s toolkit to address unknown issues and information requirements. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) developed The Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education in part as a response to this new and seemingly altered landscape where much of the underlying focus is on the students’ personal relationship with information literacy. Ippoliti and Gammons argue that user-centered design can help librarians to incorporate this and other elements of Framework by always keeping users at the center of their thoughts when planning library instruction, a method that should firmly ground an instruction program.

Ippoliti and Gammons present an engaging examination of using user-centered design to plan library instruction programs. This book is targeted toward librarians whose primary or main job task is to coordinate or manage a library instruction program. However, the book is easily accessible and highly engaging, and other librarians currently providing more “one-shots” than programmatic instruction will find this a useful tool to begin transforming their work into a cohesive and sequential information literacy program. The authors begin their writing with a thorough introduction that clearly outlines the intent of their work and, importantly, note that the sections and chapters that they have chosen for their book are not meant as stages of planning or development but rather are standalone and complementary lenses of consideration and discussion. Ippoliti and Gammons also include chapter synopses and a definition for user-centered design (UCD). The authors write that UCD began in the world of usability testing and has expanded to include the entire user experience including offline interactions within a space. User needs are kept at the center of thought and planning through soliciting feedback. The user-centered design definition does contain a stage-by-stage representation of how to apply the design theory to any generic instructional program, and the application of these UCD stages is evident throughout discussions within the book.

User-Centered Design for First Year Library Instruction Programs is a practicable length, 192 pages, and divided into three parts, each focusing on elements found when designing a library instruction program: Design, Implementation, and Administration. These three parts are further divided into two chapters each that fully cover each chapter subject (Curriculum, Assessment, Teaching, Outreach, Staffing, and Spaces) in well-outlined and researched content. Much like a lesson plan, chapters include chapter objectives that clearly outline the content a reader can expect to encounter within each chapter. One of the great strengths of this book is the inclusion of case studies at the end of chapters. Each chapter includes one to three case studies from practicing librarians that detail a project or problem and the eventual way in which the project or problem was tackled. Each case is thoroughly detailed, and many include examples of instructional material including sample handouts. Case studies also include reflection questions so that readers can work on applying new knowledge and experiences to his or her own workplace. Finally, a further reading reference list bookends each chapter.

While this book does not overtly focus on the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, the authors do note its importance when writing this book; they state that elements of it are interwoven in each chapter along with various other elements that affect programmatic library instruction. One of the more robust discussions of the Framework occurs in a discussion of turning the Framework into learning outcomes for assessment.

As stated in the introduction, the focus of this book is on creating an instructional program rather than a single, “one-shot” session. This focus is woven throughout the work and is apparent in the selection of part and chapter subjects. For example, the authors discuss thinking programmatically about information literacy instruction and thinking about separate sessions as part of a larger whole. They also discuss the labor, time, and organization that are part of programmatic instruction and oversight. Even so, librarians who are only working in library instruction and not a part of larger information literacy program planning could still make use of the techniques and examples of library instruction that are presented in this book. This book will certainly be useful for library instruction coordinators or information literacy librarians who seek to incorporate elements of the Framework and center students within library instruction programs.—Alexandra Hauser, Michigan State University

Copyright Alexandra Hauser


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