You Only Get One Shot: Critically Exploring and Reimagining the One-Shot Instruction Model

This article explores the one-shot library instruction model by asking critical questions about how it has become ubiquitous in the field. The authors developed these questions with the intent to understand how early-career librarians become acculturated to one-shots, how social identity and positionality shape instructional practices, its impact on burnout, equity, and sustainability, and how the one-shot could be reimagined. This article employs personal critical reflection as a methodology, using interviews with the team of authors and two external participants. Analysis of the interview data showed themes of organizational acculturation with one-shot training, empowerment/disempowerment to employ different instruction models, and the tension between the transactional and relational nature of library instruction. Through these reflections, the article advocates that a relational instruction model helps promote equitable, reflective teaching and learning experiences for librarians and students alike as a way to disrupt the tradition of the one-shot.


“The one-shot felt like a house everyone in the library had always lived in, and for some reason, no one knew exactly why we weren’t allowed to go outside.”

This poignant quote, written in an email inviting fellow authors to collaborate on this article, kicked off a series of conversations exploring how and why one-shots became a standard practice in the sphere of academic library instruction. Nicole Pagowsky’s editorial (2021) about deconstructing power structures that inform “the contested one-shot” inspired this group of authors to reflect back on our own understanding and perspective of the one-shot model and act upon Pagowsky’s call “to expand our pedagogical imagination through questioning what appear to be common-sense practices in order to create better systems and structures” (Pagowsky, 2021). Many instruction librarians start their careers teaching information literacy sessions using primarily one-shots. For many, this model is ubiquitous, unavoidable, and something they may never be able to move past. Those who do ask questions, either related to pedagogy or workload, often find themselves facing challenging power dynamics, including resistance from colleagues, supervisors, and teaching faculty. Whether they question the one-shot or not, many librarians find themselves repeating the same sessions over and over, with little time left to deeply reflect on their practice. As we began to ask questions about how the one-shot came to be, the authors informally reflected on their experiences with one-shots, rooted in questions about pedagogy, gendered and racialized dynamics, age, ability, and more. In our planning meetings, many of us began to think about the connections between positionality of the librarian and power, equity, and burnout as it connects to the one-shot model. Some of these issues we noted were exacerbated by the pandemic, with library workers being forced to teach through traumatic events (Esguerra et al., 2022).

In alignment with expanding our imagination (Pagowsky, 2021) and attempting to understand why we weren’t allowed to “go outside” (Worsham, 2021), the authors decided to use critical self-reflections to develop a set of questions. Critical self-reflection is an underused approach to assessment practices and provides a humanist lens through which librarians may think about their labor. This culminated in the development of semistructured interviews with each other, as well as colleagues who are further along in their careers, to discern the following about one-shots: the stories behind how and when one-shots are introduced to librarians as a given practice; how librarians at various career stages qualify and categorize them; and what they demonstrate about feelings of scarcity, power, and relevance in academic libraries. The hope is that, through these varied positions, this article will provide a multifaceted perspective and better understanding of one’s relationship to one-shots throughout different stages of a librarian’s career. The intention of this project was never to take a binary stance on whether one-shots are necessarily “good or bad.” However, we question the many ways in which the one-shot is passed down as a default expectation without critical investigation and reflection. The team of authors, who come from different social identities, educational backgrounds, and work experiences, sought to use first-hand accounts to explore how our current concepts of one-shots came to be and how they might be reimagined to promote equitable, reflective teaching and learning experiences.

Lit Review

For the purposes of this article, we are defining the one-shot as “when a faculty member invites a librarian into the classroom to provide one-time information literacy instruction, typically related to a research assignment” (Nicholson, 2016). Library instruction began in 1870, around the same time higher education in the United States expanded. In the 1960s, bibliographic instruction arose as a way to bridge the gaps in the reference model due to the large growing number of students who needed research help (Hopkins, 2017). In the 1970s, information literacy began to be defined, and in the 1980s university libraries began to expand their teaching program outcomes to encompass information literacy, beyond just library literacy, focusing on the application of information, techniques, and skills for using information tools and primary sources, and information being used for problem solving (Behrens, 1994, 310). Divisions of labor within the academic library grew to meet demands for public-facing services. Historically, the practice of library instruction was shaped to meet the rising information needs of university students but always as a supplement to the students’ curriculum, not originally developed to stand on its own as a course. Through this historical understanding, we can see how the one-shot model was established.

Librarians have explored how to move beyond this model in a variety of ways, including partnering with campus stakeholders within an institution and “engaging faculty both as learners and as educators,” which “can help disperse information and digital literacies across the university curriculum” (Sharun & Smith, 2020). By engaging with faculty as partners and teachers of information literacy, librarians are better able to engage with students through multiple avenues. This supports faculty feeling invested in their students applying what they learned from librarians.

There are significant challenges for librarians who teach within the confines of the one-shot model. Karen Nicholson (2016) writes, “The library and information science (LIS) literature is replete with discussions of the pedagogical weaknesses and practical constraints of [the one-shot] approach, yet it remains the dominant model for information literacy instruction in North American higher education nonetheless” (Nicholson, 2016, 25). She connects the neoliberalization of time and productivity as a significant challenge to deep engagement and critical thinking. This aligns with how the one-shot model is upheld as a neoliberal instruction model, which is much more focused on skills such as database searching or call number recognition than critically engaging with resources. In addition to this, the time and effort that is put into this particular pedagogical model takes away capacity for librarians to engage in other intellectual endeavors like research (Smale, 2017).

Aside from the pedagogical challenges of the one-shot, this model is also prone to causing burnout among library workers. In more recent years, instruction librarians have written about their experiences of feeling burnt out due to the pressures of their jobs and their teaching load (Arellano Douglas & Gatsby, 2019; Accardi, 2015; Griffin, 2017). This discourse builds upon previous literature that explores burnout and stress for librarians, going back as far as the 1980s (Affleck, 1996). Many of the factors that contribute to librarian burnout include: balancing workload expectations, having to present information in a cheerful manner while teaching, and library instruction being undervalued (Becker, 1993). Historically, librarians have been trained and expected to focus on patron satisfaction, which is shaped by librarian behavior, rather than seeing it through the lens of a partnership or reciprocity (Pena & Green, 2006). Providing instruction, whether in the classroom or through reference assistance, can be transactional rather than collaborative, which contributes to burnout, especially if a librarian is balancing a high workload.

As outlined by Hudson, who critiques notions of practicality and efficiency that define library work, “We emphasize efficiency, brevity, speed … Library service without friction, to repurpose Bill Gates’s capitalist imagery” (2017, 3). These frictionless, capitalistic logics that underscore library work may explain, at least partially, why quantity is valued over quality, as well as the expectation—as articulated by several interviewees—that library workers often cannot decline teaching sessions, even those requests with minimal prep time. Capitalistic logic manifests as consequences beyond feelings of urgency, efficiency, production, and value among library workers. It creates precarity and scarcity, which further exacerbates our ability to reach and teach students meaningfully, while also reducing our capacity to care for ourselves and one another. As noted by Henninger et al., ideologies of precarious, disposable labor—presenting in libraries as internships, contract work, fellowships, and staffing shortages—can result in “stress, marginalization, burnout, turnover, leaving the field” (2019, 2).

When it comes to managing burnout, there is a narrative in the profession that it is one’s personal responsibility to promote resilience, self-care, and well-being to mitigate burnout (Berg, Galvan, & Tewell, 2018). But burnout for instruction librarians is a very real phenomenon that requires interventions at an institutional level to reduce workload and increase recognition for the work of the librarian (Becker, 1993). We can further problematize this with Fobazi Ettarh’s reflections about vocational awe, the notion that libraries are inherently good and sacred, and question whether librarians should accept burnout and low salaries as part of their work experience (Ettarh, 2018). Additionally, austerity and budget cuts lead to more precarious roles in libraries, as seen with limited term appointments and fellowships. This has reverberating impacts on the quality of services we deliver (Lee, 2020) and our ability to form relationships and community. If moving beyond the one-shot model requires relationship building, we must consider how precarity and burnout don’t allow for it.


As a practice, critical self-reflection has not always been treated as an effective method of assessing librarianship, in particular pedagogical assessment. There are inherent challenges to the assessments currently considered standard practice in library instruction. One-shot instruction is linked to assessment methods that use sterile information gathering, as made popular in the education discipline (Critten, 2015). The application of critical self-reflection used in this article is intended to both extend the reach of assessment practices and identify opportunities to look at librarians’ relationship to one-shot instruction in new ways.

Using semistructured, qualitative interviews with eight librarians at various career stages—including the authors and two participants external to the writing team—we sought to understand various perceptions and experiences with one-shot library instruction. To balance the number of early- and mid-career librarian authors of this study, two late-career external participants were also recruited. For each interview, one team member delivered questions to the interviewee, while another team member was present to take notes. All interviews were guided by a question list (included in appendix), and all interviewers underwent Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Notes from each interview were uploaded to Taguette, a qualitative coding program, where responses were tagged to identify broader concepts. Each concept was then analyzed separately, and larger themes emerged. The team of authors worked through these themes and reflected further through writing and dialog. Authors had agency to go back to their own quotes to ensure that the notes reflected what they intended to communicate in their interview.

It is worth underscoring that this article does not intend to be nor can it be exhaustive or objective with our interview sample and analysis, and we push back against academic imperatives that demand these should (and can) be aspirational outcomes. Instead, we posit our study, which uses narrative and lived experience as a lens through which to unpack differing and overlapping experiences with one-shot instruction. In sharing this lens, we hope to engage with and inspire an ongoing conversation around one-shots, including how they are applied, when they work well, how they reproduce harms, and how they might be reimagined.


We want to acknowledge limitations to our approach for this project. The majority of librarians involved in this study are based in West Coast institutions. Many of the librarians on this research team work or have previously worked at the same institution, so these perspectives are not necessarily generalized for the field. The two late-career librarians we interviewed for this study are both white, one male. Our sample of interviewees is not representative of librarianship as a whole, and every experience is unique and subjective.


Overview of Interviews

This study’s nine interviewees included two late-career, four mid-career, and three early-career librarians. All interviewees have experience conducting library instruction in some capacity. As our findings demonstrate, what constitutes “library instruction” differs depending on the librarian and context. For instance, some librarians believe technology training is independent of information literacy instruction, while others regard the two as inextricable. Similar divergences emerged in attitudes toward burnout, acculturation, and dis/empowerment with regard to the one-shot instruction model. While all of our interviewees were introduced to one-shots early in their professionalization process—either as students or during their first library job—their perceptions of the sustainability, librarian agency, and equity of one-shots differed depending on the positionality, organization, and professional role of each interviewee. In the proceeding analysis, we trace these divergences and continuities among our interview sample and consider how we may use these observations to reimagine the one-shot instruction model.


Acculturation/Organizational Culture

“When I first started teaching, I was given a pre-set of slides, but I don’t know who made the slides. They were like, ‘this is what you do.’ I remember kind of hating it. I didn’t have guidance or mentorship. I was just doing what I was told.”

For many, an initial understanding of the one-shot and library instruction began even before library school, with their experiences as undergraduate students. Though as undergraduate students, none of the authors recalled the term “one-shot” being used, the general consensus was that these foundational experiences with library instruction as students were, unfortunately, uninspiring and lacked emphasis on the process of research as an exploratory practice. Some of the interviewees recalled skipping their library instruction sessions as a student, being unimpressed, and experiencing a lack of personal connection with the librarian teaching them. They recalled these classes feeling rigid without dialog between the students and the librarian. These early experiences with library instruction that interviewees described as rote and depersonalized were also the foundation for early professional experiences where interviewees were expected to deliver this instruction themselves in this same style.

In our conversations, interviewees described their evolving understanding of the one-shot as they transitioned from graduate school to professional library positions. Many of these conversations explored the role of early professional experiences with library instruction, recalling how the organizational culture at their affiliated academic institutions shaped their own instructional practice. Librarian responses to the organizational culture of the specific institutions where they work and their relationship to the larger process of acculturation is noteworthy. Acculturation occurs on multiple levels, producing an intersection of expectations based on both professional and institutional affiliations. Acculturation to the one-shot mindset can begin early in the professionalization process. The one-shot is often introduced through library coursework and through the onboarding processes in professional and preprofessional positions. It’s also worthy to note that most of the authors took one library instruction course as electives. This suggests that, for librarians who enter the field with little, if any, previous teaching experience, the definitive presence of the one-shot model in library education and training not only establishes a librarian’s formative understanding of instruction; it can also limit how a librarian conceptualizes instruction in the future, as conveyed by the quote that introduces this section. Additionally, collaboration styles are often dependent on organizational culture. One interviewee noted how they had freedom to collaborate, change, and modify content and styles in a former institution but felt like they were hitting a wall trying to collaborate at their current institution.

Institutional reliance on the one-shot did not necessarily equate to institutional stagnation. Many respondents described how the practice of the one-shot was stubbornly situated within the status quo of their organization’s culture. However, in some cases, the reputation of the one-shot was inferred to be dynamic and constitutive where session expectations were co-created by the librarian and the instructors whose classrooms received the one-shot. Our data showed that this also was dependent on the institution and the positionality of the librarian.

Acculturation could also be weaponized. Several respondents noted that punitive pressure was applied to librarians who deviated too far from instructor expectations. One librarian noted how a particularly dissatisfied instructor attempted to leverage the influence of library leadership in an effort to coerce the librarian into compliance. In these situations, librarians found it difficult to deviate from organizational culture. The ability to establish boundaries was largely dictated by one’s reputation and tenure within an organization, whether those boundaries opposed institutional culture or not. Responding librarians generally agreed that individuals further along in the promotion process felt more empowered to deviate from organizational norms. There was general agreement among respondents that course directors or service programs and library managers share responsibility in shaping organizational culture and countering the more corrosive elements of the one-shot approach.

Exactly how and when organizational culture around the one-shot can change is still up for debate, but several librarians noted how expectations of both librarians and instructors can shift over time with appropriate action. Adopting language about the shared understanding between librarians and instructors can be effective, especially when applied in the form of a contract or agreement between the two parties. As an example, one librarian noted how the form used to request a one-shot session expressed the expectation that instructors remain in the room during library sessions. This isolated act may not result in sweeping reform; but, when paired with progressive policy and supportive leadership, this approach may be used to uphold values that better reflect the pedagogical goals of instruction librarians.


“A lot of my instructional work required pushing back and questioning, and that was only possible as a result of multiple privileges: title-based, identity-based, and a level of job security that is only afforded to ‘full’ librarians. I think we need to recognize that experimentation and the ability to question or say ‘no’ to such entrenched practices currently requires taking on significant professional and financial risk, which is not always an option—especially if you are early in your career and already experiencing marginalization and discrimination. In order to expand our creative imagination around the one-shot, we need to reduce and remove these risks and harms in order to make experimentation more possible for everyone in our organizations.”

Many of the participants talked about their own ability to have ownership and agency over their approach to teaching. In our conversations and interviews with each other, discussions about if and how we attempt to say “no” to one-shot requests and how flexible we felt in adjusting our own pedagogy became major themes. However, empowerment, agency, and privilege are so interlinked; it’s hard to look at a librarian’s ability to make changes or say no to instruction requests without examining their positionality and the culture of their institution.

On the positive side, many participants mentioned that they had great collaborations with their faculty and felt they had agency to be creative with their library instruction practices, at least to some degree. A majority of the interviewees were still beholden to the one-shot model but found ways to be creative within this structure. An early-career librarian said that, within the sessions and time she is allotted, she felt she was able to tease out what students are looking for. She didn’t feel instructors said “no you can’t do that.” As long as the librarian centered the assignment, instructors were flexible about what was covered. Another early-career librarian felt like she had some flexibility but had to be discerning in her approach because she was concerned about creating tension with the faculty member she was working with. Even within the confines of the one-shot model, quite a number of the interviewees were empowered to be creative and work with their faculty to explore different avenues of teaching information literacy.

The ability to have agency over one’s teaching approach sometimes requires establishing and upholding boundaries with one-shot requests, but not all librarians have the support to advocate and push back, depending on their positionality (Pagowsky, 2021; Chesley & Anantachai, 2018). One interviewee reported that her department tried to question teaching one-shots that did not seem to be aligned with the goals of her library unit; but, when the library administration found out, they were unhappy and opposed the change, seeing it as a diminishing of services. Through our interviews we saw that the ability to push back on faculty expectations was dependent on whether the library administration would back up the librarian or department that was trying to say no, and the librarian’s status within the library, whether based on their experience level or their own positionality/social conditioning.

Where does that leave those who don’t have privilege? The ability to feel empowered in a library instruction program can often be at the whim of power dynamics that play out at the institutional and individual level, which we found in our interviews. These power dynamics between librarians and faculty often lead to misconceptions of librarians as inferior members of the teaching community. One interviewee stressed that in libraries we have to think about the power dynamic from an institutional view of the library and how we’re seen as a service and faculty are seen as “the academia.” In some institutions, librarians are faculty but that is not the case in every library; even with librarians who have faculty status, this divide still exists. One interviewee noted she also felt that the power dynamic was almost a class issue, pitting librarians against others within the academy, with other faculty who question what librarians even do all day. Connecting this back to librarianship as a feminized profession, we have to reckon with the public perception of the library that exists within the institution that there is an unspoken service provider relationship (Pagowsky & DeFrain, 2014). Social identity, positionality, and privilege also impact a librarian’s ability to advocate for themselves or to be able to make pedagogical changes.

The pandemic has heightened this ability to negotiate expectations of one-shots. One participant discussed feeling obligated to teach during stressful and traumatic events while under duress, referencing pressure to keep teaching during the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection.

“I could tell the class was distracted, but didn’t want to cancel the class and risk the relationship with the faculty member. It was hard to get myself and the class to care about scholarly publishing when history was being made.”

Everything that we have done over the last two years has been in a crisis, and librarians have been expected to show up as if everything were normal and perform. At what point can the librarian be empowered to say no? If the students are stressed, if the librarian is overworked, if the team is short-staffed, if there is a major traumatic event, and the librarian still cannot say no, can we ever say no?

Transactional vs. Relational

A resonating outcome of the interviews was a projection of the paradigm between task-based instruction and values-based instruction. All interviewees noted that local protocols for assessing library instruction consider the quantity of students reached, but not the content of instructional interactions, pedagogies used, or preparation on the part of the librarian. One interviewee reflected on definitions of “value” relative to library instruction, noting that “narrow and quantitative definition[s] of value” equate—and indeed reduce—success with numbers.

The application of quantitative measures to assess one-shot efficacy, including the number of sessions delivered in a given time frame, the number of students reached, and even teaching minutes, signal prevalent assumptions that underpin libraries and library work. As noted by Magnus, Belanger, and Faber, libraries’ reliance on quantitative assessment tools position students as “customers or consumers whose individual, immediate needs must be satisfied in order to retain library market value in an increasingly competitive educational landscape” (2018, para. 9). As reiterated by our interview sample, without measurable standards for success beyond numbers, the qualitative outcomes and preparation involved in library instruction are undervalued, thereby reducing both students and instructors to transactional variables. Further, librarians are forced to consider more abstract notions of “value” and success beyond programmatic assessment, such as personal feelings of fulfillment or learning ascertained during and following a teaching session. As noted by one interviewee, “If I’m not getting the high of a good classroom session, I take that personally. It’s a lot of pressure…”

How might we sustain meaningful, transformative instructional interactions if our labor within and related to teaching is not recognized outside numerical values? As noted by one interviewee, the emphasis on quantitative measures signals librarian disposability and inhibits our ability to “have meaningful interactions with our students.” The pressure born of this need to increase numerical outputs seems ingrained in the profession, irrespective of one’s career status. Comments from a retired librarian emphasized the imposed pressure related to limited time with students: “I have them for a short period of time. I have to be selective with my time and energy.” Thus, there is pressure to maximize our time and influence in the classroom, but this predicament seems at least partially self-constructed since there is little institutional oversight for programmatic assessment. Participants were circumspect about where the alignment of institutional values and their own personal values intersect in response to assessment. These factors also contributed to librarians feeling burnt out.

The treatment of instruction as task-based and transactional is a consequence that weighs heavily on this study’s authors, who regard relationship-building as fundamental to the long-term reframing of one-shots. As noted by all of this study’s interviewees, the one-shot model works best when it is the beginning of an ongoing partnership with students and faculty, who maintain that connection in various ways after the session has concluded, including following up for research consultations and project collaborations. The exhaustion born of attempting to forge relationships without institutional support, coupled with the widespread employment precarity in the library profession (manifesting as contract, casual, and part-time work arrangements), further inhibits our ability to do meaningful work. As noted by Lee, “[u]nstable work environments … affect the services we provide. It’s harder to build sustainable programs, projects, and services with temporary staff. Relationships and institutional knowledge, both central to library work, are forfeited when a contract ends” (2020, para. 7). As echoed by one early-career interviewee:

“We’re in an age of precarity, scarcity, shrinking budgets, and we aren’t compensated for it. This disproportionately impacts marginalized people and people with less job security. This reverberates throughout the profession. When doing excessive labor and going above and beyond becomes the norm, our exploitation becomes part of the workflow. Being available at the drop of a hat is just one piece of it. This impacts some colleagues more than others.”

Transactional instruction models coupled with precarity and scarcity thus have reverberating consequences on the quality of the teaching we deliver, our workforce’s ability and availability to meet those instructional needs, and the extent to which we are able to build relational instruction partnerships.

Conclusion/Future Directions

As we analyzed the interviews, we realized just how connected the experiences of a librarian teaching one-shots is to their positionality, experience, and institution. The question arose of how much the organizational culture of the library or the university played into how a librarian felt or approached one-shots. As we found in our interviews, how much a librarian felt empowered to uphold boundaries, experiment, or collaborate was very dependent on their institution. The connections among labor, one-shots, sustainability, and burnout became very clear, signaling that teaching a large number of one-shots every year has impacts on the librarians who have to teach them. Ironically, as we were looking at the connections among library instruction, one-shots, and burnout, we were also working on this project during a transitional fall semester. Typically, the fall semester is a very busy time for instruction librarians and was compounded in this case by many of us returning to working on-site after a year and a half of working remotely in a pandemic. The amount of stress this brought on introduced new questions about the efficacy and sustainability of the one-shot model.

Through our interviews and conversations, we saw how the labor model of the one-shot weighed on many of us and our interviewees. At some point, most of us talked about the need for self-care and having boundaries with our instructional approaches. To help mitigate burnout, boundaries need to be set for librarians to be able to have more agency in the kind of work they want to engage in, and to ensure that their own pedagogy is effective. This requires clear directives from leadership and professional development support. Teaching one-shots just because that’s the way it has always been done made some respondents question how valued their labor was. Spending time and energy teaching the same sessions over and over again, coupled with not knowing how one’s institution values this work, prevents meaningful introspection and incentives on the part of the librarian to reflect on and improve their practice. It also positions teaching librarians as interchangeable, as long as they meet imposed (or imagined) teaching quotas. Leadership needs to recognize our labor and provide avenues for support and professional development. Change has to also happen at an institutional level.

If one-shot instruction moves toward relational models and away from transactional ones, another way forward would be to advocate for equitable labor conditions for library workers. A well-resourced, compensated, protected library team is well suited to support mutual well-being, equally distributed labor, and the cultivation of long-term relationships with campus partners, thereby delivering higher-quality instruction, one-shot or otherwise. Thus, participation in labor organizing within our field to ensure the protection of library workers will have reverberating impacts, including strengthening our communities of practice (Rea, 2022).

Just as this project began with a conversation, we need to have more conversations around how our institutional labor is valued by our academic communities, how to create more equitable workloads, how to create space for relationship building, and how we break the cycle of merely handing down the one-shot model as the only frame of reference for teaching information literacy. Early-career librarians shouldn’t just be handed down this one-shot tradition; instead, they should be encouraged to learn more and develop pedagogical skills, creating sustainable and programmatic instructional practices and ways to build creative collaborations. Library leaders and administrators should provide clear directions about assessment that go beyond a quantitative value and prioritize programmatic approaches that encourage deep critical thinking and learning. Re-envisioning the one-shot model is a multifaceted approach that requires support and creative leadership at many levels. If the pandemic has taught us anything, we are creative, adaptable, and able to shift swiftly, so we believe meaningful changes to the one-shot are possible and we can “go outside” after all.


Interview Questions

Questions serve as guidelines for a conversation between interviewer and interviewee.

  • Remember to do Oral Consent first
  • The notetaker can paste the questions in the Zoom chat while the interviewer interviews.

Opening Questions:

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your career in libraries?

  1. Can you talk about your experience with information literacy or library instruction?
  2. How do you define classroom instruction? How much is/was classroom instruction part of your roles and responsibilities? When did instruction emerge as a job responsibility?
  3. In your own words, what is a one-shot? How do you categorize it? Is it defined as instruction? Outreach? Reference?
  4. What was your first experience with a “one-shot”?
    1. As a student?
    2. As a librarian?
  5. Have you always called it a one-shot or was it called something else? Does your description of a one-shot change depending on who you’re talking to?

More Depth:

  1. In your work with teaching one-shots, what felt flexible and within your power to adapt or change? What felt like it was stuck or couldn’t be changed?
  2. How has technology shifted your teaching approach? Has it shifted the focus away from information literacy and more toward technology-based instruction (in other words, how to use Zotero, how to search in PubMed)?
  3. What do you think the purpose of the one-shot is?
    1. Optional: How much is the one-shot about delivering content vs. forming a relationship?
  4. How does your institution measure success of one-shot sessions? (that is, number of classes or students, ACRL statistics) How do you personally gauge the success of your instruction? What has your experience been managing both your definition of success with your institutions?
    1. Optional: Have you felt like you had to achieve a certain number of one-shots each year to be viewed as successful or effective as a library worker/professional?
  5. What dynamics did you notice or experience with the instructors and the students while you were teaching one-shots?
  6. How often have you tried to change or modify the course instructor’s expectations of you in your instruction? How empowered have you felt to experiment or change your teaching practices?
  7. Do you think there is a connection between burnout and the one-shot instruction model?
  8. What do you think is the connection between equity/power dynamics and the one-shot model?
  9. Have you or anyone you know ever tried to say “no” to a one-shot request? What happened?
  10. How do you see the one-shot instruction model evolving and where would you like to see it go? If you could do IL instruction any way you wanted, what would it look like?
  11. What do you think is library leadership’s responsibility in mitigating burnout or being aware of and advocating for policies that preserve library workers’ workload?
  12. Is there anything that we didn’t ask that you would like to tell us?


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* Annie Pho is Associate Librarian and Head of Instruction and Outreach at the University of San Francisco, email: apho2@usfca.edu; Salma Abumeeiz is Research & Instruction Librarian in the UCLA Library, email: salmabumeeiz@library.ucla.edu; Kristina Vela Bisbee is Associate Director of Assessment Communication, and Engagement at Vanderbilt University Libraries, email: kristina.v.bisbee@gmail.com; Nisha Mody is a self-employed Feminist Healing Coach and Trauma-Informed Library Facilitator, email: nisha@nishaland.com; Renee Romero is Science and Engineering Librarian in the UCLA Library, email: rromerorr@library.ucla.edu; Wynn Tranfield is STEM Librarian at the UCSC Library, email: wynntranfield@ucsc.edu; and Doug Worsham is Digital Experience Manager at UC San Diego Library, email: d2worsham@ucsd.edu. © 2022 Annie Pho, Salma Abumeeiz, Kristina Vela Bisbee, Nisha Mody, Renee Romero, Wynn Tranfield, and Doug Worsham, Attribution-NonCommercial (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) CC BY-NC.

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