Creating Better Tutorials Through User-Centered Instructional Design

guidanceA LITA Preconference at 2015 ALA Annual

Register online for the ALA Annual Conference and add a LITA Preconference

Friday, June 26, 2015, 8:30am – 4:00pm

Have you wanted to involve users as you design interactive e-learning, but aren’t sure where to start? In this unique, hands-on workshop, you will learn the core and emerging principles of instructional and user experience design and apply what you have learned to design, develop, and test a tutorial you create. The three dynamic and experienced workshop facilitators will cover topics including design thinking, user-centered pedagogy, user interface prototyping, and intercept usability testing while providing hands-on practice in each area.

Check out these 3 tutorials examples:

Popular vs. Scholarly Sources
Academic Search Complete
Locating Manuscripts in Special Collections


meryYvonne Mery, Instructional Design Librarian, University of Arizona

Yvonne co-authored the book, Online by Design: the Essentials of Creating Information Literacy Courses. She has co-authored several papers on the integration of information literacy in online classes and presented at numerous national conferences on best practices for online information literacy instruction.

blakistonrRebecca Blakiston, User Experience Librarian, University of Arizona Libraries

Rebecca has been at the University of Arizona Libraries since 2008, and the website product manager since 2010. She provides oversight, management, and strategic planning for the library website, specializing in guerilla usability testing, writing for the web, and content strategy. She developed a process for in-house usability testing, which has been implemented successfully both within website projects and in an ongoing, systematic way. She has authored, Usability Testing: a Practical Guide for Librarians.

sultLeslie Sult, Associate Librarian, University of Arizona

Leslie is in the Research and Learning department. Her work is focused on developing and improving scalable teaching models that enable the library to reach and support many more students than was possible earlier through traditional one-shot instructional sessions. With Gregory Hagedon, Leslie won the ACRL Instruction Section Innovation Award in 2013 for their work on the software Guide on the Side, which helps instruction librarians create tutorials for database instruction.

Guide on the Side

“Understanding that many librarians are feeling the pressure to find methods to support student learning that do not require direct, librarian-led instruction, the University of Arizona Library’s Guide on the Side provides an excellent tutorial grounded in sound pedagogy that could significantly change the way libraries teach students how to use databases,” said award committee co-chairs, Erin L. Ellis of the University of Kansas and Robin Kear of the University of Pittsburgh. “The creators have made a version of the software open access and freely available to librarians to quickly create online, interactive tutorials for database instruction. This allows librarians to easily create tutorials that are both engaging to students and pedagogically sound. Guide on the Side serves as a model of the future of library instruction.”



  • LITA Member $235
  • ALA Member $350
  • Non-Member $380


To register for any of these events, you can include them with your initial conference registration or add them later using the unique link in your email confirmation. If you don’t have your registration confirmation handy, you can request a copy by emailing You also have the option of registering for a preconference only. To receive the LITA member pricing during the registration process on the Personal Information page enter the discount promotional code: LITA2015

Register online for the ALA Annual Conference and add a LITA Preconference
Call ALA Registration at 1-800-974-3084
Onsite registration will also be accepted in San Francisco.

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4269 or Mark Beatty,

LITA President’s Program with Lou Rosenfeld

Lou mug shot tallThe Library User Experience Crossroads:
a dialogue with Lou Rosenfeld

Join us in San Francisco during the ALA Annual Conference at the LITA Awards Presentation & LITA President’s Program, when LITA President Rachel Vacek welcomes Lou Rosenfeld to present on the latest cutting edge issues of concern to technology librarians.

Sunday, June 28, 2015, 3:00 – 4:00pm
Location to be announced on the ALA Schedule soon

You’ve heard a lot about—and maybe even tried to do something—about user experience. And naturally, you have questions. Do librarians have an edge when it comes to UX, or are we behind UX’s other feeder disciplines? Why is UX research so important for libraries? Can libraries even afford to provide good experiences these days? Lou Rosenfeld sits squarely at the intersection of UX and librarianship (and hopes not to get run over). He is a former librarian who many consider one of the “fathers of information architecture” and who now publishes books on user experience. He’ll tackle your questions with moderation from LITA President Rachel Vacek—and may even answer some.

Lou Rosenfeld has been instrumental in helping establish the fields of information architecture and user experience, and in articulating the role and value of librarianship within those fields. Lou is co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (O’Reilly; 4th edition to be published in 2015) and Search Analytics for Your Site (Rosenfeld Media, 2011), co-founder of the Information Architecture Institute and the Information Architecture Summit and Enterprise UX conferences, and a former columnist for Internet World, CIO, and Web Review magazines.

AC15sfPod238x120Lou founded the ground-breaking information architecture consultancy Argus Associates in the early 1990s. As an independent consultant, he has helped a variety of large and highly-political enterprises make their information more findable, including Caterpillar, PayPal, Ford, AT&T, the Centers for Disease Control, Accenture, and the NCAA. Lou now manages Rosenfeld Media, which publishes some of the best-loved books in user experience, produces UX events, and equips UX teams with coaching and training.

Follow Lou @louisrosenfeld

Meet your Board at Annual (including online!)

LITA Board portraint

Back: David Lee King, Rachel Vacek, Jenny Reiswig, Cindi Blyberg, Mary Taylor, Jason Griffey.
Front: Zoe Stewart-Marshall, John Blyberg, Aaron Dobbs, Andromeda Yelton, Lauren Pressley

Hi! We’re the Board, and we’d like to meet you.

Whether you’ll be in Vegas next week or not, there are lots of ways you can get in touch with us, get involved with what LITA’s doing, and tell us how you’d like us to represent you. Here’s your handy list of where we’re likely to be during Annual. Come chat with us!

Social media and Online

Programs and Social Events

LITA Open House
New to LITA? Want to learn more? Start here!

  • Friday, June 27, 2014 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm
  • Las Vegas Convention Center S224

Top Tech Trends

LITA Awards Presentation and President’s Program
Featuring Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code!

  • Sunday, June 29, 2014 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm
  • Las Vegas Convention Center S233

LITA Happy Hour

  • Sunday, June 29, 2014 – 5:30pm to 8:00pm
  • Kahunaville in the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd S.

Check out the rest of LITA’s programs at Annual, too.

Board and Committee Meetings

Per the ALA open meeting policy, all meetings are open to all members (though some may have closed portions). You are welcome to attend.

Executive Committee

  • Friday, June 27, 2014 – 8:30am to 9:30am
  • Las Vegas Hotel Conference Room 03
  • Hashtag: #litabd
  • Agenda

All Committees Meeting
Most of LITA’s committees meet during this time slot. If you’re thinking of getting involved and want to learn more, this is a great chance to do so.

  • Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 10:30am to 11:30am
  • Las Vegas Convention Center Exhibit Hall, Mtg Rm A

LITA Board I

  • Saturday, June 28, 2014 – 1:30pm to 4:30pm
  • Las Vegas Convention Center S224
  • Hashtag: #litabd
  • Agenda


  • Monday, June 30, 2014 – 1:30pm to 4:30pm
  • Las Vegas Convention Center N217
  • Hashtag: #litabd
  • Agenda

Hey, you read all the way to the bottom of the post! You’re awesome. High five. You deserve kittens.

adorable sleepy kittens hugging each other adorably

Vegas: not just gambling and shows

As many of you may know, I spend a decent amount of time in Vegas every year as a result of covering CES every January. I really enjoy it, but know that it’s not really for some people…and with tens of thousands of librarians descending on Vegas for ALA Annual, it’s likely that a lot of us won’t enjoy the ever-present gambling or the overly-expensive shows that make Vegas so popular. So I thought I’d point out a few things that I really like about Vegas that don’t revolve around the typical Vegas activities.

Thrill Seekers
If you’re a fan of thrill rides, amusement park style, Vegas has a couple of things for you.

  • The Fremont Street Zipline: A zipline that takes you down the length of the original Vegas Strip, Fremont Street. You can fly above the crowd, surrounded by the neon and LEDs of Freemont Street.
  • Thrill Rides at the Stratosphere: On the top of the Stratosphere hotel, you can ride a rollercoaster that takes you over the edge of the 866 foot tall tower, get shot over 1000 feet into the air, or simply jump off the Tower entirely. Whatever level your adrenaline need, this should take care of it.
  • World Largest Observation Wheel: at 550 feet tall, the newly opened Linq High Roller is the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. Each of the “cars” (actually massive observation pods) can hold 40 people, and the trip all the way around takes over half an hour.

Museum Lovers
Vegas has some of the most unusual museums that you will find anywhere, guaranteed.

  • Pinball Hall of Fame: My favorite place in Vegas, the Pinball Hall of Fame is a non-descript building that has pinball games going back to the 1950s and even earlier, along with modern pinball machines. All the machines are 25-50 cents, and all are playable. The museum is a non-profit, and dedicated to just giving people the opportunity to experience these games as they were designed to be played. Fantastic place, and I highly recommend if you are even remotely into pinball.
  • The Neon Museum: More of a graveyard than museum, still a fascinating look at the art of the neon sign from Vegas past. Beautiful and if you love design and typography, you can take enough pics here for inspiration the rest of your life.
  • The National Atomic Testing Museum: Just what it says on the tin, a museum that is dedicated to the nuclear programs that took place in the desert southwest. Another of my favorite Vegas museums, it’s incredibly well done and full of cool exhibits.

Other Things to See or Do
Here’s a few very random suggestions for other activities. :-)

Other tips for a positive Annual experience: Use the monorail to get around, remember that everything is much farther apart than you think (just navigating the casino inside the hotels can take 10-15 minutes), and be careful in the heat. Have a great time, and I hope to see you in Vegas!

LITA Preconferences Held at ALA Annual

LITA is offing three full day preconferences at ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, all held Friday, June 27 from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm.

Managing Data: Tools for Plans and Data Scrubbing with Abigail Goben, University of Illinois, Chicago; Sarah Sheehan, George Mason University; Nathan B. Putnam; University of Maryland. As data continues to come to the fore, new tools are becoming available for librarians to assist faculty and use with their own data. This preconference would focus on the DMPTool and OpenRefine. The DMPTool will be presented to demonstrate customization features, review data management plans, best and worst practices, and writing a data plan for a data set a library may collect. OpenRefine will be demonstrated with sample data to show potential use with library data sets and more of the data lifecycle process; metadata will also be covered.

Practical Linked Data with Open Source with Galen Charlton, Equinox Software; Jodi Schneider, DERI, NUI Galway; Dan Scott, Laurentian University; Richard Urban, Florida State University. Linked Data can improve how libraries share their metadata, harvest it from non-library sources, and build better applications to connect patrons with library resources. However, what does this mean for the daily work of catalogers? This preconference will narrow the gap between theory and practice by presenting the state of the art for Linked Data management in open source integrated library systems and giving participants the chance to try it out.

Web Therapy with Nina McHale,; Christopher Evjy, Jefferson County Library. Having trouble managing your library’s web site? Content in chaos? Platform the pits? Statistics staggering? The doctors are in! In this full-day preconference, we will tackle a number of tough topics to help cure the ills that are keeping your library site from achieving total wellness. Specific topics will be determined by a survey sent in advance to attendees. Enjoy networking and problem solving with fellow web-minded library folks.

How to Register

To register for any of these events, you can include them with your initial conference registration or add them later using the unique link in your email confirmation. If you don’t have your registration confirmation handy, you can request a copy by emailing You also have the option of registering for a preconfernce only.

  • Register online through June 20
  • Call ALA Registration at 1-800-974-3084
  • Onsite registration will also be accepted in Las Vegas.

Python Preconference at ALA Annual: Attendee Perspective

*** This post has been originally published on ACRL TechConnect Blog on July 29, 2013. ***

I attended the Library Code Year Interest Group‘s preconference on Python, sponsored by LITA (Library Information Technology Association) and ALCTS (Association for Library Collections and Technical Services), at the American Library Association’s conference in Chicago this year. The workshop was taught and staffed by IG members Andromeda Yelton, Becky Yoose, Bohyun Kim, Carli Spina, Eric Phetteplace, Jen Young, and Shana McDanold. It was based on work done by the Boston Python Workshop group, and with tools developed there and by Coding Bat. The preconference was designed to provide a basic introduction to the Python programming language, and succeeded admirably.

Here’s why I think it’s important for librarians to learn to code: it provides options in lots of conversations where librarians have traditionally not had many. One of the lightning talks (by Heidi Frank at NYU) concerned using Python to manipulate MARC records. The tools to do that kind of thing have tended to be either a) the property of vendors who provide the features the majority of their customers want or b) the province of overworked library systems staff. Both scenarios tend to lead to tools which are limiting or aggravating for the individual needs of almost every individual user. Ever try to change a graphic in your OPAC? Export a report in the file format *you* need? Learning to code is one way to solve those kinds of problems. Code empowers.

The preconference was very self-directed. There were a set of introductory tutorials before a late-morning lecture, then a lovely lunch (provided by the Python Foundation), then the option of spending more time on the morning’s activities or using the morning’s skills to work on one of two projects. The first project, ColorWall, used Python to create a bunch of very pretty cascading displays of color. The second, Wordplay, used it to answer crossword puzzle questions–“How many words fit the pattern E*G****R?” “How many words have all five vowels in order?”. My table opted to stick with the morning exercises, and learned an important lesson about what kinds of things Python can infer and what kinds it can’t. Python and your computer are very fast and systematic, but also very literal-minded. I suspect that they’d much rather be doing math than whatever you’re asking them to do for you.

My own background is moderately technical. I remember writing BASIC programs for my Commodore 128. I’ve done web design and systems work for a couple of libraries, and I have a lot of experience working with software of various kinds. I used this set of directions to install Linux on the Chromebook I brought to the preconference. I have installed new Linux operating systems on computers dozens of times. This doesn’t scare me:

And I still had the feeling of 8th-grade-math-class dread when I got stuck, as I frequently did, during the second part of the guided introduction. Did I miss something? Am I just not smart enough to do this? The whole litany of self-doubt. I got completely stuck on when to use loops and when not to use them. Loops are one of the most basic Python functions, a way of telling Python to systematically go down a list of things and do something to them. Utterly baffling, because it requires you to ask the question like a computer would, rather than like a human. Totally normal for me and anyone else starting out. Or, in fact, for anyone who programs. Programming is failure. The trick is learning to treat failure as part of the process, rather than as a calamity.

What’s powerful about the approach the IG used is that there were lots of people available to help, about seven teaching assistants to forty attendees. The accompanying documentation was cheerful and clear, and the attitude was “let’s figure this out together”. This is the polar opposite of a common approach to teaching programming, of which the polite paraphrase is “Read The Fine Manual”. My experience with music lessons as an adult and with the programming instruction I’ve looked at is that the (usually) well-meaning people doing the teaching tend to be people who learn best by trying things until they work. Lots of people learn best that way; lots of people do not. And librarians tend more often to be in the second category: wanting a bit of a sense of the forest before dealing with all of the trees individually. There is also a genderedness to the traditional approach. The Boston Python group’s approach (self-directed, with vast amounts of personal help available) was specifically designed to be welcoming to women and newcomers. Used here, it definitely worked. Attendees were 60% female, which is striking for a programming event, even at a library conference.

For me, learning Python is an investment in supporting the digital humanities work I will be increasingly involved in. I’m looking forward to learning how to use it to manipulate and analyze text. As I look more closely, I see that Python has modules for manipulating CSV files. One of my ongoing projects involves mapping indexes like MLA Bibliography to our full-text coverage so my students and faculty know what to expect when they use them. I’ve been using complicated Excel spreadsheets to do this, with only marginally satisfying results. I think that Python will give me better results, and hopefully results I can share with others.

The immediate takeaways for me are more about relationships and affiliation than code, though I do have a structure, in the form of the documentation for the workshop, which I will use to follow-up (you can use it, too!). I am lucky enough to be in the Boston area, so I will take advantage of the active Boston Python Meetup group, which has frequent workshops and events for programmers at all levels. Most importantly, I am clear from the workshop that Python is not inherently more complicated to learn than MARC formatting or old-style DIALOG searching. I wouldn’t say the workshop demystified Python for me–there’s still a lot of work for me to do–, but I will say that learning a useful amount of Python now seems entirely doable and worthwhile.

Computer code is crucial to the present and future of librarianship. Librarians have a unique facility with explaining the technical to non-technical people. Librarians learning to code together is an investment in ourselves and our profession.

About our guest author:

Chris Strauber is Humanities Research and Instruction Librarian and Coordinator of Instructional Design at Tufts University’s Tisch Library.

Sunday Afternoon with LITA at 2013 ALA Annual!

Please mark your calendars and join us at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference on Sunday, June 30th, beginning at 1pm, for Sunday Afternoon with LITA!  We will start off the day with the LITA awards and scholarships presentation followed by our Top Tech Trends program, moderated by Lorcan Dempsey. Then join us for the LITA President’s Program with Cory Doctorow, and finally, wrap up the day with the LITA Happy Hour at 5:30 at Fado Irish Pub!


1:00 pm – 2:30 pm McCormick Place Convention Center S105a-c
Panelists: Char Booth, Aimee Fifarek, Sarah Houghton, Brewster Kahle, Clifford Lynch, Gary Price Moderator: Lorcan Dempsey

Presentation of LITA Awards and Scholarships will take place at 1pm, then join the Top Tech Trends panel from 1:30-2:30, for a conversation about trends and opportunities in libraries. Lorcan Dempsey will moderate the following trendsters from across library communities and areas: Char Booth, Sarah Houghton, Gary Price, Aimee Fifarek, and Clifford Lynch.

  • Follow us on twitter @toptechtrends #ala2013ttt


3:00 pm – 4:00 pm McCormick Place Convention Center S105a-c
Speaker: Cory Doctorow

LITA President Zoe Stewart-Marshall welcomes digital rights activist, science fiction writer and Boing Boing co-editor, Cory Doctorow. This lively, thought-provoking talk will look at how libraries can and do stand on the front lines of the debate over the role of free information, and free information technology in ensuring the healthy maintenance of a free society. And yes, he will talk about DRM.


5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Location: Fado Irish Pub, 100 West Grand Avenue (312) 836-0066

Please join the LITA Membership Development Committee and members from around the country for networking, good cheer, and great fun! Expect lively conversation and excellent drinks; cash bar.

LITA Lightning Rounds at ALA Annual

We are pleased to present our Lightning Presentation talks for ALA Annual in Chicago. Please join us at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday in room S102a at the Convention Center!

Andrew Youngkin from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine will talk about “Exploring mHealth devices for health technology instruction.” Andrew will share observations & assessment of several mHealth devices such as the FitBit One, Jawbone Up bracelet, and iHealth Blood Pressure cuff and discuss how these devices will be incorporated into future technology outreach and instruction.

Peter Murray from LYRASIS will talk about “Host Your Own Virtual Lightning Talks using Google Hangout.” It’s a lightning talk about hosting lightning talks. He will discuss how the coordinator of the Code4Lib Virtual Lightning Talks uses Google Hangouts-On-Air to enable presenters and viewers from around the world to share their experience and knowledge and share tips and tricks.

Mike Robinson from the University of Alaska Anchorage will discuss how to do “DIY digital signage.”He will share how to use a $60-80 minicomputer, a TV, and blogging software to create inexpensive digital signage.

Amy Neeser from the University of Minnesota Libraries will discuss “Personal Archiving: Helping Users Manage Digital Materials for Long-term Access.” She will talk about how teaching students how to manage their digital photos today will translate into skills that will help them manage their class notes and research data tomorrow.

Tao Zhang & Ilana Barnes from Purdue University Libraries will discuss “Building Better Help Before We Build It: User Characteristics and Preferences’ Effect on Library Help Website Design.” They still discuss how the conducted a questionnaire survey to measure user characteristics including perceived competence, work avoidance, and task orientation based on psychological scales and user experience research. Based on the survey data, they are constructing a statistical model to examine the relationship between user characteristics and user rankings of help design guidelines as well as help website features. The ranked design guidelines will be used as a basis to evaluate several existing library help systems and identify any gap of user needs based on their help seeking behavior pattern.

Caitlin Shanley of University of Pennsylvania Libraries will discuss “iPads in the Classroom: 5 Lessons Learned in 5 Minutes.” The Weigle Information Commons at Penn Libraries loans iPads for use in the classroom or for class projects. Hear about five lessons learned about mobile device management, deploying apps and settings, advising faculty on iPad assignments, and more.

Frederick Zarndt, Chair of the IFLA Newspapers Section, Joanna DiPasquale, Digital Projects Librarian at Vassar College Libraries and Alyssa Pacy, Archivist at Cambridge Public Library will discuss “SEO for digital librarians: Improving search engine visibility of library digital newspaper collections.” They will briefly view current search engine rankings and results of library digital newspaper collections. They describe simple methods to increase the visibility of these collections by leveraging their primary marketing tool, the collection itself, and show the before and after results of applying these methods to 2 digital newspaper collections.