Instruction Section Chronology

instruction section

This chronology is a work in progress. Additional "milestones" will be added as events are verified or uncovered in the ALA Archives and additions are welcome. Many thanks to Tom Kmetz, University Archives, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for his research on behalf of the Section.


The ACRL Committee on Bibliographic Instruction (Ad Hoc) is created and charged with considering "the possibility of establishing a clearinghouse for information on instructional programs currently in operation" and exploring "methods of evaluating existing programs and materials and investigate the need for research into problems connected with instructional programs." ( Mimi Dudley reflects on the early years.)


The ACRL Committee on Bibliographic Instruction (Ad Hoc) proposes to ACRL that its status be changed to that of a task force with a three-year expanded charge and an increased membership of eight. The ACRL Board approves the proposal and creates the ACRL Bibliographic Instruction Task Force. The Task Force is charged with continuing to work on objectives for and evaluation of instruction; cooperating with Project LOEX and acting as a liaison between it and the profession; making recommendations regarding standards for library instruction programs; developing and participating in program meetings on library instruction for ALA conventions and chapters.


At the 1977 Midwinter Meeting, the ACRL Board of Directors approves the establishment of a Bibliographic Instruction Section and ACRL President Connie Dunlap appoints an ad hoc steering committee chaired by Mimi Dudley.

The Steering Committee chaired by Mimi Dudley presents an application for the J. Morris Jones Award in which Project LOEX (Library Orientation/Instruction Exchange) requests to become an agency of ALA as Project LOEX, the ACRL Bibliographic Instruction Clearinghouse for Bibliographic Instruction. Funding for Project LOEX from the Council on Library Resources is scheduled to end in June 1978 and funds from the J. Morris Jones Award will enable LOEX to continue service while the Section prepares a recommendation to the ACRL Board regarding the advisability of incoporating LOEX into ACRL.

On January 31, 1977, the ACRL Board of Directors approves as policy "Guidelines for Bibliographic Instruction" developed by the ACRL Bibliographic Instruction Task Force.

Beginning in 1977, a member of the Executive Committee attends at least one meeting of each Section committee at Annual and Midwinter conferences. Except for a few years in the mid eighties, this important liaison activity between the Executive Committee and the Section committees has continued to the present day.


Section bylaws (now called governance procedures) and section structure are approved at the Annual Conference. The Section's five standing committees meet for the first time at the 1978 Midwinter Conference: Committee on Cooperation, Conference Planning, Continuing Education, Education for Bibliographic Instruction, and Research.

Sheila Laidlaw is elected first Section Chair.

The Committee on Cooperation meets for the first time in January 1978 and forms two subcommittees, one concerned with cooperation among instructional clearinghouses and the other aimed at coordinating library instruction activities within professional associations. This Committee continues the work begun by the ACRL Committee on Bibliographic Instruction (1971) and later by the ACRL Bibliographic Instruction Task Force (1973).


Section membership reaches 2,400--making it the third largest Section in ACRL.

First Section Preconference, "Tools, Techniques, and Tactics: Six Workshops," is held in Dallas, Texas.

The first Section handbook, Bibliographic Instruction Handbook, is published. The handbook consists of guidelines, model statements, checklists, glossary, and pathfinder, all of which were intended to provide guidance in the development of instruction programs. Membership and organizational information is not included.


The ACRL membership votes to downsize the ACRL Board from 34 to 14 members in late 1979 which means that sections will no longer have direct membership on the Board. At the 1980 Midwinter meeting, the ACRL Board approves a type-of-activity sections council within ACRL which would consist of the chair (or a representative from the executive board) of each type-of-activity section (including BIS). The Section is to be represented by the Type-of Activity Sections Council (later renamed Activity Sections Council) which elects two representatives to the ACRL Board. The Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect represents the Instruction Section at the Activity Sections Council. Prior to 1995 both the Chair and the Vice-Chair attended Activity Section Council meetings.

The Research Committee publishes "Research Agenda for Bibliographic Instruction" in the April issue of C&RL News.

At the 1980 Midwinter Meeting, the ACRL Board of Directors adopts the proposal of the Section that a part-time program officer position be created in the ACRL office to establish liaison with professional discipline associations.

The Section begins orientation sessions for chairs and committee members. An orientation manual is developed.


First Section Think Tank is held in conjunction with the second Section Preconference, "Premises, Problems, Promises: Views and Approaches to Bibliographic Instruction," in San Francisco. During the preconference, the "first generation" of instruction librarians meet to discuss the present state and future direction of the "bibliographic instruction movement." A set of seven recommendations in seven categories is presented at the closing session of the Preconference. Six workshops are also offered concurrently during the Preconference on June 25-26, 1981.

First organizational handbook is published: BIS: What's It All About? After preparing the handbook, the Policy and Planning Committee recommends that this task be transferred to the Section Secretary in the summer of 1981.

The original Committee on Cooperation becomes two separate committees: the Clearinghouse Committee and the Cooperation Committee. The Cooperation Committee is charged with "fostering bibliographic instruction, particularly through cooperative efforts with other professional associations."


The Section is granted the J. Morris and Bailey K. Howard World Book Encyclopedia Award of $5,000 for a proposal submitted by BIS Chair Shelley E. Phipps entitled, "Bringing Workshops to the Members," which outlines a series of workshops designed to increase the knowledge and skills of librarians involved in instruction. The workshops, based on those conducted at the first Section preconference in 1979, were later held on a regional level and conducted by nationally recognized leaders in instruction.

The Miriam Dudley Bibliographic Instruction Librarian of the Year Award is first proposed to the BIS Executive Committee by Shelley Phipps on July 10, 1982--the same year that Miriam Dudley, one of the founders of the Instruction Section, announces her retirement.

At the 1982 Midwinter Meeting an Advisory Council is formed to develop a performance contract and position description for the Bibliographic Instruction Liaison Project approved by ACRL in 1980. The Advisory Board is chaired by Sharon Rogers, Past Chair of the Section, and includes William Miller and Beth Shapiro (BIS Cooperation Committee) and Carla Stoffle (ACRL Board).

The Machine-Assisted Bibliographic Instruction Committee is formed.


ACRL and the ALA Awards Committee approve the Section's first award, the Miriam Dudley Bibliographic Instruction Librarian of the Year Award, to honor Miriam Dudley, reference librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose pioneering efforts in the field of instruction led to the formation of the Instruction Section. The award is sponsored and funded by Mountainside Press. At the 1983 Annual Conference, the creation of the award is announced as the Section presents Miriam Dudley with a certificate honoring her role in the development of bibliographic instruction and the Instruction Section.

First Section Dinner is held in San Antonio on January 7, 1983.

Ad hoc Newsletter Committee is established with Loanne Snavely as chair.

The ACRL Task Force for Support of New Committee Members and Committee Chairs offers the BIS orientation manual as a model to other ACRL sections.


Thomas Kirk receives the first Miriam Dudley Bibliographic Instruction Librarian of the Year Award.

First joint Midwinter Discussion Forum is held with the Association for Library and Information Science Education [ALISE], "Education for Bibliographic Instruction," on January 4, 1984, in Washington, DC. It was sponsored by the ACRL BIS Education for Bibliographic Instruction Committee and the ALISE Teaching Methods Group.

IS Newsletter begins publication with the spring issue.

Committee interns are established. One-year non-renewable internships are created to help new members become acquainted with the work of the Section.

The Executive Council is re-named the Advisory Council.

The Machine-Assisted Bibliographic Instruction Committee changes its name to Computer Concerns Committee.

The Bibliographic Instruction Liaison Project which addressed outreach to other professional associations is retired. The ACRL Board establishes a new standing committee, based on the recommendation of the Bibliographic Instruction Section and the Planning Committee that will have a Board mandate to bring ACRL's many interests before other professional associations.

An ad hoc Communications Committee is established and incorporates the Newsletter Committee.

As of November 1984, BIS membership approaches 3,000 with nearly 100 members actively involved in the Section's committees.


The Communication Committee becomes a standing committee with official responsibility for the Newsletter, the Handbook, and orientation activities for new members. Until 1996, the Communication Committee was chaired by the past Secretary.

The Section handbook, BIS: What's It All About? becomes the BIS Handbook: An Organizational Manual & Directory. Beginning in 1985, copies of the Handbook are sent to the ERIC Clearinghouse.


Bibliographic Instruction: The Second Generation edited by Constance Mellon is published as the proceedings of the first Think Tank in 1981.


"Model Statement of Objectives for Academic Bibliographic Instruction" is approved by ACRL in July. The new "Model Statement" replaces the 1979 "BIS Model Statement of Objectives and Guidelines for Bibliographic Instruction."

ACRL awards $2200 to the Section for Think Tank II.

The Communication Committee recognizes the need for informal discussion forums to address the concerns of instruction librarians. Randall Hensley volunteers to look into how discussion forums are formed and scheduled within ALA.

Task Force on Cooperation and Task Force on Research were established with mandates to recommend by Annual 1989 whether the Section should reinstate a Cooperation Committee and or a Research Committee and, if so, to draft charge(s). The Clearinghouse Committee is retired.


First Midwinter Discussion Forum, "Bibliographic Instruction: A Case in Point, " is held on January 4, 1989.

First Strategic Plan is developed.

The Ad Hoc Planning Committee recommends that the Section establish a standing Planning Committee charged with monitoring the planning process of the Section. This recommendation was accepted by the Executive Committee and the Policy and Planning Committee split into two separate standing committees.

Second Think Tank is held in Dallas, Texas, on June 22-23.

The Research Committee is retired.


Section membership reaches 3,400 making it the largest activity section within ACRL.

The Computer Concerns Committee changes its name for the third time to become the Emerging Technologies Committee.

The Continuing Education Committee changes its focus to incorporate Midwinter Discussion Forums.


The Section creates three new committees: Instruction for Diverse Populations, Management of Bibliographic Instruction, and Teaching Methods.

Two new Section awards are proposed: one for publication and another for innovation in instruction.

Section establishes Task Force on Strategic Options for Professional Education (SOPE) to chart proposed directions for the Section, especially related to education for library instruction and library schools.

Section membership exceeds 4,000.


Bibliographic Instruction Section (BIS) and Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) celebrate their 15th anniversary with joint programming and festivities.

The Miriam Dudley BI Librarian Award Committee changes its name to Awards Committee.


First Publication Award given to Terrence F. Mech and Donald W. Farmer for Information Literacy; Developing Students as Independent Learners, Jossey-Bass, 1992.

ACRL approves the Innovation in Instruction Award.

Second Strategic Plan is developed.

Listservs are established for the Advisory Council and the Executive Committee.


Section receives its first ACRL Initiative Fund Grant to distribute 200 active learning packets from the 1994 preconference to individuals, state instruction coordinators, and library schools.

The Membership Committee is created to recruit new members, provide orientation activities, and assess membership changes and trends.


Section membership votes to change Section name to Instruction Section.

First Innovation in Instruction Award given to Paula Walker, Andrea Bartelstein, Theresa Murdock, and Anne Zald at the University of Washington for the UWired Freshman Interest Groups. Section receives a second ACRL Initiative Fund Grant to develop a web site to showcase the knowledge base created by the Section through publications, awards, and programs, and to serve as a model for other ACRL section web sites.

Section partners with the Coalition for Networked Information to created the ACRL/CNI Internet Education Project. Case Western Reserve University was chosen to house this collection of exemplary Internet training materials.

Second ACRL Initiative Grant proposal funded, "Linking People to Ideas: Transforming the BI Knowledge Base into a Web Resource for the World".


Section web site debuts at the Midwinter conference.

ACRL approves Guidelines for Instruction Programs in Academic Libraries. These guidelines supersede the 1977 Guidelines for Bibliographic Instruction in Academic Librariesdeveloped by the Section.

Section handbook becomes two separate publications: one print, one electronic. The ACRL Instruction Section Directory is published as a print directory with committee rosters and membership information. The Instruction Section Handbook becomes a web publication containing bylaws, committee charges, duties of committee members and officers, and volunteer form.


Section receives 3rd ACRL Initiative Grant for $839 to distribute brochures to library schools publicizing Section activities and publications.

Section re-establishes the Research Committee (retired in 1989) as the Research & Scholarship Committee.

Section approves a new two-year appointed position titled Website/LISTSERV Administrator.

Section adopts a logo.

Section celebrates 20th anniversary and publishes a chronology on the Section web site. The third IS Strategic Plan is adopted.

The New Leadership Orientation is formally established for incoming committee chairs, task force chairs, and newly elected Section officers. This Orientation is organized by the incoming Section Chair and occurs at the ALA Annual Conference.

Discussion Forum sponsorship is changed so that one forum is organized on a rotation basis among the Section committees and proposal for a second forum can be submitted to Executive Committee for approval at the ALA Annual Conference prior to the Midwinter Conference for the forums.


1998 Executive Committee modified its longstanding practice of attending all Section committee and task force meetings to that of attending selected meetings based on the strategic nature of the committee's or task force's activities.

Loanne Snavely, Section Past Chair, 1997-98, is appointed Section representative to the Information Literacy Institute Advisory Group.

Section By-Laws changes approved by the membership regarding the terms of committee chairs and the procedure for filling Executive Committee vacancies.

The Model Statement of Objectives Task Force is established to study the Model Statement of Objectives Section document and make recommendations regarding the need and direction for revision.

The Skill Areas for Instruction Librarians Task Force is established to study the desirability of the Section creating a document articulating necessary skills for instruction librarians.

Management of Instruction Services Committee develops "Managing Educational Services: Teaching and Learning in Libraries" in cooperation with the Library Administration and Management Association as a LAMA Institute, the first such cooperative effort by the Section.

The Learning To Teach Preconference which was developed for the 1997 ALA Annual Conference is repeated at the 1998 ALA Annual Conference. This preconference was repeated at the request of the ACRL President, the first time such a request had been received by the Section.

The Section receives its fourth ACRL Initiative Grant of $3500.00 to develop Think Tank III which focuses on the relationship between developments in educational technology and their impact on information literacy instruction.

Membership Committee develops a ongoing process to survey individuals who have dropped their Section membership.

The Learning To Teach Virtual Task Force is created as a pilot project to determine the feasibility of accomplishing projects in a structure comprised of members who are not required to attend ALA conferences.

An archive of past issues of the Section Newsletter is created for the Section's website.

A re-design of the Section's website is created by the Website/Listsev Administrator.

Designs For Active Learning: A Sourcebook of Classroom Strategies For Information Education, a sponsored Section publication, is published by ACRL.

Executive Committee establishes a procedure for retention of Section Annual Reports on the Section website so that a five-year archive is available.


The updated Research Agenda for Library Instruction and Information Literacy was published in the February 2003 issue of C & RL News. The Research and Scholarship Committee hosted a panel session on the new research agenda at the ACRL National Conference in April 2003.

The revised Guidelines for Instruction Programs in Academic Libraries was approved.

The Enhanced Web Site Task Force explored ways for IS members to participate in section activities electronically, including investigating the feasibility of offering involvement opportunities of interest to IS members, including access to exclusive content.

The Emerging Technologies in Instruction Committee began to promote sites of the month, web sites selected for the Internet Education Project.

The IS of the Future Task Force was established to investigate possible future directions for the Section.

The Past Chair of the Section is added to the membership of ACRL's Information Literacy Advisory Council. The Past Chair will serve as the Convener of ILAC.

At the request of ACRL, a task force of IS redesigned the ACRL Information Literacy web site (

The IS Instruction for Diverse Populations Committee completed and released the web publication entitled "Library Instruction for Diverse Populations Bibliography."

The IS Publication Policies and Procedures Manual underwent a major revision.


The IS of the Future Task Force, in conjunction with the Education Committee and Membership Committee, held a midwinter discussion forum to brainstorm ideas related to changing how the section is organized and structured.

The Internet Education Project, sponsored by the IS Emerging Technologies in Instruction Committee, was renamed “ PRIMO: Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online” and a new logo was created.

The IS Research and Scholarship Committee printed a large number of brochures containing the text of the Research Agenda for Library Instruction and Information Literacy for distribution at various IS events.

Upon the recommendation of the IS Awards Committee and ACRL Board approval, the description and criteria for the IS Innovation Award were revised to provide greater emphasis on recognizing projects that are innovative within a national context.

The IS Executive Committee approved a plan to transfer the BI-L listserv archives from Strathclyde University’s BUBL server to the ALA server, where the ILI-L listserv archive is maintained.

Responsibility for ongoing maintenance and updating of the ACRL Information
Literacy web site was transferred to the Institute for Information Literacy Executive Committee.

In lieu of a paid pre-conference at Annual, IS offered a free conference workshop that required advance registration. The workshop theme was “ Wrestling with Research” and incorporated themes reflected in the Research Agenda for Library Instruction and Information Literacy.


The IS Executive Committee approves a position statement about the "members only" web option for limited access to some IS content on the ALA server, but with the principle that most IS content will remain publicly available.

The Analysis of Instructional Environments Task Force was established to develop a practical document to guide instruction coordinators and managers in analyzing their instructional programs, services, and environment for endeavors, such as accreditation reviews and strategic planning.

The Proficiencies of Instruction Librarians Task Force was established to develop a list of proficiencies required of instruction librarians and other librarians who contribute to instructional services and programs at their institutions.

The Sourcebook for Bibliographic Instruction and Learning to Teach texts are officially declared out-of-print. A proposal for a new IS publication, tentatively titled Information Literacy Instruction Handbook with content similar to those previous texts is approved.

IS brochure is redesigned with assistance from a design firm contracted by ACRL, and shown by ACRL as a model for other Sections.

First IS Soiree is held at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Boston on January 14, 2005, as a free social event in place of the traditional IS Dinner.

First "Getting Involved in the Instruction Section" orientation is held on June 25, 2005 at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, designed to introduce new and potential members to become active in the Section.

The IS Innovation in Instruction Award is renamed the IS Innovation Award with approval from the ACRL Board.

The Education Committee retires the "Bibliographic Instruction Bibliography", "Library Instruction Annotated Bibliography" and "Continuing Education Calendar" online publications.

The Research and Scholarship Committee announces the "Bibliography Related to the Research Agenda for Library Instruction and Information Literacy" as a document to track new publications addressing the key areas identified as needing further research.

The Teaching Methods Committee announces the "Information Literacy in the Disciplines" web site.

Section offers many programs at the ALA and ACRL conferences, including a pre- conference program co-sponsored with the ACRL Science and Technology Section, and a conference program co-sponsored with the RUSA History Committee.

The Executive Committee considers recommendations from the IS of the Future Task Force and implements many changes for committees, task forces, programming, and communication.


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