The Ohio State University Libraries presented the LIRT 2023 Innovation in Instruction Award

For Immediate Release
Thu, 05/04/2023


Wayne Finley

Chair, Innovation in Instruction Award

Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT)

CHICAGO — The Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) of the American Library Association is pleased to announce that the 2023 Innovation in Instruction Award will be presented to The Ohio State University Libraries. Created to recognize a library that demonstrates innovation in support of information literacy and instruction, this year’s award recognizes The Ohio State University Libraries’ “Meaningful Inquiry Workshop” (MI), which provides teaching-focused professional development for instructors, including faculty, graduate teaching associates, instructional designers, and librarians/library staff. The MI workshop combines scholarship in the fields of education, sociology, psychology, and library and information science with pedagogical best practices to support instructors in creating equitable and inclusive learning environments for students.

Originally based on the dissertation project of Dr. Amanda Folk, Assistant Professor and Head of the Teaching & Learning Department in the University Libraries, the Meaningful Inquiry Workshop program was further developed and refined by Dr. Folk’s library colleagues.

Upon hearing about being awarded the Innovation in Instruction Award on behalf of the University Libraries, Dr. Folk said, “The Meaningful Inquiry facilitation team at The Ohio State University Libraries is honored to be this year’s recipient of LIRT’s Innovation in Instruction Award. We know that this is a competitive award with many worthy nominations submitted each year, so we acknowledge that this is a significant achievement for our program.”

The Meaningful Inquiry workshop is based on Amanda’s dissertation research exploring first-generation college students’ experience with research assignments, as well as her own experience as a librarian providing research consultations to undergraduates. Fortunately, Katie, Jane, Chris, and Hanna agreed to work with Amanda to further develop and refine the workshop into what it is today. Our goal is to have conversations related to information literacy while foregrounding persistent equity gaps in higher education, highlighting the need to make information literacy expectations transparent to students and moving it out of the hidden curriculum. 

One of the key criteria for winning the Innovation in Instruction Award is the ability of the program to be adapted by other libraries and educators, and the Meaningful Inquiry Workshop and its facilitation team are an exemplar of that criteria. “We are grateful to have worked with over 80 instructors in more than 20 departments and 3 campuses at Ohio State since we launched Meaningful Inquiry in August 2019,” said Dr. Folk.  “We are now taking Meaningful Inquiry on the road, presenting elements of the workshop to educational developers at the POD Network Conference, fellow librarians at the upcoming LILAC Conference, and writing studies professionals at the upcoming IWAC Conference. We are proud of what we have developed and are thrilled to share our work with colleagues from various professions in the United States and beyond. We hope Meaningful Inquiry will be a useful tool for our library colleagues to combine their expertise in information literacy with a desire to close equity gaps at their institutions.”

Developed by Amy James (Director of Instruction and Information Literacy), Joshua Been (Director of Data and Digital Scholarship), and Beth Farwell (Director of Arts and Special Collections Research), the objective of the project was to use text-data mining to find information literacy related terms and phrases within syllabi to help locate new opportunities to provide support to faculty and instructors through information literacy instruction as well as increase instructional outreach and awareness across campus.

Amanda Folk, shared the following statement upon learning about the award: “Winning the LIRT Innovation in Instruction Award is a massive accomplishment and honor. My colleagues, Joshua Been and Beth Farwell, have been integral in helping make our information literacy syllabi miner tool useful, effective, and impactful. This tool started off as a dream of mine about two years ago and with the expertise and skills of my colleagues, we were able to turn this dream into a reality. Using it to grow our instruction program here at Baylor has been phenomenal. But, seeing it come into fruition and be used by other campus libraries across the country has been especially rewarding. We are excited to share this open-source tool with everyone so that campus libraries across the world can use it to find opportunities for information literacy instruction at their institutions and reach more students, sharing with them the important skills that they need to navigate the information environment that exists in today’s world.”

And it’s their commitment to making the project open-source and their willingness to support other libraries using the tool that set the Baylor University Libraries team apart among a number of outstanding nominations for the 2023 Innovation in Instruction Award. The development of the information literacy syllabi miner provides other libraries with the ability to upload their syllabi (or other assignments) into the open-source Jupyter notebook and analyze the content to assess their own instructional programs.

The Library Instruction Round Table was started in 1977 with the intent to bring together librarians who provide library instruction across all types of libraries–academic, public, school, and special. 2023 marks the ninth year the Innovation in Instruction Award has been awarded. The Baylor University Libraries will be presented with a $1,000 cash prize and a plaque commemorating the award. Their achievement will be celebrated at a ceremony during the ALA Annual Conference in June 2023 (date and time to be announced).

Find out more about LIRT, its mission, and the awards.

The LIRT Innovation in Instruction Awards Subcommittee included Wayne Finley of Northern Illinois University (co-chair), Bridget Farrell of the University of Denver, and Maria Sclafani of Wichita State University.