Situated Learning in the Library: Using Reference Services to Extend Teaching and Learning

Tuesday, 4/25/2017
  • 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (Eastern)
  • 12:00 PM-1:00 PM (Central)
  • 11:00 AM-12:00 PM (Mountain)
  • 10:00 AM-11:00 AM (Pacific)

Why do we often talk about reference services as separate from the teaching and learning endeavors of our libraries and institutions? While what happens in the classroom might look different from what happens at the reference desk, each of these learning interactions are part of the same instructional continuum. Classroom experiences rely more on direct instruction related to information literacy principles, but reference interactions are where learners are actively participating in authentic information inquiries and challenges, which are situated learning activities.

Participants in this workshop will engage in discussion about Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s work with the theory of situated learning, its emphasis on social exchanges for providing a context for learning, and how this applies to reference interactions in the library. Workshop facilitators will offer strategies for programmatically framing reference interactions as situated learning and for training reference desk staff to embrace their roles as learning catalysts. 

Learning Outcomes

  • Learning Outcome 1: Participants will be able to explain the principles behind situated learning in order to identify reference services as part of the instruction continuum.
  • Learning Outcome 2: Participants will be able to define at least three strategies for effectively integrating reference services into a teaching and learning program in order to apply these strategies at their home institutions.
  • Learning Outcome 3: Participants will be able to develop an action plan for integrating the strategies discussed during the workshop in order to effective integrate reference services into their home institution's teaching and learning program. 

Who Should Attend

Information literacy librarians, public services librarians, library staff who work on reference desks or with reference chat services, department heads and associate deans who work with public services, instruction, and reference. 


Hailley Fargo is a new professional who is currently working as a Reference and Instruction librarian in Penn State University Libraries' Knowledge Commons. She earned her MSLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she focused on community engagement and digital literacy. In her position at Penn State, Hailley works afternoon and evening hours and provides front-line, one-on-one reference service to students. Hailley not only enjoys this indepth, individualized research exploration, but also is interested in the ways in which undergraduate students find information (and her). As a new resident of Pennsylvania, Hailley likes to go on hikes and bike rides when she is not working. When the weather isn't nice, Hailley likes reading memoirs or catching up on a wide variety of TV shows. 

Rebecca K. Miller, currently the Head of Library Learning Services at Penn State University Libraries, earned her MSLS from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MAEd from Virginia Tech. She is a 2012 ALA Emerging Leader, an ALA Councilor, and is active in her state library association, PaLA. Rebecca has published numerous books, articles, and book chapters on information literacy and instructional technologies; she co-wrote most recent book, The New Instruction Librarian: A Workbook for Trainers and Learners with Candice Benjes Small of Radford University. When not thinking about information literacy and teaching, Rebecca likes to support the librarian stereotype by snuggling with her two cats, Pip and Fox, and catching up on the latest bestselling novels.




Individual registration rates are as follows:

RUSA members: $45
ALA members: $50
ALA student & retired members: $25
Non-members: $65
Group rate: $99 single login, $38/person multiple logins. (min. 2 people)

How to Register

Register online


Tech Requirements

This webinar will be offered using Adobe Connect. Please ensure that you have Adobe Flash Player Version 10.1 or later on your computer. Audio for these sessions will be streamed over computer speakers and via a teleconference line. You will be able to ask questions and interact with the presenter and other webinar participants via chat.

You can test your settings to verify that your computer is configured properly to participate in this webinar.


Questions about your registration should be directed to 

Technical questions about the webinar should be directed to Jennifer Cross, RUSA Web Manager, at 

Thank you and we look forward to your participation!