Frustrated With One-Shot Library Instruction?

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Buchanan, Heidi E., & McDonough, Beth A. (2014). The one-shot library instruction survival guide. Chicago: American Library Association.

In the introductory pages of this fairly short book, Buchanan and McDonough explain that they were pressed to write this book because of the great, and largely unmet need, for discussion on how librarians could improve “one-shot” library instruction sessions. This slim, 7-chapter book is only 124 pages, and it covers topics such as collaborating with teachers, classroom strategies to engage students’ attention, how to make instruction student-centered rather than teacher-centered, and the importance of assessment.

I think that this book is an excellent source for anyone working in school libraries. While I was thinking over what to classify this resource under (ET, CA, CO, or IL), it could have been all four! However, I deliberately chose ET because I feel that this book is a realistic response to the great amount of theory we have to absorb in our classes. Don’t get me wrong, theory is great and is the reason for why school libraries are able to transform into innovative spheres of learning. However, this book was a reminder that “one-shot” library instruction is often the norm for most school librarians and we only get about 45-minutes to teach a class of 30 or so students. Also, we do not determine what the students learn, it is the teacher that provides librarians what they want the librarians to teach. It is a rare thing indeed for a teacher to want to collaborate with a librarian when it comes to planning lessons. Librarians are oftentimes not included in the curriculum planning process, thus making us less effective when we do teach such skills in a “one-shot” lesson. This book provides sample scripts on how to approach teachers so that librarians can gain insight into the lesson-planning process. It also gives tips on how to change traditional demo-like teacher-centered lesson plans into more collaborative student-centered learning experiences. Overall, I think that this “survival guide” does a good job of living up to its name.