Getting Library Badges and eLearning Off the Ground

So – since 2014 I’ve been the Instructional Design Librarian and now Instruction Coordinator at Cal State Fullerton. I’ve been interested in badges and scaling up library instruction with eLearning for a while. I pitched badges last year to our interim university librarian, and he’s super excited about them, but we’re a ways off yet from implementing them in a way that makes them meaningful as micro-credentials to future employers.

However, both the uni librarian and our Provost want us to scale up our Info Lit instruction in response to WASC deeming IL as a core competency, so the Provost directed the library to develop an Info Lit tutorial that all freshmen will be required to complete.

To do this, a group of us first wrote out a basic library research/info lit curriculum that is targeted at the bottom two levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, which we’re going to develop into a suite of online tutorials that faculty can mix and match for their classes as appropriate (because of course there’s no way that a single tutorial for freshmen would cover enough/anything meaningful). While we started from the ground up with our curriculum, we are considering it a living, to-be-continued document with themes and threads that point to eventual mastery of the ACRL IL Framework. The curriculum is licensed CC and available here on Pollak Library eLearning.

This spring and summer, we’re developing this curriculum into online tutorials. Since the curriculum we have so far is at the bottom two Bloom’s levels, I feel A-OK about making the resulting tutorials automatically graded, through quizzes/drag n drops/whatever other graded activities Storyline has. We’ll provide lesson plans for faculty directing them how to implement the tutorials into their courses so that the tutorials are scaffolded and hopefully more learning sticks. Also, if we’re able to implement our tutorials into our LMS (Moodle) and IT is wiling to turn the badges feature on, we’ll be able to track tutorial completion and all faculty will be able to see which tutorials their students have already completed.

I don’t think we’ll be able to get the badges set up yet in a way that makes them truly valuable as micro-credentials for employers in the real world, but I think it’s a good start.

The goal is to scale up our instruction in a sustainable way (no increase in one-shots, big increase in students learning info lit). I’m really impressed by the other libraries that are dumping one-shots all together – my institution isn’t there yet, and maybe that’s not right for us. BUT at least if we have tutorials on hand that address lower-level learning, I hope that our time spent doing one-shots focuses on the higher levels of Bloom’s, so our time spent instructing is more meaningful.

Right now I’m diving into tutorial design/development, so we’ll start finding out this fall if any of this is a Go, but fingers crossed. The timeline I sketched out for development is exceedingly ambitious!

How to Become an Instructional Design/eLearning Librarian

I really, really like instructional design (aka ID). It is a growing field whether in libraries or without. I often get asked about what I do and I like to peruse/collect instructional design-related librarian job postings.

So here goes!

What does an Instructional Design/eLearning Librarian do?

It varies! (Helpful response, I know!). My job is mostly developing library tutorials and teaching other librarians about effective pedagogy. I promote use/development of Open Educational Resources. I developed and maintain a learning object repository. I’m also the Instruction Coordinator for my library and I have regular reference hours and teach one-shot instruction sessions. I am the first-ever Instructional Design Librarian at Cal State Fullerton, so when I started here I had to figure it all out for myself. And I often feel like I’m still figuring it out!

An Instructional Design Librarian’s duties might include: training the trainer, designing learning spaces, evaluating user experience, developing educational tutorials and games, exploring emerging technologies, promoting OER, etc.

Related job titles include: Online Learning Librarian, eLearning Librarian, Instructional Technologies Librarian, Hybrid Learning Librarian, Educational Technology Librarian, or Learning Design Librarian (got another one? Post it in the comments!).

I don’t have to know computer programming languages, though a basic understanding of HTML and CSS has been very helpful in developing elearning delivery and customizing free learning tools.

To get a better idea of the requirements, browse through ID-related library jobs posted over at Designer Librarian.

As an instructional designer and librarian, I have to be comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. I have to continually embrace a DIY spirit and talking up my projects and why they’re important. I work with librarians, instructional designers, faculty, department heads, and administrators. As #19 and #20 on this silly listicle point out, instructional design is a liminal career and it’s crucial to be at peace with that.

When you’re at the step where you’re formally applying for academic librarian jobs, check out my post on How to Become an Academic Librarian for crucial application writing and formatting tips.

Required Education/Knowledge

If you want to be an Instructional Design Librarian in title, you will almost definitely have to work in higher education. I’m only able to specialize in instructional design because I work at a large university and we have a lot of librarians. Smaller institutions are often looking for librarians with instructional design/educational technology expertise, but using those skills will only be a small part of your job.

You’ll have to get a masters degree in library/information science, which most academic librarian jobs still require. And which don’t prepare you for teaching. Or instructional design. They just don’t. I did take an instructional design class as part of my program at San Jose State and it was fairly useless.

Technically, you don’t have to get an instructional design certificate/degree to be an ID Librarian, but it really really helps. Many instructional design/elearning librarians are hired without additional education in these areas, but I strongly recommend either formally studying instructional design or doing a lot of self-study. For more on this, see my post Why I Got My Degree in Instructional Design (And You Should Too!).

I’m really glad I got my masters in instructional design. My educational psychology classes completely transformed how I approach teaching. Of course, I’m also really bothered by people that call themselves “instructional designers” but are really just spreading misinformation (e.g., learning styles are NOT A THING!).

Perhaps the most important skill aspiring Instructional Design/eLearning Librarians should work towards is developing the ability to explain to your peers how one instructional strategy is better/worse/different than another, or be able to teach a colleague how to best use a given educational technology, by using explanations based in learning science.

To be able to do this, you will need to know learning science and theory. And to me, at least, it’s crucial to my success at work that I’m able to justify a course of action. It’s how I win over my colleagues and get the resources I need – and also how I push library instruction forward!

Other Career Options in Instructional Design


Like I said at the top, instructional design is very much a growing field. Many academic institutions have a corps of instructional designers that not only support faculty with employing educational technology, but also help move student-centered pedagogical practices forward. Again, instructional design is a liminal field, and many instructional designers complain that faculty view them as merely “tech support.” Part of the problem is that instructional designers can help with a LOT of things, including tech. Arizona State tried to help clear this up a bit with their fabulous infographic: So What Do You Really Mean by “Instructional Designer?”

Instructional Designers are usually considered staff, and the positions can pay well and have great benefits. Keep an eye out for these positions via higher education job boards and listservs.


If you want to be an instructional designer, another way to get there is to get a job in the corporate sector. Many large companies have a large L&D arm (aka Learning and Development*) that is responsible for employee training. A possible career path might involve working your way up from corporate trainer to instructional designer/elearning developer, though a certificate or masters in ID will go a long way to help you out.

To discover instructional design jobs in corporate, sign up for alerts on major job sites like Indeed or Monster. Use the keywords “instructional design,” “elearning/e-learning,” “designer,” “developer,” or search keywords related to software you’re an expert in.

The Final Word

The fact is, in both academia and corporate, know that many people discover they’ve became “accidental instructional designers,” and they just figure it out as they go! In that case, Here Are 12 E-Learning Books to Read This Year.

Blog post coming soon: Crash Course in Instructional Design!


*”L&D” is common shorthand in corporate-land for a training department.

Why I Got My Degree in Instructional Design (And You Should Too!)

I have a B.A. in English and a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). Later on I earned a Master of Education in EduTech/Instructional Design.

Every now and then I get asked why I got this second masters, and here’s the answer(s)!

The Short Answer

I spent years applying for librarian positions without having any luck. The jobs I held in the interim didn’t cover my bills. Since I did finally land a library staff position at a university, I was able to go back to school (again) for another degree. On the advice of my mentor, I went the instructional design route for two reasons: 1) to be more marketable as an academic librarian, 2) to be able to pursue ID/eLearning jobs in the corporate sector.

The second degree paid off: I landed a tenure-track Instructional Design Librarian position in southern California that pays my bills, lets me actually save money, and has a ton of vacation time and other awesome benefits, like health insurance(!).* None of the corporate/id staff jobs ever called back.

Beyond my own personal welfare, my instructional design studies did nothing less than completely transform how I see the world, and I really love making a difference, so let’s move on to:

The Long Answer

It is really hard to learn from a lecture. Students are not blank slates inherently capable of absorbing their professors’ brilliance through osmosis.

Also, learning styles are Not A Thing.

And yet, professors continue to lecture. Academics continue to spout off about “learning styles.”


Actually I don’t have an answer for this.

However! I feel like a radical working in academia. I know the secrets of student-centered learning. I can tell you why student engagement is key to learning success (hint: if students aren’t engaged, they are not learning!).

I know the basics of neuroscience – the human brain develops back to front, and is 90%-ish done developing in the first five years. A child’s first few years shape her brain for the rest of her life. Yet the brain doesn’t finish developing until a human’s mid-twenties!  Do you know what develops last? The front lobe, which is responsible for higher-order executive thinking (i.e. good judgment).

Not coincidentally, rental cars suddenly become much cheaper when you turn 25!

I know that including everything AND the kitchen sink in a given learning experience does not lead to greater learning, it leads to less! The content that is left out of a learning experience is probably more important than what is kept in – the human brain is easily overwhelmed by Too Much Information, plus the extraneous details keep learners from focusing on what’s most important.

I know that experts on a given subject need to receive different instruction than amateurs!

I know that while learning styles are Not A Thing, learning and physical disabilities are, and students also face a number of challenges including often trying to learn something in English when it’s not their native language. Therefore, the principles of Universal Design for Learning are critical to take into account when developing a learning experience. That means: including Closed Captions on videos, presenting material in a variety of formats (e.g. video transcripts!), allowing students to download your PowerPoint slides for review, and ensuring that your materials are completely compatible with screen readers, just to start!

I know that design really really matters, and if you want your design to be successful, it needs to take into account how people actually are, not how you’d like them to be.

My Advice for Librarians Considering This Path

Do you love to teach? Do you want to be better at it? Are you passionate about good design?

First, a primer on design and learning. I highly recommend beginning your journey by reading The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman. After reading this book years ago, I suddenly realized that it’s not my fault if I push instead of pull a badly-designed door.

And then! Move on to Moonwalking With Einstein, by Joshua Foer. You will not believe what each and every human brain is capable of in this fast-paced, real life tale of a journalist that dives into a world he never knew existed, and then accomplishes incredible things.

Next, dive into applied design with Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug. While this slim volume is focused on web usability principles, you’ll get a crash course in how people actually interact with multimedia technologies.

Finally, finish off with Design for How People Learn, by Julie Dirksen. Using simple illustrations, this very accessible text will teach you, ahem, how people learn, and how you can design learning experiences for real people.

Thus ends your crash course in design thinking/instructional design. Still interested?

Then I highly recommend getting a second masters, or a certificate, in instructional design/edutech as a librarian, if it’s free/cheap (i.e., if you’re working as staff at a university that offers discounted tuition as a benefit, or are closely related to someone that is).

Getting my degree completely transformed how I approach teaching and learning. I most value what I learned about educational psychology. Technologies change so quickly, but if you understand how people learn, you’ll understand how to employ edutech as a mere means to designing effective learning experiences.

You’ll also be much more employable/marketable. And if you tire of academia, you can run your own business developing eLearning, or consulting on instructional design. Options are a beautiful thing.

But librarian jobs in general just don’t pay a whole lot, so watch out for taking on too much debt. Just assume it will be difficult to pay back.

Bottom Line: Instructional design is awesome! Change your life, and come be a radical with me, transforming academia from the inside.


*I spent a good chunk of my 20s without health insurance, so this continues to be a big deal for me. As is being able to have my own place with no roommates, and with my own kitchen/bathroom, because Yosemite employee housing has none of those benefits.

Making It Happen: Second Year Adventures as an Instructional Design Librarian

It’s been exactly one year since I wrote The Making of an Instructional Design Librarian for ACRLog. At the time, I was six months in to my new position. Now I’m a year and a half in! Time flies.

That post seems to be fairly popular on the interwebs as evidenced by readers writing me about ID librarianship, so I thought the timing is right to check back in. Also, I haven’t written a blog post in a bit about my work.

So, here we go – update time!

First Off: Portfolio Update!

I wrote back in September about my glee at turning in my first tenure-track portfolio, which is composed of three sections: Performance as Librarian, Scholarly/Creative and Professional Growth Activities, and Service. It’s still winding its way through the system, but I’ve heard back from the first two stages: the Department Personnel Committee, which is composed of three librarian colleagues that review portfolios, and I’ve heard from the interim University Librarian.

Both responses were very good!

There are four possible outcomes for each of my portfolio’s sections: Outstanding, Good, Fair, or Inadequate. To get inadequate, you’d basically have to be doing nothing at work! I’m not sure if I’m supposed to blog about it or not since I haven’t received official notice that I’ll be around next year, but I got two “Goods” and an “Outstanding.” Outstanding is for my Performance as the ID Librarian, which is terribly gratifying. I especially appreciated the University Librarian’s comment in his review warning me not to “overcommit” myself. TOO LATE, BUDDY!

The Overwhelm is Not So Overwhelming Anymore

Really, I’m not that overcommitted, so I’m not really overwhelmed anymore. As long as you don’t count the occasional panic attack when I realize I forgot to do something.

I’m really happy to say that I’ve found my footing as Cal State Fullerton’s Instructional Design Librarian. This was a brand-new position created at Pollak Library, and when I started, I was basically shown my office and left to myself. Occasionally someone would pop by and ask “HAVE YOU PUBLISHED YET,” sending me into new paroxysms of panic. I did a lot of thinking and exploring and networking and talking and eventually I mostly figured out what my work was. Also, I have an article out for peer review, so that’s awesome.

My line of work is still in reusable learning objects. I’m hellbent on only developing tools that are usable, updatable, and applicable in a variety of situations. eLearning development is a lot of work, and I’m not going to squander it on one-offs! To that end, I’m also really big now into Open Educational Resources. Because – instruction librarians in academia all basically do the same thing. So why don’t we share more?!? I slap a Creative Commons license onto my work, and coerce encourage my colleagues into doing the same.

Furthermore, I’m scaling up our instruction with my fancy learning object repository: Pollak Library eLearning. OK, it’s not really that fancy, since it’s actually based on WordPress. But it is an inexpensive and flexible solution for sharing our work here, and for making online tutorials accessible to our students, our faculty, and anyone in the rest of the world that’s interested! In fact, I’ll be presenting about this repository this year at two different conferences: LibTech and Library Instruction West. So excited!

Academia is Less Weird, Though It’s Still Weird

I’m neck-deep in the tenure-track, that whirlwind of responding to Calls for Proposals for presentations, articles, chapters, what-have-you, and generally justifying my existence to my university the rest of the time. When I get a proposal accepted for something I want to share it with people. Academics are like, Great job! Friends and family are like, Whut.

I feel like I have two selves: the real one and the make-believe one. Academic is kind of the make-believe one. Peer-review, calls for proposals, these aren’t real things! Unless I’m at work and they’re very real and also give me anxiety.

I also still feel out of place in academia since I come from a blue-collar family, which I never knew, until I worked in academia. Everyone here is just so…educated…and sometimes random colleagues around campus say weird classist things. But perhaps this is a post for another time. Meanwhile, I very much enjoy having health insurance, a flexible work schedule, and 4.5 weeks vacation. So awesome.

Coming Up

I’ve been collecting Instructional Design/eLearning Librarian job postings just for kicks. I’m thinking about either analyzing them, or posting them here for reference, or both.

I’m also kicking around the idea of writing a post with advice for people that want to be an Instructional Design Librarian, or an Instructional Designer! I feel like I’ve got a foot in both worlds.

Stay tuned!

The Making of an Instructional Design Librarian

This post was originally published at ACRLog on January 20, 2015.

I’m now in my sixth month and second semester as a tenure-track Instructional Design Librarian, which is a new position at my library. In December I completed my second master’s in Educational Technology (specializing in instructional design) so now I can call myself an instructional designer with confidence. I’m a new academic librarian AND a new instructional designer, and my job is to wear both of those hats, often at the same time.*

I spent a lot of fall semester figuring out exactly how an Instructional Design Librarian should fit in at my institution. Figuring out my role(s) and mastering the intricacies of the tenure-track handbook has been an enormous, time-consuming challenge. (Spoiler: I’m far from having it all figured out).

Instructional Design Librarians, Please Stand Up

As far as I can tell, there aren’t a whole lot of people like me – at least, title and primary responsibility-wise. There are oodles of instruction librarians, lots of emerging technology librarians, many online/distance education librarians – and multitudes of librarians that have taken on instructional design/educational technology as an additional duty or interest. I discovered this last group in the wonderful Blended Librarian Online Learning Community, which offers fantastic webinars. A term coined by Steven J. Bell, the “Blended Librarian”

first combines the traditional aspects of librarianship with the technology skills of an information technologist, someone skilled with software and hardware. Many librarians already demonstrate sound technology skills of this type. To this mix, the Blended Librarian adds the instructional or educational technologist’s skills for curriculum design, and the application of technology for student-centered learning (2003).

My position and skills certainly fall under this definition. I think that a large percentage of academic librarians have at least some of these skills. Sometimes I say I have the librarian job of the future (at least for academia) and I think that more and more librarian jobs will require these skills going forward.

Taking Stock

When I started this job, I realized my new library desperately needed new and innovative ways to reach more students. Only 23** librarians (including me) serve 38,000 students and 2,000 faculty. Our YouTube page hadn’t been updated with fresh content in years, and there were no communal, reusable learning objects*** to speak of. After settling in last fall (truly settling in will take years in this position), I started my work by doing lots of brainstorming. It was clear from the start my time is limited. Since I am wearing “two hats,” I have to carefully manage my time to fully attend to my librarian duties (liaison subjects, instruction, reference hours, tenure-track work) while striving to make enough time for instructional design. I talked about keeping a work diary in my last post, but I use the same online notebook to sketch out loads of ideas. Holy cow, do I have a lot of ideas: badges, learning object repository, an information literacy curriculum customized for our campus, interactive tutorials, design workshops for librarians, instructional videos, assessment plans… I’ve also been instructed to work on improving my library’s existing online resources, namely, LibGuides.

Last semester, I strove to meet everyone that works in our very large library building and to meet the instructional designers on campus. Our campus has an Academic Technology Center (ATC, which falls under IT), the Faculty Development Center (FDC), a resource called Online Academic Strategies and Instructional Support (OASIS), as well as the University Extended Education (UEE) department. Each of these has one or more instructional designers, and confusingly these centers tend to overlap in their offerings. I spent a lot of time tracking down needed software – Camtasia for the videos, Adobe Captivate for interactive tutorials. My office computer died once and had to be replaced. I had to figure out which librarians I had to talk to about getting YouTube access and my own corner of the website for tutorials (still working on my own corner of the site, but I want to have a mini-repository of learning objects like that from University of Arizona libraries).

Jumping In

In my ACRLog posts so far, overwhelm is a prominent theme for me. So I started small. My library is currently suffering through a stacks closure due to an earthquake last spring, so I created a brief video on how to page materials. By consulting with librarians, I came up with a shortlist of other basic videos and developed two more on searching for library materials. I also took a course on Universal Design for Learning, while concurrently taking a course on writing a journal article in twelve weeks, both through our Faculty Development Center. Per my assignment sheet, and my personal interest, I’ve also been working hard collaborating with another librarian to revamp our assessment model (using the draft ACRL IL framework) for the information literacy component of our campus’ First Year Experience (FYE) program.

Partly due to the stacks closure, and partly due to coming re-organization and major renovation, I moved to a new office the day before winter break. I’m now consolidated in the same hallway as all of the other instructional designers on campus – from ATC, FDC, OASIS, and UEE (holy alphabet soup!). I’ve already learned a lot from them and am excited about the possibilities for collaboration and promoting the library and its resources. Under a grant last week, we were all able to attend two days of training on Quality Mattersand our university system’s version, Quality Online Learning and Teaching. I was inspired to think about ways to develop and offer rubrics to allow librarians to self-evaluate learning objects.

Now on to Spring Semester

I continue to work hard on the assessment redesign for our piece of the FYE program (my colleague and I are presenting a poster at SCIL Works, and we submitted a poster proposal for ACRL, look for us if we get accepted! [Edit: Accepted for virtual con]). We’re also working on a grant proposal for release time to assess the pilot once it’s completed. I’m meeting with librarians to talk about developing videos/tutorials for their subject areas. I’m working on developing resources to help students and faculty use library resources like eBooks and streaming video. I’m working with members of our library’s Open Access Team to create presentations on utilizing open educational resources. I want to work with librarians to improve their instruction and their instructional materials, and I’m planning to employ social justice themes in information literacy instruction. I’m also following thecritical librarianship community, as I’m from a blue-collar background and sometimes feel out of place in academia.

I get asked a lot what I do as an Instructional Design Librarian. I am certain that my answer will change as I embark on new projects and as I explore new possibilities, but I have come up with a short-ish answer. My new elevator-length job description/mission statement is that I endeavor to design and develop reusable learning objects that can be embedded into online learning environments, and to inculcate effective instructional use of educational technology among campus faculty.

Yep, that’s a mouthful.

Bell, S. J. (2003). A Passion for Academic Librarianship: Find It, Keep It, Sustain It–A Reflective Inquiryportal: Libraries and the Academy3(4), 633-642.

*I want a button that says “ASK ME about cognitive load!” Because IMHO many, if not most, librarians excel at inflicting cognitive overload in their instructional materials.
**Give or take a few positions in flux.
***At my in-person interview for this position, I was required to teach my audience how to create a reusable learning object (in 20 minutes or less, yikes!). I taught them to make an educational slideshow using myBrainShark and assessed their learning with Poll Everywhere.


See all of my blog posts from ACRLog:

2016 Presentations

posted in: Presentations | 0

Four presentations in 2016, including three full-length presentations and a poster:

  • SCIL Works, Cal State Fullerton, February 19 [Slides]
    • Dance into the FIRe: Engaging with the framework to develop an information literacy curriculum for freshmen
    • Co-presenting with Terrones, L., Lambert, J., Prieto, A., Sage, J., Cornforth, J.
  • Library Technology Conference, Macalester College, St. Paul, March 17 [Slides]
    • Scale up your instruction by sharing your resources: Deploy WordPress as a learning object repository
  • Library Instruction West, Salt Lake City, June 9
    • Scale up your instruction by sharing your resources: Deploy WordPress as a learning object repository
  • ALA Annual, Orlando, June 2016
    • Assessment in Action: Embedding a librarian into an online class (poster session)

2015 Presentations

posted in: Presentations | 0

Five major presentations in 2015, including four posters and a webinar panel.

ALA Annual Conference

ala poster
Poster Session

“Transforming library information literacy instruction to support high impact practices: A model redesign” (poster session), with Lettycia Terrones, California State University, Fullerton. Poster session presented at the American Library Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, June 2015

 Sustainability Symposium

OER Poster
Poster Session

“Open educational resources: A sustainable model for the future” (poster session), with Michelle Swadish, California State University, Fullerton, on behalf of the Pollak Library Open Access Team. 3rd Annual Sustainability Symposium, California State University, Fullerton, April 2015

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

 BLOLC Webinar

Screen capture of Road to 2020 information
Invited Webinar Panelist

“The road to 2020: Envisioning higher education & the library environment for a shifting future” (invited webinar panelist). Blended Librarian Online Learning Community, April 2015.

 ACRL Virtual Conference

Poster Session

“You are a Scholar: Designing an online module for FYE community using the draft ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education” (poster session), with Lettycia Terrones, California State University, Fullerton. Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Virtual Conference, March 2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 SCIL Works

Image of SCIL poster
Poster Session

“Rising to the Occasion: Redesigning an FYE community library information literacy component to incorporate HIPS” (poster session), with Lettycia Terrones, California State University, Fullerton. SCIL Works, West Los Angeles College, California, February 2015

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

John Muir Trail 2015

posted in: Adventure, Blog | 0

I used to live and work in Yosemite National Park, very close to Happy Isles, which is the northern terminus of the John Muir Trail. I long wanted to do the JMT, but couldn’t (or wouldn’t) get the time off. Eventually I left Yosemite for Arizona to pursue my career (and to enjoy a warmer clime!).

When I moved back to California in 2014 for a job with generous vacation time, I knew the time had come. I spent days sending in faxes soliciting a solo permit and received a permit to start the JMT at Lyell Canyon. This was perfect, since I had hiked from Happy Isles up to Half Dome many times and did NOT need to do it again. I spent months planning my trip. Planning it became my hobby!

And it was all I hoped and dreamed it would be. Except for my tent – which turned out to be not as weather-proof as I would have liked. I had checked it before the trip, but it turned out to be delaminated and leaked (but surprisingly not terribly) when it rained. You can see a list of what worked and what didn’t in my Day 20 entry – I spent a good bit of time at camp on my last night reflecting on my trip.

See all my photos over at Flickr.

My 21-Day John Muir Trail Itinerary

Day Date DotW Campsite Daily Miles JMT/Total Miles
Day 0 7/18/2015 Saturday June Lake – Oh Ridge
Day 1 7/19/2015 Sunday Meadow on way to Cloud’s Rest 3.2 na
Day 2 7/20/2015 Monday Sunrise Lakes 9.7 na
Day 3 7/21/2015 Tuesday Tuolumne Bkpr Camp (Resupply Day) 9 22.9
Day 4 7/22/2015 Wednesday Lyell Fork 9.6 32.4
Day 5 7/23/2015 Thursday Thousand Island Lake 10.6 43
Day 6 7/24/2015 Friday Minaret Creek 12.9 55.9
Day 7 7/25/2015 Saturday Deer Creek (Resupply Day) 9.1 65
Day 8 7/26/2015 Sunday Purple Lake 7.6 72.6
Day 9 7/27/2015 Monday Virginia Lake (Near-O!) 2 74.6
Day 10 7/28/2015 Tuesday Quail Meadow 13.4 88
Day 11 7/29/2015 Wednesday Marie Lake 12.7 100.7
Day 12 7/30/2015 Thursday Muir Trail Ranch (Resupply Day) 7.2 107.9
Day 13 7/31/2015 Friday Evolution Valley 9.3 117.2
Day 14 8/1/2015 Saturday Sapphire Lake in Evolution Basin 7.9 125.1
Day 15 8/2/2015 Sunday Le Conte Ranger Station 11.8 136.9
Day 16 8/3/2015 Monday Upper Basin, just south of Mather Pass 16.6 153.5
Day 17 8/4/2015 Tuesday Woods Creek Junction 14.9 168.4
Day 18 8/5/2015 Wednesday Upper Rae Lake 7 175.4
Day 19 8/6/2015 Thursday 2nd lake south of Forester Pass 16.1 191.5
Day 20 8/7/2015 Friday Guitar Lake 14.3 205.8
Day 21 8/8/2015 Saturday HOME via Whitney 15 220.8


Day 0 – The Night Before

7/18/2015 – Oh Ridge Campground – June Lake

Since I live at 500 feet above sea level, it was important to me to get at least a little acclimated before I began my hike. So my boyfriend and I stayed the night at June Lake, about 8,000 feet. Oh Ridge is a perfect little campground overlooking the lake, which was just barely warm enough to swim in.


Day 1 – Tenaya Lake


My boyfriend dropped me off at Tenaya Lake/Sunrise Lakes Trailhead in the late afternoon after waiting out a heavy thunderstorm. I had scored the last permit for the trailhead!

As I departed, my achilles tendonitis twinged and I worried that I was making a terrible mistake (I ended up feeling just fine, even though it’d been bothering me for the previous two months!).

I saw lots of wildlife as I ascended, including a grouse with her two chicks. I intended to summit Cloud’s Rest the next day, so I camped a bit east from the Sunrise Lakes junction near a meadow. The clouds parted at sunset to cast a golden glow on the trees surrounding my camp.

Daily Miles: 3.2


Day 2 – Clouds Rest and Sunrise Lakes


I stashed my bear can and tent near my campsite and set off to Cloud’s Rest. I planned to camp at Sunrise Lakes, so I would pass by my campsite again, and I hoped I wouldn’t lose the location!

The trail to Cloud’s Rest was filled with the most vibrant wildflowers! I even saw a blonde squirrel for the first time.

This was my first time summiting Cloud’s Rest so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The few hundred yards to the top of Cloud’s Rest felt very exposed. But I had the summit to myself, a 360 degree view! I could see Yosemite Valley on one side to the peaks of northern Yosemite on the other to the Minarets near Devil’s Postpile on the other. My solitude was especially pleasing since I could see a queue forming below on Half Dome’s cables.

As I returned the way I came, I easily spotted where I left my things, and the sky began to cloud over as I picked my way back up the trail to the Sunrise Lakes trail junction.

When I hit the first of the lakes, the clouds had lowered and thunder began. I camped near the shore of an eastern lake, and napped through afternoon drizzles. Night time brought bright flashes of lightning on the horizon above where Tenaya Lake would be. Thunder boomed and echoed through my granite basin. Most strangely, I could hear occasional motor sounds from the Tioga Road down below, even though it seemed too far away.

Daily Miles: 9.7



Day 3 – Long Meadow, Cathedral Pass, Cathedral Lakes, Resupply at Tuolumne Meadows


My gear was damp after a night of rain. Morning fog gave way to bright sunshine. I met up with the JMT officially after passing through Sunrise High Sierra camp, where the trail gets really confusing. I crossed my first pass, Cathedral Pass, which wasn’t much of a pass at all. I stopped at a sunny exposed campsite with a view of Echo Peak to dry out my gear and have a snack break. I met a guy that was on the last day of his northbound JMT hike – he had only 20 or so miles to go to Happy Isles.

I was fortunate to get everything dried out, because the sky clouded over again, and a mile or so after I passed Lower Cathedral Lake a hail storm began and I hunkered under a tree until the pellets shrunk to a less brutal size. I was excited to hit Tioga Road and wait with a few other hikers for the free bus to the post office where I got some snacks and then found a spot to camp at the Tuolumne Backpackers Campground.

The rain never let up that afternoon! I wandered around Tuolumne, first to get my official JMT backpackers permit that I had reserved at the ranger station, then I called my boyfriend from the payphone at the post office, then I remembered I had forgotten my resupply that I left myself at the ranger station and headed back again. At sunset, the clouds magically parted again to light up golden streams of cloud vapor streaking past Lembert Dome.

Daily Miles: 9

JMT Mileage: 22.9 



Day 4 – Lyell Canyon to Lyell Fork


The day began in brilliant sun, and I was excited to enter Lyell Canyon, which I had heard many wonderful things about. I hadn’t slept well so far, so I was feeling pretty exhausted. I had the most wonderful breakfast sandwich of my life at the Tuolumne Grill and got a late start hiking, about 10 am. Lyell Canyon was beautiful, but went on forever. I had only about an hour of sun before the clouds returned and drizzle began. Of course the drizzle eventually turned into a downpour, and then hail, and I was incredibly grateful for my waterproof boots, rain jacket, and pack cover.

Lyell Canyon basically went on forever in the dreary rain. I met two women that were planning to spend a full four weeks on the trail. I complained that I had yet to sleep well, and one of the women said she had heard it takes 5 or 6 days to feel “normal.” Many switchbacks later, I was so happy to finally end up at Lyell Forks, where I intended to camp. Alas, at the Forks bridge, hikers were setting their tents up practically on top of each other. Campsites were overused and pounded into dusty dry clearings. I kept walking and spotted a rocky outcropping about a quarter mile on, which ended up being one of my favorite campsites. Perched up on smooth granite, I had a lovely view down Lyell Canyon and the nearest neighbor was far far away. I was surprised, not for the last time, to see evidence of human construction so far away from civilization. Lazy wires hung abandoned from two trees above my site – the remains, I assume, of the wires/poles that hikers used to hang their food from to keep safe from bears.

Daily Miles: 9.6

JMT Mileage: 32.4



Day 5 – Donahue Pass, Island Pass, Thousand Island Lake


This would be the first day that it didn’t rain. Huzzah! The trail between Lyell Forks and Donahue Pass was stunning. I spotted what remained of Lyell Glacier. It’s now classified as a permanent snowfield. Not enough heft left of its former grand self to even be considered a glacier. The trail was uncrowded and beautiful until Rush Creek, where there were a LOT of people. Island Pass, like Cathedral Pass, was practically a nonevent and it was a pleasant downhill to Thousand Island Lake, someplace I always wanted to visit! I found a wonderful secluded campsite with a view, and swam in the lake.

Daily Miles: 10.6

JMT Mileage: 43



Day 6 – Garnet Lake, Shadow Lake, Trinity Lakes, Minaret Creek


Finally, a decent night’s sleep! For me, it did take 5 nights to finally sleep well. Normalcy, at last.

I originally meant to take a side trip to Ediza Lake, and cross through the rest of the lake basin to meet up again with the JMT, but I was pooped and didn’t feel up to it. I was also looking forward to the next day’s resupply and just wanted to get down.

I thought that I might camp at Trinity Lakes, but they were stagnant, and no campsites looked appealing. A lack of water after the lakes kept me hiking all the way to Minaret Creek on the edge of Devil’s Postpile, where I filled up my bottles and had a good night’s sleep.

The weird thing about camping there was that the soil wasn’t soil – it was pumice! Tiny little grains of dusty gray pumice.

Daily Miles: 12.9

JMT Mileage: 55.9


Day 7 – Resupply at Reds Meadow and Deer Creek


Crossing into Devil’s Postpile felt really awesome. Using only my own two feet, and my awesome trekking poles, I had come more than 60 miles from Yosemite through national forest to Devil’s Postpile National Monument.

I stopped by the Devil’s Postpile monument itself, quiet yet in the early morning, and hopped onto the bus to Red’s Meadow. Riding the bus was also pretty awesome. So fast and no effort on my part!

I spent way too long at Red’s. I got my resupply quickly and charged my DeLorme and got lunch at the Mulehouse Cafe. The DeLorme took forever to charge! I also discovered that I was really sunburned. My plan to just wear long sleeves and a hat wasn’t working. My hands were red, as was my face, probably from the reflected sunlight off the granite everywhere.

Fortunately, I found a small bottle of sunscreen in the hiker barrel. When the DeLorme was finally mostly done charging, about FOUR hours in total, I departed for Deer Creek.

It was steep and hot and exposed out of Red’s, but only a few miles to my destination. Deer Creek was said to be the only water for several miles, so there were a LOT of campers there. I should have tried harder to find a more secluded campsite in the sparse and open forest but I was lazy and also feeling kind of lonely so I wanted to be around people. Even though I just wanted to sit and read my book.

Daily Miles: 9.1

JMT Mileage: 65


Day 8 – Purple Lake & Kate!


I didn’t do very many miles today, but I was really exhausted. I was miserable most of the walk from feeling tired and from my own personal squad of flies that decided to accompany me.

I would meet my sister today at Purple Lake! She was hiking in from Mammoth, and decided to do the whole distance in one go, about 17 miles. My sister is crazy. I worried that she wouldn’t find me – I was able to text her using my DeLorme before she left Mammoth, and I left her a note under a rock at the Purple Lake junction.

Of course, my sister is a super hiker, and she found me and my camp as it was getting dark. I was so excited to have some company, and she brought treats: apples! Fresh food was wonderful.

Daily Miles: 7.6

JMT Mileage: 72.6


Day 9 – Lake Virginia Near-O


Today was a near-o! Only two miles to Lake Virginia. I swam in the lake, napped, and did a lot of reading. The area was very exposed with only stunted trees. It was a lovely day with great weather and alpenglow at sunset.

Daily Miles: 2

JMT Mileage: 74.6





Day 10 – Silver Pass and Quail Meadows


My sister was so mad. I got up before the sun hit our tents, and spotted something running across the open field. A Great Sierra Hare! The giant rabbit stopped to chew something, ears flopping over, then ran on and disappeared into the scrub. Okay it wasn’t really a Great Sierra Hare, the giant rabbit of backcountry myth, but I think it was a Snowshoe Hare, a very rare sight, and a big animal for a rabbit. I told my sister about it and she was ticked – she spends a lot of time in the backcountry and had never seen one.

Today was a really long day. I had the idea to do some extra miles so we could get our resupply at Muir Trail Ranch and then have some shorter days before Kate had to go back to work (she was only joining me for the middle week of the three I would spend on the trail). We went down into Tully Hole, then up and over Silver Pass. The lakes at the pass were lovely. Coming down from the pass was fairly brutal. Lots of elevation loss, and I was really tired again. We finally hit Quail Meadows a couple of hours before sunset. Again, the whole day was filled with flies, very annoying. Quail Meadows wasn’t really meadows at all, but a big dusty horse camp that marked the turnoff to Vermilion Valley Resort, where you could resupply if you didn’t mind going a few miles out of your way.

Daily Miles: 13.4

JMT Mileage: 88



Day 11 – Marie Lake


Another tired day. I felt like I was dragging myself the whole day. I drove Kate crazy with my tiredness. But Marie Lake was worth it! Kate found a perfect little campsite above the lake, and the cutest little rain cloud came over around sunset. Its adorable little drizzles created the most perfect double rainbow, and we took about a million pictures. Also, today was a milestone – I had hiked over a hundred miles! The farthest I’ve ever walked in my life.

Daily Miles: 12.7

JMT Mileage: 100.7



Day 12 – Selden Pass, Sallie Keyes, Muir Trail Ranch


Selden Pass was another easy pass. We lingered at Sallie Keyes for several hours. Kate read while I swam in the water, and we both sunbathed until rain clouds rolled in. Fortunately it didn’t rain heavily as we picked down the switchbacks toward MTR.

We planned to camp outside of MTR tonight and pick up our resupply tomorrow first thing, getting a full day ahead on our itinerary and allowing extra time in Evolution Valley.

We camped in the communal camp area next to the San Joaquin and carefully crossed the river to find the hot springs, which were wonderful even though they smelled like sulfur.

Daily Miles: 7.2

JMT Mileage: 107.9


Day 13 – Resupply and Evolution Valley


I wouldn’t camp near MTR again – the morning revealed how crowded it had become in the night. Later in the day, I saw lots of better places to camp next to the river a little further down the trail.

We went to MTR, picked up our resupply, and charged our electronics as we shoved food into our bear cans and rummaged through the most amazing hiker barrels for snacks.

I ate so much.

Not coincidentally, when we finally departed MTR, I was practically bouncing down the trail, full of energy. Apparently I just wasn’t eating enough on this trip, and the extra calories made a huge difference in the way that I felt. And I felt wonderful.

We crossed into Kings Canyon National Park – another milestone!! The scenery was gorgeous as we followed the San Joaquin up-canyon. A thunderstorm rolled in when we crossed the river and started up switchbacks to Evolution Valley. Only drizzle, though, and Kate found us an amazing campsite in a stand of pines next to Evolution Creek. We saw a doe and her fawn grazing in the distance. Lots of deer.

Daily Miles: 9.3

JMT Mileage: 117.2



Day 14 – Evolution Basin and Sapphire Lake

Multi hour hailstorm at 12,000 feet!


Evolution Valley was gorgeous, but the switchbacks up to Evolution Basin were grueling, and could really hardly be called switchbacks at all since they were so steep. We set up camp at Sapphire Lake. We had it all to ourselves! But once again, storm clouds rolled in, and we experienced the scariest, most intense, rain and hail storm ever. It was three solid hours of pounding rain and hail, booming thunder, and lightning. My tent leaked and the floor puddled. The storm was so loud I couldn’t barely hear my sister shouting back at me from her tent when we checked on each other. My tent was in a pond, but hers ended up in a creek. The water poured off the granite cliffs above our camp. It was amazing. But I was afraid my gear was going to get soaked and we would get hypothermia at least a 20 mile walk from civilization. As quickly as the storm rolled in, it was suddenly over, and we moved our tents onto higher ground. We dried out okay and I managed to sleep well even though we were at 11,000 feet.

Daily Miles: 9.3

JMT Mileage: 125.1



Day 15 – Muir Pass and Le Conte Ranger Station


We didn’t get hit as hard in the storm as some others we met up the trail. We gained a thousand feet in the couple of miles after Sapphire, and saw other hikers with all of their gear spread out in the sun, drying out. This area had been hailed on as well, but the hail didn’t melt on the ground – there were large patches.

This was Kate and I’s last full day together. I still had another week on the trail! It was another long day. I must not have eaten enough because I was exhausted, even though the trail was basically all downhill after Muir Pass.

We took silly pictures with the Rock Monster in Le Conte canyon, and camped down near the ranger station.

Daily Miles: 11.8

JMT Mileage: 136.9



Day 16 – Golden Staircase, Palisade Lakes, Mather Pass, Upper Basin


Today was a really really really long day. My sister left by exiting the Sierras over Bishop Pass, and I was on my own again. I was really sad to see her go. The trail up to Palisade Lakes was really tough. I didn’t realize that I had experienced the famous “Golden Staircase” until I had reached the top and took a break, and then I realized that explained a lot. So many switchbacks! I had intended to camp at the Palisade Lakes, but there wasn’t much camping or much water, and it was very exposed all around. I ended up tramping up Mather Pass, which was pretty endless and horrible in the afternoon sun. I camped in the wide open Upper Basin a couple of miles after the pass and I really liked my campsite. For the first time, I was incredibly alone in the middle of nowhere, and I was totally comfortable with it. The stars were brilliant in the moonless night.

Daily Miles: 16.6

JMT Mileage: 153.5



Day 17 – Woods Creek

The Canyon that Never Ends


I had a rough morning. My camp was around 12,000 feet, and when I pulled out my quilt to dry in the morning before the sun hit my tent, my quilt froze instead of drying. My pack had frozen dew on it, it was so cold. Naturally I lost my balance when I went to get water and ended up with both socked feet in the freezing creek nearby.

Once the sun was up and I swapped out my dripping socks for the previous day’s merely damp socks, I enjoyed the walk down-canyon. The Bench Lake area and Pinchot Pass were both gorgeous. But the trail down Woods Creek Canyon seemed to never end.

I enjoyed bouncing my way across the suspension bridge at Woods Creek Crossing, and eventually decided to camp down the way at the far corner of the camping area – it was very crowded, and again I was surprised that so many people were OK with camping right on top of each other.

Daily Miles: 14.9

JMT Mileage: 168.4


Day 18 – Upper Rae Lake


I am torn between delight and devastation at the thought of this trip coming to a close. I’m ready for it to be done, but I want it to never end!

Not quite a near-o today, but I only walked 7 miles to Upper Rae Lake. I was so tired! My hips and knees ached. And I have 45 more miles to go, in only three days. Forester Pass is tomorrow and I am dreading it.

Trail was crowded, the Rae Lakes are beautiful, but the camping is also limited and crowded.

Daily Miles: 7

JMT Mileage: 175.4


Day 19 – South of Forester Pass


I hiked 16.1 miles from Upper Rae Lake to south of Forester. I was really proud of myself – I got up before dawn and for the first time broke camp at 7 am! Glen Pass was amazing, no bighorn though. The trail was mostly unexciting until dark clouds moved in as I approached Forester Pass. They made me nervous, but there was no thunder or lightning, and even though it snowed I pushed on. 13,000 feet! It was a bear and I was stoked to summit the pass and enter Sequoia National Park. Weird to be the next-to-last night. Trying to eat all my food before I exit the trail – I need the calories!

Daily Miles: 16.1

JMT Mileage: 191.5



Day 20 – Guitar Lake


I wouldn’t camp at Guitar Lake again! There is no privacy or shade here. Crabtree Meadows looked way nicer.

I’m nervous and anxious that this is my last night on the trail. But I’m ready to be done with this trip and I’m ready to go home.

I made a list of things I would do differently next time:

  1. Quality wool socks that are fitted (maybe get Injinji or Darn Tough, my Costco socks got baggy and have holes in them now, though two pairs worked great)
  2. Different or additional water treatment for camp (Hard to drink through Sawyer Mini and it takes forever to squeeze out a cup of water for dinner)
  3. Waterproof tent!!! (hahahaha. my tent has leaked so much, I didn’t realize when I set it up prior to this trip that the seams were delaminating)
  4. Shoes – lighter, easier to tie (liked waterproof for all the rain I got though. Kate had waterproof trail runners – maybe something like those)
  5. Sleeping pad – the one I have isn’t good for side sleeping
  6. More bandaids/blister care/alcohol wipes
  7. Need locking/closing drink valve (super leaky)
  8. Bring face sunscreen! (Burned with the hat)
  9. Maybe sun gloves
  10. Bring lined paper for trail journal
  11. Bring rain pants! Frogg toggs.
  12. NO wasabi peas or dried apples. Yucky on the trail.

Things I liked:

  1. Enlightened equipment quilt (tho 20 degrees isn’t quite warm enough for high elevation – maybe bring another layer)
  2. Cooking system was perfect
  3. Not having to pump water
  4. Puffy (A+ to Marmot Jena puffy jacket)
  5. Kindle (I read probably ten books, battery was awesome)
  6. Camp shoes (and camp towel!)
  7. Camp chair
  8. REI pillow and ear plugs
  9. Diva cup
  10. Hat and glasses (hat was 100% paper from target – and it still looks new)
  11. Ex officio undies
  12. Camera
  13. Leatherman mini knife
  14. Selfie camera bracket I put on my trekking pole
  15. Mini-gas containers for cooking – lasted a long time, 4-7 days
  16. Mary Janes Farms EVERYTHING, especially Chili Mac and Bare Burrito

Daily Miles: 14.3

JMT Mileage: 205.8


Day 21 – Mt. Whitney at Sunrise



I woke up at 2 am so that I could summit Whitney by dawn. So many people were camped at Guitar, and SO many of them were also up and moving up the trail at 2. There was no moon, but the sky was clear and the stars bright. The switchbacks up from Guitar took forever. Every time I paused to congratulate myself on my progress, I looked up to see headlamps blinking another thousand feet above me, it seemed like. So far to go. I left my bear can and tent at Trail Crest Junction. The sun started to glow on the horizon in the last 1.9 mile approach to the summit, and I panted as I hustled in the darkness to make the summit before dawn. The summit of Mt. Whitney was incredibly windy and incredibly cold. There were probably 30 people milling about waiting for dawn, many wrapped in their sleeping bags. When the sun finally broke the horizon, someone said “there it is!” and about three zombies responded, “yay.” We were now free to leave, mission accomplished. When I picked up my bag to head back down, I found that in the 30 minutes I spent on the summit, my water had frozen. I got back to Trail Crest quickly, but the trail after that was the longest of my entire life. I thought, “only 8 miles! It will be so quick and so easy!” But I forgot that it was also around 6,000 feet of elevation loss. I was impatient to get down to see my boyfriend and eat hot food that someone else would make for me, so I didn’t stop for a break. Bad idea. I pounded the crap out of my knees and my hips. The switchbacks were interminable, but at the parking lot, there was my boyfriend! He handed me a cold can of Dr. Pepper and I was basically the happiest girl in the entire world. And then I got a veggie burger, another soda, and a beer, and a shower at the Whitney Store. And then we got Del Taco on the way home. And it was glorious.

Daily Miles: 15

JMT Mileage: 220.8!





The JMT was awesome. And I’m so glad I got to finally do it, thanks to my generous vacation allowance at work.

But hiking the JMT is like speed-dating with the High Sierra! There were so many places that I wanted to linger, but I couldn’t, so now I’ve got a list of where I’d like to return.

I learned that Yosemite is not the awesomest part of the Sierra (sorry, Yosemite!). Sequoia/Kings Canyon backcountry is where it’s at, and where I will return. There are many valleys that look similar to Yosemite Valley, and many meadows that look similar to Tuolumne. I had no idea.

I haven’t decided yet what’s in store for my summer in 2016. I could do the JMT northbound, but I wouldn’t do the whole thing, and I wouldn’t do Whitney again! Once was enough.

I might do the Rae Lakes loop, though it seems very crowded, or I might do the SEKI loop. Decisions decisions!

I feel great that I did the entire JMT. I didn’t get injured, I didn’t get hypothermia, and I did not quit – not that I wanted to!

The worst thing about the JMT: I can’t stop thinking about it!


Marie Lake

First tenure-track portfolio review is in motion

posted in: Blog, Career Progress, Tenure Track | 0

I did it! I finished and turned in my 2nd year full Retention-Tenure-Promotion portfolio. Next year I will turn in an Abbreviated Review (just a CV), and then my 4th year I’ll do another full portfolio.

I am SO GLAD to be done. I could spend decades adjusting punctuation, wording, or evidence numbering! It’s a perfectionist’s nightmare.

For my portfolio, I had to write three narratives describing my Performance as Librarian, my Scholarly/Creative and Professional Growth Activities, and my Service. Each narrative had to be 1000 words or less and be supported with evidence proving my claims. Oh, and I had to include “impact statements” in my narratives of why what I did matters.

Furthermore, I had to write a Prospectus describing my goals as tenure track faculty in these three areas; I had to write an expanded version of my CV called a Portfolio Vita; and I had to include a Table of Contents for my evidence.

It took a little help from my friends to write good narratives. I struggled with how to organize my “Performance as Librarian” to fit our RTP handbook since I have a new position at Pollak Library. I also struggled to write good “impact statements.” Leadership here kept reminding me to “toot my own horn” and to include the “so what?” of my accomplishments. Fortunately, I have friends at other institutions whose librarians have done a great job writing these sorts of narratives, and I got some great feedback on what I came up with.

And now, to get published! If I get two articles published by my 5th year (2018) then I can apply for early tenure. That’s a ways off, but wish me luck!


It’s Fall Again!

It’s my second fall! I’ve been working here a whole year. As CSUF’s first ever Instructional Design Librarian, I’ve had my work cut out for me. Work that I’ve assigned myself, and work that is now being assigned to me! It’s been a while since I blogged, so I thought I’d organize my thoughts and get myself in gear for fall.

Second Year RTP Portfolio

First things first – I’m turning in my first full RTP portfolio in a couple of weeks. I finished a first draft yesterday, and wow, was it a beast. I knew that it would take a lot of time, but it took so much more time and energy than I thought, and half of that energy is just picking and packaging evidence. I’ll upload the whole thing to a special RTP Sharepoint site when I turn it in. Speaking of tenure-track, I still need to finish my research for my scholarly article so I can get it submitted to a journal. Meanwhile, I’ve launched a research study as part of the ACRL Assessment in Action program (we’re examining the impact of an embedded librarian on online student success!). Hopefully I can get another publication out of that.

How I feel after finishing my RTP draft.
How I feel after finishing my RTP draft.

In-person instruction

I’ve already got anxiety about how much time I’ll have this semester because my in-person instruction load is going way up! As in, more than doubling. We’ve had a couple of librarians leave, and another is retiring, and the instruction requests keep rolling in. I was spoiled last year with the free time I had to develop eLearning! Soon we should have more librarians starting, so that’s good.

To do this year: Assignments from up top

A major assignment I need to complete this year, per our UL, is to transform the FIRe tutorial that a colleague and I designed for our FYE community into a university-wide freshman info lit tutorial, customized for each college. That’s a big job! To get this done, I’m also assigned to co-chair a Task Force comprised of our instructional librarians to decide on the info lit competencies that freshmen should master in their first year. So basically, we have to break down/scaffold the new ACRL Framework into learning objectives for freshmen, and then come up with interactive eLearning to facilitate their mastery.

I’m also currently embedded into four online courses – we’re running a small pilot of the same FIRe tutorial in three FYE courses as part of a flipped library instruction test, plus I’m embedded into a Human Services course for our AiA project, and I’ve got a FIRe for Human Services tutorial in that one.

eLearning development

These are projects for myself! Projects that will benefit the library, of course. I intend to lay a foundation for info lit badges, which our UL is very excited for, by creating smaller digital learning objects from things like the FIRe tutorial that I developed. I’ll have one for evaluating sources, one for generating keywords, one for Boolean operators, etc. Instructors can assign these to their students, and students will earn “badges” upon completion of each. I like to imagine consulting with instructors to create custom mini-courses comprised of mini-DLOs packaged together. The UL also wants me to assist our staff that supervise students develop info-lit-related instruction for their students – because we’re also tasked with rolling out more High Impact Practices at the library.

I was glad that we had Guide on the Side – but it hasn’t yet been set up all the way. It drives me buggy that you can’t just duplicate a guide so that you can have multiple English 101 guides, for example, one for each section. You have to redo each from scratch. So I have this crazy idea that I’m going to develop a Guide on the Side look-a-like with Articulate Storyline. You can embed webpages into Storyline tutorials, and I could also include bits of other Storyline tutorials to make nice little interactive lessons. And I can duplicate and customize my lookalike for classes!

I had the bright idea to teach a couple of library-related sessions through our Faculty Development Center (FDC) for this fall. I’m doing one on making your classes more affordable with OER/library resources, and one on library resources for faculty. It turns out another librarian is teaching four half-hour library orientations for faculty, and I wonder if we can just turn this into an online orientation. Heck, even if it’s just a video, though I would prefer something interactive or self-guided. I would also like to do an online course for OA/OER. The former head of the FDC told me last spring that she might have funds to pay me to develop something on OA over summer, but I never heard more about it, and ended up not having time anyway!

Subject liaison responsibilities

I’m the subject liaison for Geography, Environmental Studies, and the Master of Instructional Design and Technology (MSIDT) program. I’ve done total revamps of the MSIDT LibGuide twice already since I started here, but I really need to put more time into Geo and ES. I get a little frustrated by the LibGuides platform. Our library still has the “tabs” navigation, when I would really prefer the vertical side-menu to be activated. I’ve been “faking” this side menu by creating my own. The WYSIWYG editor is also really fussy and glitchy. I spend more time trying to fix formatting than entering/organizing content.

What’s next?

I’m in my second year, but I’m still figuring out the boundaries and expectations of my job. True “instructional design” is just content design – not eLearning development. But I’ve been doing a ton of eLearning development (I LOVE Storyline!) and I’m now embedded into online courses. In my first year, it was suggested that I was here to “help” librarians improve their LibGuides and their instruction – but I honestly really don’t know how to do that other than just being available. I’ve been told by a few librarians that they really like some of my LibGuides, so perhaps I’ll do an IDEAL Workshop Part Two on practical tips for learning object development.

I also heard about the new info lit tutorial developed by ARLIS! I’ve been intending to review it since CSUF has a subscription. (I LOVE!).

I’m a tenure-track librarian with research, publishing, and service responsibilities – but my pile of work keeps growing. I’ve worked the last few weekends (I had a glorious three weeks off in summer to hike the JMT  and now I’m paying for it!) so I think I want to set a goal for myself this semester to not work outside of M-F. I’m only one person, and I have a lot to do, but I’m trying not to burn out getting it all done!

And meanwhile, I’m thinking about freelancing/consulting on the side. I really like instructional design and eLearning development, and I think it would be gratifying to assist other libraries that don’t have an ID/eLearning Librarian to get their online learning on-track, whether by consulting or developing learning solutions. To be continued!

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