Part 1: Using Instructional Design Models when Teaching Library Workshops — An overview

For my final project as a library student, I spent the month of June researching Instructional Design Models (IDM) reviewing whether or not they could be useful for librarians who teach on a regular basis. I thought I would use this blog to share what I learned with you. The amount of content I have is significant so I  have decided to break it up into a few parts. For this particular post, I will be introducing IDMs and explaining some of the trends that emerged from instructional library literature.  

I think teaching provides that one amazing opportunity for librarians to prove to a group of patrons why we’re useful to them. Because we often only get one shot to do this, I think it’s crucial that we look prepared, professional and most importantly capable of helping them with their information needs. This is where IDMs can be of use.

What are Instructional Design Models?

IDMs serve as prescriptive guidelines that help outline and structure content for teaching. Because so many librarians are thrust into teaching library workshops without experience, these models can be a great place to start. Instructional design is important for librarians because it provides an opportunity to perform an analysis of learning needs and the systematic development of learning materials.

Since there are so many different IDMs I decided to narrow my focus to two specifically: ADDIE and Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction. I chose these models because they serve different purposes: ADDIE is designed to structure content before a workshop is taught, while Gagne’s Events is designed to be used during an instructional session. Both provide excellent food for thought for instructional librarians. I will be discussing each model in detail in the second and third post on this topic.

Are librarians currently using Instructional Design Models?

The second component of my directed study focused on reviewing medical library literature (because it’s my field of interest) that discussed library instruction. The Medical Library Association (MLA) states that medical librarians should work to “understand curricular design and instruction in order to teach ways to access, organize and use information”.  Knowing curricular design and instruction is a priority of the MLA, I approached the literature from this angle to see if any librarians mentioned using IDMs  in their methodology.  The predominant theme that emerged confirmed my hypothesis that IDMs are not regularly used in library workshop planning (Anderson & Wilson, 2009; Booth, 2007; Dickinson, 2005; Dunaway et al., 2011; Garg & Turtle, 2003; Getselmen et al., 2011; Klem et al, 2005; Lawson et al., 2005; Pearce-Smith et al., 2005-2006; Stevenson, 2012).  Because medical librarians play a significant role in teaching information retrieval skills in medicine this came as a surprise. It was interesting to read through this literature because the authors’ showed concern for improving instruction, engaging users, and using assessment to evaluate the success of their teaching, but all failed to consider that IDMs could help them. In the case of assessment, interactivity and developing new curricular content, instructional models can be useful for librarians as they often support strategies that assist the instructor navigate these issues.

How can IDMs help?

Librarians can benefit from familiarizing themselves with learning theories and selecting IDMs that will suit the needs of their users. As Dean Giustini (2010) writes in his article in the Journal of the Canadian Health Librarians Association, it is important that health librarians develop teaching strategies that are evidence-based in order to assess their relevance to the learning needs of users. I would argue that when librarians use IDMs to teach they should also  describe them in their methodology when publishing research of this kind. Hopefully, more literature in this area will emerge as it would help librarians find out which models work and which falter.  There is growing evidence that sound instructional design can result in greater retention of information for workshop participants (Giustini, 2009). Using IDMs can help new librarians develop and organize teaching content or provide new methods for experienced instructional librarians to modify their approach.

Does anyone currently use IDMs for their library teaching duties?

In Part 2, I will discuss the ADDIE instructional design model and how it can be applied to teaching library workshops…

Here’s a link to a list of IDMs:


Anderson, R. P., & Wilson, S. P. (2009). Quantifying the effectiveness of interactive tutorials in medical library instruction. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 28(1), 10-21. doi:10.1080/02763860802615815

Booth, A. (2007). Using evidence in practice: in search of the information literacy training “half-life”. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 24(2), 145-149. 

Dickinson, G. K. (2005). How one child learns: the teacher-librarian as evidence-based practitioner. Teacher Librarian, 33(1), 16-20. Retrieved from

Dunaway, M., Orblych, M., & Teague, M. (2011). Formative assessment: Transforming information literacy instruction. Reference Services Review, 39(1), 24-41. 

Garg, A., & Turtle, K. M. (2003). Effectiveness of training health professionals in literature search skills using electronic health databases–a critical appraisal. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 20(1), 33-41. Retrieved from

Getselman, A., & White, M. S. (2011). Use of a pre-assessment tool to start a meaningful dialogue: New paradigms in library instruction. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 30(3), 245-256. doi:10.1080/02763869.2011.590414

Giustini, D. (2009). Utilizing learning theories in the digital age: an introduction for health librarians. Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association, 29(3), 109-115. Retrieved from

Giustini, D. (2010). Evidence-based teaching (EBT) and health librarians: Some questions and considerations. Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association, 31(1), 7-10. Retrieved from

Klem, M., & Weiss, P. (2005). Evidence-based resources and the role of librarians in developing evidence-based practice curricula. Journal of Professional Nursing, 21(6), 380-387. Retrieved from

Lawson, S., & Robinson, S. (2005). Evaluating the impact of information skills training within primary care. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 22(1), 63-65. 

Pearce-Smith, N, & Hunter, J. (2005). The introduction of librarian tutors into the Teaching Evidence-Based Medicine week in Oxford, UK. Health Information and Libraries Journal.

Pearce-Smith, Nicola. (2006). A randomised controlled trial comparing the effect of e-learning, with a taught workshop, on the knowledge and search skills of health professionals. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 1(3), 44-56. Retrieved from

Stevenson, P. (2012). Evaluating educational interventions for information literacy. Health information and Libraries Journal, 29(1), 81-86. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2011.00976.x


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