Supporting Library Instruction for the Twenty-first Century
Building the Technological Infrastructure for Information Literacy

A proposal developed by the Instructional Services Committee
Jeris Cassel, Chair
Scott Hines
Sam McDonald
Jackie Mardikian
Kevin Mulcahy
Leslie Murtha
Julie Still
Roberta Tipton

Submitted January 2001


Information Literacy is a key component of a modern education. The ability to find, evaluate, and use information are essential for academic success, for the workplace, for everyday living, for participation in a democratic society, and for the pursuit of life-long learning. Information literacy encompasses a broad spectrum of skills, competencies and knowledge that crosses all disciplinary boundaries, just as information pervades modern society. Because libraries are a primary point of access for information to support scholarship and research, library instruction is a central component of education for information literacy.

The future of the Rutgers University Libraries, as outlined in the long range plan, A Bridge to the Future: The Rutgers Digital Library Initiative, will involve the creation of ever more sophisticated services for library users. The plan specifically calls on the Rutgers University Libraries' faculty to "Create instructional programs that provide students and faculty with skills to exploit the new information environment." In particular, the plan calls for RUL staff and faculty to

To create such programs will require greater technological skill and resources than are currently available to RUL librarians and staff. No longer can an individual librarian get by with just a standard word processing package on their desktop. Tools and skills related to the development of multimedia and web-based instructional materials will be required.

This proposal seeks to secure the tools and support needed to move forward with the Digital Library Initiative. To provide effective learning experiences for students, the libraries will need to offer instruction in environments that provide opportunities for active learning, for group study and discourse, and for effective presentation by instructors and students. While an optimal learning environment will provide students with direct access to information technology, the size of the Rutgers community makes it imperative that the librarians have the capacity to provide learning opportunities beyond the walls of the libraries. Portable equipment will make it possible for library instruction to take place in classrooms across campus, and will facilitate collaborative teaching efforts between library and classroom faculty.

Face-to-face instruction, with interaction between real people in real places continues to be the bedrock of teaching at Rutgers University. However, the new digital world provides many opportunities for facilitating learning outside the classroom. Distance education initiatives are making it possible for students around the world to take advantage of the Rutgers University curriculum. To take advantage of these opportunities, to ensure that all of our students have intellectual access to information resources, and to continually enhance their use of instructional technology in the classroom, librarians will need access to tools and technologies for developing digital instruction. They will also need the means to explore the uses of these tools and expand their skills in the use digital and multimedia technology.

As the digital world continues to expand, so do the possibilities of online instruction. Using Web- based media, the Libraries can provide learning opportunities 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to students anywhere in the world. Interactive learning tools, the incorporation of streaming audio and video, and classroom simulation software can extend instructional capacities beyond static text and images. Carefully crafted modules can provide timely learning opportunities for students at the point of need. Effective use of technology in the classroom can help to create dynamic presentations and exciting classes. To support digital instruction at this level, cutting edge equipment and high storage capacities will be necessary.

Last, but not least, the support of equipment and of expanding technological capacity requires knowledgeable staff dedicated to ensuring that day-to-day operations run smoothly, and providing expertise in programming and systems management beyond the scope of the librarians' knowledge.

Part I

Library User Instruction Laboratories

To create an environment that facilitates learning about information in the digital age, the libraries need to create spaces for instruction that can accommodate a variety of teaching and learning styles and activities. Interactive, hands-on activities are important tools for teaching the nuts and bolts of information seeking, and for giving students opportunities to experiment with library research tools. Lecture and demonstration play an important role in introducing new concepts and tools. Discussion and group-based activities help students to develop rich and complex conceptions of the information environment and exercise critical thinking skills. The ideal classroom for library instruction is flexible enough to accommodate all of these activities.

The following is a proposal for the design and implementation of new classroom spaces in the libraries. While the proposal makes specific suggestions concerning equipment, based on what is currently available, it is acknowledged that both technology and costs will change over time. It is proposed that classrooms based on this model be incorporated into plans for renovations of each of the major library buildings, and in other libraries as deemed suitable.

The key element in the development of this model is flexibility. The use of modular furniture allows for the easy reconfiguration of the space for a variety of seating plans. It is our assumption that wireless technology is the wave of the future; however, hardwired connections may sometimes be advantageous. The model incorporates both wireless and ethernet connections. The placement of white boards and projection screens around the room help to give clear sight lines, regardless of the seating plan in use. If feasible, all furniture will be designed to accommodate adaptive technology for disabled patrons and/or librarians. If this is not possible, then each classroom should be equipped with at least two workstations that are adjustable in height and equipped with enlarged text and screen-reading software. All seating should be easily adjustable in height and ergonomically constructed.

The incorporation of a networked printer, copier, and scanner into the instructor's space will make it easier for librarians to provide classroom materials, and for students to make use of the information they find. Small seminar rooms connecting to the main classroom can be used for group work, or to accommodate multiple classes in a single time slot. The design allows for the possibility of a second large classroom adjacent, with a soft wall. Although not explicitly incorporated into the design, videoconferencing equipment could be readily added to make the classroom suitable for synchronous distance learning.

Three possible floor plans have been provided. The first is the optimal plan, because it provides the most flexibility. The other two are options to be considered if recessed wiring should prove structurally impractical or prohibitively costly for some buildings.

Library Classroom
Floor Plan 1 - Maximum Flexibility

All plans include ceiling mounting for monitors and cameras for future use in synchronous distance learning programs.

Library Classroom
Floor Plan 2 - No Recessed Wiring

Library Classroom
Floor Plan 3 - No Recessed Wiring

Equipment and Furniture

The following is a cost estimate for equipment and furniture for a single library user instruction laboratory, based on current technology and prices. Neither renovation costs nor wireless hubs have been included in the estimates, since these are dependent on factors beyond our realm of expertise.

Instructor's workstation			Price Each		Each classroom	Total
Desktop Computer
Dell OptiPlex GX150 Small Desktop		1 @ $1682		$1682	
   Pentium III 866/133MHz, 256K Cache
    Integrated Sound Video, NIC
   192 MB SDRAM  (2 DIMMS)
   20 GB Hard Drive
   17 inch monitor  (16 inch viewable)
Lectern and Panel with Rack			1 @ $4, 000		$4,000	
Printer						1 @ $1,000		$1,000	
Scanner						1 @ $3000		$3000	
Photocopier					1 @ $1500		$1500	
Total											$7,182
Projection and Display
Ceiling Video/Data Projector			1 @   $10, 000		$10,000	
Wall Project Screens (electric)			2 @  $400 		$800	
Mobile Projection Table 
(with electrical outlets)			1 @ $300		$300	
Media Closet and Fold-Down Projection Table	1 @ $900		$900	
Electronic Whiteboard and Easel			1 @ $2000		$2000	
Document Camera					1 @ $700 -              $700 -
						$ 5, 000	        $ 5, 000	
Computer Control System (e.g. TechCommander)	1 @ $30,000		$30,000	
VCR	1 @ $300.00	$300.00	
Sound system
    2 speakers + amplifier			$700.00			$700.00	
Total											$35,700 - 40,00
Student Workstations - Main Classroom
Desktop Computer				30 @ $1682		$50, 460
Dell OptiPlex GX150 Small Desktop
   Pentium III 866/133MHz, 256K Cache
    Integrated Sound Video, NIC
   192 MB SDRAM  (2 DIMMS)
   20 GB Hard Drive
   17 inch monitor  (16 inch viewable)*
*Possibly a flat screen monitor (additional cost)	 		
Computer Work Tables 
 (trapezoidal or arc) 30" deep/60" width	15 @ $400		$6, 000
Chairs						30 @ $300		$9, 000	
Total											$59,460
Student Workstations - Seminar Rooms
Desktop Computer
Dell OptiPlex GX150 Small Desktop		6 @ $1682		$10,092	
Computer Work Tables 
 (trapezoidal or arc) 30" deep/60" width	6 @ $400		$24, 000
Chairs						30 @ $300		$9, 000	
Total											$10,092
Total package										$112,434 - 116,734

Taking Library Instruction on the Road

In addition to the development of classroom space that is suitable for library instruction in an increasingly digital information environment, librarians need the capacity to bring information technology and library resources to classrooms outside the library. With a student population of 48,000, the need for library instruction far exceeds the available space within the library walls. With current technology, it is not possible to replicate the teaching opportunities offered by a library classroom in most places on campus. However, it is possible to adapt presentations on many topics to the limitations of traditional classrooms, with the help of portable instructional technology. The following is a list of equipment that would facilitate teaching in classrooms outside the libraries.

Portable Instructional Technology			Price Each		Each campus	Total
Laptop Computer						1 @  $3, 000		$3, 000	
   Pentium III 750 mhz
   128MB SDRAM
   10 GB Hard Drive
   DVD Drive 8x
   Floppy Drive 3.5" 1.44 MB
   Fax Modem 56k + Ethernet PC card or combination	
Portable Video/Data Projector
   Epson 710 (1000 lumens)				1 @ $4,100		$4,100	
Portable Projection Screens				2 @   $250 		$500	
Whiteboard and Flipchart Combination			1 @ $350		$350	
Total for one equipment package									$4,950
Total for all campuses
(College Avenue, Busch, Livingston, Douglass, Camden, Newark)					$29,700

Anticipating the Unexpected

While the advent of online information delivery has created a wealth of opportunity, information technology is not entirely dependable. Inevitably, there are times when the network goes down, or equipment fails. As our library instruction programs grow, backup systems will be important in ensuring that learning is enhanced, and not impeded, by technology. The following equipment can provide a cushion for times when high tech solutions let us down.

Backup equipment for Emergencies
LCD Projection Panel					1 @ $2, 000	 	$2, 000
Portable Overhead Projector				1 @ $700	 	$700
Total for each classroom									$2,700

Part II

Instructional Development Laboratories

Continuous learning through training, research, and experimentation is essential for the ongoing development of technology-based tools for library instruction. In order to continue to develop increasingly sophisticated tools to support online learning, librarians need opportunities to experiment with tools for Web-based instruction and multimedia. The Instructional Services Committee proposes a program of librarian support centered on Instructional Development Laboratories. These labs will serve to implement the recommendations in the plan presented by the Steering Committee on Training and Development, An Investment in Learning: A Proposed Plan for Learning, Training, and Professional Development for the Rutgers University Libraries, specifically the recommendation to direct attention to technical skills that were highly ranked in the training and development survey. In the survey, faculty listed such technical skills as web page creation, scanning techniques, development of online tutorials and creation of multimedia instruction as a high priority. Acquiring and practicing such skills will be made possible by access to Instructional Development Laboratories that librarians can use to develop and create, either alone or in concert with teaching faculty and others on campus, cutting edge instructional materials. Since Rutgers is a multi-campus university there should be one lab on each geographic campus, Newark, New Brunswick / Piscataway and Camden. On the New Brunswick / Piscataway campus the best location may be the Kilmer library as it develops into a center for library instruction.

To create the kind of dynamic digital guides tutorials and programs envisioned, and to establish a state-of-the-art web presence, librarians need access to a variety of software packages, network access and technical support. This cannot all be delivered to each individual's desktop. While some preliminary project development can be done in offices, using site license products such as Dreamweaver, it is not feasible at the present time to have some capabilities, such as cd-rom creation, digital camera connection software or video or audio programming technology, in each and every office. Such resources are best provided and supported in a central Instructional Development Lab on each campus

In an ever-changing and evolving environment it is difficult for Librarians and staff to keep abreast of technological developments or a working knowledge of complex software and hardware systems that are seldom used. Thus it would be most useful for these labs to be staffed with a technical support person who also supports the student learning labs on each campus.

It is recommended that each lab be large enough to accommodate at least 2 people with adequate equipment and storage space, e.g. 12 x 18. Furniture should be ergonomically designed with a portable or fold-under worktable to allow for layout design of larger products.

The estimated cost of equipping instructional development laboratories is outlined below.

OFFICE FURNITURE					                3 labs
Staff work station:			
Work table			$437.00		    1			$1,311.00 
J Unit work table		$751.00		    1			$2,253.00 
Penninsula table		$394.00		    1			$1,182.00 
Swivel chair      		$325.00		    1			$975.00 
Side chair			$145.00		    2			$870.00 
Faculty work station:			
Work table			$437.00		    1			$1,311.00 
J Unit work table		$751.00		    1			$2,253.00 
Swivel chair      		$325.00		    1			$975.00 
Side chair			$145.00		    2			$870.00 
Drafting table			$512.00		    1			$1,536.00 
Drafting stool			$220.00		    1			$660.00 
File cabinet			$200.00		    1			$600.00 
Multi purpose table		$300.00		    1			$900.00 
Book Case			$200.00		    1			$600.00 
White Board			$130.00		    1			$390.00 
Cork Board			$50.00		    1			$150.00 
Swing lamp			$100.00		    2			$600.00 
Gateway workstation -- 
RU Computer Store 
Level 2 machine with CD-RW, 
32Mb graphics card, 
Windows 2000 Pro, 
30Gb hard drive			$2,083.00	    2			$12,498.00 
Scanner HP 6300			$399.00		    1			$1,197.00 
Digital Camera Olympus c-2020	$899.00		    1			$899.00 
Surge Protector			$50.00		    2			$300.00 
Laser Printer HP 1100		$399.00		    1			$1,197.00 
Color Printer HP 970		$399.00		    1			$1,197.00 
DreamWeaver			$90.00		    2			$540.00 
Paint Shop Pro			$90.00		    2			$540.00 
Image Manager			$0.00		    2	
FTP Manager			$0.00		    2	
Link Checkers			$0.00		    2	
Clip Art collections		$100.00		    1			$300.00 
Total -- for three labs                            $36,104.00 

Part III

Instructional Development Server

The development of Web-based instructional tools for asynchronous instruction and to support classroom presentation is a cornerstone in the Libraries' plans for promoting information literacy throughout the Rutgers community. The new information literacy learning environment encompasses a strong web- based component, integrated into the curricula of the various academic departments, and personalized to the needs of particular students, teaching faculty, researchers, departments, and other units of the university. This environment constitutes a "learning portal" in which content and services are provided by the libraries in a way that goes beyond static web pages and one-size-fits-all instructional modules to meet the immediate and particular needs of the learner as she searches for information. This requires a sophisticated, dynamic approach to web-based instructional technology. (For an introduction to web personalization and portal construction, see the Appendix). To deploy such a sophisticated instructional environment requires hardware, software, and personnel resources that are not currently available in the RUL libraries. The Digital Library Initiative calls for the development of such resources, stating that

"The DLI will require:

  1. new facilities with technology-enriched spaces and environments in support of an active electronic and multimedia-based learning and selected digital library development and research projects;
  2. selected facility renovations in support of technological, storage, and user and staff needs; and
  3. the expansion and cyclical upgrading and replacement of equipment for digital, multimedia, and conferencing activities."

Server Proposal

A cornerstone of a nascent instructional technology capability for RUL would be a server dedicated to instructional technology development and deployment. Along with such a server, a technical staff person to administer the server and provide support to faculty and students who use its resources would also be necessary to further the instructional goals of the Libraries.

A dedicated server and administrator are necessary because of the demands placed on servers by instructional technology. These demands arise from several aspects of web-based instruction deployment. Firstly, personalized web-based learning materials require heavy server-side processing in order to cater to the individualized needs of each learner. Secondly, dynamic content and personalization require connection to a database, which must also reside on the server. Thirdly, multimedia content must be served, and this requires high-intensity processing on the server, especially if streaming audio and video are provided. Because of the complex nature of the server set- up, a dedicated server administrator is required.


The RUL instructional technology server must be capable of serving web pages, must include an "application server" which deploys code used in serving dynamic content, personalization, and database connectivity, must include a database, and must provide for multimedia services such as streaming media.

The optimal server environment is one that is standardized and lends itself to portability, is low- cost, and fits into the overall infrastructure of the organization in which it lies. Since we are an academic institution, the operating system UNIX is a natural choice, since it is a standard platform server platform in the academic world. The alternative is Windows 2000, which is more prevalent in the commercial realm. By choosing Linux, a free variant of UNIX, we get cost savings while also tying our development more closely to the academic computing standard that is prevalent both at RU and at other academic institutions. Choosing Linux also contributes to portability, which is important because collaborations and sharing of technology with other academic institutions strengthens an instructional technology program, and such exchanges and collaborations benefit greatly from portability of computer code. One additional benefit in choosing Linux is that technicians skilled in UNIX administration are often attracted to the academic environment over commercial environments, which makes recruiting somewhat easier.

Choosing the Oracle database platform is a low-cost solution that also provides for connectivity to other RU computing initiatives, since the university has standardized on Oracle and provides a site license that is free to university departments. The Oracle database product is currently the industry leader in commercial as well as academic environments.

A natural choice for the application server platform for RUL instructional technology development is Java and Java Server Pages. This is the most portable solution, since code written in Java is portable to any system with little change, and it is also the most powerful solution on which to base future connectivity to other RU computing initiatives.

The libraries have recently acquired a server that is dedicated to instructional technology development. The hardware is a Dell PowerEdge 4400 with 2 9Gb SCSI hard drives, 2Gb of main memory, and an 866 Mhz main processor. A 1400 watt power supply accompanies the server. This server is running Linux as its operating system, is hardened for security, and includes the Oracle database system and a commercial grade web server, the iPlanet (Netscape/Sun) web server which is capable of deploying Java Server Pages. The instructional portal called SALLIE (Shaping a Life Library Instructional Environment) is currently being developed on this server.

The presence of this server means that we are almost halfway to a complete instructional technology server environment. The addition of a streaming media server, such as the RealServer at $8000, and a digital tape backup system at $1200 would complete the server setup. The other half of the picture is a staff line to provide for a server administrator. We will need a fairly high-level line, Range 25-26 systems programmer, for example, but this line can be tailored with responsibility for server administration, instructional technology classroom and lab support, and possibly application development. To support this staff person, a workstation, office furniture, and a secure room for the server and the staff person will be required. In addition to this line, one other instructional technology line is recommended elsewhere in this proposal. The second line would cover instructional design, multimedia design, and support of instructional technology development by library staff and librarians.

Budget information

Staff work station:	
Work table			$437.00
J Unit work table		$751.00
Penninsula table		$394.00
Swivel chair      		$325.00
Side chair			$145.00
Gateway workstation for 
server admin staffmember -- 
RU Computer Store 
Level 2 machine with CD-RW, 
32Mb graphics card, 
Windows 2000 Pro, 
30Gb hard drive			$2,083.00
Surge Protector			$50.00
HP SureStore DAT40 
tape backup system for server	$1,300.00
RealServer Software		$8,300.00
Color Printer HP 970		$399.00
DreamWeaver			$90.00
Paint Shop Pro			$90.00



A Primer on dynamic web content for learning portals

In order to be effective, instruction must incorporate three elements:

  1. Interactivity
  2. Personalization and contextualization
  3. Timeliness

Interactivity is required to engage the interest of the learner, to assess learning, and to convey concepts that are complex and dynamic. Personalization and contextualization is required to shape instruction to the needs of the particular student. Each student displays a preferred learning style and pace of learning in a particular learning context, and so instruction must be personalized to the needs of a particular student and a particular context. Timeliness is required to deliver instruction when it is needed, instead of requiring the student to remember general material presented weeks or months beforehand in a general BI session. Timeliness is also required to meet the changing needs of the student over time, as the context of learning changes.

Online instruction is uniquely capable of meeting these needs because it is delivered "one-on-one" as the student interacts with the instructional environment and can be programmed to assess and respond to the particular needs of a particular student in a particular context at a particular time.

Dynamic Content

In order to achieve such flexibility, instructional technology must incorporate advanced techniques in web-based interactivity and delivery of dynamic content. Traditionally, content has been presented in the form of "static" web pages. They are called static because each page is presented in the same way no matter who is viewing it and no matter when it is viewed -- it does not change with variations in personal student need. "Dynamic content" refers to web pages that are constructed "on-the-fly" from various elements according to input provided by the student. When visiting a dynamic page to learn about "using IRIS", one student will see basic instructions with examples drawn from the social sciences, with links to social science indexes, while another student will see advanced instructions with examples drawn from the current assignment she is working on in a particular class, with links to the indexes chosen by her professor and instructional librarian. The page is "dynamic" as it changes to meet the personal needs of a particular student. Same page -- different content for different students at different times. Interactivity and personalization in static pages is restricted to choices of links to follow among static pages. Interactivity and personalization in dynamic pages is extensive and multi-modal.

A static web page exists as a whole unit from start to finish, from design to viewing on the web. It is one text file with HTML markup. To change the page, a designer must change that text file. When viewed on the web, that one text file is fed to the browser by the web server.

A dynamic web page, on the other hand, is built by the web server when it is requested by the browser. The dynamic page is built using elements that exist as separate text files and snippets of text. One file provides a coded framework that pulls the page together into its final form, but that final form is not determined until the page is actually requested by the browser. That framework file contains code that creates the final form of the page based on personalization variables. "This student needs to see social science stuff," the code says to itself, and brings in links to social science indexes, as well as a text file with examples pulled from the social sciences. The next student requests the same page and the code says to itself, "oh, but this student needs advanced examples as well as a link to the librarian who is helping with her Biology course" and includes those elements in the page.

The links and examples are stored as entries in a database, entries categorized by their role in various web pages. Those entries are re-used in many different web pages with many different purposes, and a change to an entry in the database automatically changes that element for all the web pages in which it is used. The personalization variables are set both by the student as she sets up her preferences and by instructors and librarians as they design instruction for particular audiences.

Learning Portals

Web-based instruction is best when integrated into other work that a student is doing. In the case of information literacy instruction, the web content should be integrated with the classroom work that the student is assigned, and should be presented along with classroom assignments. Doing so creates a "learning portal", which is a web-based resource that presents tools and information that the student can use in carrying out assignments. The overall goal is to simplify information management for the student, making it possible to research, write, and deliver to the instructor whatever assignments are required while also presenting to the student a model of the research process.

The creation of a Library Instructional Technology Portal in the Rutgers University Libraries would provide for broad-based participation in instructional technology by all library faculty. Such a portal would provide tools for librarians to quickly create instructional modules that would become dynamically generated learning portals for students, with information literacy instruction integrated into the students' coursework with no need for individual librarians to design individual pages. The design process would be automated in the portal and would require only that the librarian make decisions about which elements to include in the pages and how personalization of the student pages should be handled.


Dynamic content requires extensive programming and scripting, with connectivity to a database built into the pages. Choosing a platform in which to develop instructional technology is a crucial decision. One option is to make portability a top priority. The SALLIE (Shaping a Life Library Instructional Environment) project is scripted using Java Server Pages (JSP) that are easily moved from platform to platform, making it possible to move the system from Windows to Unix or Linux, for example. Using JSP also makes it easy to tie into other university systems down the road, making it possible to use Oracle-based database information that is provided by the Scheduling office or the registrar's office, for example. Sallie uses the Oracle database system running on Linux, which along with the JSP technology makes it a completely cost-free system in terms of software required, since all of these technologies are free.

A First Step

The work done on the Sallie system has laid a foundation for further development of Learning Portals at RUL and provides valuable information for making decisions in the future regarding personalization technologies and dynamic web content in the Digital Library.

Website Feedback  |  Privacy Policy

© Copyright 1997-2013, Rutgers University Libraries   (Further Copyright Information)