Storytelling 101: Craft Narratives to Engage and Persuade
ACRL Preconference @ ALA Annual Conference
San Francisco, CA
Friday, June 26, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

When was the last time someone changed your mind with a story? We empathize with, persuade, and teach each other using the social tool that is storytelling. Whether you’re a high-powered library administrator headed into an important conference call or a part-time instruction librarian at the head an unfamiliar classroom, humans crave connection and a compelling story can be the difference between connecting deeply with your campus colleagues and patrons or experiencing a total disconnect.

In this hands-on, learner-centered preconference, discover the neuroscience behind why well-told stories resonate with listeners and how that advantage can be translated into educational and work contexts by library professionals. Persuasive storytelling is widely considered to be a powerful tool for leaders in academe and industry, and can be incorporated into many traditional library initiatives, including instruction, management, outreach, advocacy, and development. The goal of this preconference is to introduce this skill to emerging leaders at any location on an institution’s org chart.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the science of and methodology employed in storytelling (and its importance and use in the workplace) in order to identify when storytelling is appropriate in a professional context.
  • Outline and structure a narrative using the key elements of crafting a story in order to develop and revise persuasive narratives germane to the task at hand.
  • Collaborate with peers, providing and incorporating feedback into your creative work in order to refine your story and its presentation with reflective practice and determine how audiences may react to your choices.


Dan Hickey, Assistant Director of Research & Learning Services for Cornell’s Hospitality, Labor, and Management Library, Cornell University; Chris Miller, Teaching and Learning Services Coordinator for

Cornell’s Hospitality, Labor, and Management Library, Cornell University

Complete details and registration materials are available online.  Contact with questions.


We welcome a guest post from Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries and Professor, College of Computing & Informatics at  Drexel University Libraries

As ACRL liaison to SCUP [Society for College and University Planners] I have become increasingly aware of how institutional planners and architects are addressing key issues in higher education.  I also try to impress such campus colleagues with contributions librarians make to the same set of topics.  In this blog post I share an example of an initiative, funded by a SCUP managed prize.  Through it, a collaboration of expertise from the practice of architecture, faculty research, and librarianship is focusing on creating a tool to assess learning within library space.  The broad research interest is to understand how factors in an environment relate to learning.

I am honored to have received the 2014-15 Perry Chapman prize with my two colleagues:   W. Michael Johnson is a practicing architect specializing in educational programming and academic facility design, and  is also an Adjunct Professor at The Spitzer School of Architecture, CCNY/CUNY, teaching how to use big data and empirical modeling in building design. Michael Khoo, Ph.D., is assistant teaching faculty at Drexel’s College of Computing and Informatics, with degrees in anthropology and communication, and fifteen years of ethnographic and qualitative research experience in field sites including libraries, archives, and digital libraries.   I am the practicing librarian on the research team, with over forty years of library administrative leadership experience, focusing on services, applications of technologies, and space design, as well as research, teaching and publications especially on topics of evaluation and assessment.

Since summer 2014 we have been studying how physical conditions influence learning outside of classrooms.  With assistance of students hired through the project, we are taking low-resolution time-lapse images with ceiling mounted cell phone cameras and recording these in a database.  These images allow us to study student engagement behaviors while they protect personal privacy.  The research records patterns of peer engagement among students, mapping the proximity between people as a proxy for the direct exchange of information.  Our IRB review determined that our work does not constitute human–subjects research.

Our goal is to provide evidence of physical conditions that foster a broad sharing of ideas across a campus. The outcome of the year-long project will be creation and testing of a tool to measure the density and frequency of peer interaction. This proximity mapping tool is intended to allow any campus planners, including librarians, to easily and confidentially gather empirical evidence for improving designs of learning environments.

For more information, including some sample images and updates, please visit our blog at:

The Perry Chapman prize of $10,000 has been awarded annually since 2012. As described on the SCUP website, “This prize funds research in the planning and design of institutions of higher education. The prize is intended to further the research, development, and dissemination of emerging knowledge to improve campus environments in support of their institution’s mission.”   Applications are now sought for the 2015-16 year which is the last scheduled for this prize; for details see   SCUP administers the prize in honor of Perry Chapman and The Hideo Sasaki Foundation supports it.  Deadline for submission of proposals for 2015-16 is May 31, 2015.


The first participants in ACRL’s Assessment in Action program presented results from their projects at poster sessions at ALA Annual in Las Vegas, and their results are also being disseminated in library publications and conference presentations. We’ re thrilled to see more value-related research making its way into the world, and will be featuring synopses of projects and a brief Q&A with team leaders here at the Value blog over the next year. You can also read full descriptive reports for this and other AiA projects, along with a synthesis of all the first year AiA projects

“I felt like such a Freshman!”: Creating Library Insiders

Independent learning activities, when coupled with reflection, are effective in providing an orientation to the library in particular and “academic life” in general. After participating in a self-guided library activity and reflecting on the process, students in DePaul’s First Year Experience program are able to articulate how the library can contribute to their success as academic learners.

Heather Jagman,  Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Academic Engagement at  DePaul University Library

Heather Jagman, Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Academic Engagement at DePaul University Library

Q&A with Heather Jagman, Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Academic Engagement

Q: What was your greatest challenge during the course of your Assessment in Action project?

A: Participating in the Assessment in Action project helped me overcome my greatest challenge—making time to do assessment.  Since I was accountable to my campus team and the AiA librarian cohort, it wasn’t something I could put on the backburner and do “when I had time.”

Q: What is your #1 recommendation for other librarians who want to conduct an assessment project on student learning and success?

A: Reach out to your academic and co-curricular partners!  They are interested in what we do, and are also looking for viable assessment projects.  See if you can capitalize on something you are already doing together—there’s no need to start from scratch and create some grand new experiment.  Libraries are already doing valuable and exciting work, and your partners can help you understand how you contribute to their success and the goals of your institution.    

Q: What is the #1 thing you gained through your participation in Assessment in Action? 

A: Visibility.  Your co-curricular partners want to hear about how the library contributes to student learning and success, and will help you tell your story.

© 2014 ACRL Value of Academic Libraries Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha