When Designing Library Instruction Focus on Interaction Types

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

October 24, 2023

One of the enabling competencies from the Special Libraries Association is “instructional design and development.”

In your role as a special librarian, you may create video tutorials and instructional materials or lead workshops and training on library resources. To do this aspect of your job it is important to know about various instructional design strategies. One instructional design strategy is to use different types of interaction.

Penn State University researcher Michael G. Moore (1989) identified three types of interaction. These interaction types are focused on distance education, but can be included in any type of instruction. The three types are interaction are:

Learner-to-Content Interaction– the learner interacts with the instructional materials in the course. Without this there cannot be education, since it is the process of intellectually interacting with content that results in changes in the learner’s understanding, the learner’s perspective, or the cognitive structures of the learner’s mind (Moore, 1989, p. 1)

Learner-to-Learner Interaction– Learners connect with their peers in the context of the course. It not only acknowledges and encourages the development of learner expertise but also tests it, and teaches important principles regarding the nature of knowledge and the role of the scholar as a maker of knowledge (Moore, 1989, p. 1)

Learner-to-Instructor Interaction– The learner and instructor [librarian] connect at numerous and timely points throughout the course. The frequency and intensity of the teacher’s influence on learners when there is learner-teacher interaction is much greater than when there is only learner-content interaction (Moore, 1989, p. 2).

In your work, these interactions may be used in the following ways:


  • Provide materials for learners to read and annotate
  • Give step-by-step directions that individuals can follow
  • Create videos for individuals to watch


  • In a workshop, ask attendees to share their research process with a peer
  • Have individuals post important articles they have found and read for others who might find the content valuable


  • During a workshop, walk around and give feedback and suggestions to attendees
  • Give individuals opportunities to provide feedback on instructional materials you have created
  • Give individuals opportunities to ask questions about information in instructional materials/video tutorials

When each of these interaction types is included in the instructional work the library does, users are likely to gain more knowledge.


Moore, M.G. (1989). Three types of interactions. American Journal of Distance Education, 3(2), 1-7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237404371_Three_Types_of_Interaction

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Dr. Lauren Hays is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter and interviewer on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. Take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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