Library Services for Online Patrons

A Manual for Facilitating Access, Learning, and Engagement

by Joelle E. Pitts, Laura Bonella, Jason M. Coleman, and Adam Wathen, Editors


A practical blueprint for improving online services for library patrons who learn, study, and research online.

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Cover image for Library Services for Online Patrons

October 2019

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 200
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Educational Technology and Instructional Design/Online Education
  Librarian's Instructional Role/Information Literacy and Instruction, College Level and Above

This practical and holistic approach to offering library resources and services to online patrons addresses multiple areas of service to online patrons, including reference, instruction, access, and marketing.

Academic libraries are wonderful resources for university students and faculty on campus, and public libraries thrive on providing targeted in-person services such as storytime, makerspaces, and adult programming. It can be easy, however, to forget about the large population of students, faculty, and community members who access library resources and use library services remotely.

Library Services for Online Patrons reaches out to patrons who are not—or not always—located on campus or who seldom—if ever—visit libraries' physical facilities and who may not be aware of or able to equitably use library services. The authors focus on ways to organize library resources using principles of design and to cater library services to the specific needs of online students, faculty, and community members. They also address how to effectively target marketing to the online population and how to collaborate with campus and community stakeholders who work directly with them.


  • Provides novel services and resources that will save librarians already serving online patrons time and energy
  • Offers a broad, practical perspective to help novice librarians make initial connections with online learners
  • Emphasizes the importance of identifying other institutional players in online education in order to effectively implement and market improvements
  • Enhances understanding of the importance of universal design and how to assess possibilities for improvement in their online services
Author Info

Joelle Pitts is instructional design librarian and Hobrock Distinguished Associate Professor at Kansas State University Libraries. She is responsible for the creation of web-based learning objects and environments aimed at improving the information literacy of the university community. She leads the award-winning New Literacies Alliance, an inter-institutional consortium dedicated to creating institutional, technological, and vendor-agnostic online lessons. She implemented the technical infrastructure for large-scale flipped classroom activity.

Jason Coleman is head of the Library User Services Department and associate professor at Kansas State University Libraries. He is responsible for circulation, reserves, and general reference services at three libraries. He also serves on the libraries' distance education team and manages the libraries' IM chat service. In 2016 he received the libraries' Brice G. Hobrock Distinguished Faculty Award.

Laura Bonella is academic services librarian and associate professor at Kansas State University Libraries. In addition to supporting students and faculty in education and social sciences as the team lead of the libraries' social sciences/education/business team, she serves on the libraries' distance education team. She is also the current chair of ACRL's Women and Gender Studies Section and the convener of the ACRL Balancing Baby and Book discussion group.

Adam Wathen is the associate director for system-wide services at Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kansas, where he oversees programming, outreach, collection, technical services, and circulation. He has formerly acted as a collection manager at Johnson County Library and in academic libraries in roles as a reference librarian, government publications librarian, acquisitions manager, and director of a private college library.

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Designing Online Learning cover imageMultilingual Access and Services for Digital Collections cover imageThe Library Catalogue as Social Space cover image

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