Library instruction refers to single or multiple class sessions taught by subject specialist library faculty that introduce students to library research strategies and the basic information sources needed for effective use of the library. Library instruction sessions are designed for both a basic introduction to the university library, and to complement particular courses or fields of study. Instruction covers use of the databases to which the Library subscribes, the Library Catalog, the Houston Cole Library's website, subject-specific print indexes and abstracting services, major bibliographies and reference tools, as well as appropriate remote sources accessible on the World Wide Web, and from commercial information providers. Procedures for the retrieval and use of information and materials are also covered.
It is the policy of the Houston Cole Library to offer library orientation and library instruction to all individual patrons, classes, or groups that request these services, if the request is done in a timely manner and a librarian is available. Library orientation is designed to introduce new or potential patrons to the collection, facilities, organization, and services of the Houston Cole Library. Library instruction is designed to promote information literacy by teaching library patrons the organization and structure of information, and the variety of research methodologies employed to access relevant information in an effective, efficient, and timely manner, thus providing a foundation for contemporary and lifelong learning.
Library instruction can help students with any or all of the following:
Through instruction in the use of a wide range of library resources, students will be better able to complete more thoughtful, interesting, and scholarly research projects.
Classes are generally taught in one of the Library's two instruction classrooms - in the basement or on the 10th floor. There are occasions when the session must take place on a subject floor. The classroom in the basement has 25 micro-computer work stations and an instructor's workstation. The classroom on the 10th floor contains a projector. All are networked locally and capable of Internet access, as well as a workstation with an LCD projector and CD-ROM player to demonstrate searching a variety of electronic sources. Special arrangements may be made for larger classes.
Library faculty are interested in becoming active partners in integrating information resources directly into classroom, and individual learning by involvement with classroom faculty at the initial stages of planning for library instruction. They are available to consult on assignment design and implementation to assure that the objectives of any library assignment are realistic and appropriate, given available source materials and other library resources. Please call the appropriate library faculty member (see list below) for advice as early as possible in planning a library assignment.
Library instruction should be scheduled as far in advance as possible to allow adequate preparation by the library faculty member involved. Timing is everything; students get the most out of library instruction if the session is presented on a date to closely coincide with the point of need for information. Once the session is scheduled, library faculty prepare their instruction and appropriate accompanying written materials in consultation with the instructor, taking into account the focus of the course, details of the students' assignments, and what sources should be presented in the sessions.
Faculty should arrange well in advance for library instruction for their classes by submitting the Library Instruction Session Request Form, or by contacting the appropriate subject specialist librarian.
For more information about library instruction, please contact Mr. John Bruce Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org; (256) 782-5252.Back to the Table of Contents
An effective library assignment has a specific, understood purpose relating to some aspect of the course subject matter or learning objectives. It will lead to increased understanding of the subject through the process of locating information related to the subject. A library assignment that meets this criteria is an excellent teaching tool, and can enhance and enrich the student's learning experience, increase the understanding of the subject matter and build research skills.
In order to be effective, a library assignment must be implemented in an appropriate manner. Students should be prepared for the assignment, told why they are doing it and what purpose it serves. If the assignment requires the use of specific sources, students should be given a list of these and arrangements made with the library to assure availability and access. If it involves the use of complex sources or unfamiliar research strategies, students should be oriented to these - by you or by a librarian - in a customized, scheduled library instruction class. When testing an assignment, try to put yourself in the student's shoes with their experience and perspective.
When it comes to library assignments, librarians are an excellent resource. While a librarian will not create an assignment for you, one will be glad to work with you in developing the assignment, look at a draft, and provide comments. Since students will be coming to the Reference librarians for help, it would help us (and therefore the students) to have a copy of the assignment, and recommended sources, in advance. When an assignment is over, librarians may be able to provide feedback. Did any students seem confused or have trouble understanding the assignment? Were there any resources or access problems related to the assignment? Faculty and librarians working together can make library assignments a successful learning experience for students.
Adapted, with permission, from Allyson Washburn, Dixie State College's Val A. Browning Library, George, Utah