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Guides & Help

Here is a list of helpful guides, handouts and other Web-based material related to library services.

The importance of information literacy

Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. 
American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report.(Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)

Information literacy is a critical skill that enables a person to locate, retrieve, critically evaluate, and ethically use information. It allows a person to know the difference between fact-based news and "fake news" or "alternative facts." Information literacy will allow students to excel as students, in the workplace, and in everyday life. 

Why library instruction matters

During a three-year assessment of library instruction at 200 colleges and universities entitled Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) found powerful evidence of the contributions academic libraries make to student learning in four key areas:

1. Students benefit from library instruction in their initial coursework. Information literacy instruction provided to students during their initial coursework helps them acquire a common set of competencies for their undergraduate studies. The assessment findings from numerous AiA projects that focused on information literacy initiatives for freshmen and new students underscore that students receiving this instruction perform better in their courses than students who do not.

2. Library use increases student success. Several AiA studies point to increased academic success when students use the library. The analysis of multiple data points (e.g., circulation, library instruction session attendance, online databases access, study room use, interlibrary loan) shows that students who use the library in some way achieve higher levels of academic success (e.g., GPA, course grades, retention) than students who did not use the library. 

3. Collaborative academic programs and services involving the library enhance student learning. Academic library partnerships with other campus units, such as the writing center, academic enrichment, and speech lab, yield positive benefits for students (e.g., higher grades, academic confidence, retention).

4. Information literacy instruction strengthens general education outcomes. Several AiA projects document that libraries improve their institution’s general education outcomes and demonstrate that information literacy contributes to inquiry-based and problem-solving learning, including critical thinking, ethical reasoning, global understanding, and civic engagement.

The full April 2016 report, Documented Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success, is available here.

Getting the most out of your library instruction session

Request a library instruction session for your class

To request a library instruction session for your class, please fill out this request form, also located on our main library website ( recommend that you place requests early in the semester, as our schedule fills up quickly. Our librarians design instruction sessions based on the information you give us in the request, so please be as specific as possible on the form. A librarian may email you prior to your session for further information regarding your request.

What to expect from your library session

On the date of your session, a librarian will meet you and your class at the front of the library, and we will walk to the library classroom together. Library sessions may include lab time for students to work on their research assignments. If appropriate for your class, the librarian may ask your students to fill out an assessment during the last ten minutes of the session.

Getting the most out of your library session

Use the following tips to ensure that your students get the most benefit out of the session.

  • Give your students a research assignment before your library session

Although we do offer general sessions, library instruction is most relevant to students when they have a research assignment that they are working on.

  • Let us know in advance if there are examples you don't want us to use

​​During our demonstrations, we sometimes give examples using keywords. From past experience, we know that sometimes faculty members prefer us to limit our examples to certain topics for personal or other reasons. If that is an issue for you and your class, please let us know in advance of your session!

  • Share the assignment with us in advance of your session

Please do share your assignments with us in advance so that we may prepare a session that is tailored specifically to the needs of your class. You can share the assignment by copying it into the notes section of the instruction request form, or you can email it directly to our instruction coordinator/department chair John Kieraldo

  • Consider the issue of breadth vs. depth

Wanting to get the most out of their library session, faculty often request the maximum content possible for one session. The more content in the session, the less depth we can go into on each individual topic. More content does not necessarily mean more learning is taking place; in fact, the opposite is often true. Ask yourself what your students would benefit from the most during the session, and fill out your request accordingly. Another thing to consider is that we do offer follow up sessions for new material.

  • Limit last-minute changes to your request

We request that you do not show up for your session and ask your librarian to change the session from your request, as librarians prepare for each class in advance. Please let us know ahead of time if you would like to change your request, and limit last-minute changes to your request. Last-minute changes to requests will be handled on a case by case basis by the librarian conducting your session. If you would like to revise your request, please contact our instruction coordinator/deparment chair John Kieraldo with the modified request at least 24 hours ahead of your session. 

  • Optional: request specific databases for your session

Use the notes section of the request form to let us know if there are specific databases or topics that you want covered. Also let us know in your request if there are specific databases or subjects that you do not want covered. Otherwise, we will use our expertise to select the most relevant databases for the assignment. Things to keep in mind: as of February 2017, our only peer-review databases are our EBSCO databases and JSTOR. Opposing viewpoints, CQ Researcher, and ProQuest Newspapers are examples of databases that do not contain peer-reviewed articles.