Indiana State University Library
Office of Library Instruction

Information Services Support for Learning Communities
Handbook, 2000 edition, continued

13. What Comes First, the Syllabus or the Project? 14. Library Session Content for University 101 (and equivalent) 15. Does My Course Need Library Instruction (self-assessment tool for teaching faculty)

13. Question: What Comes First, the Syllabus or the Project?

As course content is developed, library projects or assignments may self-identify; i.e., a logical part of the course is a very specific library project. Or, part of the course may be a written report or paper, the teacher assumes that students know how to gather the resources they need to produce the paper, and students do not indicate any lack of knowledge. The teacher gets the papers and is surprised to discover that the resources used were inadequate. Then, in questioning the students, the teacher discovers that most of them have either never/rarely had to use library resources, or they have not used the resources of their university library. Today, it is common to hear students protest, 'But I used the Internet, wasn't that enough?'

Libraries are complex entities that require skill, training, and experience to be used well. Occasional, inexperienced and experienced users alike need assistance in order to extract maximum utility from a library’s resources. Within the Learning Community environment, librarians and teaching faculty will have unique opportunities to blend library instruction into their course. Some/all concepts that can be identified as information literacy may be included. (Note: as the Gen Ed Information Technology Literacy course is developed, some of these concepts will transfer into that course; however, the course is scheduled to be offered during Fall 2000, so, during Fall 1999, the LC course is the logical point of contact.) Further, some concepts may be introduced in the anchor (Univ 101 or equivalent) course, and complementary/other concepts may be introduced or reinforced in the companion course. As both teachers and the IS liaison work together to develop the syllabus, patterns should develop indicating what needs to be covered when. The worst kind of library instruction is that which has no relationship to the course. Students need to know why they are receiving the instruction; it must be directly related to course content or assignments. [note: implementation of ITL will not take place until Fall 2002]

Information Literacy involves

Shapiro and Hughes identify seven different literacies:
  1. Tool literacy; or the ability to understand and use the practical and conceptual tools of current information technology, including software, hardware and multimedia, that are relevant to education and the areas of work and professional life that the individual expects to inhabit.
  2. Resource literacy, or the ability to understand the form, format, location and access methods of information resources, especially daily expanding networked information resources.
  3. Social-structured literacy, or knowing that and how information is socially situated and produced.
  4. Research literacy, or the ability to understand and use the IT-based tools relevant to the work of today's research and scholar.
  5. Publishing literacy, or the ability to format and publish research and ideas electronically, in textual and multimedia forms (including via World Wide Web, electronic mail and distribution lists, and CD-ROMs), to introduce them into the electronic public realm and the electronic community of scholars.
  6. Emerging technology literacy, or the ability to ongoingly adapt to, understand, evaluate and make use of the continually emerging innovations in formation technology so as not to be a prisoner of prior tools and resources, and to make intelligent decisions about the adoption of new ones.
  7. Critical literacy, or the ability to evaluate critically the intellectual, human and social strengths and weaknesses, potentials and limits, benefits and costs of information technologies.
Students do not tend to break up a library research assignment into workable parts; they only see the assignment, the [vague] need to get [some sort of] resources, and then, write the paper. They do not tend to leave time to evaluate the resources, re-choose and re-evaluate resources, gain skills in finding the resources (e.g., how to use a particular database). They narrow their options, find they have neither the right resources or enough time, get frustrated, write poor papers and develop impressions of libraries that are not helpful or useful to them. The responsibility lies both with the teaching faculty and the librarian/information specialist, in getting students ready to accept that skill as well as time, is part of the information literacy process. Helping students develop a research strategy that they can adapt to any resource-gathering assignment is a vital skill that is often ignored or unidentified. Conversely, many libraries lean too much the other way, preparing library research handbooks with pages of charts, blanks to fill in, etc., that, in their own way, can interfere with what we really need the students to grasp.
14. Notes for University 101 (and equivalent) Instructors (Learning in the Academic Community)


Library contact with Univ 101 is a well-established part of the first-year experience. Call or email to schedule your sessions as soon as possible so that you can get the dates/times you prefer and so that you can incorporate them into your syllabus.

University 101 Learning Community sections should coordinate content with their other course and their Information Services liaison. Their sessions should be (at a minimum) 'business as usual,' as described here, with the possibility of additional library experiences/programming.

If you are teaching Univ 101 for the first time and want to discuss any of this information in more detail, please contact the Instruction Librarian (Marsha Miller).

Schedule two sessions (see below).

Library Instruction Office x2604
Marsha Miller, Instruction Coordinator
Email questions to:
Barb Austin, Library Assistant
Email scheduling requests to
WHEN TO SCHEDULE: Early but not too early; but definitely within the first 6-8 weeks of school. After that, we start getting a lot of Eng 105 scheduling so it may be harder to get your desired dates. Usually the 2 sessions are scheduled back-to-back, but this is not absolutely necessary!

Internet sessions could be conducted at any time. Introductory email or computing basics should be scheduled with Information Technology User Services (, or students should avail themselves of the IT student workshops (see Student need a campus network account/email account, regardless of whether they already have a personal email account! LC Instructors: your IS Liaison can help you coordinate IT scheduling


ATTEND THE SESSION: We cannot emphasize too strongly the role instructors play, merely by accompanying their students to the sessions. The Univ 101 instructor should interact with the librarian, help to emphasize points, talk about their own experiences in using libraries, the Internet, etc., and reiterate why library information skills are a crucial part of the academic (and life) experience. DO NOT schedule sessions on days you do not plan to attend. Please sit with your class, not in the back of the room (if in the Classroom). If in the Instruction Lab, take/share a computer and follow along.

HAVE CLASS MEET ON TIME: Have your classes meet in the Library Instruction Classroom (2nd floor, 230): If your class meets at 1:00, the librarian will expect them in our classroom, ready to go. Do not meet in your regular classroom and then walk over; this cuts 5-15 minutes from the instruction time. Do not meet/wait in the Library lobby; come on to up 230. Students must take responsibility for being where they need to be. You are welcome to take time for attendance, announcements, etc.

Use other class sessions/discussions to get students thinking about the library. Many of them will be very unprepared for the skills needed in a university library; they don’t have library on their minds. When discussing certain topics, make comments such as, you could find out more information on this in the library; when we go to the library, we will…..

ASSESSMENT OF SKILLS: Library Instruction can provide you with library assessment samples. You can either use them or develop your own. Do not simply ask students:
Do not assume they will agree when you say, the Library will be an important part of your academic career, so learn how to use it now.

TIME MANAGEMENT CLASS ASSIGNMENT:Before coming to the Library for your sessions, have your students look thru each syllabus and highlight any library or research-type assignments they find. See if the syllabus simply makes the assignment or if it lists resources for students to use, parameters of a paper (# of resources, etc.). Have students go to the Library Research Planner (available online at, or pages 28-29 of the 2000-2001 Academic Planner). Copy and fill out the planner for any library assignment; fill out at least the top portion.

EMAIL CONTACT WITH LIBRARIAN (before/after session)?: I assume that you and your students will be doing a lot of communicating via email. Perhaps you will simply set up an email distribution list to email assignments, perhaps you will have a class listserv, or are using email via your Blackboard site. Regardless, you might assign your students to email the librarian doing the session (clear this with the librarian first).

For example:

Library "Journal" Assignment:

Before you attend your session in the library next week, send an email message to (she is the librarian who will meet with you). Identify yourself as an Univ 101 student (put the teacher and when your class meets; e.g., MW 1-2). Communicate briefly; sample topics include:

Or, following the session, students could email the librarian who met with them, asking questions, commenting on the session, etc. For those of us working together in Learning Communities, this may work a bit better, but there's no reason not to do this with every class. This could help cut down on the mindset that coming the library once for one session is all the student ever needs; also it helps them think of a librarian as someone with whom they can consult at any time. Coordinate with the librarian(s) doing your sessions. This communication could continue all semester.

ELECTRONIC RESERVE: consider placing your own materials on Electronic Reserve, including articles that are available online full-text via ProQuest. If you have a course web page, you can link to the Electronic Reserve very easily by using the address above. Information on Course Reserve is available at

ONLINE ARTICLES FOR FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS [IN-PROGRESS]: We hope to utilize the Library's Electronic Reserve (access LUIS Online Catalog via and select Course Reserve) to provide all of your students with access to selected articles to read. Ideally, as we build this site, it would have articles pertaining to ALL of the topics covered in a Univ 101 class, not just library-related articles. It will be up to the individual teacher whether or not the students will be assigned to access these materials. I will update you on this project as needed.


A standard format for Univ 101 sessions has been established. While a lot of basic library-use information is not terribly interesting, but it is, hopefully, useful. Again, your attendance and participation help a great deal! The first imperative is that you plan for 2 sessions, and be sure to include this information in your syllabus. Requests for 1 session-only cannot be considered; there is too much information to present and it is not fair to either your students or the librarians.

  1. Research strategies [aka Info Literacy]:

  2. These sessions DO NOT duplicate info received in courses such as Eng 105/107 (as much as is possible). Do not excuse students from attending. Content is more general, i.e., not ‘how to use LUIS’, but more, ‘when you want X, you need to use Z.’ We are using a format that incorporates concepts that can be termed Information Literacy Competencies. We used this format for the first time during the Fall 98 sessions and received favorable comments from teachers. Until such time as the Gen Ed Info Tech Literacy course is offered (Fall 2001), we will continue to incorporate this into Univ 101. We will introduce students to the Library homepage and concentrate on those areas that are library-research links (such as LUIS, Quick Reference, Online Guides). We may also discuss standard types of reference sources, both print and online.

    If you have specific ideas about the content, please discuss them with us in advance.

  3. Internet:

  4. In the past, these sessions have included email basics, Internet basics, etc., in whatever combination seemed appropriate. We often assume, nowadays, that incoming students are extremely well-versed in using the Internet, but perhaps they only used it for things like chat and haven’t needed to really dig in and use the ‘Net academically. We want to continue to familiarize students with the ISU Library websites, especially those linking students to the web (Internet Search Tools, Subject Browser). We will have university-level specialized indexes and other resources that they would not be familiar with. In assessing your students, what do they need that they haven’t gotten elsewhere? We can discuss different search engines, evaluating resources, and why going to the Internet first isn't necessarily always the best strategy.

  5. Library self-paced tours: Student still need to know how to get around the library; they will not be able to do everything online. This should be a regular part of the course. Order when you schedule your sessions. Don’t worry about students having to take the tour more than once; we have a sheet they can sign if they already took the tour with their English class, and we report the credit to you. In the Learning Communities, the IS Liaison may participate by distributing these to the students and explaining 'why' and 'how'. Tours can be assigned to individual students, or you may opt to have two students share the tour and the exercise points. Completed tours are turned in at the LI Office, scored and returned to the teacher or liaison. If you choose to use the tours, you will need to send class rosters to LI.
A copy of this information is available online at

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