Library Support in the USP
Polk Library Support of Information Literacy in the University Studies Program
"I believe [the librarian] was a great help too, when he taught us how to use the library resources. The library is such a great source of information that sometimes it can be overwhelming. I thought this allowed me to see the library for all the things I could use it for instead of just a giant building full of information I don’t know how to use and won’t use."-- First year student, reflecting on what they found useful in their course
Within the University Studies Program, one of the Essential Learning Outcomes is information literacy. Information literacy is an individual's ability to effectively find, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information. These abilities are central to the success of the 21st century higher education student, since the qualities attained through information literacy directly influence the fostering of critical thinking skills and lifelong learning.
Polk Library plays an important role on campus in the development of the skills associated with information literacy. The library is aware of the varied needs and styles of learning of students, and provides a diverse range of options to meet these needs. Like any advanced skill, information literacy takes time to develop; the library strongly recommends for instructors to incorporate multiple learning opportunities throughout a course that enable students to develop and enhance these skills. Best practices recommend for instructors and librarians to work together to develop assignments which will enable students to learn information literacy skills.
Instruction in Information Literacy
- Multiple classroom visits: Librarians will visit an instructor's classroom multiple times (as many as is deemed appropriate for the content to be covered) to discuss information literacy concepts on a per-visit basis, for lengths of time as short as 15 minutes up to the entire class period. This method of instruction is highly recommended especially for instructors teaching Quest courses, as students enrolled in these courses will not be as familiar with information literacy concepts as more advanced students. Instructional content may be broken up into smaller chunks, allowing for students to more easily digest information than they might in a single instruction session. See, for instance, this direct quote from a student reflecting on the elements of their class they found to be most helpful:
"I think the parts of this class that have been most helpful to me was learning how to look up sources at the library [in the classroom], and going to the library. Before this, I had not really been in the library much, and now I feel like I at least kind of know my way around more, or where I can find [a librarian] if I have questions. I also feel like I am better equipped to write research papers in the future and will be able to find credited sources that will help me a lot."
- ANVIL information literacy modules: Additional learning objects that supplement the many information literacy instruction opportunities already available. Each module contains a short (~5 minute) video instructing viewers on a discrete information literacy concept as defined by the ACRL and AACU information literacy standards. Attached to each video is a quiz game assessing understanding of the content covered in the video. See below for links to each module as well as a short description of what the video is about. Polk Library highly recommends assigning the completion of these modules for a grade. For instructors, ANVIL also offers in-depth assessment of the performance of students for each information literacy concept, as specific or as broad as requested.
- Single instruction session: Usually run in the instruction labs in the library or a computer lab on campus, librarians work with instructors to develop content to be covered during the session, often spanning the length of the class time. Due to the amount of content covered during these sessions, it is advisable to supplement this option with at least one of the library's other instruction options. This type of instruction is also good for more advanced students already familiar with basic information literacy concepts.
- Asynchronous video content: Information literacy concepts, library services, resources, and other instructional content via online video (hosted on Polk Library's YouTube channel). Video content is an effective way for students to learn the skills associated with information literacy as it allows them to learn at their own pace in a setting outside the classroom. This delivery method is also good for reinforcing concepts taught in the classroom, or preparing students for more in-depth discussion of information literacy concepts during a single session.
- Online learning: Librarians can also offer online instruction to students in live webinars as well as pre-recorded tutorials. Additionally, librarians can be attached to specific courses in D2L, monitoring student progress throughout the semester and providing assistance as needed.