The primary mission of the Muntz Library User Instruction Program is to provide a variety of opportunities, emphasizing contemporary information technologies, to assist our students in developing information literacy skills for independent lifelong learning. By helping students construct a framework for learning, information literacy provides the foundation for continued growth throughout their careers, as well as in their roles as informed citizens.
Information literacy includes the abilities to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate and effectively use and communicate information in its various formats. The information literate individual is aware of the economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information and can access and use information ethically and legally.
The Library's role in basic information literacy instruction focuses on how information is organized, retrieved and evaluated.
Benefits of Library Instruction
Given the complexity and wide range of resources available to Muntz Library users and the current reliance upon computerized retrieval of information, the library has strengthened its instructional program. It is our belief that the best practice is a structured information literacy curriculum, where basic knowledge and skills are followed by more complex knowledge and skills. Our research shows that learning is enhanced when this instruction is fully integrated into the curriculum. Upper level courses can focus on discipline-specific resources and knowledge. Faculty are encouraged to schedule classes and to consult with their librarian liaisons to implement an instruction strategy.
Instruction classes cover both knowledge and skills, allowing librarians to reach many students while covering topics in an organized manner, rather than addressing many individuals separately at the Reference Desk, where instruction time is often limited.
Covering the basics of how the library is organized, what services are available, and the best search strategies and methods to evaluate the information retrieved increases student efficiency and reduces frustration levels.
We have found over the years that some students are reluctant to ask for help. Having a librarian who knows about their assignment and who has worked with their class in a group setting reduces anxiety and increases a student's ability to express their needs.
Library instruction serves to improve communication between students, faculty and librarians by:
- Clarifying the purpose and specific requirements of an assignment.
- Discovering resources available for effective completion of an assignment.
- Identifying needed resources for future purchase.
- Determining resources which should be placed on Reserve.
Course integrated instruction sessions are tailored to meet the specific needs of the class objective. We have a variety of ways to meet these needs including:
- Library sessions, either hands-on or introduction, timed to yield the best results for your class
- A menu of online tutorials designed to cover the basic areas of research
- Custom tutorials, handouts, cheat sheets, and research guides
- Collaborate-- web conferencing software in which the librarian meets online with the class to present the instruction.
The key is creating a session in which the librarian and the faculty work together to create a design that meets the specific needs of the class. See below for details.
For on-campus classes, we can combine the online tutorials with a hands-on session that moves beyond passive “library skills” into active “research skills.” In these sessions students learn to identify appropriate sources (print and web), utilize the unique capabilities of databases specific to their assignment, and analyze their topic to construct a searchable vocabulary of keywords. Both the professor and librarian are present to help navigate the process. After the session, each student has 3-5 sources for their research and has demonstrated the skills they need to do scholarly research on their own. The databases, tutorials, and information presented are selected by you to make sure it is relevant to your assignments.
The librarian will also come to your classroom and demonstrate library resources. This can be arranged with laptops (for a class in the business building) so the students get the benefit of a hands-on session.
Collaborate is a web-based software that allows fully interactive live sessions via the web: think webinar with full interactive capability. This is useful for web based classes, hybrid classes, or even as follow up sessions. Collaborate software allows open discussion, face-to-face webcam interaction with the librarian (it’s not all about PowerPoint slides), and a real time tour through the resources. Basically this is a hands-on session, just via the web.
Embedded librarians are involved in the BlackBoard part of the class. This can range from sitting in on a few chat sessions to finding resources and tutorials to help the class. Having a librarian within the BlackBoard class provides immediate help with student questions, locating a research problem even if the question is not asked, and steering students toward the right resources in a relaxed atmosphere. Plus everything is contained within BlackBoard so students only have one-stop to find the help they need.
Individual or Small Group Sessions
There will be times when students or faculty need to work with librarians for in-depth help on a specific topic. Individuals or small groups may make appointments for consultations. These sessions are especially helpful to graduate students or faculty who are new to the Muntz Library, and those who wish to view and discuss new resources or services. Anyone needing this type of consultation should call or email their librarian liaison or call the reference desk at 566-7343.
Location of Instruction Sessions
For hands-on research we can have the session in Library 423, our hands on teaching lab complete with 32 computers, internet access, and printing capabilities. If the class is larger than 32 students, we can hold the session in Library 401 or in your classroom, though these will not be hands-on sessions.
Individual or Small Group Instruction
While the major emphasis is on instruction to classes, we realize there will be times when students and/or faculty will need to work with librarians for in-depth help on a specific topic or resource. Individuals and/or small groups, therefore, may make appointments for consultations. These sessions are especially helpful to graduate students or faculty who are new to the Muntz Library, and those who wish to view and discuss new resources or services. Anyone needing this type of consultation should call the Reference Desk at 903-566-7343.
The original student packet contains information about the library including checkout policies and limits, phone numbers, step-by-step instructions to set up Illiad Interlibrary Loan accounts, the library “cheat sheet” to keep at home in case of questions, and more.
Your librarian can also create customized handouts or cheat sheets for a particular assignment. Customized handouts include highlighted resources for particular assignments, whereas cheat sheets have step by step instructions and handy tips which help students understand a particular process when doing specific research projects.
Like the Library’s online subject research guides on the library homepage, your librarian liaison can create customized research guides if your class is focused on a narrow area of research, such as American Civil War history or evidence-based nursing. These research guides include different research pointers and resources for that particular topic in one online location linked to your BlackBoard page.
Our online tutorials are used in combination with a hands-on session to free valuable, active research time from the basic library functions such as searching the catalog or defining types of sources. They are also used to make sure the entire class is on the same level of research before the library session. Each tutorial (5 to 10 min.) is chosen by you to aid your class objectives and placed in your subject research guide or your class BlackBoard space. You simply require the tutorial(s) be completed before the session. Since the tutorials are online, students can view them anytime for a quick review if needed.
For complex research topics, your librarian can also create customized online tutorials for your class. The librarian works with you to make sure the resulting tutorial covers the topic desired. Such tutorials may include: advanced search techniques for subject specific databases, citation management, etc.