Librarians can and do provide instruction in classrooms outside the library. However, whenever possible we recommend doing the sessions in library classrooms where equipment for computer demonstrations and for hands-on database searching is available. Please consider the following when planning a session:
- Sessions need to be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. It would be helpful if you have an alternative date in mind in case the time you request is already booked.
- Instructional sessions are more effective if done in conjunction with a specific assignment that will give students opportunities to practice the skills and strategies taught. Librarians can assist in designing an effective library assignment that avoids the logistical problems that can be frustrating for students.
- The timing of library sessions is crucial to student motivation and learning. Sessions should be timed to coincide with when students will be working on their library assignments.
- The presence and involvement of faculty and teaching staff in the planning and teaching of a library session are critical to its success. Students are more engaged when the instructor participates in the library session.
Schedule a Library Session or Tour
The following campus libraries offer instructional programs, one or more of which may be appropriate for your classes. To arrange a library instruction session, contact the library whose program best meets the needs of your class. When appropriate, instruction for cross-disciplinary courses can be arranged with staff from more than one library.
If you are not sure which library will best meet the instructional needs of your class or if you have questions about our campus program, please contact Sarah McDaniel, Campus Library & Information Literacy Instruction Program Coordinator.
Business Library263-4274 • more information
Instruction for upper-division undergraduate and graduate students on research in business. For more specific information about this program, see the Business Library's Instruction Web Page or contact Eunice Graupner, Library & Information Literacy Instruction Coordinator for the Business Library.
Center for Instructional Materials and Computing263-5949 • more information
Instruction in curriculum resources, media production techniques, testing and measurement tools, educational research skills, and other course-related topics. For more specific information about this program, contact Catherine Stephens, Instruction/Outreach Program Coordinator.
College Library265-3376 • more information
Instruction for undergraduate students, particularly those at the freshmen and sophomore levels, in many fields. For more specific information about this program, see College Library's Instruction Web Page and/or contact Eliot Finkelstein, Library & Information Literacy Instruction Coordinator for College Library.
Health Sciences Libraries262-1174• more information
Instruction for upper-division undergraduate and graduate students on research in pharmacy and the clinical and health sciences. For more specific information about this program, contact Heidi Marleau, Asst Director for Library Services.
Law Library262-8294 • more information
Instruction for undergraduate and graduate classes on aspects of legal bibliography and research methods needed to complete assignments or projects. For more specific information about this program, contact Jenny Zook, Reference and Instructional Services Librarian for the Law Library.
Memorial Library262-3647 • more information
Instruction for undergraduate and graduate students in the social sciences and humanities. For more specific information about this program, see Memorial Library's Instruction Web Page and/or contact Steven Baumgart, Library & Information Literacy Instruction Coordinator for Memorial Library.
Steenbock Library263-6373 • more information
Instruction for undergraduate and graduate students on research in agriculture, life sciences, family resources, consumer sciences, and veterinary medicine. For more specific information about this program, see Steenbock Library's Instruction Web Page and/or contact Patricia Herrling, Library & Information Literacy Instruction Coordinator for Steenbock Library.
Wendt Engineering Library265-9801 • more information
Instruction for undergraduate and graduate students on research in engineering, meteorology, computer science and statistics. For more specific information about this program, see Wendt Library's Instruction Web Page and/or contact Diana Wheeler, Library & Information Literacy Instruction Coordinator for Wendt Engineering Library.
A number of other campus libraries with specialized collections offer similar instructional services on request. For information about these libraries' services, please contact Sarah McDaniel , Campus Library & Information Literacy Instruction Program Coordinator.
Participants needing disability-related accommodations should contact the campus Library & Information Literacy Instruction Office in advance, preferably at least two weeks prior to the event, at (608) 262-4308, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Designing an Assignment
Well-designed course-related library assignments are an effective way to introduce students to library research. The following guidelines will help give students a positive library research experience:
With sufficient lead time, librarians can provide presentations and written materials geared specifically to your course and assignment, as well as general orientation for more inexperienced students. Please contact the Library & Information Literacy Instruction Coordinator in the library whose program best meet the needs of your class. If you do not know whom to call, contact Sarah McDaniel , Campus Coordinator for Library & Information Literacy Instruction (phone: (608) 262-4308).
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Library and Information Literacy Instruction Program, July 2002 (Adapted with permission form the University of Oregon Library System, Eugene, Oregon).
Designing an Assignment - Planning
- Consult with a librarian before the assignment.
Librarians will work with you to design an appropriate assignment that will achieve your course goals/objectives. Send a copy of the assignment to your Coordinator of Library and Information Literacy Instruction to ensure that the library staff is ready to help your students.
- Assume minimal library knowledge.
Although many students may be familiar with Web search engines, few really understand the intricacies of subject headings or keyword searching used by most research databases. Most students have never used research journals, only popular magazines such as Time or Newsweek.
- Explain the assignment clearly, preferably in writing.
Give students a clear idea of what the assignment involves, suggesting types of sources to be used. Give complete, accurate citations for specific works.
- Ask librarians for help with sources.
Librarians can help instructors with assignments by providing a list of useful sources, or types of sources. The librarian can help you verify whether the particular sources you had in mind are available at the UW libraries. Librarians will also be aware of any new resources that might be useful for your students.
Designing an Assignment - Topics
- Avoid very current topics or local topics.
If your assignment requires students to locate scholarly articles on their topic, remember that very current topics and local topics may only appear in newspapers or popular magazines. In some cases there may be little or nothing published about the topic.
- Avoid topics that are too general.
Some topics are too general and will retrieve an unmanageable number of sources or may retrieve sources that are not specific to a student's topic. Encourage your students to write a research question, which will help them focus their topic. The phrase “water pollution” is too general; the question “What are the pollutants in urban runoff?” is more specific.
- Avoid topics that are too specific
Some topics are so specific that there is little or no published information. For example, “What environmental problems will be caused by the Crandon Mine?” is so specific that information may be limited to newspapers. This question could be expanded to “What environmental problems are caused by copper mining?”
Designing an Assignment - Logistics
- Test your library assignment by doing it yourself.
Sometimes an assignment that looks great on paper doesn't work well in practice. It may require students to have research skills they have not been taught. Also, the assignment may need more detailed instructions or require the use of resources that go beyond the objectives covered in the library instruction module of the course. Whatever the reason, sometimes a library assignment does not work. It is good to know that before you give it to your students.
- Always be sure the library has the needed material or source.
There are few experiences more frustrating than looking for something that does not exist, (e.g. has been checked out, has been replaced with a different title, or has not been published.) Use the library's Course Reserves service for material that many students need to use. Send a list of required resources to your Coordinator of Library & Information Literacy Instruction to verify that those sources exist.
- Avoid the mob scene.
Dozens of students using one book, article, or index, or looking for the same information usually leads to misplacement, loss, or mutilation of materials. It also can frustrate students by preventing them from completing the assignment. Allow students to choose from a variety of topics and sources. Use Course Reserves when a particular source is required.
- Avoid scavenger hunts.
Searching for obscure facts frustrates students, can cause chaos in the library stacks, and teaches students little about research. If planning a library exercise, talk to your Coordinator of Library & Information Literacy Instruction about designing one appropriate to the class.
- Be clear in your use of the term “Internet.”
If your students are asked to use the Internet as a source of information, it is important to clarify what they should use. Many library licensed journal databases and full-text sources are available through the Internet and could be considered Internet sources. Do you want your students to find authoritative Web sites or use library resources?
- Refer students to library staff for help.
Remind students that librarians and other library staff are available at reference and information desks and can provide individual help. Even students who have had a library instruction session may need additional help.
Library Course Pages
Library Course Pages are designed to lead students to the library services and resources that will help students succeed in class. Librarians can work with faculty to create a course page that will meet students’ specific research needs.
Course pages can include links to class electronic reserve materials, suggested library databases and Web sites, research strategies, contact information for personal assistance, and more. For more information, including a sample course page and how you can have a page developed for your class, please see Library Course Pages (LCP).
Sample In-class Activities
Lessons Learned: Exemplary Practices in Teaching Web Evaluation
Developed by Susan Beck from New Mexico State University
Evaluating Web Sites Tutorial
Developed by the University of Wisconsin System Women's Studies Librarian's Office
Using a Metasite Tutorial
Developed by the University of Wisconsin System Women's Studies Librarian's Office