Scheduling an Instruction Session

Library instruction sessions should be scheduled at least a full week in advance. The librarian will need to know the objectives of the assignment, when it is due, and how many students will attend. Most classes are held in the library, but presentations can be done in almost any location. Instructors must plan to attend the session with their students.

Steps to schedule a library instruction session:

  1. Submit an online request or contact the library's subject specialist for your department directly.

  2. Contact the library's subject specialist for your department to discuss what will be covered in the session. Sessions can easily be tailored to address specific assignments or concerns for your class.

  3. See our Ten Ways to Improve Student Research, and consult our guidelines for bringing your students in for library instruction. In short, remember that library instruction works best under three conditions:
  • The instruction is course-related
  • The instruction is given when it is actually needed by the student
  • The instruction is openly supported by the teaching faculty


Guidelines for Faculty Arranging a Library Instruction for Their Class

Consult with your librarian well in advance of the workshop. Library instruction is most effective when it addresses a course assignment emphasizing research, information resources, or specific information competencies. Send a copy of the syllabus and assignment to your librarian well in advance of the workshop. He or she will work with you to ensure that the timing and content of the library workshop will be geared toward the goals/objective for the assignment.

Assume that students have minimal knowledge of information resources. Though many students may be familiar with using the library to check out books, most undergraduate have had little or no exposure to the vast and complex world of scholarly information resources. Though your students may seem to be computer saavvy, they will likely have had little experience with licensed scholarly databases.

Make sure the library holds the materials your course or assignment requires. Your librarian can determine if the library has the materials necessary for students to successfully complete your assignment and can recommend alternatives when necessary.

Avoid typical​ pitfalls such as:
  • Assignments that can only be completed using one particular resource, which everyone will try to get to at once.
  • Library "scavenger hunts" requiring students to find answers to a series of unrelated questions. These waste students' time and teach nothing about the actual library research process.
  • Incomplete or incorrect citations in your assignments or reading lists. Without accurate citation information, it may be impossible for your students to find information.
Put the Web in context. Consider how students may use information retrieved from Web search engines in completing an assignment. If needed, arrange for a workshop where your students can learn criteria for critically evaluating the information they find there.

Encourage your students to use the library and meet the librarians at the reference desk. Include the URL and phone numbers for the library on your syllabus or as links on your course web page. Your librarian can send you a supply of their contact cards to hand out in your class. You librarian can visit your class for a few moments to introduce themselves. Consider requiring your students to meet with a librarian as a part of completing research papers, design projects, and other assignments.