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Teaching WRITL Courses: Library Instruction Sessions

Library Instruction Sessions

Library instruction sessions are

  • One time or multiple sessions for your students taught by a member of the library faculty, usually in the library and scheduled during your normal class meeting time
  • Structured to address specific learning outcomes related to an assigned research project
  • Excellent foundations for students, who typically need orientation to discipline-specific library resources & college-level research techniques

We are happy to meet with your students more than once. We’ve had notable success teaching multiple sessions for a single course, especially if students are doing advanced research and/or are struggling to find sources.

To discuss options and to set up sessions, contact your department liaison (or any librarian you would like to work with, even if that librarian is not your liaison). To see library classroom availability, view the library's instruction calendar.

Library Session FAQs

When's the best time to bring students in for a session? Right when they pick topics or later?

  • Sessions work best when students have topics they are researching. Students are much more invested in the session when they see the direct benefit for them and have a topic they can use during class. This depends on the students & the project, however, so consult with a librarian for tips on timing your session.

Where do the session(s) happen?

  • Instruction sessions usually take place in the library’s eclassroom (seats 20, although we can squeeze more if necessary) or the smaller lab (seats 10). We have also done sessions off site from time to time, as well as on Zoom or Google Meets.

How far in advance should I schedule the session?

  • Generally, we’d prefer at least a week to prepare for the session(s), although we’ve worked with shorter notice from time to time. Try to schedule the session(s) as far in advance as possible to avoid conflict with librarian & library classroom schedules.

There are six of you.  Who should I contact for a session(s)?

  • You are welcome to contact any librarian of your choice to lead the session. (We share instruction responsibilities.) You are not required to only work with your library liaison. Starting with your library liaison can be beneficial, however, if you don’t know where to start. Your library liaison will also have a strong sense of research materials in your area, as well as insight into the common issues students in your department face.

If I ask you for a session(s), aren’t I just adding to your workload?

  • Not at all! Instruction sessions are part of our teaching load as faculty members.

Should I plan on being at the session(s)?

  • Sessions work well when students see your commitment. While we'll work with your students no matter what, we encourage you to refrain from scheduling sessions on days when you're absent, as this sends students the message that the library session is simply filler and the library faculty operates as substitute teachers. When you are present and attentive, students pick up on the cues that the session is important. Librarians welcome occasional comments from you about specific research tools and tips, and we might solicit comments about research from you during class as well.

Mission of the Library's Instruction Program

The library's support for student learning embraces classroom learning, individual consultations, the design of the library's physical and virtual spaces, and the curation and discovery of resources. We seek to develop students’ understanding of information: where it comes from, how it circulates, how it can be interpreted, and how it can be created. We foster students' disposition to inquire ethically and with an open mind in order to actively participate in the world as free human beings. Our teaching is a collaboration with faculty in all departments and programs. While this kind of learning occurs in courses and experiences across campus, the library faculty strives to ensure all students have the opportunity to develop a nuanced understanding of information.

Assessing Research Competencies

Research Across the Curriculum

The library faculty is committed to ensuring that every student develops sophisticated research skills and attitudes. We want to partner with you and your department or program to provide a comprehensive, systematic research instruction approach that is shared between library and classroom faculty. We seek to help all Gustavus students develop information literacy skills that will help them pursue lifelong learning and make them informed citizens. 

If your department or program is interested, we will set up a series of conversations to help you articulate the research competencies you want your majors/minors to have. We'll then work to identify where in the curriculum specific instruction takes place, as well as ways to assess student learning. This approach insures that all students graduate prepared to gather, evaluate, synthesize and produce information in whatever field they pursue.

Our most developed approach on campus has been a semester-long library lab as part of POL 200: Analyzing Politics.  The lab grew out of a collaboration between Chris Gilbert & Kate Knutson in Political Science and Julie Gilbert in the Library.  Assessment data indicate that the lab has a high impact on student research skills, both during the time students are taking POL 200 and later in the major. While this is just one possible approach, the lab can be tailored to fit other disciplines and is scalable for other departments and programs.

 Please contact any of the library faculty to discuss research in your discipline further.

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