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Faculty Resource Guide

The Information Literacy Program at Hampshire College

A librarian can provide instruction to your students in courses at all levels. We're dedicated to helping students become critical and engaged users and creators of information, whether it's through the library, online, or out in the world.

Students' information needs are constantly growing along with their knowledge, so the library instruction program does not stop at the first year level. If your course involves any sort of research, we highly recommend integrating an information literacy instruction session into your class.

Potential Topics and Concepts Covered in Library Instruction

Each of the librarians have our own specialties and teaching styles, but in general here are some examples of what we can offer in terms of information literacy:

At the introductory level (tutorial, or other 100-level course), depending on the topic of the course, the assignment at hand, and the existing skills of students, students might learn some combination of these skills and ways of thinking:

  • Practice searching for physical and electronic materials through the HC library website.
  • Understand that different formats of information (tweets, editorials, review articles, conference proceedings etc.) are the result of a certain process of creation, with a specific audience and purpose in mind.
  • Practice finding materials in the library, or request them from the 5 colleges. (We use Library of Congress Classification for our call numbers, as do most U.S. academic libraries).
  • Develop strategies for selecting a research topic.
  • Learn about the different purposes of popular sources (blogs, news, fiction) compared with more scholarly sources (academic journals, scholarly books, etc.), and develop the wisdom to navigate across boundaries when appropriate.
  • Learn about the library building (copiers, scanners, places to study, unexpected collections, etc.- this generally happens with tutorials as a tour during orientation time).
  • Get some tips and tricks for doing effective searches, whether it's in the catalog, one or two specific databases, or the open web.
  • Evaluate sources as they find them, to make sure each is reliable, accurate, and relevant to their needs.
  • Learn about the highly focused search strategy known as Boolean Logic (AND, OR, NOT) for keyword searches, start to learn about controlled vocabularies (such as LOC subject headings).
  • Find out how (and why) to incorporate the work of others into their own work, and how to give full credit through citation.
  • Take advantage of their existing skills using Google and Wikipedia, but for an academic purpose (we don't encourage citing Wikipedia but we discuss ways it can often lead to useful sources).

Are your students pros at all of the above? There's always more to learn! Here are some additional topics librarians can teach:

  • Considering scholarship as a conversation and empowering students to add their voices.
  • Learning about multiple types of databases from very general (e.g. Academic Search Premier) to highly specialized (e.g. Hispanic American Periodicals Index).
  • Optimizing citation management programs such as Zotero or Mendeley.
  • Identifying mainstream opinions, as well as alternative or underrepresented ones, within a given discipline.
  • Encouraging informed skepticism (and yes, some sources are still trustworthy), and other ideas of concern to students in the "Post-Truth" era.
  • Research as a mode of inquiry requiring curiosity and an open mind.
  • Becoming fluent in the jargon of one or more disciplines.
  • Recognizing different categories of scholarly journal articles, such as review articles, meta-analyses, and case studies.
  • Finding government documents and legal information sources.
  • Finding and using archival resources, both at Hampshire and beyond, in person and online through digital collections.
  • Zines & comics (often as a window into other conversations, such as copyright/copyleft, censorship, etc.)
  • Thinking about information as a commodity that costs labor, time, and money to produce. Considerations of paywalls, subscriptions, open access, and Google, in this context.
  • Using and citing high-quality images, sound and media files, accessing ARTstor and other image databases.
  • Learning about customizable Google Maps and other visualization tools.
  • Managing digital storytelling projects.
  • And more!

Booking a Library Instruction Session

  1. Look at your schedule and figure out a date (or two possible dates) that might work for your students, and email or call your librarian.
  2. We appreciate having least two weeks' notice whenever possible! Librarians' schedules fill quickly, and we tailor the content and activities for each instruction session to the needs of a particular class. The more lead time you can give us, the more relevant the session will be for your students.
  3. If the session is happening in conjunction with a specific assignment, it's best to try timing the library session for a week or so after they've received the assignment and perhaps tried some searching on their own, so that our advice is timely and students feel like we met their needs.
  4. The librarian will get back to you with a location (often the Knowledge Commons Classroom), and we'll request information about the course, assignment, and/or your expectations for the session. Librarians have lots of different lesson plan options and we generally have a good idea of what is helpful for students at the Div I, II or III levels, but we always welcome your input, since you know your students best.
  5. A week or so before the session we will often confirm the session and check in with you about the content we've planned.

After the session, it is extraordinarily helpful to provide feedback about what worked or what could be improved for next time. We are working on some feedback forms for faculty and students to help us assess our Information Literacy instruction program.