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Services for Faculty: Research and Instruction

How to Schedule Library Instruction

To schedule library instruction, contact the Research and Instruction department by phone at 303-458-4031 (800-388-2366 ext. 4031) or by email at You may also contact individual librarians.  Please allow at least one week's advance notice to allow for scheduling rooms and proper preparation.

Why Library Instruction?

Library instruction strives to help students and other groups become independent users of libraries and informed consumers of information in multiple formats. Learners will understand how relevant sources are organized, how to access them, the importance of critical evaluation, and how to refine research strategies. This addresses curricular information needs and promotes lifelong learning.

Most college students are unfamiliar with the research strategies and information access tools that we have come to take for granted. These students are often overwhelmed by the size and complexity of academic library systems, and, as a result, they suffer from "library anxiety." Too often, they rely solely on the methods and sources they may have used earlier in other libraries, but are not appropriate at the college level. If you are planning any assignment that requires your student to locate, evaluate and use information not provided in their textbooks, then your students will benefit from library instruction.

How to Design a Successful Library Assignment

Course-related library assignments are the most effective way to introduce students to library research. The following guidelines can help you design a successful assignment that will result in a positive learning experience for your students.

  • Assume minimal library knowledge.
    Some students can find a book by title or author, but few are familiar with the concept of controlled vocabulary that is basic to the subject indexing structure of research databases.
  • Incorporate research strategy where appropriate.
    Break the process down into incremental steps, with a clear goal for each step.
    Consult a reference librarian in advance for suggestions about library resources available to support the assignment.
  • Make sure the resources needed to complete the assignment are available in the library.
    New faculty often assume all libraries own the same materials. Limited funding precludes this. 
    A book you used last year may be "missing" this year. Allow several weeks' lead time for ordering new books.
  • Recognize the dangers in assigning a whole class to use one resource.
    Competition for few materials can inspire creative, though non-cooperative, behavior.
    Please place limited resources on reserve well in advance of the assignment to insure equal access.
    Please alert librarians to upcoming assignments.
  • Avoid obscure, factual questions in a library assignment.
    "Scavenger hunt" exercises teach very little about the research process.
    Such assignments are frustrating to students and serve to increase their library anxiety.

Types of Library Instruction

Writing Analytically: In this two-part approach in the fall semester, students are introduced to the library's resources and services through a 30-minute building orientation and receive a 75-minute hands-on research session focusing on pertinent library resources and foundational research skills.

Other introductory classes: Whether it's ED 205 or an initial graduate-level research class, students receive a comprehensive overview of library services and resources.  Sessions can last from 60 to 120 minutes.

Course-related instruction: Students discover specialized resources for the course's subject, learn how to develop research strategies appropriate to the topic and their course level, and explore how to evaluate sources.

Archival presentations: Students view materials from the university's Archives and Special Collections and learn about the importance of research using primary source materials.

Individual research consultations: Research librarians advise students, staff, or faculty on research projects. Contact the Research Help Desk for a referral, or contact the appropriate subject librarian.