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The West Library Instruction Policy
By the end of a student’s undergraduate education or at the start of a graduate education, a student should be able to do the following:
- Find their way around the West Library and around the West Library’s web page
- Recognize the differences among various types of periodicals and understand when using each is appropriate
- Find a book by looking in the library catalog and locate it within the library
- Request or find materials (books, articles) not available in the library
- Identify and locate peer-reviewed information
- Properly credit intellectual materials of others
- Evaluate information found online and in print
- Know when and how to ask an effective reference question
- Conduct an efficient search in databases, catalogs, and search engines, then evaluate the results for appropriateness in academic research
- Determine non-library sources for information, including open access publications, government publications, and Internet sources, that are available after graduation
- Apply skills learned with the West Library’s resources to web resources or resources from other libraries in the future
Types of Library Instruction
A. General Library Orientation
This is a basic tour of the library and its physical holdings, including circulating materials, reference materials, bound periodicals, and study areas. This basic Orientation is intended primarily for the Freshman Seminar.
B. Basic Library Skills Instruction
Basic Library Skills can include any of the following:
- The Research Process: Topic and Research Question Creation, Keyword Selection, Knowing the Tools for Research, Background Research
- Web Searching and Web Page Evaluation
- Database Searching: Keyword Selection, Searching Academic Search Complete, Finding Articles
- The Library Catalog/The Library Web Page
Basic library skills instruction is intended for lower-level undergraduates to familiarize them with locating basic library information, evaluating information for appropriateness, and incorporating library research into their research assignments. Basic Orientations are intended for General Education Curriculum Courses.
C. Subject Orientation (Basic to Advanced)
Subject Orientations are intended for upper-level undergraduate or graduate courses and seek to familiarize students with resources available to their discipline.
D. Bibliography Instruction
Bibliography Instruction includes a discussion on the ethical use of research and how to avoid plagiarizing. It emphasizes why, when, and how to cite information. Bibliography Instruction can also include the use of RefWorks and Write-N-Cite.
E. Faculty and Staff Workshops
Library instruction can also be scheduled to provide information to faculty and staff, covering topics ranging from web page evaluation, new library resources, copyright information, to library research skills tune-ups.
Guidelines for Teaching Faculty
Library instruction is only provided for members of the Texas Wesleyan community.
A. Advance Notice and Scheduling a Room
Instruction sessions are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. The Instruction Department requires a minimum of 10 working days to prepare new Library Instruction. We require a minimum of 5 working days to prepare an Instruction Session that has been previously taught.
Library Instruction can be presented in a number of locations.
- Classroom: If your classroom has a computer station for each student, the classroom is a great place for us to hold library instruction.
- Library Orientation Room: If you would like the students to see the physical library in addition to getting a demonstration of research skills, we can schedule the use of the Orientation Room (1st floor of the Library).
- Reserved Computer Lab: If you would like your students to get hands-on practice using databases but do not have computers for each student, please let the Instruction Department know well in advance (at least 3 weeks) and we can reserve a computer lab for your class.
B. Faculty Involvement and Attendance
Faculty involvement in presenting and preparing library instruction is vital to student understanding and involvement. Therefore, professors are expected to take an active role in planning the content of library instruction. Upon requesting a Library Instruction Session, the Instruction Librarian will ask a number of questions to help focus the session and determine your expectations for your students’ research. Providing us with your assignment can also help us create more specific instruction.
The professor scheduling instruction must be present for the entire library instruction session. Professors offer valuable input during the session, especially with regard to subject- and assignment-specific questions students have. Their presence also emphasizes the necessity and value of mastering library research skills. If a class is team taught or taught within a Learning Community, only one professor needs to be present.
The librarian will not convene a class without the professor present.
It is also helpful to the Instruction Librarian for the Professor to gauge student understanding ahead of time. The following are questions asked for an English assignment that resulted in a much more productive Instruction Session:
- How familiar are you with research in your field?
- When you begin researching, where do you go?
- Do you have favorite sources? A database you like?
- What does it mean to “ILL” a book or article?
- When you research, what type of sources do you mainly use? Books? Web sources? Journal articles? Why?
- Do you do most of your research at home or in the library? Why?
- How do you determine if a website is good to use for a paper?
- How frequently do you use Wikipedia when you research?
- What two pieces of advice would you give a student new to TWU and new to conducting research in your disciplinary field?
Suggestions for the Library Assignment
The West Library Reference and Instruction Librarians know that course-related and course-integrated library assignments are excellent ways to introduce students to library and evaluation skills.
We hope to help in the development of meaningful experiences with the library. In that vein, we offer a few suggestions to keep in mind when creating a library assignment:
- Assume minimal library knowledge. Students will approach your assignment with a wide variety of information gathering experience. Therefore, providing students with instructions that define library jargon or scheduling library instruction can help students gain the most from a library assignment.
- Determine the feasibility of the assignment. Please review your assignments frequently to make sure the library collection is adequate for your assignment. If the library does not hold enough materials for your assignment, please contact your Library Liaison or the Collection Development Librarian (David Thurston, 817-531-4813) to add materials to our collection. Please review your assignment to make sure the instructions are still clear and accurate. Our collections and web page do change periodically. If you would like your student to use materials you know we do not carry in the library, please advise your students which library to visit. We offer all students a TexShare card, which will grant them borrowing privileges at other libraries.
- Encourage critical thinking. “Scavenger hunt” type assignments can help students discover the physical collection of the library and occasionally help students realize the usefulness of the library for their courses. However, scavenger hunts do not generally teach the research process, nor do they require evaluation or synthesis of information. Students frequently view the library as an impediment after these types of assignments.
- Plan with a librarian. The librarians of the West Library are available to help plan, explain, and encourage the library assignment. We love libraries and want to help students recognize the value of library resources for their assignments and future research needs.