Communications in Information Literacy, Vol 3, No 1 (2009)

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Surveying Libraries to Identify Best Practices for a Menu Approach for Library Instruction Requests

Candice Benjes-Small
Radford University

Jennifer L. Dorner
University of California, Berkeley

Robert Schroeder
Portland State University


A challenging situation has developed in regards to library instruction. With increases in both the quantity of information and the variety of information technologies being made available to researchers, the information literacy landscape is getting more complex. Simultaneously, the time allotted for library instruction is remaining essentially the same. In order to market the breadth of content available for library instruction sessions and to promote collaboration between librarians and teaching faculty in order to create optimal instruction sessions an 'a la carte menu' approach to library instruction requests was adopted by Radford University in 2004. Since the late 1990s a number of community colleges and universities have included some type of menu in their instruction request forms or documentation and the authors desired to understand what approach these institutions had taken and whether they were effective in marketing instruction and improving communication between library instructors and teaching faculty. They analyzed forty-seven adaptations of the menu available on the web and surveyed the librarians who created them. In this article the authors present the findings of the web analysis and the survey, and recommendations are given for using the menu approach to library instruction requests.



Although other models of library instruction exist, many librarians find themselves continuing to conduct one-shot sessions (typically defined as a one-time meeting with students for a 50- or 80-minute class period.)  While one-shot sessions remain popular, most librarians feel pressure to include in them more content than is pedagogically sound. From the start, library instructors were concerned about crowding content into one lecture (Eldridge, 1928, p. 986), a concern even more pressing now. As the universe of information expands exponentially, our allotted time with students remains fixed and our “one-time lectures often serve more to confuse than enlighten; so much information is stuffed into one hour that very little is retained.” (Self & Kampe, 1980, p. 20).

Instruction librarians understand the constraints of the one-shot session and have worked to improve it through integrating active learning techniques and a more careful alignment of the session with course learning goals.  Communicating the constraints to faculty has continued to be a struggle, and apart from providing advice to “stand firm” against unrealistic faculty expectations, the literature offers few practical solutions for dealing with the issue of content overload. An exception is an approach offered by librarians Candice Benjes-Small and Blair Brainard at Radford University (Benjes-Small & Brainard, 2006), who developed a library instruction menu that faculty could choose from when scheduling an instruction session.  The menu lists commonly requested topics with estimated time durations: 10 minutes for developing a search strategy, 10 minutes for interpreting citations, 30 minutes for an introduction to bibliographic management tools, etc.  The menu’s primary goal is to show the class instructor that there are limits to what can be covered in a one-shot; the instructor is required to prioritize the topics that are most relevant to the needs of the course.  At Radford University, the menu (see Appendix C) provided a practical and pragmatic solution to the most problematic aspect of the one-shot session – the overburdening of content. Implementation of the tool also provided unexpected benefits, serving to better market the Library’s instructional services and providing a platform for improved librarian-faculty collaboration on learning outcomes for the session.  Internally, the menu was used to standardize instruction among librarians, ascertaining that all librarians were covering the same objectives in a given topic. 

It was worth investigating this approach further to see if other academic libraries successfully adopted the approach and what benefits had been produced.  This article describes the methods used to determine which libraries were using some type of menu tool, a survey of librarians at those libraries, and an analysis of the results. The purpose was to determine what prompted the adoption of the menu approach, what issues have arisen from its adoption, and what benefits it yielded.


A thorough search of library sites on the Web yielded a list of 47 libraries (not including the Radford University site at  using the menu approach to arrange library instruction, though not all libraries explicitly identify it as such.  The group included libraries in 23 states plus the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario. Of the 47 institutions 57% were graduate degree granting institutions, 13% were baccalaureate level, and 30% were community colleges (See Figure 1).

The number of potential library topics offered (menu choices) varied considerably. The smallest number of institutions (19%) offered less than 6 choices, 40% offered between 6 and 10 choices, and another 40% offered more than 10 different choices (See Figure 2). 

Most of the menus (74%) offered an “other” choice inviting customization of a library session, while 26% did not make this open-ended offer. (A list of the libraries with links to their menu instruction request forms is provided in Appendix A.)

The content and scope of choices offered in the menus varied widely among the institutions. Many (43%) offered only generic choices, such as “basic library tour,” “how to use the library catalog,” or “evaluating Internet sources.” The remaining 57% offered a mix of generic and course or discipline specific options, such as “specialized database research,” “contemporary authors demonstration,” or “Geographic Information Services.” In medical or science libraries, the menu choices logically focused on the specialized research skills and resources required in those subject areas. One institution, the DeWitt Wallace Library of Macalester College, had four different menus -- one each for “First Year Courses,” “Course Integrated Modules,” “Senior or Advanced Modules,” as well as information technology related classes offered jointly with campus computing.

While each of the library web sites reviewed included an instruction request form, the vast majority (81%) of the libraries only provided for submission of a paper copy of the form, while 15% of the sites only allowed online submission, and 4% provided for paper or online requests (See Figure 3). 

The menu web pages were also reviewed for how libraries displayed their menu choices and how well the options were integrated into the instruction request form itself.  At the majority of sites (51%) a menu with check boxes or radio buttons was seamlessly integrated into the form that faculty used to request classes. At 19% of the sites the menu only listed the choices (with no check boxes), but the menu was still integrated into the instruction request form. At the remainder of the sites (30%) the menu was not integrated at all into the instruction request form (See Figure 4). Often the topic options were listed along with the email or telephone contact numbers of the subject librarians responsible for instruction.

About half of the sites (53%) included requests for more information about the students’ assignments. The researchers were also curious as to whether the form included a question for the teaching faculty asking “what are your research related learning outcomes?” Only 4 of the 47 sites reviewed included this type of request.

There were some unique and innovative variations of the menu at many of the sites reviewed. Many of the libraries extended the menu so that it informed the faculty about different facets of the instruction program – turning the menu into a good public relations tool. Some of these adaptations were:

  1. Explicitly calling it an “Information Literacy Instruction Menu.”
  2. Asking for, at the top of the menu, the number of minutes the faculty would like the session to last.
  3. Providing two options for each menu item: a lecture/demonstration of a concept or a hands-on approach, with the time increased for this option.
  4. Allowing for two levels of instruction: “introduction to a topic” and “reinforcing a topic,” with more time given for introducing a topic.
  5. Advertising that the librarians use active learning techniques that keep students interested and involved.
  6. Creating a menu that offers a host of potential online tutorials related to library research. Librarians offered to create a unique web page based on the faculty’s tutorial choices along with quizzes that, once graded, are passed along to the instructor.
  7. Inviting class instructors to look up available times on an online classroom schedule.
  8. Inviting faculty to work with librarians to develop a research-related assignment.
  9. Offering to have librarians create a research guide for the class or modules for WebCT classes.
  10. Specifying the learning outcomes for the menu items, with at least one menu mapping them to the information literacy competencies of the university.
  11. Including a question as to whether the instructor would be willing to have the class fill out an instruction evaluation form.
  12. Indicating that a subject librarian will be in contact for details after the request form is submitted.

While the instruction menus discovered through the Web search included information about what services were provided, the Web pages could not describe how the menus were used and if they were seen as beneficial.  In the spring of 2007, the authors developed an online survey (Appendix B) to gauge librarians’ opinions of their own menus.  Through the process of identifying instruction menus, the researchers were able to gather contact information for each library, in most cases identifying librarians who had instruction or information literacy responsibilities. When this was not possible, the generic library email address or contact information for the library director was recorded.  Emails were sent to the library contacts, inviting them to complete the survey.  Of the 47 libraries contacted, 19 (40%) participated.

Survey Analysis

Creation of the Menu
The menu approach to library instruction is a recent development.  Two libraries have been using a menu since the late 1990s, but more than half (63%) said they started in 2005 or later.  The responses revealed common reasons for creating the menus, the most frequently mentioned being improving communication with faculty members. Many of those surveyed were searching for ways to help teaching faculty understand the limitations of a 50 minute session.  The menu tells faculty what can be taught, but also at what cost of time. Asked why the menu was created, one librarian replied that it was “in response to instructors requesting we show students everything they need to know about the library in 50 minutes.  The librarians felt we were just ‘vomiting’ up everything we could and the students were not learning anything.”  Stating a similar motivation, another librarian said that, “a lot of instructors have an ‘inoculation’ idea of library instruction, and it was necessary to give them a sense of how much there was to teach, and about how long it would take.”

Creating a mechanism to avoid content overload in library sessions was a common motivation for the adoption of a menu approach, but it was not the only and for some not the primary motivation. At some libraries the menu is mostly a promotional tool for library instruction, created by one librarian “not only to diversify our offerings, but also as a marketing tool to inform faculty and other users about some of the things about which we have good expertise to share and/or would make their information-seeking, gathering, and evaluating lives easier.”  Said another, “We wanted to give faculty a range of choices -- from ‘regular’ library research to plagiarism to RefWorks -- that they could choose from.”  One said her institution created the menu to show faculty that librarians could be flexible and responsive to professors’ concerns about class time—rather than require a whole class session, a librarian could cover some material in a shorter time.  Some developed their menus to help both faculty and librarians understand information literacy objectives.

In most cases, the amount of time assigned to each menu topic was decided jointly by the instruction librarians. There were rarely any scientific approaches to this effort -- as one librarian shared, “At first we guessed!  Then, as we designed the lesson plans, we determined the actual amount of time it took to cover the objectives of the class.”  A majority (68%) said they estimated, guessed, or based their times on personal experience.  A few used more quantitative data, including the impressive response, “We first created learning outcomes, created related activities, then scripted out a rough teaching plan…then [did] a trial run.”

The librarians advertised the menus mainly by providing links in emails and handouts (79%) and/or incorporating the menu into instruction request forms (58%).  Respondents also used print flyers and posters, links from the library homepage, and one group of imaginative librarians performed a skit at a college faculty forum.

Use and Effects of the Menu
The survey showed that the menu approach did have some influence on controlling the amount of content covered in requested instruction sessions. About half of the respondents (53%) said the menu changed the kinds of instruction requests received from faculty.  Of those, 90% said the faculty asked for different content to be covered; 60% said instructors brought the same class back for additional sessions, and 40% said instructors brought more classes.  Some of the respondents said that the menu served as a way for librarians to initiate conversations with faculty about library instruction and educate the faculty about research skills, which was subsequently seen in more focused requests by faculty.

By providing more information about library instruction in general the menu also can act as a catalyst to make the pre-session librarian-faculty dialog a richer and more fruitful experience.  One respondent shared, “Faculty know ahead of time the instruction sessions they might be interested in.  We refine each individual session in conversations with faculty.”  Almost all respondents (95%) agreed that the menu improves faculty understanding of the library instruction program.  Most also agreed that faculty accept the menu’s time limits (79%) and that the menu gives faculty reasonable expectations of library session’s outcomes (95%).  Some commented that the menu also won faculty cooperation by showcasing the librarian’s flexibility in providing numerous options from which the faculty could choose.  But while the menu served as a tool for starting the conversation about library instruction, there was no consensus among respondents as to whether it helped promote discussion of information literacy on campus (42% agreed that it did, 26% disagreed, and 32% were unsure).

Some librarians had hoped that the menu would encourage collaboration between librarians and teaching faculty -- an elusive goal. As Evan Farber tells us, “Over the last several decades many librarians who have taken part in course-related bibliographic instruction have written and spoken about a problem that every one of them has encountered – the problem of cooperation with teaching faculty. The large number of articles in periodicals, plus chapters in books and presentations to conferences that dealt with the problem all attest to the problem’s prevalence, persistence, and importance” (Farber, 1999, p. 229). More recent evidence of this was provided by a study at the University of Manitoba, where librarians learned that only 11% of the teaching faculty collaborates with librarians to design library assignments. (Ducas & Michaud-Oystryk, 2003, p. 58). It takes a concerted effort to even get copies of class assignments in advance of a planned library session. Rabine and Cardwell (2000, p. 326) complain that in their role of guest lecturer, the librarian has “little control over the assignment created by the instructor and, on occasion, the librarian may not know exactly what the assignment is.”

While for only some of the respondents the menu advanced the goal of faculty-librarian collaboration, 74% agreed that it was an effective marketing tool. “The menu has made faculty more aware of topics that librarians teach. The most common reaction was, ‘I didn’t know that librarians taught all these topics.’ It helped faculty see new possibilities for working with librarians.”  Although the survey and the respondents used the word marketing, “promoting” would probably be a more accurate term.  As Nims (1999) explains,

Promoting is simply employing creative ways to make library products and services visible to users. Typically, academic librarians have a service, such as class-related instruction, term paper clinics, or faculty workshops, which they have determined people need. The service may be established or new, but it is a decided on endeavor. At that point, librarians have brainstormed on ways and means of bringing the service to the attention of the user pool and making it appear attractive and inviting. (p. 251)

Given that definition, the menu should be seen as an effective promotional tool. Although the library literature contains many works about marketing and promoting library services, few concentrate solely on instruction.  In recent years, articles that discuss ways to increase library instruction interest among faculty have instead focused on developing collaborations with individual professors or departments (e.g. Badke, 2008; Brown, 2002).

At Radford University, an additional and unexpected benefit of the menu was the opportunity for all the instruction librarians to work together on the project.  Most of the time a librarian is in the classroom without a library colleague, teaching sessions designed in relative isolation.  Working collaboratively to put the menu together -- what should be included, what objectives should be achieved, how long each should take to cover -- was a rare chance for all the instruction librarians to work towards a single goal.  The menu itself was an achievement, but the improvements to the instruction program overall that resulted from this collaboration was an even greater benefit. Survey respondents frequently communicated similar positive experiences. Said one respondent, “the menu has given our librarians a new challenge and made our instruction services more relevant and active.  Since our teaching librarians were not trained as teachers, we had to really adapt our attitude toward the classes and actively choose what learning objectives were important.”

Another benefit some respondents mentioned was the help it provided in standardizing instruction given by the librarians. The process of designing the menu and using it provided confirmation that all librarians would know the scope of the topics offered, the depth of the coverage (and about how long that would take) and what objectives should be achieved.  The majority of respondents agreed that librarians adhered to the menu’s time limits (69%); that the menu gives the instruction librarians reasonable expectations of the outcomes from a library session (89%); and that the menu helps standardize teaching of basic library skills (79%).  One respondent wrote, “Having an itemized list of our offerings, I think, forces us to constantly analyze our offerings and make additions or changes based on feedback, new ideas, etc. I think one of the greatest things it has done for us is that it standardizes what we teach/learning outcomes no matter which librarian is teaching a class.”

Some respondents to the survey have plans to improve the menu when time permits, such as including the menu in the online request form and incorporating learning objectives (either general or the ACRL Standards).  When discussing changes to the menu, respondents discussed the difficulty faced when wanting to list more options and information without making the menu too long to use:  “Try to keep it simple!  This has been a big challenge for us.”
Some revealed frustration with forces beyond the control of the instruction department (and often beyond the library).  One wished for a more standardized college curriculum: “This would be more effective if librarians and gen. ed. courses…sat down and agreed to a list of information literacy topics that would be covered in each course -- a coherent curriculum!”  Others are frustrated with faculty who do not use the menu: “Most faculty don’t use it. I still get most requests via email or phone and spend considerable time in following up…something I’d hoped I could avoid with the form.” One respondent was considering deleting the menu altogether.

Most of the respondents (79%), however, said they were satisfied with the menu approach to library instruction.  “It changed our instruction program from reactionary to proactive.  Librarians are more excited about trying new activities and having a tool to improve classes.”


Based on the results of the survey, anecdotal evidence, and personal experience, the authors conclude that the instruction menu can be very effective.  Its efficacy in aiding communication with faculty, educating faculty on the constraints of a one-shot session, and promoting library instruction have been realized for the majority of menu users.  Other, perhaps unintended, benefits include standardizing and improving the instruction provided by librarians.  As one respondent shared, “The menu has given our librarians a new challenge and made our instruction services more relevant and active.  Since our teaching librarians were not trained as teachers, we had to really adapt our attitude toward the classes and actively choose what learning objectives were important.  The menu gave us the format for going from ‘talking heads’ to actual teaching of research skills and strategies.”

For librarians considering the development of an instruction menu for their instruction programs, the authors suggest the following best practices:

Look at examples of library instruction menus.  These examples can help explain the menu concept to colleagues, can jumpstart your brainstorming as to what should go in your menu, and help you decide on layout and format of the menu. Appendix A includes the URLs of the instruction menus the authors found in their research for this article, and searching for the phrases “information literacy menu” or “library instruction menu” in a web search engine may reveal more samples.

Involve all librarians who take part in the library instruction program.  Although a few survey respondents said the menu was created by just one person, the majority shared positive experiences working with their colleagues in the development of the menu.  Since the menu concept works best when all the librarians adhere to its constraints, having universal buy-in is important.  Also, once you have an established menu, educate new librarians about its purpose.  These librarians may not have encountered the problems the menu seeks to solve and may not understand its effectiveness.   Additionally, the menu can be a tool for furthering your conversations among library instructors about learning outcomes and research strategies

Start small and simple.  Suppress the urge to list every possible topic for any and all classes.  To be usable, the menu needs to be readable, and that means keeping it short and to the point.  Some libraries limit the menu choices to lower-level courses, which tend to be more general. 

Revise often.  To improve the menu, one respondent wanted to expand it to “include new resources; new instruction methods, and [take] into account the skills and experiences of the students.”  It is essential that you update your offerings to reflect your faculty’s and students’ needs.  Another agreed that the menu “requires constant updating, which gives librarians the opportunity to try new teaching methods.  We may need to add/delete classes that are not used.”  Others mentioned changing the menu to modify time limits, to give faculty more choices, and to offer specialized topics for upper-level classes, all the while keeping it from becoming too long and cumbersome.

Stress the menu’s flexibility and remember its limitations.  Some faculty may believe that by requesting a menu item, such as Website evaluation, their class will be receiving a canned, generalized presentation with no tie to their particular assignments.  One respondent mentioned dissatisfaction with the menu because classes needed more specialized instruction. Those who were more satisfied praised their menus as being very fluid and flexible, serving as a starting point for conversations with the faculty about their students’ needs.  It is clear that the menu can be a useful tool for designing an instruction session, but it is not a replacement for talking with the faculty member.

Publicize it.  A menu’s success often depends on whether the faculty will use it when requesting library instruction.  All of the menus in this study were on the libraries’ Web sites, but how easy they were to find in each site varied widely.  Some respondents plan to integrate the menu into existing online request forms; others are using hyperlinks between the form and the menu.  The survey results section mentions other methods used for promoting the menu. Much depends on your current system for library instruction requests. If your faculty members are accustomed to making a short phone call to a librarian, they may be resistant to completing an online form or reading through a menu. 

Instruction librarians often have a love/hate relationship with one-shot sessions: They are both the bread-and-butter and the bane of library instruction.  Throughout the library literature, scholars have examined the flaws of this model: the time constraints, the struggle to connect with students, the lack of communication and collaboration with the teaching faculty member.  But at the same time, survey after survey reveals that despite the existence of other models, such as librarian-taught credit courses and train-the-trainer approaches, the great majority of library instruction is still done as one-shots.  While the instruction menu is not a cure-all for the perceived deficiencies of the one-shot, this study shows that many librarians have found using a menu approach to structure one-shot sessions provides a variety of benefits to both library instructors and teaching faculty.

A special thanks to Eric Ackermann the Assessment Librarian at the McConnell Library at Radford University  for his invaluable assistance in designing our survey.


Badke, W. (2008). Information literacy and faculty. Online, 32(3), 47-49.

Benjes-Small. C., & Brainard, B. (2006). And today we'll be serving ... an instruction a la carte menu. C&RL News, 67, 80 -82.

Brown, C. (2002). Integrating information literacy into the science curriculum. College & Research Libraries, 63, 111-122.
Ducas, A. M., & Michaud-Oystryk, N. (2003). Toward a new enterprise: Capitalizing on the faculty/librarian partnership. College & Research Libraries, 64, 55-74.

Eldridge, B. L. (1928). An experiment in library instruction for college freshmen. Library Journal, 53, 986-988.

Farber, E. (1999). Faculty-librarian cooperation: A personal retrospective.  Reference Services Review, 27, 229-234.

Nims, J. (1999). Marketing library instruction services: Changes and trends.  Reference Services Review, 27, 249-253.

Rabine, J., & Cardwell, C. (2000). Start making sense: Practical approaches to outcomes assessment for libraries. Research Strategies, 17, 319-335.

Self, J. R., & Kampe, P. C. (1980). Library instruction in the real world: The advantages of the independent approach. Proceedings from the 2nd Southeastern Conference on Approaches to Bibliographic Instruction, 19 -24.


Appendix A: Web sites reviewed for this article

(Note: As URLs change frequently if a link below doesn’t work try searching the Internet Archive at ).

Arkansas State University

Avila University (MO)

Brescia University College (ONT, Canada)

Brock University (ONT, Canada)

Central Piedmont Community College (NC)

The City Colleges of New York

College of the Mainland (TX)

Colorado School of Mines

Colorado State University

Community College of Allegheny County (PA)

Dallas Baptist University

Denison University (OH)
DeSales University (PA)

Dowling College (NY)

Edinboro University (PA)

Gettysburg College (PA)

George Washington University Medical Center (DC)

Green River Community College (WA)

Hagerstown Community College (MD)

Illinois Wesleyan University

Indiana University, Kokomo

Kansas State University

Lake Forest College (IL)

Lane Community College (OR)

Laramie County Community College (WY)

Louisiana Tech University

Macalester College ( MN)

Medicine Hat College (AB, Canada)

Montgomery College (MD)

Mountain View College (TX)

Murray State University (KY)

Northwestern Michigan College

Parkland College, Champaign (IL)

Reading Area Community College (PA)

Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

Spalding University (KY)

Syracuse University (NY)

Union County College (NJ)

University of Alaska, Southeast

University of Florida

University of Florida, Health Sciences

University of Evansville (IN)

University of Hawaii at Manoa, School of Medicine

University of Wisconsin, Baraboo/Sauk County

Vanderbilt University (TN)

Washburn University, (KS)

Youngstown State University (OH)

Appendix B: Instruction Menu Use in Academic Libraries Survey

1. When did you begin using the menu? (text box)

2. Why did you create a menu? (text box)

How did you determine the time limit for each menu item? (text box)

3. How do you publicize the menu? (Check all that apply)

Provide links in e-mails/handouts
Provide links in instruction request form
Menu is part of the instruction request form
Other (please specify)

4. Has using the menu changed the kinds of instruction requests received from your faculty?

If yes:
Please select all that apply:
More sessions
Fewer sessions
Different content
More sessions for same class
Other changes (please specify)

If no, move to next question

5. In general, how strongly do you agree with the following statements?

6. Our faculty accept the menu’s time limits

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

7. The instruction librarians adhere to the menu’s time limits

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

8. The menu improves faculty understanding of our library instruction program

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

9. The menu is an effective marketing tool for library instruction

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

10. The menu gives our instruction librarians reasonable expectations of the outcomes from a library session

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

11. The menu gives our faculty reasonable expectations of the outcomes from a library session

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

12. The menu helps our instruction librarians standardize the teaching of basic library skills.

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

13. The menu helps promote discussion of information literacy on campus

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

14. Overall, our instruction librarians are satisfied with the menu approach

Strongly agree
Strongly disagree
Not applicable/ Not sure

15. Other than the ones mentioned in this survey, please list any other benefits of the menu. (textbox)

16. How would you improve your menu?(textbox)

Do you have any other comments of suggestions related to the instruction menu? (textbox)

Appendix C. Sample a la carte menu – Radford’s McConnell Library’s

Instruction a la Carte Menu What is this?

Not sure what we can teach, or how long a topic will take? The below list shows our most popular topics. This is not an exhaustive list; if you would like other resources or topics addressed, we’d be happy to discuss the options with you.

We have two "menus": one is a general list that is applicable to any class (For All Classes), and one that lists offerings for students with some basic library research skills (For Upper Level Classes). We also have a list of "other options" for our Univ 100 and E102 classes.

Topics and Time Requirements

For All Classes

Will your students need to…

Points Covered

Time Required

Develop a search strategy? (highly recommended)

Brainstorming a topic
Narrowing topics
Identifying keywords and synonyms

10 minutes

Find full text articles?

Identifying different parts of article citations
Basic introduction to accessing full text articles from print and online citations

20 minutes

Use the library’s catalog to look for books or DVDs?

Finding books and videos on a topic
Accessing electronic books
Using call numbers to locate items in the building

10 minutes

Know the difference between popular and scholarly articles?

Comparing and contrasting journals vs magazines articles
Discussing the publication process

20 minutes

Evaluate Websites?

Analyzing sites for credibility

40 minutes

Learn how to avoid plagiarism?

Recognizing what is plagiarism
Understanding paraphrasing
Ethics and issues of academic integrity

40 minutes

Use general interest databases to find articles on common, popular topics?

Using databases like Academic Search Complete to find articles on topics
Using the "find full text" link to retrieve articles

15 minutes per database

Use APA, MLA or Chicago/Turabian?

Location of APA and MLA help pages
Identifying different parts of article citations
Citing a print article in APA or MLA
(Note: we have stand-alone Survivor workshops that go into much more detail about APA, MLA and Chicago)

30 minutes for brief overview
50 minutes for more in-depth coverage


For Upper Level Classes (Students have library basics)

Will your students need to…

Points Covered

Time Required

Mine a good article to discover other relevants sources on their topics?

Finding full text from a bibliography or works cited list
Reading citations
Distinguishing between book and article citations
Finding the full titles of abbreviated journal names
Using the catalog and journal finder to locate items
Searching a database to find related articles (especially through the use of subject headings)

30 minutes

Track the literature to find articles which cited an important work?

Using Web of Knowledge and other tools to find citation information

20 minutes

Identify the different types of scholarly articles?

Comparing and distinguishing between: research articles and literature reviews; primary vs. secondary
Discussing what peer-reviewed means

15 minutes

Use EndNote?

How to import citations from a database into EndNote
How to create a works cited page in EndNote
How to change journal styles for the works cited page
How to attach PDFs

Demo- 15 minutes

Hands-on- 50 minutes

Search specialized databases for their fields?

How to search for topics in PsycINFO, CINAHL; ERIC; Sociological Abstracts, Web of Science, etc.

30 minutes per database

Request articles and books through Interlibrary Loan?

How to log in to ILL
How to request an article
How to access articles received

10 minutes (demo)

Other Options:

Univ100 Library Challenge! = 50 minutes
Students play a Jeopardy-style game, complete with buzzers and prizes, to learn about McConnell Library. Both faculty and peer instructors are required to attend, and the students need to complete the library exercise in the textbook before attending the session.

Eng 102 Library Session I = 50 minutes
Searching for articles: Search strategy and the database most appropriate for your assignment

Eng 102 Library Session II = 50 minutes
Evaluating sources: discussion of what is a reputable source, with an emphasis on Web sites.

You may also suggest your students attend Library Survivor workshops. These are a great way to help students with library skills outside of class time.

To set up a library session, use the online form. We ask that you request a session at least one week in advance; you will receive a confirmation usually within 24 hours of its receipt.

You can also contact any of the instruction librarians directly:

Candice Benjes-Small, Instruction Team Leader (540-831-6801) or
Eric Ackermann (540- 831-5488) or
Blair Brainard (540-831-5688) or
Gene Hyde (540-831-5692) or
Kevin Tapp (540-831-7652) or
Lisa Vassady (540-831-5686) or