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3.8.2 Instruction of library use

The institution ensures that users have access to regular and timely instruction in the use of the library and other learning/information resources. (Instruction of library use)

Judgment of Compliance

The Library provides information and instructional services in a variety of ways to the Sam Houston State University community. Instructional services include: point-of-use instruction in the reference area, classroom instruction, online tutorials, and a virtual reference desk. Instruction is available face-to-face during library hours and online. The Library’s instructional services are designed to support the Library’s mission [1]. Core Requirement 2.9 and Comprehensive Standards 3.8.1, 3.8.3, and 3.9.3 provide additional information on the types of instructional services and availability of these services. These documents also provide a description of the services and instruction provided by the Student Advising and Mentoring (SAM) Center, the Reading Center, the Mathematics Lab, and the Writing Center (see Comprehensive Standards 3.4.9 and 3.8.3).

Library instruction is individualized when librarians work with students and faculty face-to-face in the reference area [2]. Here librarians help users identify the best resources and teach the uses of these resources. Librarians help users learn to evaluate internet sources and how to use electronic resources and printed resources effectively.

An online tour of the library is available on the library’s webpage [3]. For those questions that require more in-depth discussion and instruction, the students and faculty are encouraged to make an appointment with a librarian for individualized help [4] [5]. The One-to-One Program provides individualized assistance to graduate students writing a thesis or dissertation; a librarian is assigned to work with the student for the duration of the student's doctoral program or thesis research [6].

Librarians provide instruction to groups through tours, course related instruction, and workshops. A classroom and a computer lab are available for scheduled library instruction. Librarians also provide instruction sessions for classes taught at The University Center and other off-campus sites [7]. Working with the Librarian Instruction Coordinator, faculty members can schedule times to bring their entire class for a tour or an orientation/informational session on topics unique to the faculty member’s class [8]. The librarian works with the faculty member to make certain that these sessions meet the objectives of the instructor.

In 2006, the Librarians developed a set of learning objectives for the classes they instruct [9]. Subject bibliographies and assignment guides for specific classes are available to assist the user in locating resources and information [10]. At the end of the session the students are asked to evaluate the usefulness of the information introduced in the session [11]. The instructor is e-mailed a link to an online evaluation instrument after the session [12]. The librarian uses information from these two instruments to improve their classes. The results of the evaluations are kept by the Library Instruction Coordinator.

The Library Workshops provide a hands-on introduction to sources for research in specific subject areas and to RefWorks a citation management program [13]. The Library also provides workshops for faculty on the use of Turnitin, a plagiarism detection tool. Every college on campus participates in the Library instruction program; the table of instruction sessions by academic year illustrates that both undergraduate and graduate students receive library instruction [14]. Documentation including the number of participants in each session is maintained in the Reference Department and the Library Director’s office.

The Library provides a number of online instructional services to help distance learners and off campus users. The Online Instruction Series consists of short streaming audio/video presentations designed to show users how to search the online catalog, find articles, use Boolean operators, demystify library jargon and call numbers [15]. One module is devoted to finding music resources. The Online Tutorials (originally titled Virtual Instruction Series), honored by the Emerging Technologies in Instruction Committee of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) by including it in its PRIMO database as a high-quality instructional resource for students, teaches users to evaluate and locate information throughout the library [16] [17]. Users receive online assistance and instruction by linking to “Ask the Librarian” [18]; this “virtual reference desk” opened in the fall of 2003. Users can have real-time access to a librarian who can demonstrate how to search a database, help develop a research strategy or suggest appropriate resources for a given topic. The “virtual reference desk” software allows real-time instruction sessions for both individual and group sessions on the use of specific resources. In addition to online chat, this service has an e-mail option and a link to frequently asked questions about the Library.

Faculty members are kept up-to-date on new services, resources and how to use library services in several ways. Orientation for new faculty provides an excellent venue to demonstrate new resources and discuss services. Departments are encouraged to bring their faculty to the Library, and Librarians attend department meetings. The Library holds an open house on two days for all faculty members at the beginning of the academic year [19]; library resources are demonstrated and services are featured. New resources are featured on the webpage and in the Library’s newsletter [20] [19].

Instructional services are promoted on the Library’s webpage, posters in the Library and in academic buildings and resident halls. New faculty members receive a packet of information which encourages them to take advantage of the instructional services offered by the Library.

Supporting Documentation
Documentation Reference
Document Title
[1] Newton Gresham Library, Mission
[2] Library - Reference Area
[3] Library - Virtual Tour
[4] Library - Consultations, Students
[5] Library - Consultations, Faculty
[6] Library - One to One Program
[7] Library - Instruction - The University Center and Other Off-campus Sites
[8] Library - Instruction, Scheduling Classes for
[9] Newton Gresham Library Learning Objectives, 2006
[10] Subject Bibliographies and Assignment Guides
[11] Student Evaluation of Library Instruction
[12] Faculty Online Evaluation Instrument, Library
[13] Library - Workshops
[14] Library - Instruction Sessions Table
[15] Library - Online Instruction Series
[16] Library - Online Tutorial Series
[17] PRIMO Database
[18] Library "Ask A Librarian" Service
[19] Library - Newsletter - Open House
[20] Library - New Resources


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Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341
(936) 294-1111