The Robert W. Woodruff Library provides orientation and instruction in the use of the library and its information resources through a variety of instructional channels, including tours, student and faculty orientation sessions, reference consultation, and course-related instruction. All instructional sessions are designed to support the unique academic programs of the institution. Instruction is provided by Information and Research Services librarians. The assignment of instruction is handled by the Information Literacy librarian who considers the subject expertise of librarians and the specific resource need as articulated by teaching faculty. General library orientation activities for new and transfer students and faculty may involve professional and paraprofessional staff members.
At the beginning of each fall term, the Library provides a visual and physical orientation to library services for new students. These are evaluated by attendees. (See Fall 2006 Orientation Report Summary for MC.) The student feedback helps to inform library plans for the next year activity and for the instruction that is delivered at the classroom level during the school year. Continuing students get the benefit of library instruction within the scope of coursework. By keeping the teaching faculty aware of resources and services, the institution is able to ensure that faculty has the knowledge to enrich the classroom assignment. Attention to classroom support and student learning is a priority, as the Library undergoes activities for planning the redesign of its physical space and the redefinition of service delivery.
Description of ongoing library activities in support of teaching and learning
General (as part of formal orientation process) - Tours are generally one half hour in length. The tour introduces users to the Library’s major services and collections, provides the physical layout and arrangement of the Library, polices and procedures for access and utilization and lets users know where to get help for future visits or assignments.
Faculty arranged - Faculty can schedule instruction for a class by completing a form on the Library’s Web site or by calling the Reference Desk. The instruction is conducted by a librarian at a prearranged and scheduled time. Prepackaged library instructional handouts are available.
New Student /Faculty Orientation - Incoming new students and new faculty are introduced to library resources and services through orientation. It is a collaborative effort involving library staff and orientation program directors for students and the office of the Chief Academic Officer for faculty at each institution who discuss and agree upon expectations prior to the orientation session. Students include first year undergraduates, graduates and transfers. Orientation may integrate several activities such as a tour of the Library, introduction and demonstration of the Library’s Web site, catalog and other available resources. Instructional handouts are also available during the sessions.
Reference assistance – The Library employs a phased approach to information and research assistance. In June 2007, the Information and Research Services Department re-designed its information service delivery to provide more customized assistance to Library users. A Research Consultation Center and an Information Services Desk have been developed. The Information Services Desk permits users to obtain answers to directional and/or general reference questions, receive circulation services, pick up/return interlibrary loan materials or reserve group study rooms in one location. This change facilitates a “one-stop” service approach to improve the library experience.
In depth research services previously delivered at the “Reference Desk” have been relocated to a new Research Consultation Center. Students and faculty now receive one-on-one, uninterrupted assistance from a reference librarian in a quiet setting. The Center has a separate entrance to a quiet office area. Students and faculty requiring more in-depth research assistance are referred to the new “Research Consultation Center” (RCC) staffed by a reference librarian. Users have the option of scheduling appointments or simply dropping by for help during office hours. The Research Consultation Center librarian also provides virtual and telephone reference services.
Ask a Reference Librarian - Students and faculty can submit questions electronically to the Library using the Ask a Librarian page on the Library’s Web site. Questions can also be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org Requests are checked daily at the beginning of the day and a response is provided within 24 hours.
Course Related Library Instruction - Each librarian is assigned a specific academic department/program within the institution and consults with faculty in developing instruction. Course related instruction can be tailored to a specific class assignment, a specific discipline, or may provide basic orientation to library research or other curricular needs of students in particular courses. Learning outcomes are discussed prior to instruction delivery. Instruction takes place on campus or in one of the training labs in the Library. Faculty can make arrangements for instruction electronically from the Library’s Web site, by contacting the Reference Desk by phone, or via walk-in.
The goals for Library instruction are parallel to the standards for Information Literacy as established by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).
Subjects may include, but are not limited to, the following:
developing effective research strategies
choosing the best research tools
searching print and electronic indexes
searching the internet for quality sources
critically evaluating information sources
finding scholarly journal articles or other scholarly works
using discipline-specific resources
finding primary materials
In February 2006, the library was awarded a planning grant from the Mellon Foundation to conduct an information literacy pilot program. The information literacy pilot began with five courses across the four colleges and included three courses for first year students: a computer literacy course, a chemistry course, and an English course. An additional English course is included for sophomores. The participants included twelve faculty (CAU – 7; ITC – 1; MC – 1; SC – 3) and almost 900 students (CAU – 700; ITC – 98; MC – 22; SC – 52).
Several mechanisms were used to assess and develop student information literacy skills. RWWL librarians worked with faculty to re-craft syllabi to include information literacy standards including performance criteria and outcomes (assignments). Students were given a pre-test to determine a baseline assessment of library skills. Following the pre-test, students took an online tutorial which served as a self-directed learning mechanism to reinforce student skills in searching, selecting, and evaluating information resources. The tutorial provided exercises and quizzes to reinforce student learning of information concepts and was based on an open source product, TILT, first produced by the University of Texas. Later in the semester, students received specialized assistance from RWWL librarians which focused on assignments given in class to help hone skills to which they had been exposed in tutorial. As a final intervention, students were given a post-test to assess retention of concepts learned throughout the semester.
The responses from faculty regarding the pilot were positive. Faculty indicated that student assignments were better in the Fall semester than in previous semesters. One faculty member was very happy to indicate that her students enjoyed their participation in the pilot. The pilot made it clear that there is a need for RWWL to review how it provides instruction to the returning adult learner vs. the traditional new freshman student learner. Participation by returning adult learners in the pilot highlighted the technological gap that can exist among different generations of learners. As RWWL moves forward in establishing its literacy program, it must include techniques for users who are less technologically savvy than Millennials or Gen X'ers. Faculty, students and librarians were asked to provide formal assessment of the pilot at the end of the Fall 2006 term. An example of the faculty assessment form is provided. The data collected during the assessment of the information literacy pilot program provided an indication of program modifications needed for the Fall 2007 program. The results of the pilot served to improve library relationships with teaching faculty and assisted in identifying target concepts for future foci in library instruction. The Library CEO/director is also a member of the Morehouse College Information Literacy Committee. The results of assessment are topics of discussion at meetings of the Information & Resource Services Department, attended by librarians, and at weekly meetings of library management.
Continuous Improvement - Feedback is collected on instruction and orientation services provided to Library users on an ongoing basis. Assessment information is utilized in planning for new services and making enhancements to existing services. As an example, the Research Rescue Room service was requested by faculty and launched in October 2006. IRS librarians were available Monday – Thursday from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. to assist students with in depth research questions and assignments. Though marketed to students, the initiative experienced low use. In part, low use might be attributed to the location of the service on the Lower Level of the Library. A new service initiative, the Research Consultation Center (RCC), has been designed to take the place of the Research Rescue Room. The RCC has a closer proximity to the Information Desk; students are escorted to the service point as soon as they inquire about assistance. In addition, to promote user knowledge and use of RWWL’s many electronic resources, the IRS department implemented E-Resource of the Month trainings. Selected e-resources are featured on the Library Web site, and audience-targeted workshops were conducted for faculty and students. The e-resource training, although heavily marketed, also experienced low attendance. Even though sessions were held at times which were hoped to accommodate a variety schedules, feedback provided suggests that the Library must work to engage faculty by developing further the liaison/faculty relationship. The Strategic Plan 2006-2009 includes action steps to address this concern.