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Information & Instruction

At the completion of this section, you should be able to:

Begin by viewing the class presentation in Vimeo. Then, read each of the sections of this page.

Explore each of the following topics on this page:


Information Instruction

instructionBibliographic instruction, user education, library orientation, information skills instruction... these are just a few of the terms used to describe learning experiences in the library setting.

McAdoo (2012) described different formats of library instruction:

School and Academic Libraries

Since the late 1800s, library instruction has been a part of school settings.

In the K-12 environment the format for instruction is sometimes dictated by the school system of local administration. For instance, some elementary schools require that librarians provide instruction during a scheduled time each week. In other cases, flexible scheduling allows librarians to collaborate with teachers as needed. For instance, the librarian may spend a week with fifth graders working on states projects. At the high school or college level, the librarian may infuse information literacy skills into a freshman English course or a senior level research course.

Elementary class

According to McAdoo (2012), the responsibility for library instruction in colleges varies from institution to institution. McAdoo identified two approaches:

In many cases, academic librarians are assigned as liaisons to departments developing rapport with faculty. The librarian may offer workshops as requested. Recently, the term "embedded librarian" has been used to describe a librarian who becomes an integral part of subject-area courses. The librarian plays an active role in the course. Both students and faculty view the librarian as the person who can connect the course to valuable information resources. They may be involved in team teaching.

A wide range of library and information science environments exist. Learning occurs in all of these settings.

try itTry It!
Go to Information Literacy Kits: Leading Edge Librarians from the Indiana Library Federation Explore the wide range of activities and opportunities. Think about how these could be adapted for your teaching and learning environment.

Read Cook, Jean Marie (May 2014). A Library Credit Course and Student Success Rates: A Longitudinal Study. Think about the pros and cons of credit courses rather than workshops at the university level.


maturePublic Libraries

From after-school programs to business seminars, public librarians are increasingly involved with instructional programs.

In some cases, instruction focuses on information literacy skills such as using the OPAC, accessing government documents, or using the photocopier.

Sagar (1995, 51) provides a definition of library instruction that reflects the activities of the public library "such as providing library tours; delivering classroom lectures, presentations, or demonstrations on information gathering skills and resources; developing and teaching credit and noncredit library courses; co-teaching or providing course integrated library instruction; developing print, media and multimedia library signage systems."

Increasingly, libraries are involved in content-rich experiences for all ages from storytelling and early literacy for the youngest users to medicare seminars for the elderly.

Gilton (2012, 35-36) in Lifelong Learning in Public Libraries, described the following forms of instruction in the public library environment:

mature adults


Health Libraries

Health professionals are required to maintain a high standard of knowledge associated with their specialty areas. According to Thompson, Lewis, Brennan, and Robinson (2009), medical radiation science students and professionals require information literacy skills including the ability to locate, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information from quality resources.

In addition to basic information literacy skills, an important need in the health sector is assistance in developing evidence-based practice.

health professionals teachingIn Development and evolution of an information literacy course for a doctor of chiropractic program, Harvey and Goodell (2008) found that as accreditation bodies continue to update their criteria, information literacy skills will become increasingly incorporated in the health professional curriculum.

Osborne (2011) conducted a study of nursing students participating in information literacy instruction. He found that nurses view information literacy as an important element of evidence-based practice, however they don't always see the connection between academic and clinical experiences.

"It would appear that continued effort in trying to change their attitudes towards information literacy within the clinical area is of considerable importance as it may then be possible to demonstrate more clearly to students how academic learning within the university and clinical learning on the wards are not separate, but mutually inclusive. In doing this, it can be demonstrated that both have their part to play in providing the best care possible for the patient." (Osborne, 2011, 230)

bald man in librarySpecial Libraries

Librarians play an important role in educating people in the use of information products and services, as well as facilitating information sharing within a variety of settings.

From large group presentations to one-on-one research assistance, special librarians deal with a wide variety of instructional situations and needs.

Kirton and Barham (2005) state that

"the key to an effective role for information literacy in the workplace is for the librarian to teach those skills required for the individual to function efficiently in their own pursuit of information."



Read Information Literacy in the Workplace by Jennifer Kirton and Lyn Barham.
This article explores information literacy in the workplace.
Think about the skills required of today's information age workers.

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Read about information literacy in your area of interest:
IL & Public Libraries
IL & Health Libraries
IL & Higher Education
IL & Special Libraries
What do you see as your instructional role in your area of interest?


Instructional Materials Evaluation

raise handAn instructor needs quality teaching and learning materials to be effective. Evaluating materials can be a time-consuming and challenging task.

The use of existing materials can save a librarian endless hours of development and production time. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to find materials to fit every need.

Criteria for Evaluating Instructional Materials

When examining materials, it's useful to have a criterion-referenced checklist to help in making decisions. Without an effective evaluation tool, it's tempting to select materials based on "bells and whistles" or "cool graphics" rather than sound instructional principles.

Below you'll find some resources you can use to design your own evaluation checklist.

Content Considerations

The materials should be sound in terms of the academic content.

Instructional Features

The materials should contain features appropriate for the content and the instructional approach.

Active Involvement and Assessment

The materials should contain active involvement and assessment such as questioning and feedback that facilitate learning.

Technical and Format Aspects

The materials should be available in a format that can easily be accessed by instructors and students.


try itTry It!
Explore the All The Information in the Known Universe learning experience from Kentucky Virtual Library. Use the criteria above to evaluate the instructional materials. In some cases, you may not be able to address all the items. For instance, you need to know about your audience needs and the instructional goals.

Types of Instructional Materials

Many free, instructional resources are available online for teaching information skills. You can also find resources in other content-areas by doing a simple Google search. Simply search for the topic and add the words game, video, interactive, tutorial, or other type of material.

Why reinvent the wheel when there are so many great materials already available online? Increasingly libraries are providing learning resources to help people of all ages become information literature. Spend some time exploring online instructional materials.

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Go to ShowMe Information Literacy Modules from NoodleTools.
Explore their lessons.

Keep in mind that both free and subscription-based library learning tools are available. For instance, the subscription-based tool Niche Academy provides ready-to-use online tutorials for using common library resources such as Overdrive and Zinio.

Many of the online resources are focused on academic information instruction. However the content and approaches can be adapted for other uses.


Instructional games are a fun and motivating way to learn. However keep in mind that if students don't have prior knowledge related to the content presented in the game, they may not be successful. Consider using a game to jump-start a new topic, review prior knowledge, introduce a concept, practice skills, or reflect on a topic. Surround the experience with other types of materials that will provide quality content, examples and nonexamples, and opportunities to practice with feedback.


try itTry It!
Play one of the games listed above.
Do you like games or not?
How could you incorporate this game into a larger instructional experience?
What other ways could you learn this content?

Learning Guides

Learning guides are print materials or online handouts provide information, step-by-step instructions, or resources. Rather than providing an entire learning experience, they are often used for review or as part of a larger instructional unit.


try itTry It!
Explore a couple of the example above.
Do you see their learning guide as a stand-along tool or as part of a larger instructional experience?

Recorded Demonstrations

Recorded demonstrations are common in information skills instruction. From videos where students learn how to use a piece of equipment to screencasts that show the steps in using an online database, demonstrations provide the knowledge and skills needed to use tools and resources effectively.

These "how-to" videos often use screencasting or screen capture software.


try itTry It!
Explore a couple examples from the options above.
Are the instructional clear and concise?
Could you complete the task being demonstrated?
Are adequate examples and nonexamples provided?
Is the screen-size and resolution effective for what is being demonstrated?
Were arrows or screen labels used to focus attention?


Quizzes are often an element of instruction. They may include a range of question types. Questioning can be an important part of active involvement when students have a knowledge of the correct answer and receive informational feedback about errors and how they can improve next time.


try itTry It!
Complete an online quiz.
What knowledge or skills would this quiz check?
What would you add or change about this quiz to make it more effective.

Research Toolkits

Research toolkits are self-instructional materials that provide a framework for students doing research or faculty guiding student work. They often provide information and examples. However, they may not provide practical or feedback to users.

try itTry It!
Compare two of the research toolkits above.
How are their approaches alike and different?
Which approach do you like best? Why?

Slide Show Video Tutorials

Slide Show video tutorials are intended to teach new information by providing small chunks of content and examples along with opportunities to practice. Some tutorials do a better job than others with the active involvement and assessment aspects of tutorial development.

Many instructors develop PowerPoint presentations and record audio over these presentations. Others use screen capture programs to combine slides and screen captures with audio narration. Generally these are linear presentations with some active thinking elements such as reflective questions, suggestions, or other ways to help the viewer engage with the content.


try itTry It!
View a couple of the videos above. Notice how slides and/or screen captures are mixed with narration.
Is this an effective approach for the content?
What other approaches could be used to teach these concepts or skills?

Video Instruction

Video instruction can take many forms from online demonstrations to library safety topics. Think about the value of motion in teaching and learning.

You'll find that many of the videos you find online are lectures. Large group presentations can be a very effective instructional tool, but they can also be incredibly boring. Skilled presenters are able to engage their audience in meaningful content, engaging examples, and active thinking.

YouTube and Vimeo are two popular locations for video sharing. When using YouTube be sure to search for channels related to your topic of interest. Also, if you find one good video from a particular institution, seek out others from their institutional channel.


try itTry It!
Explore a couple of the examples from the list above.
Do the videos makes use of the power of audio and motion?
Is the length effective for the topic covered?


Web-based Tutorials

Web-based tutorials provide information, examples, practice activities, assessment, and some type of feedback. Generally, these materials are provided with a mixture of static text and graphics. However animation, audio, and video can contribute significantly to this approach.


try itTry It!
Try the Let's Search for the Skunk Ape: An Information Literacy Tutorial from Florida Gulf Coast University. This tutorial uses the a fun theme as the basis for learning information skills.
Does this tutorial provide information, examples, practice activities, assessment, and some type of feedback? Is it effective, efficient, and appealing? Why or why not?
Now, compare this tutorial with another from the list above. How do they compare?


WebQuests are a web-based approach to inquiry-based learning. Popular in the 1990s, many educators have continued to use the approach for developing engaging online learning experiences for their students. For lots of examples, go to and do a search. Or, try QuestGarden. Explore information literacy examples for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Adult/College.


try itTry IT!
Explore information literacy examples for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Adult/College. Choose one to example in-depth.
Is this an engaging way to learning?
Why or why not?


Library Learning Starting Points

Many libraries provide an information literacy, help, and/or training page that links to a variety of resources including tutorials, videos, and toolkits.

Benjes-Small, Dorner, and Schroeder (2009) studied the use of a menu approach for library instruction requests. They provided the following suggestions for those involved with establishing library websites:


try itTry It!
Explore one of the library instruction starting points.
Imagine that you're a student using this library.
Do you think adequate information is provided for independent learning? Why or why not?

Research and Subject Guides

Research and subject guides often provide subject-area information instruction. LibGuides is a popular tools for creating guides. This subscription service is popular with all library types. If you're looking for examples in other settings, you can do a search in LibGuides.


try itTry It!
Examine two of the guides within the university sites above.
How do they incorporate instructional into the subject guides?
What other instructional materials would be useful as part of these guides?


Content-Specific Instruction

It's useful for materials to be tailored for specific disciplines. In some cases, content-specific examples help provide students with a context for learning. In other instances, instruction is focused on resources geared to a particular audience.





Health Professions



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Each discipline has unique needs associated with information skills.
Examine one of the examples above.
How does this learning resource address information skills within the particular content area?

Professional Materials

Most of the materials you find online for free were developed by librarians and educators. However you'll also find free materials provided by professional organizations and companies that specialize in library products.





try itTry It!
Examine one of the learning materials above.
Does the resource try to "sell" the product?
Does the instructional approach and skills focus generalize to other informational situations or is it specific to the product?


Benjes-Small, Candice, Dorner, Jennifer L, Schroeder, Robert (2009). Surveying libraries to identify best practices for a menu approach for library instruction requests. Communications in Information Literacy, 3(1), 31-44.

Gilton, Donna L. (2012). Lifelong Learning in Public Libraries. Scarecrow Press.

Harvey, Phyllis J., & Goodell, Karen J. (Spring 2008). Development and evolution of an information literacy course for a doctor of chiropractic program. Communications in Information Literacy, 2(1), 52-61.

Kirton, Jennifer & Barham, Lyn (2005). Information literacy in the workplace. Australian Library Journal., 54(4).

McAdoo, Monty L. (2012). Fundamentals of Library Instruction. ALA Editions.

Osborne, Antony (July 2011). The Value of Information Literacy: Conceptions of BSs Nursing Students at a UK University. Available:

Sagar, H. (1995). Implications for bibliographic instruction. In G. Pitkin, Impact of Emerging Technologies on Reference Service and Bibliographic Instruction. Greenwood.

Thompson, Nadine, Lewis, Sarah, Brennan, Patrick, and Robinson, John (June 2009). European Journal of Radiography, 1(2), 43047.


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