Skip to main content

Library Instruction: FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

On this page, you can find answers to frequently asked questions about library instruction. To jump to a certain question, just click on the link.

Use the Request UHV Course-Related Library Instruction form or contact Jaena Manson, Instruction & Outreach Librarian.


Many instructors are tempted to request library instruction in the first few weeks of the semester. Instructors often look at it as a way to get students familiar with the resources that are available on campus right at the beginning of the semester so they can use them all semester long. It is understandable that instructors would think this way but in fact, library instruction is most successful when it is tied to an assignment students need to complete. If library instruction happens too early, students have no context in which to apply what they learn (ie. searching in our databases, selecting appropriate keywords, etc.). This can results in students not understanding the "what's in it for me" in library instruction.


You should request library instruction at least a week in advance. We cannot guarantee requests made less than a week in advance. This for two reasons. First, library instruction requests are met at a first come first serve basis. If you wait to schedule library instruction, you may not be able to get the date or location that you prefer. Second, and most important, is that the instruction librarian makes tailored instruction material for each class. It takes at least a week to plan the best possible lesson plan, activities, and other materials for your class.


It is not required that you accompany your students during a library instruction session, but it is highly recommended. Your attendance is valued because it shows students that what they are about to learn is important. As the University of New Mexico writes, "your attendance helps the librarian seem more like a visiting artist than a substitute teacher." Students tend to pay more attention when their instructor is there and be more willing to participate in the class. If instructors don't show up, students might be tempted to wonder why they had to show up. The instruction librarian always welcomes when the instructor input during the class, whether it is encouraging students to participate or making suggestion of searching tips. 


When you request library instruction, the instruction librarian will likely ask you for your syllabus and any assignments that your students will be working toward. This is because each library instruction session is tailored to your students' information needs. The instruction librarian uses the syllabus and the assignment to see what types of sources your students will need, which topics to choose for examples, and the activities that will be most useful for your students. Please see the question When should library instruction happen? for more information on meeting students at their point of need.


You can contact Jaena Manson, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, at or 361-570-4176.


  • Comparing popular and scholarly sources and in what contexts their use would be appropriate
  • Finding specific types of resources through library databases
  • Developing effective keywords and synonyms in preparation for database searching
  • Creating specific and answerable research questions
  • Reading strategically through a scholarly article
  • Citation jumping
  • Citing sources and how to avoid plagiarism

Check out ACRL's Framework for Higher Education for Information Literacy for even more information literacy skills that can be taught during library instruction. Also, the Instruction Materials tab has examples of what can be covered in library instruction sessions.


Library instruction can take place in the library's instruction lab (holds 30 students) or in a classroom. If the class is too large for the library's instruction lab, library instruction can take place in your classroom. While it is not required, it is optimal for students to have access to computers during library sessions so that they can have hands-on participation in what they are learning. In the past, instructors who do not have a classroom with computers have asked their students to bring their laptops or they have booked a computer lab classroom for the library instruction day. Once again, library instruction can take place with or without computers, so don't worry if you can't arrange another option.


It doesn't have to! A typical information literacy session takes about 50-60 minutes but the instruction librarian will work with you to determine how much of the class period you would like to dedicate to library instruction and what material can be reasonably covered in that time.


If you don't have any time to dedicate to face-to-face library instruction in your class, there are other options for you and your students. The instruction librarian can work with you to figure out what concepts you want your students to learn and then create online tutorials and videos that you can link to on your course content. In the past, instructors have also required students to have one-on-one or group research consultations with the instruction librarian outside of class time.

Schedule Instruction

Jaena Manson's picture
Jaena Manson

ACRL Information Literacy Framework

ACRL's Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education is based on core concepts that provide a richer understanding of information literacy. The library instruction program creates instruction sessions and material connected to one or more of the six frames. It is important to note that all of the frames are interconnected.

  • Authority is Constructed and Contextual
    • "Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required."
  • Information Creation as a Process
    • "Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences."
  • Information has Value
    • "Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination."
  • Research as Inquiry
    • "Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field."
  • Scholarship as Conversation
    • "Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations."
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration
    • "Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops."