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Library Instruction

Frequently Asked Questions

On this page, you can find answers to frequently asked questions about library instruction. 

How do I request library instruction?

Use the Request UHV Course-Related Library Instruction form or contact the Instruction Team:

Alexis Hickey, Instruction & Outreach Librarian


When should library instruction happen?

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.

How far in advance should I request 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.

Do I have to accompany my students?

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.

Why does the instruction librarian ask me for so much information?

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.

Who can I contact with questions about library instruction?

You can contact our Instruction Librarian!

Alexis Hickey, Instruction & Outreach Librarian


What sorts of topics can library instruction cover?

  • 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.

Where does library instruction take place?

Library instruction can take place in the library's instruction lab (holds 30 students) or in a classroom on the Victoria campus or the Katy instructional site. 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.

Will library instruction take up my whole class period?

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.

I don't have the time this semester to commit any class time to library instruction. Are there any other options to familiarize my students with information literacy skills and library resources?

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.