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University of Delaware Library Instruction
& Information Literacy Program Statement

The University of Delaware Library Instruction & Information Literacy Program is intended to assist faculty, students, staff, and the public to use the many resources, regardless of format, available in the University of Delaware Library. The Program, which targets both undergraduate and graduate students, supports the information literacy goals of the University of Delaware, and strives to adhere to the standards established by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). These standards are the nationally recognized benchmarks for Information Literacy.


The increasing sophistication of information and technology resources has transformed the search for knowledge. Internet access and information in a wide variety of formats -- digital, video, audio, photographic, graphic, and print -- provide researchers with many choices and capabilities. Consequently, the task of identifying, locating, and using information has become more complex and the ability to evaluate information for its authenticity, validity, and reliability, more crucial. The role of primary resources continues to be vital in the new milieu of electronic information and cannot be overlooked in the Library Instruction Program. The University of Delaware Library recognizes its responsibility not only to provide resources for research but to provide instruction in the use of the many resources available to today's researchers.

What is Information Literacy?

Information literacy is defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries as a set of abilities that enable individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."

Association of College and Research Libraries. Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000.

The challenge of creating information literate students is a task shared by faculty and librarians. Evidence of increasing awareness of the importance of information literacy is demonstrated by the appearance of information literacy standards being addressed throughout the undergraduate curriculum.

Standards for Information Literacy

Because of the increasing complexity and quantity of information available in multiple formats, renewed emphasis is being placed on helping college-level students acquire and master information literacy skills. To this end, nationally recognized organizations within librarianship such as the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), accreditation agencies such as the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and the University of Delaware General Education Program (GEP) have created standards and goals for information literacy.

Standards for information literacy competencies were issued by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) in Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (2000).

ACRL states that information-literate students are able to:

  • Determine the extent of the information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into their knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

ACRL also provides 22 supporting performance indicators and expected outcomes as a framework for the assessment and measurement of student learning. As the University of Delaware Library program expands, assessment becomes a key component of improving instruction and documenting successful efforts. The ACRL performance indicators serve to assist librarians in refining the instruction program and identifying skills which need more emphasis.

Below are two Middle States standards that specifically address information literacy.

Standard 11: The institution's educational offerings display academic content, rigor, and coherence that are appropriate to its higher education mission. The institution identifies student learning goals and objectives, including knowledge and skills, for its educational offerings.
Standard 12: The institution's curricula are designed so that students acquire and demonstrate college-level proficiency in general education and essential skills, including oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and reasoning, technological competency, and information literacy.

A more detailed explanation of the standards is offered in the Middle States publication, Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education, Eligibility Requirements and Standards for Accreditation. Significant to the University of Delaware Library is the commentary on Standard 11 (Educational Offerings) which states that this standard is characterized by the "collaboration between professional library staff and faculty in teaching and fostering information literacy skills relevant to the curriculum" as well as by "programs that support student use of information and learning resources" (p. 34). In addition, "evidence of information literacy incorporated in the curriculum with syllabi, or other materials appropriate to the mode of teaching and learning, describing expectations for students' demonstration of information literacy skills" as well as the "assessment of information literacy outcomes, including assessment of related learner abilities" (p. 36) acknowledges the role of information literacy in the accreditation process.

The ACRL and Middle States standards complement the goals of the University of Delaware General Education Program (GEP). This program encompasses a set of ten goals for undergraduate education adopted by the University of Delaware Faculty Senate in the year 2000. The following two goals are of particular relevance to the Library Instruction Program.

Undergraduate education at the University of Delaware aims to ensure that every student will:

  • Understand the diverse ways of thinking that underlie the search for knowledge in the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences
  • Develop the intellectual curiosity, confidence, and engagement that will lead to lifelong learning

The Role of the University of Delaware Library

In accordance with the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and the standards set by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the University of Delaware Library Instruction Program promotes the development of information literacy skills through collaboration with faculty, the Writing Center, and other academic units to integrate information literacy into the curriculum of the University of Delaware. The program provides library instruction for classes, and instruction for small groups and individuals in order to encourage students in all disciplines to acquire research skills and to become lifelong learners.

Library Instruction Program

The Library Instruction Program reaches students at various points in their academic careers, but primarily through their enrollment in Critical Reading and Writing (English 110), research methods classes. Librarians also provide instruction to graduate students, faculty, and staff on discipline-specific resources and specialized topics, such as foundations, patents, and geographic information systems. Additionally, instruction is frequently offered for English Language Institute students, visiting high school classes, and students in summer programs, such as FAME.

Many freshmen arrive with experience using library databases for research due to the innovative UDLib/SEARCH program provided by the University of Delaware in collaboration with the State of Delaware. The UDLib/SEARCH program ensures that all K-12 public schools in Delaware have access to a core set of online periodicals and encyclopedias. The program provides training for school library media specialists and teachers. Approximately thirty per cent of University of Delaware entering freshmen come from Delaware schools and benefit from this program.

Instruction sessions for specific classes are developed with faculty to optimize student learning. Librarians create tools such as tutorials and web-based research guides to help students learn to use information resources more effectively. The use of appropriate technologies to improve student familiarity with and understanding of library resources is also a key component of library instruction.

The involvement of librarians in instruction takes many forms. The excellent technology facilities in the Morris Library provide a variety of teaching venues. Extensive instruction takes place in the Morris Library on an individual basis as librarians work to teach students to locate and use the information resources of the Library. A variety of instruction rooms in the Morris Library, equipped with computers for teaching students to use the Library resources, are available for instruction with a librarian/teacher booked in advance. Specialized spaces include a media viewing room, an instruction room, and a small consultation room for working with one or two individuals. The Assistive Technology Center is equipped with a workstation for braille reading, translation, and printing; workstations with Kurzweil 1000 and 3000 for readers with reading disabilities and low vision; and an assortment of equipment and resource aids to provide an interface with library and classroom materials. Four studios equipped with multimedia equipment and software and two computer classrooms for creating digital projects are available in the Library's Student Multimedia Design Center.

The Library Instruction Program for Freshmen

The Library reaches freshmen primarily through its partnership with the Writing Program. Reference librarians work collaboratively with English 110 instructors to prepare library instruction sessions. In 2009, the Library Instruction Program conducted a comprehensive syllabus study of English 110 classes. Based upon evidence gained through this study, the following student learning outcomes, based upon the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards, were established for library instruction to English 110 classes:

After attending a library instruction session, English 110 students will:

  • identify keywords, synonyms, and related terms for their information need.
  • construct search strategies using appropriate commands for the system selected.
  • consult a variety of search systems to retrieve information in a variety of formats.
  • use classification schemes to locate information resources within the library.
  • identify specialized services to retrieve information needed.

Students whose classes do not come to the Morris Library for formal instruction may access the English 110 Library Tutorial. The tutorial is available to English 110 students on campus as well as to those taking English 110 through their high schools. Like formal library instruction sessions offered to English 110 classes throughout the semester, the tutorial addresses the five student learning outcomes listed above.

The tutorial contains multimedia content, interactive comprehension checks, and a quiz which instructors may assign to assess student mastery of the five learning outcomes. Students may complete the lessons in order, at their own pace.

The Library Instruction Program for Upperclassmen and Graduate Students

Library instruction for upper level and graduate courses is tailored to meet student and faculty needs. These classes generally cover subject-specific resources and research strategies. Occasionally, course-related instruction may involve a series of bibliographic sessions to provide students with the training they need to be life-long learners, academically and professionally. These sessions provide in-depth coverage of discipline-specific databases or a review of unique collections.

The Library provides both orientation sessions to acquaint graduate students with the University of Delaware Libraries and course-specific instruction developed with faculty members. Librarians also work with students individually to help them master the research process. Classes for graduate students often include discussions of more advanced issues such as publishing trends, open access, author's rights and copyright.

The Special Collections Department offers both general introductions to Special Collections and subject-specific seminars, with each class tailored to its audience. The purpose of the instructional program is to help both undergraduate and graduate students to integrate primary material into their studies and to highlight and advance the study of rare books and manuscripts. For more information, click on the Special Collections link.

Information Literacy at the University of Delaware

The University of Delaware Library Instruction Program focuses on information literacy and its role in the education of students who will be successful lifelong learners. To this end, University of Delaware instruction librarians make formal use of the ACRL standards as a tool to help focus instructional efforts and assess progress being made in meeting these goals. With an integrated instruction program emphasizing information literacy as a primary goal, librarians are currently expanding the program to reach freshmen beyond the English 110 course through the General Education Program First Year Experience initiatives. The University of Delaware Library has chosen these freshman programs as appropriate points for introducing Library services and beginning the process of creating information literate students. Beginning Fall 2006, the Library has worked with the First Year Experience programs (LIFE, First Year Seminars, Honors program, and Pathways courses).

Assessment of Library Instruction at the University of Delaware

As the Library program expands, assessment becomes a key component of improving instruction and documenting successful efforts. To that end, librarians use the ACRL performance indicators and expected outcomes to help them create a valid assessment program to measure progress, refine the instruction program, and identify skills which need more emphasis.

Assessment of information literacy by the University of Delaware Library includes in-class assignments and activities, print and web-based tutorials, and competency tests or self-assessments administered and developed in collaboration with faculty as pre- or post tests. The University of Delaware Office of Educational Assessment facilitates program improvement by offering resources and consulting to academic units engaged in the continuous process of assessing student learning and development. The University of Delaware Library follows the assessment guidelines for information literacy of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

The Library promotes the teaching of information literacy skills using evidence-based student learning outcomes, as outlined above. The following presentations have been provided to promote the development of student learning outcomes to support assessment as well as reflective teaching practice.

Outreach and Invitation to Users

All University of Delaware Library faculty, students, and staff are encouraged and invited to use all Library Instruction services offered by the University of Delaware Library. Librarians are available to provide instruction and to work with individual researchers. Librarians participate at many University activities throughout the year to reach the maximum number of faculty, students, and staff with information about the Library and instructional programs, including presentations at faculty seminars and department meetings to publicize services available.  The Library provides a variety of printed and online publications and publicity including newsletters inserted in the student newspaper, paid advertisements,  and brochures.   The goal of the outreach and publicity is to enable the maximum number of University of Delaware Library faculty, students and staff to take advantage of instruction that is offered to any individual using the library and to any class offered at the University of Delaware.

On the University of Delaware Library home page users may select "Ask a Librarian" or "Library Instruction" to access the kind of assistance most helpful to them. Faculty members should contact librarians in advance to schedule an instruction session -- more information is available by selecting "Library Instruction" from the Library home page, then "Assistance for Faculty."

Librarians are available to provide instruction in a specific discipline and to work with individual researchers. See Subject Librarians for Instruction to identify librarians by discipline.

This page is maintained by Meg Grotti, Coordinator, Library Instruction, Reference Department. Last modified: 11/18/13