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Description of Library Instruction at Randall Library

Also see: Instructional Services Mission

Randall Library provides instruction to UNCW faculty, staff, and students as well as to community members. Instruction is delivered face to face through classes, workshops, and tours and online through tutorials. Instruction is also offered through semester long credit courses (LIB 101, LIB 103, and LIB 104).

The majority of instruction for UNCW students is done through "course-related instruction." UNCW faculty collaborate with Randall Library librarians to provide students with instruction related to a specific course. Often, the instruction is given by a librarian in order to teach students how to use library resources in order to complete a specific assignment. Instruction is also provided to students on how to critically evaluate information, distinguish between scholarly and popular sources, develop an effective search strategy, or how to use discipline specific resources. 

From July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, Randall Library taught 437 instruction sessions to 9,185 participants. Of these, 7,391 were UNCW students.  

Randall Library has evaluated library instruction in several ways: evaluation forms completed by participants, a university wide survey (LibQual+), SPOT scores for LIB courses, etc. Instruction session evaluation forms reveal that 97% of participants view the value of the library instruction session as being "Excellent" or "Good." Evaluation forms also reveal that nearly 100% of participants are more comfortable and confident in using library resources after library instruction.

Assessment of student learning outcomes for library instruction is a priority for Instructional Services at Randall Library. Changes to the program will be made based on this assessment and assessment will continuously inform librarians.

What is the "information" problem? Why do students need some form of library instruction?

It is assumed that most traditional college students are "computer literate," having grown up using a computer. They are not, however, "information literate." The ability to "point and click" and "surf the web" does not correlate with learning to distinguish between subscription resources and the World Wide Web, scholarly journal articles from newspaper articles, or credible information from inappropriate information, misinformation, or disinformation. Currently, there is no Information Literacy requirement at UNCW. Library instruction is "hit or miss." Some English instructors may request library instruction while others may not. Some research methods courses require library instruction while others may not. Freshman Seminar (UNI 101) requires library instruction but Freshman Seminar is NOT a required course for UNCW students. Transfer students do not have a required library instruction session unless it is offered in one of their courses upon transfer to UNCW. Most faculty assume students are getting research skills "somewhere else" whether it is assumed they come into college with these skills or it is a skill they acquire through basic studies.

Unfortunately, some UNCW students are NEVER exposed to the library or the library's resources.

An explanation of these issues from a faculty perspective can be found in the article, "It's the Information Age, So Where's the Information? Why Our Students Can't Find It and What We Can Do to Help," by Jill D. Jenson (College Teaching , 2004, 52 (3), 107 - 112).


Anne Pemberton
Associate Director, Library Assessment and Instructional Services, Randall Library