Module Nine: Library Resources

General Research Skills Course

Some institutions offer a formal, credit-based research skills course, taught by a librarian, although this is less common than other models of library instruction.  When offered, such a course may be required or an elective and offers students an opportunity to acquire in-depth information literacy skills such as: 

  • determining the nature of an information need and its likely sources (formal or informal; popular or scholarly; primary or secondary)
  • selecting tools and resources (library catalogs, subscription databases, a subject expert, an authoritative website) appropriate to the information need
  • effectively using relevant search strategies and conventions (keywords, controlled vocabulary terms, Boolean operators, proximity operators, wildcards, cited reference searching)
  • evaluating potential information sources for such factors as appropriateness, credibility, point of view, accuracy, and timeliness
  • citing and using information sources ethically (avoiding plagiarism) and legally (in accordance with fair use of copyrighted material)

Even if a required course of this nature is provided on your campus, you may wish to supplement it with additional library instruction opportunities that target a particular discipline or research assignment. Contact your academic library to find a librarian who can help.

Linked Resources

American Library Association. (1989). Presidential committee on information literacy: Final report. Retrieved from
Defines information literacy and its importance to individuals, businesses/organizations, and an informed American citizenry. Identifies implications for educational institutions, describes a model “information age school,” and offers concluding recommendations.

American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries (2012). Characteristics of programs of information literacy that illustrate best practices: A guideline. Retrieved from
Identifies characteristics of excellence for information literacy programs in two-year and four-year institutions of higher education, arranged by ten categories:  mission, goals and objectives, planning, administrative and institutional support, articulation (program sequence) within the curriculum, collaboration, pedagogy, staffing, outreach, and assessment/evaluation.

American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries (2001). Objectives for information literacy instruction: A model statement for academic librarians. Retrieved from
Enumerates library instruction objectives for some of the higher education information literacy competency standards published in 2000 by the American Library Association’s Association of College and Research Libraries.

American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Retrieved from informationliteracycompetency
Identifies five competency standards for the information literate student, with accompanying performance indicators and outcomes. Introductory material notes endorsement by the American Association for Higher Education and the Council of Independent Colleges.

Burke, M. (2011). Academic libraries and the credit-bearing class: A practical approach. Communications in Information Literacy, 5, 156-173. Retrieved from
Identifies a number of trends among libraries offering credit-bearing information literacy courses. Areas of focus include course format, grade level, embedded librarians, whether courses were required, assessment, contribution to retention rates, adjunct instruction, funding, and connection to specific disciplines.

Additional Resources

Badke, W. B. (2011). Research strategies: Finding your way through the information fog (4th ed.). Bloomington, IN: IUniverse.

Burkhardt, J. M. (2010). Teaching information literacy: 50 standards-based exercises for college students (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Hollister, C. V. (Ed.). (2010). Best practices for credit-bearing information literacy courses. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Saunders, L. (2011). Information literacy as a student learning outcome: The perspective of institutional accreditation. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Library Resources
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