Brown Bag Session #5, Wed. February 8, 2017 Full Session Notes

 Wed, Feb 1: The Role of Library Instruction  (MIT Recommendation 3): Furthering the library’s mission to equip Mines’ community members with essential skills for effectively using, creating, and disseminating information and knowledge.

9 attendees, including 2 faculty members; 1 CCIT staff member; 1 student; 1 campus architect; 1 member of the Colorado Geological Survey, Trefny Center staff

Major Takeaways


  • Undergraduate courses don’t involve much library research. Most that do are humanities. More library instruction needed in STEM vs. humanities courses.
  • But HASS courses may be easiest place to further integrate IL since these classes tend to require more research than STEM, and because they are integrated throughout the undergraduate curriculum.
  • Need for scaffolding library instruction to prepare students not only for senior design projects, but also for graduate and doctoral students.
  • Strong need to reach graduate students
  • Information literacy (IL) instruction needs to fit “naturally”. It has to have context and a purpose for students to value it.
  • Library component in CSM101 is optional. Making it a required course component is desirable but difficult.
  • Not enough students know about ILL and options to obtain information sources from other libraries.
  • Idea: Reach senior design students at beginning of semester when they’re researching and brainstorming for projects. Perhaps flipped classroom group sessions, as the library does with EPICS.
  • Let students pick their own topics so they’re interested in them.
  • Disintermediation is an issue – students use library resources via Google Scholar but don’t realize it.
  • Reducing barriers to entry (ease of use) is important to increase use of library resources.
  • Online modules have to be contextual, at point of need. But also useful to physically bring first year students to the library, so they see it’s a good place to work, see how to connect with reference librarian assistance.
  • Online materials must be interesting and short as well as useful; otherwise won’t be used.
  • For faculty, they won’t need help until they need it, and then you need to reach them right at that point. Difficult challenge.
  • Mines students may be more self-sufficient as high achievers. May not have used a library, or may be reluctant to do so. Seen as a weakness. How to break through that barrier?
  • Need to make research easier, provide help at point of need.
  • CASA, Writing Center, and library are three places where people do ask for help – these units need to partner to connect with students when and where they’re already asking for help.
  • Students may not know they can get help at the library, as they can with CASA, Writing Center, and other places on campus. How to raise awareness? Integrating Libguides throughout Canvas is one way.
  • Ideas for connecting with faculty via Trefny Center.
  • Concern about IL being deemphasized in revisions of ABED accreditation criteria.
  • Library doesn’t currently reach graduate students much. This is partly a limitation of staffing. Offering open workshops on graduate-level topics may be one approach that is efficient with staffing. We’re just starting on this.
  • Graduate students come in with varying IL skills. And some graduate research programs may not involve much academic research. Greater focus on applied research.
  • Librarians need to participate in curriculum committees.

Introduction by Brianna Buljong


  • See PowerPoint for details
  • Information literacy (IL) is focus of library instruction. Involves discovery, evaluation, use, and ethics of information.
  • Instruction guided by the new Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education, as well as by course learning goals, course assignments.
  • Time in front of students and classroom space are instruction constraints librarians have to work with.
  • Library instruction at Mines:
    • “One-shot instruction” – expand each year. Seven new courses last year
    • About half taught at library, half in classrooms across campus
    • Most are in the humanities; need to expand library instruction presence in the hard sciences
    • EPICS
      • 61 course sections, about 2,000 undergraduate students
      • This year: flipped session with team meetings with librarians outside the classroom
    • Goals:
      • Better integration into the curriculum, at all levels. Not just first year students (formal vs. one-shot). Novice to expert.
      • Scaffolding through the entire curriculum, integrated throughout
      • May include video modules in Canvas, flipped sessions, etc.
      • Extracurricular opportunities, not just in the classroom
      • Need more support for graduate students. Biggest need.


Detailed Discussion Notes


Faculty: Compliment: After Brianna’s session, students met with her one on one and found it very valuable and useful.. Must require a lot of time.


Brianna: How should we rank the goals I just reviewed??


Student: Identifying areas where IL naturally fits is a more more interesting one. If you can do that effectively, you can grow the program.


Brianna: In what classes did you use information?


Student: EPICS; NHV. Definitely more humanities would be helpful, because that’s where we tend to do more research. But we also need to expand information literacy into the sciences courses, research in the areas you’re actually studying. Most engineers aren’t very good at research, in part because we don’t do a lot of research. It’s mostly problem solving.


Ye: Do more of your classes involve research components?


Student: I’m a sophomore, so haven’t been here long enough, but most of my classes don’t involve research. Graduate students must need these skills more than undergrads – untapped resource.


Ye: Would you like more research components?


Student: Yes, if it is useful and relevant.


Faculty: problem with quality and reliability of information is a big part of information literacy education. These are life skills, skills needed as a citizen.


Brianna: We try to incorporate life skill, real-wold activities into our instruction so students actually see the importance of it (e.g., buying a cell phone).


Student: IL goes hand in hand with critical thinking skills. Again, need to find where these naturally fit into the curriculum. Where it fits in naturally.


Carol: Did you get scaffolded instruction literacy skills in K-12?


Students: Yes. Probably not at a college level, but definitely got some of it. We covered a bit of ethics (plagiarism, copying, quality of information sources) in NHV but not through the library.
Brianna: The library currently has a presence in all EPICS course sections and about half of NHV sections. We consider them to be a pair. We cover how to find stuff, how to use the library. In EPICS we cover evaluation. Ideally we’d like every first year student to get the baseline skills but it’s tough to make that happen.


Faculty: What about the library covering ethics, like plagiarism, etc. Do you do that in NHV?
Brianna: We touch on it.


Faculty: It’s part of the NHV syllabus template. In my division, the syllabi at every level has it as a component. They need instruction on it. Should it be a component of CSM101, under academic integrity, honesty.


Student: I teach CSM101, almost 100% sure there’s a library component that’s a choice that teachers can select from.
Brianna: Yes.There is a library component, but it’s optional, not required. We’d love it if it could be required so we can ensure we’re teaching about the ethics of information use. Right now it’s an optional course component. Hard to know which sections are using it or not. Two sections came to the library, but perhaps others are also using it.


Student: If you did teach it, you should bring your students to the library. But yes, making it a required component is a lot harder.


Brianna: As far as upper level classes – where do students struggle with research, ethics of information, evaluating information? Where are we not reaching students where we should?


Faculty: I teach Shakespeare. A revelation to students is that they can also connect with other libraries. We need greater awareness of the possibility of ILL borrowing from other libraries. I take them on field trips to the library at CU-Boulder, and they are impressed with the humanities collection there and had no idea they could request them.


Carol: Prospector is coming back.


Brianna: Other libraries have bigger humanities collections, for sure, but we do have a good collection on Shakespeare.


Chris: Senior design class would be a good place to connect with students. They do a lot of research, including some research outside the lab.


Student: Especially at the beginning of the semester, when they’re coming up with a research idea.


Brianna: Our ultimate goal is for first year students to learn foundations in EPICS, and then don’t have to teach the same