Mission and Overview

Instruction librarians at the University of Louisville’s Ekstrom Library strive to create engaging learning experiences that encourage critical thinking about information in all contexts and promote research as an evolving process of inquiry.

Our mission is to foster information literacy through the development of meaningful library class sessions, online research guides, and other content tailored to specific disciplines, courses, and assignments. We consult and collaborate with teaching faculty across disciplines to carry out this mission. Our goals align with those of the Reference and Information Literacy Department and the Ekstrom Library Learning Commons, as well as the University of Louisville’s goals to promote excellence in education and research.

We define information literacy as the "ability to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (American Library Association, 1989). These skills contribute to the ability to think critically and they are vital life-skills for all individuals in our society.

Faculty, admininistrators, and other stakeholders interested in learning more about information literacy can find additional information from the Association of College and Research Libraries.

Teaching Approach

Whenever possible, we avoid the pure lecture format and encourage active student participation through group work and other in-class exercises. We believe that students learn the most in a single session by participating in their own learning and focusing on one or two specific skills or concepts. We do not attempt to address all aspects of using the library in one session, nor do we believe that library use, in itself, functions as an adequate meaure of student learning or information literacy.

Best Practices to Promote Student Engagement at the Library

  • Consider scheduling your information literacy sessions after students have received a specific research assignment and have at least some sense of their research questions or topics. In general, information literacy instruction is most effective within the context of a specific assignment (i.e. at the "point of need").
  • Please provide us with as much information as you can about the students' assignment. This helps us develop more engaging activities that demonstrate the value of the library session to students.
  • If possible, please attend information literacy sessions with your students. In our experience, a professor's presence tends to promote student engagement with class activities and increase overall participation. Feel free to comment and ask questions during the session.

Professional Development

Our instruction librarians are committed to developing their skills and knowledge through professional activities. We participate actively in a learning community to share ideas and reflect on our teaching. Many of our librarians publish regularly on information literacy issues and present on teaching-related topics at professional conferences and meetings.