Monday, January 31, 2011

Bibliographic instruction

Bibliographic instruction/bi – what is it anyway?

ALA Glossary
“An information service to a group, which is designed to teach library users how to locate information efficiently. The essential goals of this process are an understanding of the library’s system of organization and the ability to use selected reference materials. In addition, instruction may cover the structure of literature and the general and specific research methodology appropriate for a discipline.”

More commonly known as:
  • Library Instruction
  • Library Orientation
  • User Education
  • Research Instruction
  • Library Literacy
  • Information Literacy
    o The “in” term

Information literacy
“Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.’”

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:

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

ACRL. Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

The idea of showing bibliographic instruction is most common in academic and school libraries.


  • Identifying needs and abilities
    o e.g. education level
  • Introducing the library and its resources
    o via orientation; attaches a human face to the library
  • Encouraging students to use the librarians as a resource


  • A cooperative effort
    o work in conjunction with one another
  • Enhance what they teach in the classroom
  • Introduce new resources and services

What type of BI?

  • Programs
    o courses
  • Orientations
    o directions
  • One shot sessions
    o instruction
  • Faculty/teacher requested workshops
  • Tours
  • Workshops – not so much/not very popular
  • Research consultants
    o one-on-one

    Another type is developing pathfinders/handouts.

Academic audience

  • Typical audience
    o First year students
    o Undergraduates
    o Graduate students
    o Distance learners

  • Audience characteristics
    o Different levels of knowledge and expertise
    o Different needs
    o Different approach/same skills
    o More involvement/greater expectations

Learning styles

  • Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory
    o Accommodator
    * Concrete Expertise and Active Experimentation, action oriented, business, teaching
    o Assimilator
    * Abstract Conceptualization and Reflective Observation, good at creating theoretical models, basic science and mathematics, college professors
    o Converger
    * Abstract Conceptualization and Active Experimentation, practical application of ideas, physical sciences, engineers
    o Diverger
    * Concrete Experience through Reflective Observation, strong imaginative ability, research and planning, counselors and personnel managers

What to teach?

  • Don’t need to cover everything
    o determine what is important
  • How to choose information resources
  • Matching information to needs
  • Evaluating information resources in context
  • Emphasize importance of bibliography

Teaching techniques

  • Lectures
  • Demonstration
  • Active learning strategies
    o Brainstorming, case studies, simulations, guided practice, role play, etc.
  • Online, self-paced tutorials


  • Difficult to get tangible assessments
  • Anecdotal (not scientific)
  • Faculty feedback
  • Student paper bibliographies
  • Index cards
  • Web forms


  • Repetition
  • No mandated instruction for students after first year/introductory
  • Too much material, too little time: 50-80 minutes
  • Facilities and equipment
    o e.g. finding rooms to teach with enough computers
  • Mixed ability classes


  • Information literacy
  • For-credit courses in library research
  • Researching remote users
  • Web-based tutorials
  • Digital reference software allows for live tutorials
    o Remote users can use web-based tutorials and chat reference tools.

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