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UMass Global Library Policies & Reports

Information Literacy & Instruction Guidelines

Librarians are available throughout every term to help students become effective researchers. Concepts and approaches to information literacy can be taught in multiple ways:

Page Contents

Information Literacy Definition and Mission Statement

What is Information Literacy?

The set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.

Association of College & Research Libraries, 2015.

The University of Massachusetts Global Library is committed to equipping students with the information literacy skills necessary for creating, analyzing, and using information ethically while completing their coursework and advancing in their careers. Information literacy skills are vital to involvement in academic and professional communities and are essential to civic life. Becoming information literate encourages students to adopt a critical approach to information while exploring their role as creators and consumers of information in their community and society.

The information literacy program at UMass Global accomplishes this mission by:

  • Offering equitable access to remote library instruction and research support through class visits, individual consultations, research workshops, and other means of customized support.
  • Partnering with faculty and other stakeholders to integrate information literacy into the curriculum and to promote the use of scholarly resources, research support services, and open access materials among students and faculty.
  • Evaluating, selecting, curating, and maintaining a wide range of information resources that enhance teaching, learning, and research activities at UMass Global.

Answering Reference Questions

The UMass Global community can submit questions to librarians at any time through the question submission form and Ask a Librarian email. Questions are usually answered within the same day, but may take up to 48 hours over weekends and holidays.

Questions sent to librarians or discussed with librarians are considered confidential.

UMass Global Librarians are committed to equipping the community with the skills they need to conduct research effectively and independently. To accomplish that goal, librarians will: 

  • Provide training on research strategies and library resources.
  • Recommend resources that are most likely to help respond to a research question.
  • Teach resource evaluation methods. 
  • Explain the principles of citing in any style.
  • Emulate and teach academic integrity and ethical use of information.
  • Direct the questioner to appropriate training resources.
  • Troubleshoot library technology.

Librarians cannot:

  • Conduct research on behalf of students or faculty.
  • Provide lists of sources/bibliographies.
  • Assess proposed research topics.
  • Conduct line-by-line proofreading/editing of bibliographies.
  • Interpret course materials/assignments or check class work.

The library's Ask a Librarian page is appropriate for questions that can be answered in brief and to search for the answers to frequently asked questions. Members of the community who need extended assistance or prefer a consultation for a project are encouraged to make a personal appointment with a librarian or request a workshop.

Requesting Library Instruction
Faculty may use the library's Request for Library Instruction Form to invite a librarian to teach a research session for your class. We ask that you provide:

  • At least two possible dates for the class
  • The course title and number
  • What topics you would like covered
  • If possible, a copy of the assignment or project that will correspond with the library instruction
Please allow librarians a minimum of 1 week to prepare for an instruction session. Librarians need time to create lesson plans and supplemental instructional material.

Best Practices for Library Instruction

  • The faculty member is present. This lends gravitas to the session and ensures that questions regarding specific details of the assignment are answered correctly. It is also helpful when the faculty member reinforces the instruction by relating aspects of the lesson to the course requirements.
  • Instruction is directly tied to an assignment or project for the course. Skills learned during the session should be immediately employed. 
  • Goals for the session are focused on a specific aspect of the research process. Tours of the website and overviews of the research process without further context are not beneficial and are quickly forgotten. 
  • Students have some idea of what their research topic will be. This does not need to be fully developed - and could ultimately change -  but it should be something that they are interested in exploring. Approval of a topic by the faculty member and pre-research on Google and Wikipedia to inspire a more focused question is encouraged.  

Framework for Information for Higher Education
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recommends a rigorous set of guidelines for teaching information literacy, called the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The framework illustrates the complexity of information literacy and demonstrates that information literacy skills should be integrated at appropriate times during the research process. Briefly, the frames are:

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual - Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used.
  • Information Creation as a Process - Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method.
  • Information Has Value - Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world.
  • Research as Inquiry - Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry.
  • Scholarship as Conversation - Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration - Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.