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Information Literacy at Andrews University

Mission Statement

The James White Library Instruction Team strives to develop research skills, library skills and information literacy in its students and other users in order to improve scholarship and help users acquire the knowledge they need to achieve educational goals and to become life long learners.

What is Information Literacy? Competencies and Objectives Guidelines for Assessment
Recommended Reading Library Assignments Library Tours and Class Visits
Teaching Resources for Information Literacy
What is Information Literacy?

We live in an age when more information is available via more methods than ever before. On a daily basis we are bombarded with the radio, television, newspapers, magazines, journals, books, email, junk mail, and telemarketers just to name a few sources. Even if we wished to remember everything we hear, see or read, our minds cannot absorb every piece of information.

In the academic setting, technology is transforming both the classroom and the library. Lectures are now supplemented with video clips and PowerPoint presentations. Students edit their papers using word processing programs rather than retyping endless drafts. Once upon a time libraries contained fewer books than the number of students enrolled by universities. Now libraries own more books than their respective universities can recruit. Not only has the number of books increased, but libraries have added periodicals, microfiche, video, CD-ROMs, and the Internet, not to mention many formats which have gone by the wayside (filmstrips for instance). How do students and faculty navigate these resources? How do they know which resources best meet their information needs?

According to the American Library Association (ALA), "information literate people know how to find, evaluate, and use information effectively to solve a particular problem or make a decision" (Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. (Chicago: ALA, 1989.)

Information literacy is the key to understanding and thriving in the information age. Faculty and librarians need to work together to guarantee that students develop the skills needed to successfully find the information they need to inform and enrich their lives.

See Recommended Reading

Information Literacy Competencies and Objectives for College Students

ALA promotes information literacy through its divisions and sections. ALA's Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) published Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education in 2000 which describes the skills our students should have when they finish college. Librarians and teaching faculty need to work together to implement these standards and teach these skills.

ACRL's Instruction Section has further defined the Competency Standards by writing Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction which highlight the aspects of information literacy which instruction librarians should implement and teach.

In essence, an information literate person will be able to

  • identify an information need
  • identify possible sources of the answer
  • know how to use these sources
  • evaluate the retrieved documents in order to find relevant information
  • incorporate relevant information into a project or life situation
  • use the information legally and ethically
James White Library Guidelines for Assessment
These guidelines are intended to assist librarians and teachers in assessing their students' information literacy skills.
Library Assignments

Designing assignments which make effective use of library resources requires thought and planning. Librarians are willing to teach class sessions and work with you in developing collaborative assignments that will develop students' research skills and critical thinking.

Characteristics of Good Assignments

"The perfect library assignment combines two aims: increase students' knowledge of the subject matter (class) and skills for locating and using information (library)." (Larry Hardesty, Jamie Hastreiter, and David Henderson, Bibliographic instruction in practice: a tribute to the legacy of Evan Ira Farber. (Ann Arbor, Mich. : Pierian Press, 1993): 89.)

  • Make expectations and instructions clear.
  • Make the assignment relevant to students' current needs.
  • Library assignments should not be "busy work."
  • When adapting textbook assignments, make sure that our library has the needed resources. You may need to edit the assignment to use the resources available in the James White Library or to reflect the Library's organization.
  • "Distinguish between Web sites and electronic subscription databases." (Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, "Milnerize! Revising and Adapting Library Assignments to Fit Milner Library", The CATalyst (April 1999): 1-2.) Your students do not necessarily know the difference between these two types of sources. If you tell them not to use the Web, they will be hesitant to use scholarly online databases delivered via the Web.
  • Provide boundaries. It is not necessary or good to ask students to compile a bibliography of everything about abortion in the Library. Remember that you want to teach critical thinking skills.
  • Do the assignment yourself ahead of time. This enables you to identify potential problems and to confirm that the Library has the needed resources. Do this far enough in advance so that if it is necessary for the Library to acquire needed materials we have time to do so.
  • If you want students to use specific books, articles, or videos, put these items on reserve to give your students equal access to the material.

Preparing Students for the Assignment

  • Bring classes to the library for instruction on the use of library resources prior to giving them assignments that will make heavy use of the library.
  • It has been found that students feel the library session is just as important as their other course work if their own teacher is present and learning with them.
  • The teacher's presence is also valuable when students raise questions regarding the requirements of their assignments.

Examples and Ideas

  • Instruction librarians have assisted with all of the following assignments.
  • Have students compile annotated bibliographies in preparation for a term paper.
  • INFS110 students anaylize their computer needs and conduct research to find a computer system which meets their needs and can be purchased for $2000.
  • Have senior level students research, indentify, and review relevant professional organizations, journals and other sources of professional development in their chosen disciplines.
  • Require students to consult books and journal articles when solving case studies, writing practice lesson plans, or playing scenarios.
  • For more ideas, consult Teaching Information Literacy Skills by Patricia Iannuzzi, Charles T. Mangrum II, and Stephen S. Strichart. This book may be found in James White Library's top floor stacks: Z711.2 .I26 1999.
Library Tours and Class Visits

Instructional Opportunities

The goal of our library instruction program is to help our users achieve information literacy. With this goal in mind, we provide a number of instructional services:

  • Orientation tours show users around the library, provide a summary of our services, and teach users how to locate materials in the library. Specially tailored orientations are available for distance education programs.
  • Workshops are scheduled and hosted by the library each semester. These workshops are free and open to the public. Watch Andrews Agenda, check the Library's calendar, or call 471-3283 to find out when the next workshop will be held.
  • Course-related instruction may be arranged at any time during the semester with at least one week's notice. Instruction is most effective when it is timed with a project requiring the use of the library.
  • Course-integrated instruction is a collaboration between faculty instructor and librarian. Instructor and librarian work together to plan library visits and assignments during course planning before the semester begins.
  • Online tutorials are available to both on- and off-campus students. For a full orientation to research in the James White Library, students are encouraged to work through The Library Primer. The Library Primer includes a customizable certificate which students may print out and turn into teachers to verify completion of the tutorial.
  • Faculty Outreach is a program designed specifically to help faculty keep up-to-date with resources and services at the James White Library. Group or individual appointments are available.

School Groups

The James White Library Instruction team is happy to host school groups of 30 or fewer students. One adult for every 15 students should accompany the group. It is also recommended that the school librarian accompany the students. Contact the Instruction Librarian for more information (see below).

Scheduling Instruction

To request tours, classroom instruction, or faculty outreach, contact the Instruction Librarian, Lauren Matacio. Phone: 616-471-6062 or use our Online Request Form.


Requests must be submitted no less than one week in advance. Include course name, course number, and number of students expected. Requesting instructor should plan to attend the library lecture with the class. Provide the librarian with a copy of the library-related assignment.

Updated January 8, 2014