Find the gap: evaluating library instruction reach using syllabi

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Erin Alcock Kathryn Rose


Academic libraries deliver library instruction, but how good are practitioners at measuring the effectiveness of their efforts? One medium-sized Canadian university library undertook a new approach to assessing its library instruction programme by collaborating with faculty members and engaging with their course content. Looking initially at recently-offered information literacy (IL) sessions, the study challenged commonly-held assumptions on the programme, and established a number of broad conclusions. All faculty members from two disciplines were invited to submit syllabi for courses taught in the past few years. In addition to those courses that regularly scheduled sessions in the library, the authors received course content from instructors that had not traditionally booked library instruction, providing a unique opportunity for analysis and to learn about research content in the course, requirements of independent use of the library, inclusion of standards on academic integrity, inclusion of a cumulative project, the presence of library instruction, critical thinking, library assignments, general reference to the library and its resources, and whether professors conduct library-type instruction.


The findings point to a number of strengths and weaknesses of the library’s instruction programme for these departments, and challenged a number of assumptions. The absence of a library instruction session did not mean the absence of a research requirement or required library usage. The conclusions from the syllabi analysis suggest a need for diversification of services associated with library instruction and increased collaboration between librarians and faculty to support student learning and research. The impact of this study will be seen in both future library instruction programme evaluation and the strengthening of that programme. The results, with the potential to expand to other disciplines, will help inform the development of new methods of delivering library services that support faculty instruction patterns, consultative course planning and collaborative teaching. This project has presented new lines of inquiry for long-term IL programmes across undergraduate curricula within each discipline.

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How to Cite
ALCOCK, Erin; ROSE, Kathryn. Find the gap: evaluating library instruction reach using syllabi. Journal of Information Literacy, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 1, p. 86-98, june 2016. ISSN 1750-5968. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 16 jan. 2021. doi:
information literacy; library instruction; curriculum evaluation; Canada; higher education; academic libraries; faculty; collaboration; LILAC
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