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Library and Information Literacy Education at Van Wylen Library

Information Literacy prepares students to be critical and effective information seekers and users, both in general and in their disciplines.

Jessica Hronchek teaching a class sessionStudents come to Hope College well-accustomed to the practice of seeking out information to address their questions or needs. With the addition of an academic library to their information environment, students face new challenges, but also opportunities to expand their horizons and understanding of the greater information landscape. Librarians at Hope strive to teach something called “information literacy,” a transdisciplinary skill set and way of thinking about how information is created, disseminated and consumed. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines information literacy as:

“… 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.”

(Framework for IL in Higher Education)

A Hope College education strives to increase students’ understanding and critical thinking about diverse “ways of knowing.” Information literacy is a reflective, creative practice that fosters an attitude of curiosity and mindfulness in our students. By developing their abilities to navigate and contextualize information encountered through different ways of knowing, Hope students will be well prepared for a future of lifelong learning.

As students encounter library and information literacy education at various points throughout their Hope education, we aim to help them achieve competency in the following areas.

Key to the success of this program is librarians and classroom faculty collaborating on designing and guiding students through research projects. The most successful sessions are team taught, with both teaching faculty and librarian participating in the instruction. Librarians often create custom tailored course guides to serve as specialized research portals for students enrolled in a particular course.

The General Education curriculum requires that all First Year Seminar (FYS) and English 113 classes receive information literacy instruction, but many other courses with research components can benefit from sessions — in the library or another learning space — led by librarians.

First Year Seminar

Hope’s First Year Seminar (FYS) is designed to help students develop essential college skills through investigating important topics that transcend any single discipline or field of study. In addition, students are given early exposure to some of the college’s services that support the academic program. Van Wylen Library has long partnered with FYS to ensure that students receive a general introduction to the library — its facilities, resources and services. Each section is paired with a librarian who will conduct a 50-minute class session that serves as an introduction to information literacy, focusing primarily on the following learning objectives:

  1. Describe the library services and spaces available to them at Van Wylen and the Archives.
  2. Navigate Primo using basic search, limiting, and expanding functions to find library resources for a research topic.
  3. Recognize how an academic library and librarians fit into their college experience and broader information environment.

Although the standard FYS library session is a general introduction, we encourage you to collaborate with your FYS librarian to develop course-integrated library or information literacy goals and objectives for your students. We are happy to discuss options for “FYS-appropriate” assignments or activities related to your overall course theme or topic. If you already have something in mind, please share it with us in advance so we can better prepare for students as they look for help.

Scheduling Your Library Session

Contact: Michael DeNotto, Acting Head of Research and Instruction, at 616.395.7986 or denotto@hope.edu

After you have contacted Michael, you will receive a confirmation email from one of the Research and Instruction Librarians which will include the day/time and place of your library session. Most sessions are done in either the Library Teaching Lab or the Granberg Room (both are located on the second floor of the library). However, in order to accommodate all sessions, some may be conducted in another lab on campus if there are overlapping date requests.

IMPORTANT: Plan to schedule the session during one of your regular class periods.

  • The session will take the full 50 minutes.
  • It should be held early in the semester. Due to the introductory nature of the library session, having it right away in September is ideal.
  • Reserve your session by the end of July to ensure it gets booked on the day you want.
  • Have a couple of alternate days in mind — just in case.

We look forward to working with you and your FYS students!

English 113

English 113 (Expository Writing I) is the premier course in the general education curriculum in which students are introduced to college-level writing and research. Students are to employ savvy, discriminating research skills to produce evidenced-based academic writing. Throughout the research-writing process, they are also expected to demonstrate a degree of prowess in information literacy. Building on the fundamentals taught in FYS, librarians work with each section of English 113 to expand students’ academic library research proficiency and associated information literacy skills and habits.

  1. Recognize different publication types and evaluate their role in research, particularly discerning between scholarly and popular forms of writing.
  2. Transform a research topic into a search through advanced techniques in Primo and subject databases.
  3. Locate the full-text of print and digital resources that they identify in Primo and subject databases.
  4. Recognize the ethical aspects of using information, especially as it pertains to accurately and properly citing their sources.

Developing information literacy skills requires the students’ full career as undergraduates, but library sessions for English 113 classes should begin to develop them. Ideally these sessions will be timed to coincide with a research paper, preferably one that allows students the flexibility to truly explore a topic or question by interacting with, and incorporating, a variety of sources into their work. Since writing assignments naturally vary between sections of English 113, professors are encouraged to collaborate with “their librarian” to determine how these information literacy objectives can best be met in conjunction with their unique approaches to the course.

Scheduling your English 113 library/information literacy sessions

A Research and Instruction Librarian will be in touch with you to discuss dates for your session. If you have not heard from someone and want to start planning, please contact Michael DeNotto (denotto@hope.edu), Acting Head of Research and Instruction.

Information Literacy in the Disciplines

FYS and ENGL 113 are just the beginning of a holistic information literacy journey at Hope. Other points of contract through which students can gain the skills and habits of savvy information consumption include many discipline-specific encounters with the library. Courses in the major that engage the information literacy program are determined in collaboration between the liaison librarian and the department but all engage with the following learning objectives:

  1. Identify the types of sources utilized in the scholarly conversations within their field.
  2. Integrate their own disciplinary research questions with research sources from the field through a savvy and iterative research process, following lines of inquiry from source to source.
  3. Recognize and navigate the research tools that are dedicated to the bodies of knowledge in the discipline(s).
  4. Engage questions of information authority particular to their field of study.

Contact Michael DeNotto (denotto@hope.edu) to schedule a session for your class.