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Library Instruction

The primary mission of the Library is to teach and advance critical thinking and research skills in partnership with the Kent State University (KSU) and Stark State College (SSC) communities. Contributing to the academic success of our students and their preparation for lifelong learning is central to this mission. Our goal is to develop, support, and increase information literacy competencies among KSU's and SSC's diverse student body, faculty, and staff.  The librarians strive to create a learning environment which encourages student academic success and which prepares them for lifelong learning in our information rich society. This web page is an overview of how the library provides instruction. Faculty may be particularly interested in reviewing it, along with the Information Literacy webpage, as way to help integrate library instruction into their teaching efforts. Also, the library publishes Libguides as tools for helping students, faculty and staff understand the resources and services offered by the Library.

Schedule a library instruction session using our Online Request Form.

Types of Instruction

Library instruction for first year classes (KSU's Flashpoint and SSCT's College Composition, for examples) takes a very general approach to introducing students to the services and sources of information available to them. The general lay-out and navigational structure of the web site is discussed. Example searches are conducted to find books in KentLINK and OhioLINK and items are requested. Students are shown how to find and request documents and the plethora of databases and online sources to find information. Access to library resources from off-campus is also addressed. A short discussion generally takes place, when time permits, on the evaluation of web sites found using search engines. When the classes are small enough, laptops are used to give the students a hands-on experience with navigating the library site. A pamphlet is handed out which has reminders of their instruction, URLs, and library policies. To be most effective, this type of instruction should always be held in the library.

Information Literacy
Information literacy is the ability to identify an information need, locate information efficiently, evaluate information, and use information effectively and ethically. The library has adopted its definition and application of information literacy from ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries). Although it is integrated to some degree into all library instruction, specific sets of skills are taught to students involved in research projects for their classes. Please consult our Information Literacy webpage for a fuller description and a detailed list of skills taught. Instructors may want to review this list and select those skills needed to complete their assignments when scheduling a session with our librarians.

Library instruction sessions for subject specific classes are individually designed to meet the research goals of the instructor and students. To meet these research goals, the most successful sessions require that the students have a pre-selected research topic. It is extremely helpful to discuss the research assignment with the instructor in order to choose the best sources for the students to use. When the students meet in the library for the instruction session, the librarian often provides a handout and an overview of the sources that should be used. The students are then provided with laptops and reference materials in order to start finding resources for their topics. The librarian meets with each student to ensure that the students are finding the sources that they need. If needed, the librarian can provide a follow-up library session with the students, individually or as a class, to ensure that the students are finding the best possible sources for their assignments. While it is better to hold these session in the library (where all available resources can be found), they are sometimes held in computer labs on campus, when only electronic sources are needed.

The library plays an important role in addressing the problem of student plagiarism. As a component of information literacy (described by the ACRL Standards--Standard Five), it is a responsibility of the library to assist students and faculty in understanding what constitutes plagiarism and how cases of plagiarism should be handled. As a result, the library has developed a Plagiarism Workshop, often provided to University Orientation classes, geared towards informing students of the university's policy on student cheating and plagiarism as well as providing practical ways to avoid the problem. The library also conducts " Plagiarism School" for first-time offenders. These sessions are modeled after "Traffic School," as a way to mitigate penalties in return for reeducation on the topic. Instructors with questions on plagiarism or faculty teaching the First Year Experience course should contact Rob Kairis.

Problem-Based Learning
The library is interested in working with instructors on problem-based assignments. If you are an instructor considering an assignment that describes a problem that requires students to use information sources to solve the problem, please consider contacting us to discuss holding a session in the library. Assignments such as these (particularly when students work in small groups) are an excellent way to allow students to apply practical information literacy skills for conducting research on a topic, using both print and online library resources.

Special Projects

The following are examples of how the library provides instruction in various contexts. These examples demonstrate different approaches used by the library over the years to deliver instruction (environments, tools, teaching techniques, etc.). They are presented to give faculty an idea of the types of instruction their students may experience. Still, the library is always interested in working with faculty to develop new methods of delivering library instruction.

Middle Childhood Education
After receiving a grant from the Institute for Library and Information Literacy Education (ILILE), the library developed an instructional model for assisting future middle school teachers (students enrolled in the KSU course MCED 40006, taught by Dr. Bill Kist and Dr. Lori Wilfong) in creating lesson plans for presenting information literacy skills to middle school students. These future teachers were tested using the Classroom Performance System (obtained through grant funds) at the beginning of the course and then at the end (after receiving instruction on information literacy and creating and presenting their lesson plans). Results showed overall improvement in the understanding of the Information Literacy Standards for 5-8th grade students.

Every year Dr. Carrie Schweitzer assigns library research to her Oceanography, Earth Dynamics, Environmental Science, and Earth History classes. Recognizing the difficulty in providing library instruction for these large classes in just one session, Dr. Schweitzer brings the classes in twice during the semester. The first session serves to introduce the students to the library and it resources while helping students understand the nature of their assignment as well as assisting with topic selection. Later in the semester when students are beginning to work more seriously on their projects the classes are brought back for a refresher on library resources and given time to work individually with librarians on their specific projects.

Art History
Dr. Molly Lindner often teaches sections of her Art History I course (ARTH 22006) by having about half of the classes meet in the library. Students are divided into small groups and work together on papers and presentations. Although no formal library instruction is provided, librarians (as well as a student instructor assigned to the course) meet with each group from time to time throughout the semester, assisting groups with progress on their assignments. While laptops are often used to assist in finding resources the focus is on using print sources. Dr. Lindner provides extensive lists of books that are placed on "reserve" but left in the library's study area for easy access and use by her students.

Dental Hygiene
Dr. Mary Rude, a former Stark State College instructor in the Dental Hygiene program worked closely with librarians to craft an assignment for her Dental Pharmacology Portfolio Project (DHY 222). Using Problem-Based Learning techniques, students were separated into small groups and given the name of a prescription drug and an over-the-counter drug that addresses the same condition as the prescription medicine. Groups had to determine whether or not there was some value in the over-the-counter equivalent, using information literacy skills presented by a librarian along with library resources. The class was brought in for two sessions and had to write a feedback paper and create a PowerPoint presentation describing their findings.

Upward Bound
In addition to providing library instruction to KSU and SSCT students, the library often is asked to provide instruction to community users. Upward Bound is a program that prepares low-income high school students for college. Stark State has brought students enrolled in their Upward Bound program into the library for instruction and assistance in completing research assignments. The hope is that exposing these students to the library resources available to college students and the rigor of college-like research will better prepare these students for success in college. Students worked in groups and were assigned a case study consisting of digestive disorder symptoms. The goal was for each group to figure out what disorder was described in the case student (another example of the application of Problem-Based Learning in a library setting). Groups were brought in for two sessions. The first to learn about the relevant resources presented by the librarian and the second session served as an opportunity for groups to work on their case studies with assistance by the librarian.

General Tools

Online Reference
Use KSU's Ask a Librarian service for online assistance, or chat online in real time with an Ohio librarian by accessing the KnowItNow 24/7 service. RefWorks
Help keep track of your citations and develop bibliographies in any standard format ( more about using RefWorks). Also, a guide for using RefWorks
Journal Finder
See if there is online access to a journal article you are looking for ILLiad
Request materials not available online or in print from your library
Citing Sources   Understanding Call Numbers ( Library of Congress Classification Table)
Search Strategy Worksheet


The library uses various tools to assess its library instruction. Several surveys are currently under development that will target the following groups for their opinions on the library's instructional efforts:

Students who are provided instruction by a librarian will be given a URL to record their opinions using an online survey instrument developed using Kent State's Flashlight survey application.

Instructors who bring their classes into the library for instruction will be surveyed using Flashlight.

Fellow Kent State librarians will be invited to review Kent State Stark librarians from time to time.

The library obtained a Classroom Performance System (CPS) as part of a grant. This system allows users to record answers to multiple choice questions, providing instant response and analysis. It has already been used to evaluate information literacy instruction for Middle Childhood Education students.

The library regularly uses this total market survey instrument to gather information about its services in comparison to other similar libraries in the state and across the nation. Results from previous LibQUAL+ surveys:




Contact Information/Schedule a Library Instruction Session

Library instruction can be requested using the Online Request Form, or by contacting a Kent State Stark librarian directly:

Rob Kairis
Library Director
Professor, Libraries and Media Services
330-244-3326 | Campus 53326

Melissa Bauer
Online Learning Librarian
Assistant Professor, University Libraries
330-244-3320 | Campus 53320

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