The Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education identifies an important knowledge practice for information literacy learners as matching information needs to appropriate tools. As we all know, the tools of a university library are no longer solely contained in a physical building, but include numerous databases, digital repositories of information that vary in content and form. Thus, one could argue that it has become harder to identify the correct tools. Our library’s discovery service bundles many of these tools in one place in the hopes that students will locate a number of resources without further knowledge of the tools. However, OCLC discovery is so large it is commonly unwieldy to searchers. In information literacy instruction sessions, I often direct students to help guides – this way students are able to directly access the tools and resources that are best suited for their disciplinary research needs.
However, a study of library help guides by Roberts and Hunter published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning reports that students do not, in fact, connect to subject guides because they do not think of their studies as situation in a discipline. Students are much more likely to connect to guides that are specific to their course. So, I create them regularly! Course-specific guides are very important for interdisciplinary research, which is so prominent at Muhlenberg. These guides link to resources across disciplines that meet assignment-specific information needs.
Roberts and Hunter (2011) report that students spend a minute on discipline-specific guides and seven to eight minutes on course-specific guides. Thus, through course-specific guides I can increase students persistence in research, demonstrate how tools can meet specific information needs, and provide access to resources strategically. I shared this information with a few faculty today, hoping to encourage them to collaborate on guides with their liaison librarians. Since I think it is a fairly convincing argument, I thought I would share it here too!
Roberts, S. & Hunter, D. (2011). New library, new librarian, new student: Using LibGuides to reach the virtual student. Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning, 5(1-2), 67-75. https://doi.org/10.1080/1533290X.2011.570552