The institution ensures that users have access to regular and timely instruction in the use of the library and other learning/information resources. (Instruction of library use)


The Appalachian State University Library has a mature program of instruction in the use of the Library and other learning/information resources.  The program is anchored by adherence to professional standards and best practices; guided by internal planning documents and assessment results; strategically staffed with a lead information literacy librarian, five librarians designated for information literacy, and broad participation in instruction by other library faculty; and is steadily broadening and deepening its impact on Appalachian’s curriculum.
The program is progressing toward the aims articulated in two documents: the Library Instruction Plan [1], and an Information Literacy Outcomes Assessment Plan [2].  Information literacy relationships are solidly in place with two general education courses at the first year level, and the program is piloting its relationship with the sophomore writing course.  In addition, there are recurring instruction relationships with courses in the major and with graduate-level courses in departments such as Criminal Justice, Curriculum and Instruction, English, Music, Philosophy, and Recreation Management.  Librarians regularly teach library research/information literacy oriented credit courses in Appalachian Studies (graduate bibliography course), First Year Seminar, music (graduate bibliography course), philosophy, and University Studies (undergraduate; electronic research skills; offered online as well as face-to-face).  Librarians regularly teach graded modules in English (undergraduate and graduate research courses) and provide instruction followed by graded assignments in selected sections of First Year Seminar courses; a physical education course; and a sustainable development course.  The program strives to have a substantial impact on Appalachian’s student population by providing classroom or online sessions for courses in a wide range of departments and programs [3].  In 2008-2009, the instruction program was involved with 137 courses (with multiple sections) in 39 departments.  By 2010-2011, the program’s reach had increased to 158 courses (with multiple sections) in 49 departments.
This narrative provides evidence of compliance by elaborating on the preceding overview and by describing, in fuller detail, the Library’s provisions for library orientations, classroom instruction, reference and information services, and assessment of student learning.

Library Instruction Program

Using advanced pedagogical methods and practices, the Appalachian State University Library ensures that users have access to regular and timely instruction in the use of the Library and other learning resources.  The Library provides instruction through classroom sessions, reference services, individual consultations, and self-service online tools, such as tutorials and research guides.  All of these forms of instruction are described on, or accessible from, the Library’s homepage [4]

Found in the University Bulletin, the principal educational goal [5] of the Library is to improve the information literacy of students.  To address this goal, the Library's Instruction Program [6] is designed to: 

  • Enable students to apply critical thinking to the discovery and use of information
  • Strengthen students’ information-seeking abilities as a fundamental component of their education at Appalachian so that they are competent users of Library resources and services of the Library
  • Ensure that Appalachian faculty and staff are knowledgeable about the Library’s teaching mission as well as the Library's classroom partnerships and peer assistance programs it can provide
  • Ensure that Appalachian faculty and staff are aware of the resources and services of the Library and can employ them effectively in their teaching and research

Library faculty [7] from the following teams hold the primary responsibility for instruction: Collection Management Services, Distance Education and E-Learning Library Services, Instructional Materials Center, Learning & Research Services, and the Music Library.  Library faculty in the areas of Bibliographic Services, Special Collections, and Technology Services make regular contributions to the instruction program.

The following discipline-related areas of the Library are involved in the instruction program: Special Collections [8] (comprised of the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Digital Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection, Stock Car Racing Collection, and University Archives and Records); the Music Library [9], which supports the curriculum in the Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music; and the Instruction Materials Center [10], which supports the curriculum in the Reich College of Education (see file named Library Instruction Plan in Evidence).

The instruction program provides instruction from the first year through the graduate level [11].  The program offers library orientations, course-integrated instruction, and on-demand instruction.  The instruction program curriculum addresses the University’s General Education Goals and Outcomes by teaching core information literacy competencies that require students to:

  • identify an information need
  • access the needed information
  • evaluate, manage, and apply the information in a new context
  • think critically

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education [12] serves as the foundation for the instruction program’s curriculum, which includes learning outcomes, in-class research assignments, and summative and formative assessment metrics.  Library faculty collaborate with course instructors in designing and delivering course-integrated information literacy sessions that teach students how to find, evaluate, and use information effectively [13].

The Library has made major improvements to the instruction program in recent years by:

  • creating a Strategic Plan 2008-2013 [14] with emphasis on Learning - 2007
  • reorganizing [15] Library teams - 2008
  • adopting an Instruction Plan (see file named Library Instruction Plan in Evidence)
  • creating a new faculty position, Lead Librarian for Information Literacy [16] – 2008
  • designating five faculty positions as Information Literacy Librarians [17] - 2008
  • operationalizing assessment of instruction for core general education courses [2] – 2009

These improvements align with national standards and guidelines outlined in ACRL’s Guidelines for Instruction Programs [18] in Academic Libraries and Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy [19] that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline.

When instruction sessions are scheduled, Library faculty communicate with course instructors to ensure that the sessions cover appropriate resources, are well sequenced during the semester, and are helpful to students in completing assignments that require the use of library resources.  Requests for library instruction are made via the Library’s online Instruction Request Form [20].

Peer Comparison

Comparison with other institutions [21] in the University of North Carolina system and with our peers shows the number of group presentations per 1,000 FTE during 2009-2010 to be well above the average for other libraries in the UNC system and very near the top for our peers.  Appalachian librarians taught 44 group presentations per 1,000 FTE.  The average number for our peer institutions was 25, and the average number for libraries in the UNC system was 35.

General Education Program

In 2009, Appalachian implemented a General Education Program with clearly articulated goals [22] and outcomes for courses from the first year through the senior year.  A revision of the General Education Program has provided a clear map [23] for the Library instruction program to integrate information literacy [24] into the following courses:

  1. First Year Seminar (UCO 1200, HON 1515)
  2. First Year Writing (ENG 1000)
  3. Sophomore Writing (ENG 2001)
  4. Upper Level Writing in the Discipline (WID)

Instruction Modes and Facilities

Librarians provide instruction in a variety of modes [25] found in the Instruction Plan, including face-to-face in the classroom or in an online environment (synchronous and asynchronous).  On-campus sessions are taught primarily in the Library’s computer classrooms, facilitating interactive teaching and hands-on practice with the Library’s online and print information resources.  The three computer classrooms [26] are equipped with instructor workstations, individual computer workstations, overhead projection units, interactive whiteboards, SMART Sync classroom management software, and wireless access for student or library laptops.  The Library provides links to its resources and services through AsULearn [27], the University’s course management system, to support class assignments and allow students access to relevant library materials and information at the point of need.  The Library’s Distance Education and E-Learning Library Services [28] team provides support to faculty teaching off-campus classes.

The Library provides access to the catalog, library guides, electronic and print course reserves, reference tools, and research tutorials (see filed named Belk Library Homepage in Evidence), as well as over 360 databases [29] and electronic research tools.  The Library’s collection of online research tools, available from the homepage, is accessible 24/7 and facilitates both instruction and learning at the point of need, both on and off campus.

Reference and Information Services

The Library’s reference and information services include both point-of-need reference assistance and in-depth research consultations by appointment. Reference services [30] are offered in person at service points in Belk Library and Information Commons and the Erneston Music Library, as well as by telephone, text, email, and chat.  Special Collections [31] offers reference assistance in person, by telephone, by mail, and by email, with longer consultations available by appointment.

The Library’s reference service points are staffed by library faculty, professional staff, and student assistants who provide guidance ranging from item location and directions, to technology and research strategies.  Reference statistics [32] indicate a significant increase in the number of transactions via online chat and text.

Individual research consultations

The Library offers formal research consultation services designed to supplement point-of-need reference service and classroom instruction.  The Research Advisory Program [33] (RAP) provides students the opportunity to meet with a librarian for in-depth research assistance.  The Thesis Research Assistance program [34] provides in-depth database and internet searching assistance to students writing a thesis or dissertation.  Thesis Research Assistance requests are matched with librarians by subject specialty [35] needed for thesis and dissertation level research.

In Fall 2008, the Research Advisory Program implemented an online request form [36] to involve more librarians, offer students convenient access, and better conform to students’ schedules.  RAP statistics since 2008 [37] reveal that this change initiated an increase in student demand for this service.  In 2008-2009, librarians conducted 289 RAP sessions; in 2009-2010, 469 (a 62% increase).  The increase held steady in 2010-2011, when librarians conducted 458 RAP sessions.  In Fall 2011, the Library implemented a RAP Session Evaluation Survey [38] to gather feedback from users.

Library orientations for first year students

The Library’s instruction program employs a programmatic approach [39] in delivering information literacy instruction to students in First Year Seminar (UCO1200, HON 1515), which is a required course, and in First Year Writing (ENG 1000), which is the first year General Education course.  The Library’s curriculum [40] for these two courses is based on the ACRL Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education, offers discrete content and concepts, and articulates clear learning outcomes.  The learning outcomes at the first year (Level 1) measure students’ ability to:

  • Critically evaluate information for quality and appropriateness to the research need
  • Recognize bibliographic data and accurately cite research (see file named Information Literacy Outcomes Assessment Plan in the evidence)

The Library takes a multi-level instructional approach to addressing the information literacy needs of first-year students.  Students enrolled in these courses attend a Library orientation tour [41], complete a library research tutorial [42], and attend one or more face-to-face instruction sessions.  The Library’s instruction program has demonstrated steady growth and integration into the University’s first year general education courses.  The combined instruction [43] for these 1000-level core General Education courses accounted for a significant portion of the total instruction program course-load.

  • FY 2008-2009: Library faculty taught 481 library instruction sessions, reaching over 9,000 students
  • FY 2009-2010: Library faculty taught 655 library instruction sessions, reaching over 14,000 students
  • FY 2011-2012: Library faculty taught 800 library instruction sessions, reaching 15,260 students

The increase in the total number of instruction sessions in this three-year period [44] reflects successful outreach efforts to first year programs.  These efforts included meeting with First Year Seminar and First Year Writing program coordinators, providing information literacy training for faculty teaching first year students, and pairing each First Year Seminar course instructor with a librarian.

Upper Division Library Instruction

The Library’s instruction program also introduces students to discipline-specific library and information resources, advanced search strategies, and library research concepts specific to upper-level courses and assignments.  In FY 2009-2010, courses at the 3000 to 5000 level comprised 35% of the total number of instruction sessions; in FY 2010-2011, 42%.  This 7% increase in upper division library instruction [45] reflect the Library's continuing efforts to increase the instruction program's reach to courses at these levels. 

Credit Courses and Modules within Courses

Librarians have taught for-credit courses in Appalachian studies, computer science, library science, First Year Seminar, history, music, philosophy, education, and University Studies.  Librarians also provide information literacy modules with librarian-graded assignments in English and University Studies.

Faculty Orientations, Workshops, and Consultations

Librarians partner with Faculty and Academic Development [46] (a unit of the Hubbard Programs for Faculty Excellence) to offer workshops for faculty and staff.  Workshop topics have included plagiarism; EndNote and Zotero citation management tools; citation analysis; and database searching.  In addition, librarians participate in Appalachian’s orientation for new faculty; provide training for new First Year Seminar instructors and new teaching assistants in the Rhetoric and Composition Program; and provide consultative services for faculty conducting research.

Distance Education and E-Learning Library Services (DEELS)

Distance learners contact the office of Distance Education and E-Learning Library Services - DEELS (see file named Distance Learning Library services in Evidence) for reference, research, and instruction [47] in using the Library’s resources and services.  The office provides instructional support [48] to faculty teaching off-campus classes as well as library-related assistance [49] to off-campus students during daytime, evening, and selected weekend hours.  Contact options include real-time chat, texting, toll-free telephone access, and email.  DEELS also offers Research Advisory Program [50](RAP) appointments and instruction via online web conferencing, chat, and toll-free telephone.  Another mode of service is through Appalachian Education Technology Zone [51] (AETZone), a 3-D virtual world utilized by three graduate-level distance education programs.  Access to all distance education services, research materials, and Library personnel is available through the DEELS homepage (see file named Distance Learning Library Services in Evidence).


The Library’s instruction program helps students become active participants in the learning process.  In order to track progress and make continual improvements at the programmatic and individual level, the Library conducts assessments [52] of students’ learning and librarians’ teaching.

Peer Review

Library faculty participate in a process of Peer Review of Library Instruction [53].  This process includes observation and reflection designed to help librarians develop effective teaching skills and allow for continual improvement in the Library instruction program.


The Library uses LibQUAL+, an internationally recognized survey, to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users' opinions of service quality.  The  2006 [54], 2008 [55], and 2011 [56] surveys provide useful data on information literacy outcomes.  In 2006, respondents’ satisfaction with information literacy instruction ranged from 6.17 to 6.92 on a scale of 1-9. In 2008 their satisfaction improved slightly, ranging from 6.37 to 7.33.  Results from 2011 again showed improved satisfaction with a range of 6.63 to 7.41.  Thus, users continue to have a high opinion of information literacy instruction, and their satisfaction has continued to increase over time.  

The Library Instruction Survey [57] (student feedback) and Faculty Library Instruction Survey [58] are brief questionnaires used to gauge the perceived usefulness of classroom instruction sessions.  Librarians review the survey results to determine what adjustments are needed in their teaching, thus addressing all elements of the assessment cycle.

Student Learning Outcomes

In FY 2010-2011, the Library began the first cycle of assessment of student learning in order to gather data on the overall effectiveness of the instruction program.  An assessment quiz was administered at the end of First Year Seminar (UCO1200) and First Year Writing (ENG1000) instruction sessions.  Data collected addressed the Library’s core information literacy competencies for first year students (see file named Information Literacy Outcomes Assessment Plan in Evidence):

  1. Evaluating information for quality and appropriateness to the research need 
  2. Recognizing bibliographic data and accurately citing research


Students receiving information literacy instruction in First Year Seminar [59] met the Library's criterion of 80% correct on 2 of 7 questions (2338, 2339), indicating that some are not able to recognize bibliographic data and accurately cite research.  Based on this data, librarians are working on a more effective instructional approach to improve students’ ability to:

  • identify types of resources
  • identify elements of citations

Students receiving instruction in First Year Writing [60] met our criterion of  80% correct on 7 of 10 quantitative questions, indicating that most are able to identify scholarly versus popular websites, but some are not able to identify scholarly versus popular articles.

A review of the comparison data [61] from Cycle 1 led librarians to revise the quiz questions for this course, review the instructional approach in use, and change the instruction methods and in-class assignments.  The goal is to improve students’ ability to recognize scholarly versus popular articles.