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English Department: The Basics

This guide provides resources to support teaching and research of the English Department at Carnegie Mellon University.

About Information Literacy

What is Information Literacy?

The Association of College and Research Libraries defines IL (Information Literacy) as a “set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information."

My instructional objective:  For students at Carnegie Mellon as a whole, and my liaison departments in particular, I strive to demonstrate that students can:

  • Gather and evaluate evaluating information effectively and appropriately

To achieve this, my instructional efforts focus on one or more of the following goals, which are alligned with ACRL's 5 standards of performance for Information Literacy.  Instructional activities are designed to ensure that students are able to:

  1. Locate and select appropriate information sources and technologies
  2. Create language in order to identify or define their information need
  3. Evaluate the quality of resources in order to construct a defendable synthasis, analysis, or argument
  4. Gather enough information in order to create sound citations that give proper credit to the author of information 

The choice is your!

Depending on your need and what your teaching objectives/goals are, teaching faculty can choose one or more of the following options:

1.  A Library Tour:  Taking a physical tour of the library helps students find their way around the library buildings, services, and resources at Carnegie Mellon. 

Note:  Most in coming freshman attend a library tour; however, some may not have.  If you have students who did not, individuals or small groups can request a library tour.  Groups should elect one person to contact me on behalf of the group when setting this up.

2.  Introduction Sessions:  You can bring a class in for a quick introduction to resources.  These are intended to be generic and are best given at the begining of the term. 

3.  Course-Integrated Sessions:  Intended for students who are familiar with basic library services and resources.  These are specialized instruction, relevant to class projects or papers, and are best given after students have had a chance to think about their topic.   

4.  One-on-One or Small Group Sessions: These sessions are tailored to the needs of the individual or a group with any level of experience and are scheduled outside of class time.

5.  Class Pages/Research Guides:  Online pages/guides can be useful to self-directed learners as well as used as a "reference tool" for all students.  URLs to the page(s) are linked from the library website.  You can link to them from Blackboard, or personal teaching media (such as a blog), or simply email them to students.

6.  Embedded Librarian:  For supporters of self-directed learning, you can add me to your courseweb on various levels (see Embedded Librarian, on the right for additional information).

The Embedded Librarian

What is it?

Do you use Blackboard?  Then you can arrange for me to “participates” in your Blackboard course. 

Why do it?

Recent trends have shown that students spend most of their "learning" time online and prefer the felxibility of remote access to resources.  Why not remote access to a librarian?

By becoming a part of your Blackboard course (i.e., being “embedded” in it), I have the opportunity to assist students with specific assignments and research needs in a variety of ways:

  • Email:  By adding me as a TA, students can have access to my contact information and get individual direction.
  • Discussion Forum:  Instructor can create a research discussion forum where students can post their questions and get answers that all can benefit from.
  • External Links:  I can help you populate Blackboard's external links with relevant and tailored information.
  • Research Folder:  I can provide tailored content for the course, including lists of suggested resources, tutorials, strategies for researching specific assignments, and more

What do I need from the instructor?

All you have to do is add me as a user.  My email is

As a student:  I can look at the syllabus, email other students, participate in discussions.

As a TA:  I can create tailored coures materials; online activities; surveys or tests

Most importantly, I need your help to promote my services to your students.  Reminding students that I am available to assist them with research is very important and helpful.  The more instructors endorse library services, the more students tend to use them.