Library 160 course curriculum refreshed and modernized

Dec 08, 2021 · M. Monica Gillen

Iowa State has offered library instruction since 1890, and at the time, the course was one of the first of its kind in the country. For 132 years, the University Library has taught students relevant information discovery concepts and skills to assist with their Iowa State coursework. This approach to research and information evaluation provides a foundation for success in their courses, careers, and lives. This fall, a refreshed and modernized Library 160 curriculum was piloted, which better reflects the needs of students and users in an ever-changing information environment.

The research process starts when a question is asked, and an answer is sought. When students seek topic information for a history project or journalism presentation, they need certain tools and skills in the process. Library 160 provides the base for students to develop them.

The eight-week one-credit course, required for graduation, has remained agile, to embrace new technologies for teaching. It lays the groundwork so students can hone their critical thinking skills and effectively navigate the research process.

Instruction Librarian Cara Stone is a member of the library instruction coordination team and teaches the modernized course coming in the spring of 2022. “We've gotten great feedback from students piloting the new curriculum,” Stone said. “They're finding it easy to engage with and have commented that they're learning new things and are already applying these skills in other classes.”

The course affords students learning opportunities with starting research and determining the extent of the project. They learn how to access information on the web with search engines, databases, and other tools. Students learn how to search using Boolean operators, which helps to rule in or out for the most relevant results. They evaluate sources for credibility and what the ethical use of information and citing it means. The course is an exercise in critical thinking, which is important at all stages of life, in the workforce, as citizens, and as life-long learners.

The skills learned in Library 160 are applicable well after students complete it and move on to other courses, graduation, and develop in careers. With a class like this and the expertise of library instructors, students are equipped to navigate the sea of information that greets them every day, whether through email, social media, casual conversation, and coursework.

“I like how we've structured the chapters to align closer with the research process and have made it more relevant to students' college research experiences,” said Rano Marupova, instruction librarian. “I hope that students use these skills as they move forward with their research projects and continue building upon these foundations.”

This is valuable knowledge for completing assignments in college, but more so in everyday life to discern truthful news, find a reliable source for a service or even how to discover who owns the copyright to a painting or pattern before modifying or recreating it. There will always be a librarian to serve as a resource; however, being information literate, means you can think critically and recognize that you need facts and figures in the first place and then find and evaluate them.