Library Instruction Goals and Mission Statement

Staley Library’s instruction program exists to support the academic curriculum of Millikin University. Our mission is to empower students to become information literate adults who are confident in their information seeking abilities and able to apply critical thinking skills in the retrieval, evaluation, and ethical use of information.

This is accomplished through:

  • Research instruction integrated into the University Studies sequential core classes (University Seminar, Writing Practicum, and Honors Writing Studio)
  • Integration of instruction into courses in the majors
  • Individualized research consultations
  • Instructional information available via the Library's web pages


The research instruction program corresponds directly with CWRR learning outcome goal #3: “Conduct research to participate in academic inquiry.” The purpose of research instruction for CWRR is stated in Staley Library’s four learning goals:

  1. Students will identify the use and purpose of potential information sources and formats.
  2. Students will develop and implement search strategies to retrieve resources using library and non-library tools.
  3. Students will evaluate the information that they find to determine its context, value, and to identify bias or deception.
  4. Students will understand ethical aspects of information and information technology.

These goals correspond with the university-wide learning goals:

  1. Millikin students will prepare for professional success.
  2. Millikin students will actively engage in the responsibilities of citizenship in their communities.
  3. Millikin students will discover and develop a personal life of meaning and value.

Information Literacy Classroom

The Staley Library Information Literacy Classroom (University Commons room 146) is primarily a space for library faculty to provide information literacy instruction, but it is also used by library faculty and staff for training, demonstrations, workshops, and other library-related activities. The Information Literacy Classroom Policy defines the purpose and policy for this room.

Research Instruction for CWRR and University Seminar

University Seminar (IN 140 / IN 183) and CWRR 1 (IN150)

Two library instruction sessions are integrated into the Seminar/CWRR1 cohort in the Fall semester. The preferred schedule is for introduction to scholarly research to be taught in the CWRR section and evaluating internet resources to be taught in the Seminar section, although course content or cohort professor preference may dictate a different distribution. In any case, the sessions do not need to be taught in a particular order.

Introduction to scholarly research

The introduction to scholarly research session is designed to teach students the basics of conducting college level library research. During this session, students will work on skills such as topic development (identifying key concepts in a topic, composing a list of keywords, etc.), determining what types of source they should seek, searching in the library's online catalog and article databases, and setting up library accounts for interlibrary loan. The librarian will tailor the examples used in class to match the course topic, and if students have a research assignment, the students will begin locating sources for their research.

Evaluating Internet sources

For many students the first step in the research process is an Internet search. However, just because a website appears on the first page of Google results, doesn’t mean it is a high quality source that should be used in papers or projects. This session will introduce criteria that students can use for evaluating websites, and other sources, to determine their credibility. Students will also be given an opportunity to practice applying the criteria to websites. Then, depending on the needs of the course, the session can either focus on more advanced web searching tools and techniques or turn to a discussion of contemporary issues that are raised by online information such as privacy or intellectual property.

CWRR 2 (IN151)

Two instruction sessions are scheduled in each section of CWRR2. The topics planned for the instruction sessions include:

Session 1

  • Advanced keyword/topic development,
  • Understanding appropriate source choice for the assignment,
  • Evaluating types of articles,
  • Course-specific resources or information literacy concepts desired by the professor, such as finding videos, statistics, or interviews, focusing more deeply on authority, or understanding the big picture of research.

Session 2

  • Depending on the ability to cover the session 1 topics during that first session, any session 1 topics not yet covered may moved to session 2.
  • Remainder of session to work directly with the students as they plan their research, locate, and evaluate resources on their topic.

If you have further questions, contact Matthew Olsen, Instructional Services Coordinator, ext. 6719, e-mail

Student learning in library research instruction

As part of their responsibilities as members of the Staley Library professional staff and as Millikin University faculty members, the Staley Library librarians provide research instruction sessions to academic classes. This instruction is available for ALL classes, although in terms of the number of sections taught, our primary emphasis is on freshmen and the Critical Writing, Reading, and Research (CWRR) and Honors Writing Studio (HWS) sequences and University Seminar.

Research instruction for other subject areas beyond first year

It is important to note that students gain only an introduction to research skills and experience in subject-specific research in the first-year core course sessions will be minimal. It should also be remembered that the skills the students do learn are at a beginning level, which may not be adequate as students progress to more sophisticated and topic-specific course content. At a faculty member's request, librarians will be pleased to teach these advanced skills in individually tailored sessions. This service is available to any class offered at Millikin University.

If you would like to request library instruction for your class, please call or e-mail the liaison for your subject area. We ask that requests be made as soon as possible to allow us time to adequately address the needs of each individual class and to reserve computer lab space when needed.

If you have further questions, contact Matthew Olsen, Instructional Services Coordinator, ext. 6719, e-mail

Library Research Assignment Creation Assistance

The research librarians at Staley Library are happy to provide you with assistance in constructing research/library assignments for your courses.

The purpose of this service is to assist you in creating assignments that integrate the library's resources into your classes. Our goals are twofold: to help students gain information literacy skills and comfort in using the library, and to assist faculty in furthering their familiarity with the library and its ever-changing resources. Each year brings changes in both the resources available to us and the interfaces for using them. It can be very difficult to keep abreast of what is available.

The Research Library Assignment Assistance will:

  • Brainstorm ways to integrate research into an existing course.
  • Make sure the information can be found via one of our available databases.
  • Confirm sources listed on your assignment are available at Staley Library.
  • Test the library research portion of the assignment to assist you in developing a successful library research assignment.

Whether you are integrating or creating new library assignments, or have assignments already constructed, we can give you an idea of how successful they will be before your students attempt to complete them. A successful assignment will avoid unanswerable research questions and frustrated students and will produce great results.

Tips for Designing Effective Research Assignments

When designing a library or research-based assignment keep in mind the following list of tips for creating assignments that are as effective as possible. Assignments that are not well constructed can lead to high frustration levels in students and a negative view of using the library. We have seen many excellent library assignments and we would like to encourage more of these!


  • Clearly state the objectives and purpose of the assignment so that students understand what they are supposed to learn as a result of completing the assignment.
  • Discuss with your students the kind of material they are expected to locate. Are they looking for articles in magazines, scholarly journals, or editorial commentary?
  • Clarify terms that may not be understood by students. Do they know what an abstract is? An annotated bibliography?
  • Allow ample time for the students to complete the assignment.
  • Place an item on for the assignment if an entire class will be looking for the same thing. Unfortunately, students often stash such items somewhere in the stacks for their own personal use. Placing it on Reserves will ensure all students in the class have equal access to the item.
  • Emphasize respect for library materials. We have had instances of students destroying materials to create collages for classes in the past. Consequences for such actions are harsh.
  • Check your titles if you provide resource lists for your students. Sometimes our memories don't serve us well as we think and it is possible to forget and exact title, or combine two titles into a new, nonexistent title!
  • Share copies of difficult or detailed assignments with the Research Librarians. We are better able to help your students if we are aware of the particulars of the assignment.
  • Refer students to the Librarians if they have any questions or problems. We are here to help!
  • Schedule a research instruction session if you feel one is appropriate.
  • Complete the assignment yourself before you give it to the students to make sure it is "doable.”

Do not:

  • Make assumptions about students' research ability and information retrieval skills, particularly lower division students. How likely is it that they know the difference between a magazine and a journal? An online journal and a website?
  • Send students on searches for obscure facts or scavenger hunts. These assignments are extremely time consuming and make library use seem unnecessarily difficult. Often it is the librarian, not the student, that ends up locating the information.
  • Assign materials that aren't owned by Staley Library. If the library needs to add something to its collection to support your course, please let you appropriate librarian liaison know before the semester begins!