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University of Southern Maine
Libraries & Learning

Library Instruction Services: Home

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Research Skills

Use the:

Library Instruction Request Form
to request an instruction session.

Special Collections

Jill Piekut Roy

Osher Map Library

Louis Miller

Franco American Collection

Anna Faherty

Information literacy is a set of skills and habits of mind required to effectively and efficiently locate, evaluate, and use information to accomplish a specific purpose.

USM librarians work with course instructors to provide the library research instruction students need to succeed in their coursework and careers. We work with any and all types of courses - face-to-face, blended, and fully online - as well as other groups and settings. Please contact us to learn more or to discuss your specific library instruction needs.


Mission: Through active student-centered instruction and in collaboration with university faculty, the library’s instruction program develops independent, proactive learners by fostering inquiry and critical engagement with complex information landscapes.

What We Teach

Our instruction is guided by the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.  

Frequently taught concepts include:

  • Evaluating information sources
  • Understanding different types of information sources and when each are appropriate
  • Strategically searching for information sources
  • Determining the scope of information needed
  • Persistence in searching
  • Proper attribution and citation
  • Peer review
  • Primary and secondary sources

Library Instruction Options

There are many ways the library can integrate into your course, ranging from small-scale, minimal involvement for faculty who don't have time to devote an entire class session to library research, to repeated, semester-long course involvement in courses where research is heavily emphasized. Please contact us to discuss your specific situation!

Small-scale Involvement:

Course and subject guides - A librarian can create an online guide to library resources for your course or subject. These guides compile the most useful resources in a particular area into one place so students can focus on their research instead of which resources to use.

Consultation - Schedule a consultation appointment with a librarian to discuss assignment elements or in-class activities you can incorporate into your course to boost your students' information literacy. Contact us for an appointment.

Tutorials - The library has a variety of tutorials that can be shared with students who might need a brush-up on research skills before beginning a project or assignment.


More Involvement:

Course-integrated instruction - A librarian will visit your course for one class and lead an active session on library research with your students. Each session is customized based on the level of your course, the assignment(s) that require students to use library resources, and what you want your students to get out of the session. Because each session is customized based on the needs of your course, we require two weeks' notice for course-integrated instruction requests. Fill out the instruction request form and a librarian will contact you shortly!

Online Synchronous OR asynchronous instruction - We can work with your online course regardless of modality. Synchronous online instruction can still incorporate active learning, and for asynchronous online courses we will develop a set of instructional materials, activities, and assessment, customized to your course content, to help your students develop information literacy skills and habits of mine.

Research session - Many faculty like to combine a course-integrated instruction session with a research session. In the class after the course-integrated instruction session, students have free research time with both their course instructor and librarian present to answer questions and provide guidance. This gives the students the opportunity to immediately practice the research skills they learned in the previous class session while also conducting research for their project or assignment.

Additional assignments - Librarians can provide additional assignments for your students to practice and refine their information literacy skills and abilities.

Student work assessment - A Research & Instruction librarian can assist in assessing student work products for information literacy skills and recommending activities and assignments based on the assessment results.

Embedded librarian - A librarian can have repeated involvement with your course over the entire semester. These partnerships are highly customized to the course and instructor's needs. Please contact us for more information!