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Librarians, step out of the classroom!: how improved faculty-led IL instruction improves student learning

Meagan Lacy (Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, New York, New York, USA)
Alexandra Hamlett (Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, New York, New York, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 29 June 2021

Issue publication date: 19 July 2021




In most higher education institutions, information literacy (IL) instruction is usually considered the purview of librarians, not disciplinary faculty. However, a small but growing body of research indicates that students learn the research process best when these skills are taught in the context of a course or a discipline. For this reason, teaching faculty should share ownership of IL instruction — but how? In this case study, community college librarians explain how they successfully trained faculty to integrate IL into their English Composition courses and teach IL independently.


Using a multimethods approach, the investigators draw on faculty interviews, student surveys, and content analysis of student essays to evaluate the impact of faculty-led IL instruction on student learning after one semester.


Faculty reported that their instruction of IL was improved, and students work better as a result of their collaboration with the librarians. Compared to previous semesters, faculty perceived gains in terms of students’ ability to synthesize and cite evidence in their writing. Student survey results indicate perceived gains in their IL skills, but an assessment of their written work reveals a discrepancy between this perception and the actual application of these skills.

Research limitations/implications

Because there is no control group, no conclusions can be drawn as to whether faculty-led IL instruction is as effective as librarian-led IL instruction or whether students’ academic performance improves due to faculty teaching IL. However, the purpose of this study is primarily descriptive. It addresses how other libraries may create a culture of shared ownership of IL instruction on their campuses.

Practical implications

This study offers an alternative model to library instruction and suggests ways instruction librarians can prioritize their outreach and instructional efforts to maximize impact on student learning.


While much has been written about how librarians can improve IL instruction, few studies mention the role of faculty. This case study starts the conversation.



The authors wish to express their gratitude to the college for their grant support and also the faculty who participated in this study.

Funding: This research was made possible thanks to internal funding granted by our institution.


Lacy, M. and Hamlett, A. (2021), "Librarians, step out of the classroom!: how improved faculty-led IL instruction improves student learning", Reference Services Review, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 163-175.



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