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Library Assignments for Critical Thinking and Information Literacy: Introduction

This guide is for faculty looking for inspired ideas for assignments that use library resources to engage student critical thinking skills and information literacy.

Information Literacy Goals

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

> Select Appropriate Tools

> Search Efficiently

> Select Relevant Information Resources

> Retrieve Resources

> Critically Evaluate Resources

> Cite Resources


Librarians are experts in locating learning materials and assisting in the construction of resource-based assignments that promote understanding of content, critical thinking, and information literacy skills.

There are many ways to incorporate the use of library resources into class assignments without requiring a research paper.

Smaller scale assignments help students build confidence in their own research abilities.

Why Assign Library Research?

  1. Promote information literacy (knowing when information is needed, identifying tools for research, searching, locating, evaluating, applying, etc.).
  2. Prepare students as lifelong learners.
  3. Provide opportunities to introduce and navigate through various information resources, especially in their selected field of study.
  4. Extend course content by providing research experiences in the field.

Purpose of Course Assignments

An effective assignment:

  • has a specific, understood purpose.
  • relates to some aspect of course subject matter or learning objectives.
  • leads to an increased understanding of a subject or the process of locating information related to a subject.
  • makes students aware of the variety of information sources and formats available (e.g., print, electronic, microform, video).
  • teaches students to select and evaluate quality information sources appropriate to their topics.
  • reinforces habits of ethical scholarship.

From: University of St. Thomas Library (Jan. 7, 2009)