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Resources for Faculty

A guide to teaching and learning resources in the library

Library and Archives Research Instruction at ECU

The purpose of this page is to provide faculty at ECU with information about library instruction services, specifically the ECU Library's goals, vision, pedagogical philosophy, and teaching materials. Faculty outside the library are welcome to use these resources to incorporate information literacy (IL) concepts into their curriculum and course design to assist students’ academic and creative pursuits.

Principles for Library Instruction

  • Library instruction supports ECUAD faculty and students in their research and creative processes and can be embedded into all areas of the curriculum at all levels of learning.
  • Library instruction helps students understand the role of research in their creative practice and learning process.
  • Library instruction helps mitigate barriers to the library space and library resources, and encourages students to explore and use library resources for multiple purposes.
  • Library instruction is a critical practice and encourages critical thinking.


The need for new developments in library instruction at ECUAD stems from an increase in scholarship on critical information literacy and the release of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education. Libraries are moving away from one-off, generic library instruction sessions that focus on research skill development to experiential learning modules that frame library research as a creative, explorative and critical process. There are challenges with library instruction scalability. With a demonstrated need of critical information literacy development at all levels of learning, and only three librarians providing IL instruction, we are developing tools and methods to expand the reach of critical information literacy instruction.

Critical Information Literacy

Critical information literacy considers “the complex power relationships that undergird all of information, including its creation, presentation, storage, retrieval, and accessibility,” and it “urges students to question the social, political, and economic forces involved in the creation, transmission, reception and use of information.” (Downey 42). For students of art and design, critical information literacy has more specific implications, where students need to understand the role of research in their creative practice, as well as think critically about information in their lives more generally. 

We are guided in part by the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy framework. We incorporate the following frames into our library research instruction sessions. Our interpretation of the Framework elements:

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Invite students to think critically about how authority is determined by a community or discipline. In the scholarly community, authority is determined by gaining expertise in a field, having recognized credentials, and going through the peer-review process prior to publishing. But there are biases built into the system that impact who traditionally has the opportunity to gain authority, which can affect what perspectives are represented in art and design scholarship. Everyone is an authority or expert in their own experience and we can explore ways of finding resources on multiple perspectives.

Information Creation as a Process

Describe how information is created. This could involve explaining the peer-review process, how Wikipedia articles are created, or exploring the research that goes into the creation of a specific work of art.

Information Has Value

Discuss how information is part of the knowledge economy and how this impacts student access to certain types of knowledge. Compare open access versus paid database subscription models, and discuss how students only have free access to many databases while in school. Encourage students to check the library first so they don’t have to go through paywalls they might come across through Google/Google Scholar search results.

Research as Inquiry

Frame research as a way of exploring an idea and gaining a better understanding of a topic, rather than a means of completing an assignment. Research involves asking questions and finding resources that lead to more questions.

Scholarship as Conversation

Encourage students to place themselves within the scholarly conversation as consumers and creators of information. Explain that the scholarly conversation involves a synthesis of ideas that develop into new ideas. As students of art and design, the conversation extends into the creative fields, where students must consider the role of art in their communities and be able to explain the context and positionality of their own work.

Searching as Strategic Exploration

Searching for information involves creativity and intentionality. In order to search effectively for information, it is best to come up with a search strategy: brainstorm keywords and related topics, choose the best databases to search in, then start looking for relevant sources.

Library Instruction works best when the session is connected to a specific assignment or curricular goal, when students are able to apply the research concepts they learn from librarians to their assignments, and by extension to their day to day lives. Library instruction requires an element of criticality, to encourage students to think about where information is coming from and to see research as a creative, explorative process of inquiry. Contact your liaison librarian to set up a session.

Collaborative Pedagogy

The librarians are primarily interested in pursuing cross-disciplinary collaboration with faculty in areas of research concerning the book, experimental archives, social practice, digital resource management, artists’ publications, media archiving, bibliography and digital images. We are also engaged in compiling class reading lists, facilitating exhibitions in the library, working with co-op students, participating in class-critiques and mentoring students who have an interest in libraries.

Artists’ Books Talks

Students will have the opportunity to interact with our unique artists’ books collection, and gain a better understanding of how artists’ books and zines fit into the broader information environment. They will learn challenges with classifying, preserving and making accessible the artists’ books and zines. The talk can be a general introduction to the collections, or be specific to a certain topic, technique or project. 

Library Research Workshop

Students will work in groups to develop a concept map and search strategy, and practice searching open access resources, library databases, and the library catalogue to find and evaluate reviews, scholarly articles, and popular articles on a specific topic. They will be encouraged to evaluate their resources. Handouts will be provided.

Information Bias + Resource Evaluation

Following a talk on Information bias, students will be provided with resources to do a deep reading and critical resource evaluation. Handouts will be provided.

Archives Instruction

Archives instruction can introduce and expand upon knowledge of archival concepts, theory and research. The session can be a general introduction or structured around specific assignments/curriculum. Students can work directly with archival materials from the ECU Archives or digital collections from other repositories. Students will learn how to find, access and contextualize primary and historical sources.

Handouts and Tutorials

The links below are a selection of handouts and activities that ECU faculty are welcome to use and adapt for your classes.       604-844-3840        520 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver, BC