Custom library instruction for science courses

The physical sciences librarians at the Crerar Library are pleased to provide in-person instruction sessions on the use of our resources and on the literature research process for your class research assignments. If you are teaching a course where students need to use library resources to write a research paper or find background for a special project we are ready and willing to tailor a library instruction session around your students’ needs and your course objectives.  In addition we can also provide specialized online library guides for a research paper or project.

Instruction sessions are taught by a librarian and may take place in either your classroom or in an instruction room within the library.  We can provide lecture style presentations for small to medium sized classes, or hands-on search training for groups of up to twenty students.  Sessions can be scheduled during a laboratory session or outside of regularly scheduled class times.  We can also create custom course library guides to help students with their library research.  Call us at 773-702-7715 or email Andrea Twiss-Brooks (geophysical sciences, chemistry, history of science and medicine) at, Jenny Hart (mathematics, computer science, statistics) at , or Barbara Kern (astronomy/astrophysics, physics) at if you would like to explore having a library session or a specialized library guide to accompany your course.

Below is a description of a recent instruction session that was provided by Andrea Twiss-Brooks for Principles of Stratigraphy (GeoSci 283).

Exploring the Literature of Stratigraphy

Slide from GeoSci 238 presentation Fall 2012

Stratigraphy is an area of study that requires delving into a variety of types of scientific literature.  Both print and online resources are important to stratigraphy and not every resource is easily discovered using Google.  The Library offers a wealth of resources, and a short session can help students feel more comfortable in tracking down specialized information.

I worked closely with Professor Susan Kidwell to develop a 45 minute instruction session designed to introduce students to the diverse set of resources that comprises the literature of stratigraphy.  The students also had to complete a “laboratory” assignment in which they were to locate stratigraphic information using library resources.  For example, one part of the assignment was to use GeoRef database to find articles on a topic such as Pennsylvanian conglomerates in Illinois.  During the librarian led session (which counted as part of a laboratory period), the students learned about different types of resources:  print and online fieldtrip guidebooks, geologic maps, databases of articles in geology and paleontology, and stratigraphic lexicons.  Levels of discoverability and indexing, how different types of resources are reviewed for scientific accuracy, whether or not copies are easy to find in the library or through interlibrary loan services, and details of coverage for specific localities for each resource type was also discussed.  We explored the use of databases and other tools in more detail, including demonstrations of keyword and cited reference searching.  Tips on finding full text of articles through the Library’s FindIt! linking tool, where to go on the Library’s website to find more information, and tools for managing references and creating bibliographies were also presented.  Following the session, the students had access to a customized library subject guide for their course, which they could consult as needed during the rest of the course.  A link to the guide ( was included by the instructor in the Chalk course site as well as on the Library’s subject guide for Geophysical Sciences.

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