Information literacy at the heart of the Library: The Library Academic Support Team

Photo credit: The University of Edinburgh

In this extra post, Christine Love-Rodgers, College Lead for Library Academic Support (CAHSS), highlights the important role that the Library Academic Support team play in developing students’ information literacy….

Information literacy, or the capacity to find, evaluate, manage, curate, organise, ethically use and share information, are fundamental academic competences and key aspects of The University of Edinburgh Digital Skills Framework. Support for development of these skills is provided by the Library, in partnership with other University teams, including the Digital Skills team and the Institute for Academic Development (IAD). As well as helping our students gain an understanding of the library landscape relevant to their subject areas, the Library Academic Support team help them to develop skills in effective literature searching and to have a critical approach to evaluating information. The IAD, Digital Skills, and Research Data Management teams also offer extensive support in these areas.

In the Library Academic Support team, we work to deliver generic and bespoke information literacy training to Schools and Colleges. Last year, we delivered over 600 information literacy sessions to over 10,500 students at The University of Edinburgh. Teaching in a variety of settings including online, library tours, lectures and hands on workshops, Academic Support Librarians design and deliver bespoke, subject-specific information literacy skills teaching, which is aligned to course learning outcomes. Each Academic Support Librarian is assigned to one or more Schools or Colleges, enabling them to develop an understanding of their subject areas, and develop relationships with academic colleagues in their areas. Their teaching is also equipped by their knowledge of the library’s print and digital collections, which they manage for their subject specialist areas.

The team also works with Digital Skills to deliver a programme of Library Bitesize sessions which are open to all subject areas and levels. Running every Tuesday and Thursday during teaching weeks at the Main Library and King’s Buildings, these sessions start from the basics of how to use the Library and how to avoid plagiarism to more specialist topics, such as discovering library resources in Chinese, and finding theses.
Academic Support Librarians have a longstanding partnership with the IAD to deliver information literacy skills training to postgraduate students, including expert database searching for literature searches and using bibliographic management software including Endnote, Zotero and Mendeley. Sessions are delivered as short, online webinars or as longer, practical workshops at Argyle House, the Main Library and in the campuses around the University.

Image produced by the Digital Skills team, pixabay, CC0

Quite often, we find that after students attend our information literacy sessions they realise they have further questions about the best approach for their particular research project. Academic Support Librarians offer a 1:2:1 appointment service to provide expert advice to assist students with literature searching and systematic reviews. This service is particularly valued within academic areas working with evidence based research, such as Medicine, Education, and Social Sciences.

Academic Support Librarians also enhance the student experience by offering 1:2:1 appointments to students who need a little more support with navigating the map of library resources and services. Often we find this can be those students who are less connected with the student peer support networks in their academic area, including part time students, mature students, and students with additional support needs. Academic Support Librarians offer a neutral place to ask questions, within the safe space of the Library.

Find out more at the next LTW Monthly Showcase & Network: Information Literacy at the heart of the Library
Date & Time: Thursday 30th May 2019, 10 – 12:00
Venue: Digital Scholarship Centre, 6th Floor Main Library, George Square (Central Area)
Booking link:

Christine Love-Rodgers

Christine leads a team of Academic Support Librarians working to support the Library in delivering the University’s strategies for learning, teaching and research within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science. Christine offers specialist library support to the School of Divinity and the School of Social and Political Science, curating digital resources, information and advice in Library Subject Guides. Christine delivers bespoke information literacy teaching within her Schools, as well as interdiscplinary sessions delivered via the Digital Skills team and the Institute for Academic Development.

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