Students at work in Data Services.

Instruction and Information Literacy Program

Washington University Libraries’ Subject Librarians, Special Collections curators, and Data Services staff work with faculty to integrate research skills and information literacy concepts into their courses.

Library instruction promotes student learning best when it is tied to an assignment with a research component. The most successful instruction occurs when faculty and librarians work together to plan research assignments, lessons, and learning outcomes.

As you prepare your courses, please consider the following options for instruction and contact a Subject Librarian, curator, or data specialist to request a class, and to discuss planning and other ideas.

Embed a librarian in your Canvas course. (Note: To incorporate a librarian into your Canvas course, please contact your School Registrar and tell them to add your librarian with the role “support, no grade book.” See the Embedding LibGuides into Canvas guide for more information.

Once added to your Canvas course, the librarian could:

  • Post customized instruction videos in the course
    • Example: A recording of a Q & A interview between the librarian and professor about researching the course
    • Example: A screencast introducing the course research guide and resources
  • Post general instruction videos in the course
  • Create and monitor asynchronous discussion threads 
    • Example: Students do a guided document analysis of digitized manuscripts and/or rare books and discuss
    • Example: Provide feedback on student research projects
  • Create an online quiz or another assignment to assess student learning of asynchronous instruction component
  • Request a customized course research guide. These guides can also be embedded into Canvas courses.
  • Request a video, tutorial, or another online learning tool
  • Encourage students to use our Ask Us! chat service
  • Check our existing list of research tutorials

Schedule a virtual class session using Zoom. Such sessions could include:

  • Lecture and demonstrations of online resources
  • Source evaluation activities
  • Collaborative group work using Zoom breakout rooms
  • Document camera demonstrations of rare books and/or archives
  • Class discussions
  • Student presentations of group work using screen sharing

Additional synchronous instruction possibilities:

  • Use a flipped-classroom approach with video(s)/assignment done beforehand and virtual or in-person synchronous session.
  • Schedule a brief visit from a librarian to your class through Zoom.
    • Example: Introduction of the subject librarian and research guide for the course
  • Encourage students to schedule individual or small group research Zoom appointments with subject librarians.
  • Most librarians have a research appointment scheduling link; if the librarian you are looking for does not have a scheduling link, check their research guide profile for contact information.
  • For your data and GIS questions, Zoom with the Data Services staff during their Help Desk hours or by appointment.

Librarians and subject area specialists create and maintain online resource guides that highlight appropriate content and provide their contact information.

Guides cover academic content areas, practical topics such as citing sources, and specific courses. Consult a librarian about creating a guide for your course. Subject and Course Guides are the next best thing to in-person assistance.

Looking for a quick “how-to” demonstration? Check our growing collection of video tutorials. This page also includes a chat box so you can still get help if you don’t see the visual directions you seek.

The Libraries hosts a slate of Research and Technology Workshops each semester. You’ll find past sessions, descriptions, and recordings here. The Events Calendar will also list the workshops as well as a multitude of other educational programmings such as faculty book talks and Special Collections curator talks.

College Writing Partnership

The Libraries partner with College Writing, which most students will take either in the fall or spring semester of their first year at Washington University. This course serves as their introduction to research and library services. Each College Writing section works with an individual or a small group of librarians to provide more intimate and custom guidance into college-level research.

The Libraries also maintains an online toolkit of resources for College Writing faculty.

Information Literacy Learning Community

The Libraries have partnered with the Gephardt Institute with the grant-funded Information Literacy Learning Community Program. In this program, faculty may apply to be matched with librarians and collaborate on one of their courses with the goal of better-developing students’ information literacy skills. 

  • Why is information literacy important?
    • Higher Educational Institutions recognize that in an age where information is created, disseminated, curated, and consumed on a 24/7 basis, it is important to understand how to responsibly use the information for professional and personal purposes. Academic librarians at these institutions provide students and faculty with the knowledge, tools, skills, and behaviors needed to obtain materials in a variety of media and formats to effectively find, evaluate, and apply relevant information to their studies, teaching, and research.
  • Washington University Libraries defines information literacy as:
    • The ability to think critically about the production, communication, dissemination, and ethics of information in professional and personal settings.
  • An information literate person at Washington University will…
    • Believe in one’s abilities to complete research
    • Understand how to make inferences and use information as evidence to make an argument
    • Understand how information is produced and disseminated, as well as how the information producers and disseminators affect the authority of the source
    • Investigate whose voices are missing or excluded from a conversation in a rethinking of what authority means
    • Use information ethically

Instruction Rooms

Room Features and Layout

  • Furniture/capacity: 16 tables and chairs, reconfigurable by the user. The user/requester is responsible for setting up and re-setting furniture.
  • A/V: Podium with PC, 2 wall-mounted screens for projection, sound system, laptops stored in a secure cart that can be used as needed, multi-region/region-free Blu-Ray player
  • Divisible into 2 classrooms – Side 2a (south) and Side 2b (north)
  •  Furniture/capacity:
    • When not divided, 26 seats (fixed tables, mobile chairs)
    • 2a: 14 seats
    • 2b: 12 seats
  • A/V (per side): Podium with PC, projector and roll-down screen, sound system, fixed computers on tables, multi-region/region-free Blu-Ray player
  • Furniture/capacity: 38 seats, all mobile, including 8 tables and two styles of chair, reconfigurable by the user. The user/requester is responsible for setting up and re-setting furniture.
  • A/V: Podium with PC, wall-mounted screen for projection, sound system, multi-region/region-free Blu-Ray player

Instruction Room Support

For information on room policies and reservations, contact Sarah Laaker, Head of Library Space and Building Operations Management, at

For tech support, e-mail

Usage Policies for Olin Library Instruction Rooms 1, 2, and 3

  • Instruction Rooms are reservable only by library staff for library programmatic and sponsored activities.
  • Instruction rooms are not intended to accommodate university faculty, staff, and student uses that have no course-related or programmatic involvement of librarians or library staff.
  • All rooms will be kept locked at all times.
  • Instruction Rooms 1 and 2 are accessible to Libraries staff only.
  • Instruction Room 3 is accessible to anyone with a valid WashU ID and is available on a first-come, first-served basis for drop-in use and studying during library open hours when not reserved by the Libraries. As a study space, Instruction Room 3 is conducive to group study and can also be used by individuals. The Libraries reserve the right to ask others to leave when the room is scheduled/reserved.