Information literacy instruction may be provided in any of the following formats:

  • Whole class instruction in the library

    The course instructor and the consulting librarian assess needs, plan and teach the information literacy session(s) together. We encourage students to take advantage of individual follow-up consultations with the librarian to apply concepts to their specific research needs.

  • Individualized consultations

    The course instructor and the consulting librarian arrange scheduled sessions for students when the assignments are open-ended and the students' instructional needs are diverse.

  • Lab sessions

    Librarians and/or consultants meet with classes in computer labs for work sessions where students engage in work to meet the instructor’s expectations with guidance, assistance, and input from experts.

  • Student-initiated consultation

    The student works with the consulting librarian in private sessions tailored to individual needs. Faculty encourage these consultations in course syllabi or in one-on-one interactions with students.

  • Access to research aids

    Print and on-line pathfinders, research guides, and citation assistants are available from consulting librarians and the Writing Studio as well as the library's website.

At Cornell, information literacy instruction is differentiated for introductory level courses and advanced courses; examples of concepts and skills at each level include:


  • Define the purpose for information-searching tools
  • Generate authentic research queries
  • Differentiate between keyword and subject searching
  • Distinguish between scholarly and popular resources
  • Understand intellectual property and the ethical implications for use of information, including citation
  • Synthesize information gleaned from a variety of sources


  • Recognize and use discipline-specific information resources
  • Develop knowledge of the language of the discipline to enable more precise searching
  • Design searches at the "expert" level
  • Understand database concepts and apply them to new databases
  • Use citation styles appropriate to the academic discipline
  • Use multimedia to communicate research findings