Library Instruction @ UNM

Who can I contact with questions? is the main email address for the library instruction team.

Lori Townsend is the Learning Services Coordinator:

Otherwise, you can always contact your subject librarian!

Why do the librarians ask for so much info?

You can expect the librarian in charge of your instruction session to request a copy of the assignment students will be working on, and it is best if we also have access to the syllabus for the class. Please provide this information when they ask for it.

Librarians draw from many resources and teaching methods to plan these classes, so knowing as much as possible about a particular class, and the instructors' expectations, will help us tailor the session to make sure students get what they need, which is what matters most.

When should library instruction happen?

The UNM University Libraries has a robust first-year instruction program, where English 120 students attend a library instruction session (preferably two sessions) as students begin to write their first college-level research paper. Learning as much as possible about the libraries has been proven to improve student retention beyond their first-year.

That said, students are not magically information literate after one 50-minute session with a librarian- they have to continue adding to and improving their skills once they enter their major and up through the postgraduate level.

Not sure whether it would help to bring your class to speak with a librarian? Try us! Ask your subject librarian what they can offer your students. Even students in subjects that may at first seem counterintuitive choices for library instruction, from Math to Drawing, Engineering to Music, can benefit from increased information literacy in their fields!


“Zimmerman Library,” photograph, Mary Brindley Ferguson Pictorial Collection (PICT 2014-002), Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

What does information ILLiteracy look like?

  • If your students look at you blankly when you mention using the libraries, and they think Google contains all the information known to humankind, they might need a librarian to give them a good introduction to the greater depth offered in the libraries!
  • If you find that students are citing articles from wikipedia or random websites (or not citing at all), and don't seem to be critically thinking about where and how they get their information, chances are they'd benefit from library instruction.
  • If you ask students the difference between a book and a journal, and they say "a book is like a story, and a journal is someone writing something personal," you can have a librarian talk about information "formats" and ways for students to distinguish between popular and scholarly resources.
  • If you know that the library has particularly strong collections in your field (ahem, Latin American Studies, ahem, Photography, ahem, Native American Studies), but students don't seem to be taking advantage, make sure you collaborate with the folks at the Center for Southwest Research, the Fine Arts and Design Library, the Indigenous Nations Library Program, and Latin American Collections!
  • If you realize that students are having questions about research, and you know how YOU tend to do it, but you're not sure if that's the easiest way or the only way, you might want to see what a librarian has to say.
  • If you tell a student to go visit JSTOR and they ask "is that on Central Ave?," they might benefit from library instruction.
  • Even if your students THINK they know how to use the libraries, and you THINK you've given them a good foundation, bring them in anyway! Librarians will build on what you've taught them and we'll have lots of useful tips. If students learn nothing else, they'll learn that librarians are here to help and that will benefit them throughout their lives.


I'm busy. How far ahead do I have to plan?

We understand that you are busy, and schedules can't always be pinned down in advance. However, the earlier you can schedule your library instruction session, the better! We cannot accommodate requests made less than two weeks before the desired date.

Think about the timing of the session as your students will see it- is their assignment still an abstract thing, off in the distance, or is it near enough that they've already picked their topic and started looking for sources? We get lots of requests for the first few weeks of classes, but these sessions are almost never as effective as they could be, since students don't see a direct need for what we are teaching.

Do I have to accompany my students?

We do require that instructors attend the class with students. Your attendance helps the librarian be more like a visiting artist and less like a substitute teacher, makes sure your students will attend, and reinforces the idea that knowing how to use libraries is important.