Subject Librarians provide in-person assignment-based instruction sessions or library research workshops to many classes across campus each quarter. During these sessions in the Library's classroom or another computer-equipped room on campus, a librarian demonstrates how to locate relevant books and articles using UCSB Library resources, followed by self-directed search time for students to explore these resources with guidance from the librarian and course instructor as needed.

Librarians often create unique online Course Guides in advance of these sessions and tailor the resources they present to meet the needs of specific research assignments.

To make these sessions as productive as possible for students, faculty/instructors, and librarians, please observe the following guidelines before requesting a Library Instruction Session.


Instruction Sessions may be scheduled for 50-minute or 75-minute blocks.

The typical length of a Library Instruction Session is 50 minutes; some seminar courses may prefer 75-minute sessions. Please adhere to these limits so we can leave time for the exchange of students and instructors between sessions.

Requests for Instruction Sessions must be submitted at least 2 weeks in advance.

Library Instruction Sessions are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. Please schedule early to ensure you secure a time slot that best fits your students’ needs. Also, course guides and sample search strategies take time to develop, and the librarian may need to determine whether UCSB Library has sufficient resources to support the assignment.

No Library Instruction Sessions will be scheduled during the first week of a quarter.

Point-of-need instruction is far more effective than general library overviews given too early. Students are more likely to learn and retain search skills when they are prepared to use them (i.e., they have been made aware of their research assignment and are exploring preliminary topics). 

Instruction Sessions must correspond to a specific research assignment or project; students should have topics chosen or narrowed to the point that they are ready to do hands-on research.

The best time to schedule a Library Instruction Session is just as students are starting work on the project that requires the use of Library resources. When the information is relevant to students' immediate needs and concerns, they are more likely to recall and be able to use the resources and strategies taught. Students should be made aware of the requirements of the assignment and should choose at very least a preliminary research topic before the Library Session.

To ensure that the Library Instruction Session meets the needs of the course, please provide the librarian with relevant material such as the course syllabus and information on the research assignment related to the Library Session.

Feel free to talk with the librarian about what resources you would like covered, and be open to alternative suggestions. UCSB Library collections are vast and always changing. The research tool you used a few years ago may no longer be the best tool for your purposes. It is the librarian’s job to stay abreast of the best research tools for locating all sorts of information. We are familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the Library’s print and electronic resources. UCSB Library owns or subscribes to hundreds of electronic databases, reference tools, and digital archives, and millions of print resources. 

Faculty/instructors must be present for the duration of the session.

It is crucial that instructors be on hand to answer questions about the research assignment. Librarians can lead students to available resources and teach them how to use them, but cannot advise students on whether or not their chosen research topic is acceptable or meets course requirements.

Additionally, the librarian may give guidance to the course instructor and TAs on how to help students use the Course Guide after the Library Session. Instructors and TAs will be students’ primary resources in completing research assignments after the Library Session. Librarians cannot do individual follow-up after the session or advise students individually outside of regular reference hours.

Please consider contacting your Subject Librarian or consult relevant Subject Guides when you are planning your courses and designing new research assignments.

The Subject Librarian can help determine whether UCSB Library has sufficient resources to support your research assignment, and whether the assignment is realistic with regard to timeframe, level of difficulty, etc.

Subject Librarians can also help you design meaningful research assignments that incorporate principles of information literacy while advancing course goals. If you would like to engage a librarian in curriculum design, please reach out to the appropriate Subject Librarian. 

When you are ready to place a request for an Assignment-based Instruction Session, please use the Instruction Request Form.