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Online Library Instruction

Best Practices for Faculty


  • Consider timing – is my course a good candidate for integrating an online librarian?
    • Is research required? A literature review?
    • First-year experience?  Mid-collegiate experience? 
    • Include information literacy as a competency?
  • Preliminary discussions with the librarian:
    • Early is best, pre-term is ideal.
    • Discuss goals of the embedded collaboration.
    • Coordinate delivery of library instruction content to compliment course outcomes and course assignments.
  • Roles:
    • Instructor: Instructors have access to all areas in the Control Panel. This role develops, teaches, or facilitates the class. Instructors can access a course that is unavailable to students.
    • TA: Teaching assistants—or co-teachers—can administer all areas of a course. Their only limitations are those imposed by an instructor or your institution. A teaching assistant cannot delete an instructor from a course. Teaching assistants have access to most tools and features in the Control Panel.  Even if a course is unavailable to students, teaching assistants still have access to the course. Teaching assistants are not listed in the course catalog listing for the course.
    • Course Builder: The course builder role has access to most areas of the Control Panel. This role is appropriate for a user to manage the course without having access to student grades. A course builder can still access the course if the course is unavailable to students. A course builder cannot delete an instructor from a course.
    • Grader: A grader assists the instructor in the creation, management, delivery, and grading of items, such as tests and discussion board posts. A grader also assists the instructor with managing the Grade Center. A grader cannot access a course if it is unavailable to students.
    • Guest: Guests have no access to the Control Panel. Areas within the course are made available to guests, but typically they can only view course materials. They usually do not have access to tests and assignments, or have permission to post on discussion boards.

See this Blackboard help page:

  • What level of embeddedness is right for my class?
    • BASIC
      • Do I want the librarian to make periodic announcements or send emails?
      • Do I want the librarian to create a course content area in addition to the library content already included in my college’s Blackboard template?
      • Do I want the librarian to administer a forum (i.e. discussion board, blog) in Blackboard?  Can the librarian subscribe to forums you create?
      • Do I want the librarian to participate in synchronous class instruction?
      • Do I want the librarian to offer synchronous elements (i.e. library instruction, reference assistance, conferences)?
    • Do I want the librarian to administer graded assignments, or offer students some incentive for participating in library instruction offered within Blackboard?


  •  Help your students connect.
    •  Introduce your librarian during the first week, distinguishing between their role and that of the instructor.
    • Include information about the library and specific library modules (i.e. videos, research guides) in your syllabus, via email, via announcements, and/or in person.
    • Reference embedded content throughout your course, especially within the context of appropriate assignments at students point-of-need.
    • Refer students who need extra assistance directly to the embedded librarian.
  • Keep the librarian informed.
    • If your assignments or course timeline changes, let the librarian know in advance.
    • Let your librarian know how things are going – do student seem to be getting the message?


  •  Exchange ideas throughout the semester, as well as at the end of the term.
  • Did students mention the embedded librarian experience in course evaluations?