- on a one-on-one basis at the reference desk, via telephone and e-mail, and through virtual reference and appointment-based reference;
- through instructor-requested, discipline-specific bibliographic instruction sessions;
- through the one-credit LS 102 Library Skills course, required of approximately half the majors at the University.
At the Baton Rouge Nursing Center Library, a similar program of instruction, with the exception of LS102, is offered. Students based in Baton Rouge may opt to enroll in the online section of LS102 offered every semester.
Additionally, informal instruction in computer software is provided in the SGA Lab and the Baton Rouge Nursing Center Library. Informal instruction in the use of Blackboard is available in the Reference Department and the Baton Rouge Nursing Center Library. Specialized reference assistance for journals, databases, and government documents is available in the Serials and Government Documents Departments as well.
One-on-one instruction is provided at the reference desk by reference librarians, who cover the desk for all but ten hours that the Library is open, and through a virtual reference service that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as described in Comprehensive Standard 3.8.1. During hours when the service is not covered by the librarians at Sims Memorial Library, coverage is provided by librarians contracted with Tutor.com. Students or faculty requiring specialized or lengthy assistance can use the appointment-based reference service, which allows the reference librarians to devote more attention to their research needs. The Distance Learning Librarian coordinates the virtual reference service, and one of the reference/instruction librarians oversees the appointment-based reference service. All reference librarians and some other library faculty assist with virtual reference.
The Coordinator of User Education, who doubles as a reference/instruction librarian, manages the bibliographic instruction program, which offers discipline-specific instruction generally lasting an hour and usually geared to a specific assignment. In 2002-2003, 247 bibliographic instruction sessions were taught, with 5,743 students attending. Specialized instruction is also given to international students and high school students in the University's Bridge Program, as well as to graduate students in the Intercollegiate Consortium for the Master of Science in Nursing, the EMBA Program, and the ISAT Master's Program. Two members of the library faculty also teach specialized research courses in the Departments of Music and Chemistry and Physics.
The University's emphasis on the importance of information literacy on the lifelong learning of its students permeates the curriculum, and is evidenced by the popularity of the Library's LS 102 Library Skills course. This eight-week, one-credit term class provides not only instruction in the use of library resources but also an information literacy component that teaches students how to locate, evaluate, and properly use research materials. Approximately 36 sections of 25-38 students are taught by the reference librarians in the Fall and Spring semesters, with one or two additional sections taught during the summer. Approximately half of the University's majors require LS 102 as part of their curriculum, and some two thousand students, primarily freshmen, are registered each year. A semester-long online version of the course is taught by the Distance Learning Librarian each semester.
The success of the Library's instruction programs can be measured by pre- and post-tests administered by the LS102 instructors (Pre-Survey of Confidence Levels and Post-Survey of Confidence Levels) and by
evaluation forms given to students in Bibliographic Instruction classes. The Virtual Reference Service provides feedback on the online reference transaction through the Tutor.com software. Instructors in the LS102 program are evaluated via the Student Opinion of Teaching (SOT) evaluations completed by all students enrolled in the courses.
Additional instructional sessions presented by the Library include an annual New Faculty Orientation (which also welcomes returning faculty) providing an overview of library services and databases, and special events, such as netLibrary Day, when the Library introduced e-books to the University community, and iLink Day, marking the transition from the former online catalog to the SIRSI iLink catalog. Throughout the year the Library's Outreach Committee schedules training as needed.