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John M. Flaxman Library SAIC School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Information Literacy at SAIC

In Person / Synchronous Sessions

-Hosted in the Library Classroom, Your Classroom, or Virtually-
Flaxman librarians are excited to work with your students this coming semester using our synchronous, active learning lesson plans. Each of the following lessons can be taught in-person or synchronously online.


Library Orientation + Creative Practice Research

This session, designed for SAIC’s Research Studio course, empowers new undergraduate students to understand the concept of creative research and how they may already be engaging in it. Using collaborative mind mapping and social media as a starting point, students will be oriented to the library search tool and physically searching our collections to find materials. Popular for Research Studio CoursesClick here to see the lesson plan!

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Gain an understanding that research is an open-ended, iterative exploration and a continuous engagement with information 
  • Value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility and recognize that ambiguity can benefit the research process
  • Be able to navigate the library search tool and identify appropriate materials.

Generating Ideas for Your Research (FYS)

This session is created for undergraduate students to help them with idea generation. Oftentimes, students struggle with open ended prompts or essay topics. This session's goal is to give them a strategy for approaching idea generation and using the resources available to make an informed decision on their research topic. Popular for First Year Seminar Courses. Click here to see an example workshop!

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Reflect on and describe how the research process is iterative, requires persistence and open mindedness, and leads to more questions.
  • Follow new lines of discovery, applying research methods that are appropriate for the need, context, and type of inquiry.

Scholarly vs Popular, Finding Resources for Art Research

Students observe and discuss the differences between scholarly and popular works (including articles, books, and exhibition catalogs), then search for relevant resources using the library search. An example slide deck is available here.

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Differentiate between scholarly and popular sources.
  • Recognize the value of various types of information based on their information need, whether scholarly or not. 
  • Understand basic strategies for assessing print sources. (For digital resource strategies, consider hosting both this session and the Digital Literacy session outlined below.) 

Advanced Searching with Keywords

Students use a working claim or thesis statement for an upcoming project in a workshop to generate keywords and search strings using advanced strategies, including the using library search as a tool for mining language. Popular for RST courses.

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Understand that searching is an iterative, strategy-driven process that requires mental flexibility and critical evaluation of each search system’s capabilities.
  • Practice creating notes about their research strategies through keyword, search string, and resource lists.
  • Recognize opportunities to mine keywords through subjects, tags, and other metadata.

Discovering and Researching Contemporary Artists

Students either choose a contemporary artist or draw from our Art Oracles deck as a starting point to discover related artists, choosing one person to research further using the library search and collections. Popular for Research Studio Courses.

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Practice strategic exploration by making new connections and conducting self-reflection.
  • Learn strategies necessary to conduct contemporary artist research.
  • Become oriented to the library’s collections and search system as opportunities for discovery and exploration.

Using Wikipedia + Evaluating Resources

Students are introduced to the basics of information bias on common information platforms, the ACT UP strategy for evaluating resources, and editing existing Wikipedia pages.

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Recognize the complexity and underlying bias of our information ecosystem, and that authority is constructed and contextual.
  • Apply strategies to evaluate information on the open web.
  • Edit orphan links on Wikipedia to understand their power as contributors to our information ecosystem.

Advanced Research and Citation Strategies

Students learn complex strategies for searching the library and open web for sources, citation management, and research organization. Demos and workshop activities are customized based on the syllabus and upcoming projects. This class is recommended for graduate level courses but can be adapted for undergraduates.

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Understand that scholarship is a conversation by following citation paths and practicing citation management.
  • Apply advanced research strategies using the library search, Google Scholar, and Google Advanced Search.
  • Value research as a process through their own reflection and notetaking on their strategies.

Appropriation as Art

Is anything original? Using Instagram, a popular social media platform that uses images, students will use the specific account (@whos___who), to engage in close looking, visual literacy, and questions around what makes something original or unique. We also discuss topics such as remix, copyright, context, technology, photography and internet art. Click here to see an example slide deck!

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Understand the increasingly social nature of the information ecosystem where authorities actively connect with one another and sources develop over time.
  • Students will understand the importance of giving credit to the original ideas of others through proper attribution and citation

Researching as an Alter Ego

Students create an alter ego through the process of individual and peer mind mapping then conduct research as that character, providing an orientation to the library’s collections and search system. Popular for Research Studio Courses.

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Understand that research is an open-ended, iterative exploration and a continuous engagement with information
  • Value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility and recognize that ambiguity can benefit the research process

Digital Literacy : Evaluating resources using Lateral Reading

What is Lateral Reading? In brief, lateral reading (as opposed to vertical reading) is the act of verifying what you’re reading as you’re reading it. Students will use this technique to practice fact checking sources and produce a Digital Zine that documents the process of Lateral Reading. 

Learning objectives - Students will...

  • Develop an awareness of the importance of assessing content with a skeptical stance and with a self-awareness of their own biases and worldview
  • Question traditional notions of granting authority and recognize the value of diverse ideas and worldviews;

Create Your Own Session!

Bring your ideas and collaborate with a librarian for a tailor-made experience! Popular for Research Studio courses.