Practical PIL

How is PIL's research applied in the trenches by librarians and educators? Practical PIL features examples of outreach projects from different campuses that have drawn on PIL research. If you have an example of applying PIL research you would like us to consider, drop us a line and share what you have done.

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LMU flyer (click to enlarge)
  LMU flyer (click to enlarge)

Using PIL Research to Talk to Faculty about Information Literacy  

Loyola Marymount University (CA)   


It’s a universal challenge faced by most instruction librarians: How do I talk to faculty about information literacy? To tackle this issue, the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) librarians designed outreach materials and a series of train-the-trainer workshops. LMU librarians used Project Information Literacy (PIL) research findings as a starting point to educate faculty and others about the role of information literacy in student success. They also used findings to increase faculty awareness of common research pitfalls encountered by students so faculty could evaluate and improve their assignments, as needed.

Working with Students

Beginning Your Research at Colgate University

Colgate University (NY)
A what-matters-most site for undergraduates needing to conduct scholarly research at Colgate University. The site provides just enough guidance for getting started and defining and narrowing down a topic--the research step PIL has found stumps students most often.


RAIL: Recipes for Advancing Information Literacy

College of Wooster (OH), Muhlenburg College (PA), SUNY Geneseo (NY), Vassar College (NY)
A collaborative, holistic, and interactive site that uses the “cookbook” metaphor to present novel information literacy practices, such as using open-source research tools, creating concept maps, and using motion charts. Always improving, always new, the site’s recipes provide the ingredients needed and link to related “recipes” plus input from the user community. This cool site, still in beta phase, was developed by an inter-institutional group of higher education professionals with expertise in instructional design, classroom instruction, and library systems, as part of the NITLE Innovation Studio.


Temple Top 10

Temple University (PA)
A condensed list of what matters most about the scholarly research process, based on what PIL has learned about student's strategies, needs, and frustrations. Also, includes a research evaluation rubric used at Temple.


Tools of the Trade: A Library Starter Kit for Harvard Freshmen

Harvard College (MA)
A hands-on Web-based toolkit for learning the ropes of the Harvard University library system (and its 70-plus libraries). Designed to demonstrate the necessity of contextualizing the research process, by showing how layers of available information may be peeled back as a process and as a mode of inquiry in the academic environment. The PIL studies were an important driver for informing how the Harvard library system presented themselves, their collections,  the activity and ultimately, the value of undertaking research.


Working with Faculty

Faculty Workshop on Research Assignment Handouts

Phoenix College, Maricopa Community College District (AZ)
A half-day workshop for faculty of all disciplines created by librarians in the Maricopa Community College District. The workshop focuses on how to create more effective handouts for course-related research assignments. Includes checklist for evaluating sample handouts, and LibGuides for finding the best research sources.


Benchmarking PIL's Data: Measuring Students' Progress One Semester to the Next
Colgate University (NY)

It's an age-old problem: How can the impact of information literacy instruction be measured as students' progress through a semester? A team of librarians and professors at Colgate University re-administered select PIL survey questions to a sample of Colgate freshmen and sophomores in 40 different courses and over two semesters (n=574). Results from their innovative study showed that if students had library instruction, their evaluation skills improved by the end of the semester and they were more were likely to consult librarians on assignment.


The InfoLit Toolkit: Engaging Faculty and a Larger Community

The Ohio State University (OH)
A convenient starting place for faculty and staff to find and share resources and pointers about how to search, use, and create information. Inspired by PIL findings, the toolkit adopts a "train the trainer" approach. The site addresses the information needs in teaching, advising, and research, enlists faculty, staff and graduate students. The goal is to cultivate critical thinking, while encouraging everyone to contribute to the discussion through posts. Librarians are stewards, who vet the content for quality and continuous engagement.


"Bridging the Information Literacy Communication Gap: Putting PIL Studies to Good Use," Library Issues, November 2011 (authored by Stephen Bell) PDF, 4 pages, 279KB
How do you synthesize findings from four PIL studies, which come to almost 200 pages of reading? A four-page briefing for high-level administrators and deans that sums up key takeaways from PIL's ongoing research.  Includes a discussion of the WIIFM factor ("What's In It for Me?") and how PIL's research may best be applied. (Reprinted and with permission from Mountainside Publishing Company, Library Issues.)

"Lessons for Learning Putting Project Information Literacy to Work," Blended Librarian Online Learning Community Session (Mike Eisenberg with Steven Bell and John Shank), April 4, 2012, PDF, 1 page

A table showing key PIL findings and practical, hands-on recommendations for how to improve teaching, learning, and conducting research across the campus, in both libraries and the classroom.