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The LibRAT Program: Peer Reference and Basic IL Instruction

The LibRAT Program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

The LibRAT Program at Cal Poly was first piloted in 2009-2010.  The LibRATs were stationed in Residence Halls to provide peer reference.  As they did not receive enough questions to justify this "outpost" effort, beginning in Winter 2010 they were brought back to Kennedy Library to staff the Research Help Desk.  In Spring 2011 they also began leading basic information literacy instruction sessions to lower division GE courses in English and Communications.

In fall 2011, LibRATs staffed the Research Help Desk 57 out of 67 hours per week, Local Chat reference 32 out of 52 hours per week, and led 40 out of 59 GE instruction sessions that reached over 1,200 students.

In fall 2012, LibRATS continued to staff the Desk and Chat, and led 72 out of 94 sessions that reached 2.968 students.

In fall 2013, Librats still staffed the Desk and Chat, and led 35 out of 82 sessions that reached 1,800 students.  The drop in sessions for this quarter reflected the fact that a dedicated room for instruction was unavailable due to technological enhancements, and so all outreach to promote the program ceased in August. 

In fall 2014, LibRATS continued on their stellar path, teaching 38 out of 89 sessions.  Perhaps most importantly, as a token of the succes of the program, a new librarian postion (Foundational Experiences Librarian) was created and filled, and this librarian now coordinates the teaching aspect of the LibRATs activities.  This librarian, Kaila Bussert, is designing new interactive modules and training to make their teaching even more versatile and effective.

If you want to see the ideas driving the original program, and evidence for its implementation and success, click on the link to the electronic preprint of a forthcoming article "They CAN and They Should: Undergraduates Providing Peer Reference & Instruction" in College & Research Libraries.  [Pre-print October 29]

A contributed paper for the ACRL 2013 conference, focusing on LibRAT instruction can be found here.

Kennedy Library Outloud: An Interview About the LibRATs

LibRAT Teaching

Meet the LibRATs 2014

At the Desk