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Library Services: First Year Experience

A Guide To USMA Library Instruction Services

First Year Experience

The First Year Experience Library Program (FYE) of the United States Military Academy Library, is part of a larger mission dedicated to educating cadets with the information skills they will need to become life-long learners, critical thinkers, and effective leaders. The FYE Program forms the foundation of the Library's instruction program, where it introduces the Plebe class to fundamental information literacy concepts, library resources, and services. 

Program Objectives:

  • Help Plebe class adjust to academic demands of college life.
  • Orient Plebes to the USMA Library’s resources and services. 
  • Contribute to the intellectual growth and success of Plebe class

The listing below outlines the Library’s offerings for its FYE program. While there is some repetition in learning outcomes (we believe this is beneficial to the learning process), our objective is to make each instruction session informative and unique. Instructors, please note that these sessions are flexible, and can be tailored to suit individual needs.

 Instructors who are interested in scheduling an instruction session can contact their Library Liaison.  

New Cadet Orientation (early July)

Description:  New Cadets receive a short (20-minute) introduction to the library during the second week of Cadet Basic Training. The presentation is generally given in Robinson Auditorium, by several members of the Library staff from different areas of the Library (Information Services, Unique Collections).

Learning Outcomes:

  • New Cadets will be introduced to the USMA Library and the facilty, service, and support provided for their research

Audience:  New cadets in Cadet Basic Training

Class time:  20 min.

Method: Presentation, with time for Q&A.

Back to School Orientation (Reorganization Week)

Description:  Starting in the fall of 2017, company academic officers can arrange with librarians to have tours of the library for their first year cadets.  Personal librarians will give a guided tour and first year cadets will learn about the layout and history of the library.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Cadets will learn to print.
  • Cadets will be able to identify points of service in the library.
  • Cadets will become familiar with areas within the Library.
  • Cadets will be introduced to the Unique collections .

Audience:  First year cadets

Class Time:  45 minutes

Method:  Class

Personal Librarian Program (mid September)

Here at the USMA Library we understand how daunting the first year of college can be, especially for Cadets, who have to balance not only academics, but military duties and athletics. The Personal Librarian Program was created with this in mind, and provides a point of contact in the Library for all Plebes. Its goals are to alleviate the fears that students often have about asking for help and forge relationships that last beyond Plebe year.

Our Personal Librarians are dedicated to helping Plebes feel confident and comfortable in the Library. They can help students evaluate and identify the best resources, formulate search strategies, navigate the Library’s services and more.  No question is too large or small!

Learning outcomes: 

  • Plebes will know who their Personal Librarian is.
  • Plebes will know how to contact their Personal Librarian.
  • Plebes will know how their Personal Librarian can help them.  

Method:  Personal Librarians send letters at the beginning of each semester to assigned Plebes.  


The Amazing USMA Library Race

Description:  The Amazing USMA Library Race is designed to rapidly acquaint Plebes with Library resources and personnel through active engagement. Teams of 2-3 cadets race to be the first to answer a series of self-guided, problem- based questions. During the game, cadets use their computers to access library resources, interact with Library staff members and learn about Library services.  Awareness and use of these resources and services will enhance their success as Plebes, and assist them in developing the information acquisition and usage skills which will be needed throughout their time at West Point and during their Army career.

Learning outcomes:

  • Cadets will be able to use SCOUT to find resources for their assignments.
  • Cadets will be able to locate a book in the stacks.
  • Cadets will be introduced to the Unique collections and recognize how they can be used for assignments
  • Cadets will recognize how to get help from the library staff
  • Cadets will be able to describe the various locations in the Library where they can receive assistance

Audience:  Cadets enrolled in RS101/RS100

Class time:  55 minutes

Method: Active class within the USMA Library (not confined to a classroom).


Basic Library (EN 101/100)

Description:  This lesson is designed as an introduction to the Library. Plebes will learn about research guides, Connect NY/ILL, consulting librarians and CHAT.  Following this brief survey of Discover pages services, cadets will participate in scout searching, learning how to refine their search with delimiters. They will also learn about the options of databases-only and catalog-only searching, and how to do so, using Issues &Controversies and Opposing Viewpoints as working examples.   In the process we discuss the importance of narrowing topics and evaluating sources, LC classification, call number organization, and finding books on the shelf. If time permits, four groups identify a desirable book via scout/catalog, retrieve it from the shelf, and report on the experience including issues encountered and the reasons for their resource choice.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Cadets will be able to use SCOUT to find resources for their assignments.
  • Cadets will be able to use selected databases, such as Issues and Controversies, Opposing Viewpoints for research
  • Cadets will identify and evaluate resources appropriate for their level of scholarship.

Audience:  Students enrolled in EN 101/100

Class time:  25 min


Advanced Library (HI 108/158)

Description:  This lesson is designed to introduce Plebes to the USMA Library.  They will learn about the service points, advanced SCOUT techniques, finding items in the stacks, and narrow topics.  They will also find out about the services offered by the Librarians and how they can assist with research.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Cadets will be able to use SCOUT to find resources for their History assignment.
  • Cadets will be able to find appropriate history databases relevant to their research.
  • Cadets will describe what an abstract is and what a scholarly journal is.
  • Cadets will describe how to narrow a research topic.

Audience:  Cadets enrolled in HI108/158

Class time:  35 Minutes



RS 103

Description: The Library instruction component of RS103 supports the course objectives of improving cadet information literacy and critical thinking performance at USMA. The USMA Library classes focus on the processes involved in research, with an emphasis on finding and evaluating information sources. 

Learning Outcomes:

  • Cadets understand how mastering and applying critical thinking and information literacy skills are crucial to their success at USMA.
  • Cadets become adept at finding and defining various types of information. 
  • Cadets become adept library researchers.


Audience: Students enrolled in RS 103: Information Literacy and Critical Thinking 

Class time: 45 min