Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
UMass Amherst Libraries

Beyond Google: Integrating library resources into your research strategy

A template for librarians and faculty.

Jodi Shaw, co-creator of this Guide

With deep gratitude to Jodi Shaw, library student at the Prattt Institute, who spun "straw into gold" and made this information accessible to all.

Information Literacy Standards

Each module of the Beyond Google template is designed to meet one or more Information Literacy Competency Standards as outlined by the Association of College and Research Libraries. 

The standards are as follows (to see performance indicators and outcomes, click on the standard):

Standard OneThe information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

Standard TwoThe information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

Standard ThreeThe information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

Standard FourThe information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

Standard FiveThe information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

How to Use this Guide

This guide is intended for use by librarians and faculty seeking support for library-related assignments. 

The original "Beyond Google" was a weekly online assignment and forum discussion embedded into "Sustainable Living," a 4-credit course taught at UMass Amherst in Spring 2013. The assignments were designed to teach and promote information literacy skills.**

Each module of the this guide may be embedded directly into the content of any chosen course, and each Beyond Google assignment may be tailored to correspond to a particular lecture or topic. In this way, it provides students a way to gain valuable information literacy skills at the “point of need,” which has proven over and over again to be the most effective manner to learn such skills (citation?). So for example, if the class is a U.S. History course, the Beyond Google assignments would seek to impart skills necessary to find resources relating to U.S. History (and more specifically, to actual lecture topics presented in the course).

The Beyond Google forum may be taught by a liaison librarian. Once a course instructor has agreed to use the Beyond Google forum in his or her course, s/he can have as much involvement (or as little) as they want. Ideally, Beyond Google is a partnership and collaboration between librarian and instructor. It is in this way that the forum can improve. However, it will still be effective even if instructors wish to have little involvement. In short, Beyond Google is an easy, effective way to meet the information literacy requirements required of 4-credit General Education courses at UMass Amherst. Although originally designed to work alongside Gen Ed courses, the modules may be modified -with the help of the corresponding librarian- to work with any course, from first year classes all the way through graduate level.

General goals:

  • Increase understanding of course content.
  • Provide a forum for articulating values and ideas
  • Develop information literacy skills to empower students as leaders and advocates in their respective fields of study and professions.

Specific competencies include:

  • Using subscription-based encyclopedias
  • Navigating the Five College Catalog
  • Using archival resources
  • Using Databases
  • Using LibGuides to find local resources
  • Evaluating the accuracy, credibility and relevancy of websites
  • Finding statistical resources
  • Managing citations through RefWorks
  • Generating research topics, questions and keywords
  • Searching for still or moving images

Beyond Google was born out of a collaboration between sustainability Studies Librarian Madeleine Charney, Stockbridge School of Agriculture instructor Katie Campbell-Nelson and Daniel Greenberg, adjunct faculty member. In Spring 2013, Beyond Google was added as the information literacy component to the Gen Ed course "Sustainable Living." This course directed students to reflect on their values and behaviors related to economic viability, social justice and environmental responsibility. Student’s information literacy skills - assessed in a pre- and post-class survey- were markedly improved as a result of the addition of the Beyond Google to the course.

*"It is estimated that even the best search engines can access only 16 percent of information available on the Web" (Iffat & Sami, 2010). The Beyond Google seeks to impart to students the skills necessary to find and retrieve the rich variety of resources available in the other 84 percent.

**Information literacy can be defined as anything that requires individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." (American Library Association). Information literacy has become "increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources" (ACRL).  

Iffat, R. and Sami L.K. (2010). Understanding the deep web. Library Philosophy and Practice. Retrieved from