Monday, October 24, 2005

I love librarians!

My department has agreed, more or less, to have some kind of research component to our first year writing classes. There are lots of good ways to do this. I have my students write a final research paper about anything they like. We start by brainstorming about real questions they have. (The paper requires that they ask a real question they care about and don't already think they have the answer to.)

Then we go to the library and begin learning how to use the library catalog search engine and one or another periodical database search engines. I like to have a librarian teach the class. Today Professor X (that's a pseudonym, I bet!) taught my class in the library's computer classroom. There are just about enough computers for each student in the class to sit alone at one, with a few people sharing.

Professor X started off by giving a short introduction, including information on keywords and subject headings, then taught them how to use the library catalog database. Then she had them look for books on their individual questions (I'd asked them to bring two potential questions to class for today). She and I then went around answering questions, helping the students find good search keywords and so forth.

She then showed them how to reach the databases we can access through subscription through the library, especially Academic Search Elite. (These databases are incredibly powerful and useful, but you really have to have some ideas about how to use them well.) And again, we went around helping students with their searches.

I love the way she was able to move them from a little mini lecture to doing their own questions. She also liked my library practice worksheet, and that made me feel good.

If I could teach those students nothing else about research, I'd teach them to go talk to a reference librarian whenever they're starting any research. I love the way librarians are able to find all sorts of resources about just about anything. Did I mention, I love librarians?

No comments:

Post a Comment