Creating Effective Library Assignments

Here are some suggestions for instructors that will help make your library research assignment a successful learning experience for your students.

Creating Effective Library Assignments

  1. Please check to see whether the library has the resources your students will need.  The library has a limited budget and may not have the resources you expect.  To see if the library has a specific resource, check the Library Catalog or contact a reference librarian.
  2. Assume that students are NOT familiar with the library.  A surprising number of students have never visited the library.  Most will need guidance to complete library research assignments.  You may want to schedule a Library Instruction session for your students and discuss the assignment in advance with the librarian.  We will tailor the presentation to your students' needs and give them an opportunity for hands-on research at the end of the session.
  3. Consult with a CCRI reference librarian before making the assignment.  A reference librarian can advise you of the availability of library resources, suggest appropriate resources, and point out potential problems with the assignment.  If you anticipate a number of your students coming to the library and asking questions, please leave a copy of your assignment at the Reference Desk in advance so that we will be familiar with it by the time the students come in.
  4. Avoid the "mob scene".  Dozens of students trying to use one book or article or trying to locate the same piece of information usually leads to misplacement, loss, or mutilation of library materials.  Please place material on Reserve where appropriate or notify the reference librarians ahead of time about an assignment in a specific source.
  5. Avoid scavenger hunts.  Searching for obscure facts is frustrating for students and teaches them very little, if anything, about doing research.
  6. Avoid telling students NOT to ask for help.  Libraries are complex institutions, each one a bit different from the next.  It is expected that students will need assistance, and CCRI librarians are trained and willing to provide that assistance.
  7. Please avoid arbitrary restrictions on sources students can use.  For example, telling students to find periodical articles -- but not to use the Internet -- would prohibit the use of some of the most important periodical indexes, many of which are only available online.

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Last Updated: 1/23/17