First-Year Writing and Libraries

The ACRL blog has a guest post by Marilyn R. Pukkila who reports on some things she heard at the First-Year Experience Conference. While attending a presentation in which the speaker mentioned library instruction:

…the speaker asked, “And what do we think of the library presentation?” in a tone which obviously invited ridicule and criticism. One of the participants obligingly responded with a rude noise, and the presenter nodded and laughed along with others in the room…

I have always had a great response from students about the usefulness of instruction. Until our tools become as intuitive as Google, students and faculty can learn something new.

Marilyn continues:

Yes, my ego was a bit bruised, but I’m much more concerned with the messages that students are receiving from faculty about the useful/uselessness of librarians in the educational enterprise.

This is a real issue. I have felt on more than one occasion that the students who come to library instruction a little less than excited to learn are in the sections with First-Year Writing instructors who think library instruction is a waste of time or even who are resentful that we take time away from their class; however, if we are not helping the isntructors’ students I can’t really blame them.

For me the most effective library instruction sessions I’ve had or observed were those in which the librarian and the instructor met and discussed in detail what the learning outcomes were for the course as well as the instruction. Buy-in can be as simple as skipping a database that the instructor feels is less-effective. The other byproduct of those kinds of informal meetings with librarian and instructor is confidence: confidence in the librarian’s ability and in the value of library instruction. If the librarian shows a strong sense of capacity and professionalism in this pre-library instruction planning meeting, the FYW instructor is more likely to look forward to the instruction.


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