Up Close and Personal in the Library

Last month, the Mayfield Library experimented with a novel (for us) approach to library instruction. Instead of doing the library orientation with certain classes, students were assigned to come for an individual research appointment with a librarian. (Instructors could always exempt students who already had good research skills.)

The students were great. They called, made appointments, and showed up for them. From our perspective, it was a wonderful experience. We were able to sit down and discuss in-depth what students needed for their papers and work with them at their individual skill levels. (Of course, we are always available for consultations, but we know that we never see many students who are shy or just hesitant to come in.)

So far, we’ve learned the following:

  • Students are no different from anyone else. Only a few people are able to pay attention to a basic orientation that talks about something that will happen in the future.
  • Students do like library information that is geared towards their specific needs.
  • Students are much more likely to admit to not knowing how to do something in an individual setting than in a classroom atmosphere.
  • Students are always shocked about how enthusiastic we are about their topic. We hope that this allows them to see that research can be fun 🙂

Our first experimental class has turned in the assignment sheets, and the initial results have been positive. According to their instructor, students reported that we were nice and that they were excited about the sources they found. Of course, it’s also important that the final papers are better, but we’re pleased and want to add more sections in the future.


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