Thursday, April 8, 2010

English 101 Class

So I have been teaching students in the library one-shot sessions for close to three years now, but I still get nervous. Preparation for this class began two or three weeks ago, but I still felt like I was scrambling to get ready. Last week I sent a tentative outline with some tentative worksheets to the instructor. He asked if this would include/allow for a "quick tour." Then I looked at his request a bit more closely and saw that he did ask for an introduction to the Library's resources, so a tour made sense, though I wonder if librarians know how to give a "quick tour." We love libraries, so where do we stop?

As with other classes, I asked for a list of student topics. Instead, the instructor gave me access to his Moodle course, which allowed me to go see students' posts within a class forum. This proved to be very useful. With the topics I chose one that allowed me to find a resource on three of our four floors (apparently there are not many books on human genetic engineering in our Special Collection = basement). With call numbers in hand, we went straight to the spot on the shelves where the resources could be found. This emphasized that items with call numbers can be found on all floors of the Library, so researchers to pay attention to the "Library Location" within the catalog.

Once we found and discussed the book a bit, I had students read previously printed questions, which just happened to be color coded. Students with a blue question read it aloud on the 3rd floor before I answered it. It did tax my memory to remember which floor went with which color; perhaps I should have written it out on my outline, which I did take with me. This livened up the tour a bit, and it even solicited a few extemporaneous questions. Many refer to this as the Cephalonian Method.

Admittedly, the tour was not so quick as I wished it would have been, but the instructor commented that he had never had one of classes take a tour, but he was glad we did it today. He thought that the questions would be used after my spiel, sort of as a review exercise, but he said that this actually worked better having students ask questions. It seems that students become owners of their questions, they get to hear someone else's voice, and they tend to pay a bit more attention.

Ideally, it works even better if you can insert a couple humorous questions, anecdotes, or bits of information on the tour. If you have any examples, please share. My tour spiel could use some improvement. I did not tell them everything I know about the Library, which is always tempting, but students do not remember it all anyway. It's good to emphasize to them to come ask us for help in case they do forget stuff.

During the class we also talked about the research process and looked up materials in our Library catalog, so this seemed to be a good course to follow for an English 101 class. The active-learning, Cephalonian exercise contributed to make the class a bit better.


SLD said...

I just read your post about the 101 library tour. My students go for library instruction, but I've always wanted to also give them a tour. So I've worked that in this year and am looking for ideas. I want them to be as excited as I am (!) about discovery among the stacks. Would you be willing to share the list of questions you used on the tour? Thanks!

Spencer said...

Dear SLD,

Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm to inspire your students in library discoveries. Below are some of the questions I used. If you color code the questions and distribute them to the students, then you can ask "Who has a blue question?" when you get to the section of the library pertinent to the blue questions. Hope this makes sense:

1st Floor Questions
- How many books can I check out?
- How long do the books check out?
- What gets put on reserve?
- How do I get what’s on reserve?
- How many study rooms can be reserved?
- What happens at the Reference Desk?
- Who can use the computers on the 1st floor?
- What’s on the 1st Floor computers? Can I print assignments if I need to do so?
- Where can I eat when I get hungry?
- What’s in the Reference Collection?
- What is microfilm, and why does the Library still keep it?

2nd Floor Questions
- Where can I reserve a study room?
- Where are the study rooms?
- Who can use the computer lab?
- How are the books organized here in the Library?
- What kinds of different books will I find on this floor?
- Where can I find kid's books and/or picture books?

3rd Floor Questions
- Are there any spots in the Library that are better than others for studying? Where?
- Why is there a separate Idaho Health Sciences Library within the larger library?
- Where are the maps?
- How many different kinds of newspapers come into the Library?
- What does the Interlibrary Loan department do?
- Who can use the computers on this floor?
- What are U.S. and Idaho documents?

Special Collections Questions
- How old is the oldest book in the Library? What does it look like?
- What makes the Special Collections so special?
- What is the focus of the Special Collections?
- When can I bring a date down here?
- What else is down here in the basement?

Hope this helps.

Spencer said...

Other possible questions:

Where are the instruction rooms? (2nd Floor)
Why is there an Oversized Collection? Doesn't that just make books that much more difficult to find? (2nd Floor)
What kinds of books are typically found in the Oversized Collection?