Yesterday I taught my first library instruction session to a class of 15 Freshman English composition students. I was super nervous but it went so well! It was such a good experience. I learned so much and I can’t wait to put it all to use during my next class – this Thursday! I’m so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to learn about the exciting field of library instruction and strengthen and develop my teaching skills.
My worries were mostly about myself as a teacher. I know I look kind of young. I even am kind of young for a second year graduate student. Would a class of college students take me seriously? Would they even listen to a word I had to say? Do I have anything to offer them? The answer is a big fat YES! These were college Freshmen, brand new to academic research, of course I had a lot of knowledge to share with them! And it truly is a miracle, but mostly, I’ve found out, when a person is standing in front of a classroom and talking, people listen to you. They just do and it’s awesome. I even talked loudly which made me so proud of myself.
So we ended up having tons of fun. I was able to show of Gale’s wonderful resource, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, which is awesome and I think everyone should know about. People are always so impressed when I show this to them. Even the instructor didn’t know of it. It has a really pretty and welcoming interface, it is very current and up-to-date, and it gives students a great overview of their topics on social issues and a good idea of what people are talking about right now.
I also demonstrated EBSCO’s Academic Search Premier of course. There are so many good opportunities in that resource to discuss the differences between scholarly, peer-reviewed sources and newspaper and magazine popular sources. Academic Search will give you results in both, but I love that in the results list there is a little icon letting you know what type of resource it is. This is something I hope to remember to emphasize in the future. And there is always the option to limit your search to the type of resource you want as well, which is very helpful.
There were a few things I wish I hadn’t spent so much time on. I got a little too in depth showing them how to use the library’s catalog, when really they weren’t looking for books for this assignment anyway. Also I think my discussion of Boolean searches was a little advanced for first semester Freshmen. I think just getting in there and getting familiar with using the resources was enough for them without adding confusion about Boolean searches. I will remember in the future to only talk about that with upper division classes.
I was so glad for the opportunity to introduce the library and the library’s resources to these students. Even if all I did was put a friendly face to the library, that is a good thing. Now hopefully at least they won’t find the library as intimidating as they did before. I hope they learned that the library is relevant to their lives as college students and that they will continue to use library resources throughout their college careers. Isn’t shaping young minds just the best feeling ever?!