How Librarians Can Help Your Students Find Better Sources

Gorgas Libraryby Sara Whitver, University Libraries

One of the things we all can usually agree on is that undergraduates struggle to find appropriate sources for their writing assignments. This issue perplexes us more as our students advance in their studies. As a librarian, one of the biggest challenges that I recognize our students are facing is the infinite amount of information available for them to choose from. As libraries have shifted from print to electronic, our students are faced with a much larger task than we were faced with when we were budding researchers.

The library here at The University of Alabama has what we can enthusiastically refer to as a robust collection — it supports the myriad research needs of our active research faculty who have narrow specialties in a vast number of areas. This is a daunting collection for an undergraduate. Let’s talk about a few ways your area librarian can work with you to improve your students’ work:

  1. Did you know that you can send your subject librarian your writing assignment before giving it to your students, and that the librarian can give you feedback on the availability of the proposed sources, troubleshoot problems your students might face and provide you with additional information so that you the professor can be prepared to help your students through research roadblocks?
  2. Did you know you can embed your subject librarian in your course by adding them to Blackboard Learn as a TA or a Course Builder? When you do this, your librarian can update your course page with direct links to databases and library resources such as videos and tutorials, customized course guides, and a link to Ask A Librarian!
  3. Your librarian would be happy to help you design classroom or homework exercises to develop your students’ skills in searching, accessing and evaluating the information they need to complete their assignments.
  4. Your librarian is always willing to come to your classroom or have your class come to the library.
  5. In addition to subject librarians who can help enhance the quality of your students’ research, did you know that our academic technologies librarian can come to your class in support of software applications such as Nvivo? And that we also offer your classes training using RefWorks? And that the Alabama Digital Humanities Center and the Sanford Media Center offer classroom support, help with assignment design, and web hosting in addition to one and one and classroom instruction?

Here is a link to our library directory, where you can search for your librarian by your subject area and here is a link to our library instruction request forms. We are excited about partnering with you in the coming semesters and look forward to hearing from you! Good luck as the fall semester begins, and Roll Tide!