Yesterday was my day of reckoning. I had my first Library Instruction for History 491 Research Seminar and despite all my nerves everything went well. Better than I expected. The session was scheduled to last an hour and was comprised of a group of eight students and their instructor.
I began the class by introducing myself to the students then I asked each of the students to introduce themselves and tell me their topics. Then I introduced them to the library’s website and showed them how to locate books in the library’s catalog, WorldCAT, AccessPA and the catalogs of some our local colleges and universities.
We also discussed accessing information in archives and special collections. I wanted to stress the importance of making an appointment ahead of time to give the archivist or records manager the opportunity to pull materials ahead of time. Although archivists welcome visitors, sometimes it’s better to call ahead and schedule an appointment to ensure that the materials are available. I also told them to talk to the administrators about their acknowledgement requirements as some special collections offices require that their offices are acknowledged somewhere in the final research document.
Finally, I went back to each of their topics and had every student perform a search using either the OPAC or the databases to find relevant information. Rather than having each person work on their topic, we worked together on everyone’s topic. Not only did it give everyone the opportunity to explore the catalogs and the databases but everyone was able to assist each other with their searches. For example, when a couple of students and I performed a search for the O.J. Simpson trial in the historical newspapers database, the information kept coming out kind of funky, however, one of the other students was able to access some really good resources. This proved to be a learning experience for all of us.
One of my biggest concerns was that I would not have enough information to fill the entire hour…Um, I kept them there from 3:30 til 4:45 and they kept me for an additional ten minutes with questions. As they left to go home, a few of them came over to the desk to say “thank you.”
After everyone left, I checked in with the instructor to make sure that I had covered everything that he wanted me to cover and he stated that he was happy with the way things went. I hit the “hot spots” and helped them to get a jump start on their research. In fact, he told me that it was one of the best.
I am still beaming….