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Designing Effective Library Assignments

Course-related library assignments can be an effective way to introduce students to library research. The following suggestions are meant to ensure students a positive library experience and help educators in their search for a well-designed library assignment which will both meet the needs of the particular course and teach the student effective and transferable research skills. It is worth noting that current library resources and means of access continue to change and as a result it is usually safest to assume limited knowledge and experience with library resources on the part of most students.

Assignment Topic

To avoid student frustration and for the safety of library materials, it is best to give your students a variety of topics from which to choose. If only one topic is assigned, we run the risk of losing the one book, article, or index to misplacement, mutilation, or theft. If you cannot avoid assigning one topic, the best way to insure that the materials will be there for all your students is to put them on reserve.

Library Reserve

If there is one source which the whole class will need to consult for quick information, you may want to put that source on reserve. When an item is on reserve, you can specify that is can be checked out for either 2 hours, 2 days, or two weeks. If you would like to place items on reserve, contact Jason Chavez, tel. 510-885-2299 (email:, or simply fill out and submit the appropriate reserve form.

Trivia Pursuit

Trivia hunts can be fun, but they usually do not teach students how to use the Library effectively for future research. If you can, please avoid questions which ask for obscure facts without giving the student the research methodology needed.

Reference Help

The best way the reference librarians can be of help is to know in advance what the assignment is so we can prepare for it. Please send a copy of the assignment and its due date to your library liaison so that the librarians can become familiar with it before your students need help regarding it.

Library Assignment Help

Librarians can help educators provide a list of complete citations of useful sources, or types of sources, to be used for a particular assignment. Working with a librarian, you can verify whether or not the Library owns the particular sources your class needs. If you would like help designing a library assignment (taking into account new library services such as web-based databases), please contact your library liason.

Library Class Sessions

Most students can benefit from a course-related library lecture taught by one of the librarians. With this lecture, the librarian outlines research strategies, discusses appropriate sources and their location within the Library, and provides other suggestions for expediting the research process. We also have a new computer lab in the Library equipped to give students hands-on experience with various electronic resources. To schedule a lecture, contact your library liason at least 2 weeks in advance of your preferred date.

Last Updated 07.07.10

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