Conversations About Student Research

On July 25th, the Van Wylen research and instruction librarians hosted a meeting of the West Michigan Information Literacy Group.  This is a group of teaching librarians who meet regularly to exchange “best practices” and to share ideas on how to better help students navigate the world of information.

As usual when you get librarians together, stimulating conversation was shared by all.  We particularly focused our talk on “discovery platforms”; these are tools, like Hope’s new 1Search platform, that allow users to search much of a library’s content all at once.  Since they are particularly useful for beginning college researchers, we discussed how a focus on these kinds of tools can change what we can do in the undergraduate classroom, in Gen Ed classes like FYS and ENG113.  By merging together all the library’s “information silos,” does this free up time to expose students to higher level information literacy concepts?  While there was general agreement that discovery platforms aren’t meant to replace catalogs and databases for more advanced researchers, they are great tools for alleviating library anxiety for beginning college researchers, instilling confidence in their ability to do library research, and opening doors that could lead them to more sophisticated information habits.

We also shared our experiences with assessment tools. How can libraries best measure and demonstrate the skills and habits that students are gaining through their exposure to the library, whether in the classroom or in other day-to-day engagement with our resources and services?  Many different examples were shared, giving Hope librarians much food for thought for how we assess our own practices.

— Jessica Hronchek, Research and Instruction Librarian

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