Library Assignments

Guidelines for Successful Library Assignments

Librarians are available to work with you to design assignments that effectively use library resources and help accomplish lesson objectives. Incorporating library research into your class assignments can help your students to better understand how information is organized in the library and on the Internet. HFCC Librarians, with expert knowledge of the availability and organization of print and electronic information available, can assist you with designing effective library research assignments.

  • Purpose of the Assignment - What is it that you want your students to learn? Are there specific reference sources you want them to use (or avoid)? Consider including a list of important sources with the assignment.
  • Availability of Resources - The Library and its collections are constantly changing. Electronic databases, including ebooks, offer the greatest access. Encouraging students to use authoritative sources in online databases can help wean them from overuse and abuse of unreliable Internet information.
  • Clarity - Please remind students to bring their assignments with them to the library when they do research. Giving library assignments in writing (rather than verbally) can help reduce confusion and ensure that we are all on the same page. For example, if you want them to use scholarly articles be sure to define what you mean by scholarly articles. Sometimes a good article in a magazine can be more appropriate than an esoteric academic journal.
  • Use of Terminology - Students tend to interpret assignments literally and may be confused by unfamiliar terms. Students are likely to only use the terms/phrases they have heard without realizing that alternative terminology may be necessary. Definitions of discipline specific terminology, with possible synonyms, can help the student accomplish his or her research.
  • Topic - Choosing a topic is often difficult for students. Even if you are not using a specific "menu" of topic choices, a couple of typical samples will help us get a feel for your expectations.
  • Scavenger Hunts - The least effective assignment asks students to locate random facts. It lacks a clear purpose, teaches little and is frustrating for students and librarians. Such assignments often become exercises in futility as items are misplaced or disappear. Librarians, not students, often end up locating the information. We would be happy to work with you on designing a meaningful and practical hands-on exercise.