Library Inductions and Information Literacy

One of the most interesting tasks that I’ve had so far during my trainee year has been delivering library inductions to new undergraduates. As I am not a particularly confident public speaker I was somewhat nervous about this, but I was reassured by the Librarian that many of the students would know nothing about using the library and so everything I told them would be valuable.

After delivering several inductions this definitely seemed to be the case; for example, many students didn’t understand how to search the shelves using classmarks and instead had presumed that the books were shelved alphabetically by author. One student also asked me to define what a ‘journal’ was, which I don’t actually think was an odd request. I remember being a new undergraduate and being bewildered by the seeming complexity of all the different forms of information which were available to me, and for quite a while I stayed away from journals altogether when researching my essays because I just didn’t quite understand how to navigate them.

Luckily for me, there was a very helpful librarian to whom I eventually confessed my ignorance and ineptitude. He didn’t look down on me for my lack of understanding and he very patiently showed me how to use the library catalogue effectively to find the journal articles I wanted. One of the reasons that I want to become a librarian is so that I am able to help students in this way, and so I got a great deal of satisfaction after I explained the concept of journals to this student and her face lit up when she realised that she now knew how to access all the recently published essays and articles within her subject area. It was also very rewarding to be able to explain to groups of students how to use the three different catalogue interfaces which are available to them (Heritage, Newton and Aquabrowser) and how to search in different ways using each one.

I think that librarians play a vital role in Universities as providers of information literacy training, and most particularly in the area of electronic resources. This is partially because online scholarly databases can be difficult to navigate, but also because it is increasingly important that students learn how to evaluate the academic legitimacy of their sources when searching the growing stockpile of information available to them on the internet. This is one of the aspects of Librarianship which I find most interesting, and I’m definitely looking forward to assisting with more complex information literacy training sessions later in the year.

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