Oh no! We have to see you again?!?! Those are some of my least favorite words…
I enjoy meeting with and working with the students on my campus. If you ask most of the students on campus who the librarian is, they can identify me. Whether they know my name or just know me as the blonde one in the library, generally they know who I am. While this seems like a good thing, many times it proves to be a challenge.
As the only full-time librarian at my campus, I provide a majority of the information literacy instruction sessions. Students sometimes see me three or four times for instruction sessions during the first month of the semester. By the time they see me with their third class, they’ve had enough and often insist that there is no need for them to sit through another session. At this point I’ve lost them. While I have stressed that each session is different and have attempted to make each session unique, there are some things that must be covered each time, as many students haven’t yet had the opportunity to participate in a session. This introductory information is the same, thus students assume the session is exactly the same and proceed to ignore me for the remainder of the session.
In addition to this, many of these students enter my classroom with great confidence in their research skills, so they are not particularly interested in what I have to share with them.
Like many others before me, I’ve modified my instructional sessions to provide less content and provide more welcoming information. All of this is done in the hopes that students will return to ask for help when they need it. Instead though, I think they finally come see me when they are at the very end of their research rope – or they just don’t bother to see me at all.
Then there are the other students, fewer in number, that really pay attention to what I say in class, participate in the discussion, and then visit with me regularly for assistance.
I thought that the students would be more likely to ask for help if they were more familiar with me – so I attend Student Government Association (SGA) meetings, am a club advisor, and generally can be found all around campus. This has increased students’ awareness of my name – these same students will visit me to ask about campus-related matters – but they still rarely visit me for research assistance. When I find them struggling and help them with something library-related, they are astounded that I can be of such assistance.
Within my library is the writing center. One tutor staffs the center. She is almost completely booked with appointments during entire semester. I often joke that students are not afraid to admit that they have difficulty writing, but they are afraid to admit that they do not know how to do effective research. Perhaps instead it goes back to the students being unaware of their lack of research efficacy. In my dissertation I referred to the Dunning-Kruger effect, which describes the confidence level of individuals – both skilled and unskilled. Those that are unskilled have high levels of confidence in their abilities, yet as they become more skilled are more aware of their deficiencies which leads to lowered confidence levels.
Is this a common experience in the community college? What are some ways that you have increased students’ use of the library and librarian?