or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Instruction… @ THEIR Library

   January 11th, 2007 Brian Herzog

I don't know if this is true for other communities, but at the Chelmsford Schools, every 6th grader takes part in the I-Search research project. Their general topic is Ancient Civilizations, and each student picks something specific (gladiators, daily life in ancient China, etc.) to research and write about (along the Big6 guidelines).

In past years, every 6th grade class would take a field trip to the public library. They would sign up for a library card, get a tour, meet the librarians, and start researching their topic. This year, though, the school had remodeled and expanded its own library, and wanted to highlight how it and its collection could help with I-Search.

So, the Children's Librarian, the Teen Librarian and myself (as Reference/databases) went to the school library to deliver a little presentation on what the public library offers. The morning we went, we spoke to four classes of 6th graders, which was about was about 100 kids. We're going back in February to speak to a second group of 100 kids.

We had three handouts prepared for them. One was a general brochure [pdf] on library services, with a section devoted to the call numbers of the different civilizations. Second was a bookmark [pdf] on how to access and search EBSCOhost's History Reference Center database, along with a few search tips. We also gave them a map of the public library, so they could find where the J books were, where the DVDs were, etc. In addition, we created a web page with this information and more.

I've never presented anything to kids that age, and wasn't sure what to expect. Overall, they were very good for having to sit and listen about how to search a database. And the school librarian and teachers liked our presentation, too. Best of all, though, in the two days since the talk, I've already helped four kids with I-Search - and all of them were interested in using the databases from home. The assignment isn't due until March, and these kids are already on top of it. Amazing.

, ancient civilizations, i-search, instruction, libraries, library, outreach, school libraries, students



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