A masked student studies inside the Mossman Building at the start of the Fall Semester
Workshop Wednesdays: An Introduction to Library Research
by Martha Rudolph
October 1, 2020  •  4 minute read

An important tenet of the UT Libraries’ mission is to ensure that students’ college careers are well-grounded in information literacy skills.

There’s a lot to know! Especially now — in what is a (mostly) remote learning environment – students must quickly become sophisticated users of electronic resources. They need to learn at least the basics of library research as soon as their classes begin.

For that reason, librarians offer specialized instruction to students who are taking First-Year Composition, First-Year Studies courses, or Transition 201 (a class that helps new students set goals, plan a course of study, and engage in meaningful experiences outside the classroom).

Normally, first-year students receive an in-person introduction to the libraries. But, in this era of social distancing and remote classes, our librarians had to regroup. This fall we’re offering library instruction in several formats, from online and video tutorials to learning games.

Workshop Wednesday Screen Shot

The latest addition to these offerings is a series of Wednesday Workshops broadcast via Zoom. The live format lets librarians take extra time to present more in-depth information on research skills and strategies than is allowed in typical face-to-face instruction sessions.

Charissa Powell, student success librarian for information literacy, and Amber Sewell, teaching and learning librarian, assisted by other librarians from Teaching and Learning Programs and the Libraries’ General Education Committee, present a different workshop each Wednesday afternoon.

This series of live online workshops allows students to choose sessions that best serve their needs. The scheduled topics are:

  • September 2: An Introduction to the Libraries
  • September 9: How to Use PowerNotes
  • September 16: Topic Selection and Introduction to Searching
  • September 23: Know Where to Go — Primary Sources
  • September 30: Know Where to Go — Secondary Sources (Co-Sponsored with the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center)
  • October 7: There’s Nothing Out There! What to Do When You Hit a Research Rut
  • October 14: Deciding What to Cite
  • October 21: Who Has Access to Information and Why
  • October 28: Bias in Algorithms

Workshops begin with a 15- to 30-minute lecture, followed by time for questions and for students to practice newly acquired information literacy skills with librarians on hand to help. The lecture segments are recorded and made available on the Libraries’ YouTube site.

We’re now halfway through two months of planned Wednesday Workshops. So far, workshops have been well received and highly successful. Sewell notes, “Allowing students the flexibility to choose what best meets their needs in terms of content and delivery was especially important this semester, and has made for some really engaging sessions that are still accessible to those who aren’t able to make the live workshops. I’ve really enjoyed the chance to engage with our students in this new format!”

Powell agrees: “I have really enjoyed answering the questions we’ve received from students during these workshops and having the opportunity to serve students in their research needs this semester.”

We invite students — or anyone who wishes to learn more about conducting library research — to revisit the sessions as they become available on our YouTube playlist of Workshop Wednesdays.