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Tips for Creating Effective Library Assignments

Library assignments can be an effective way to introduce students to the research process. A well-designed assignment will ensure that students have a positive experience using the library and its resources. The ways and means of accessing information changes at a constant rate and it is best to assume that your students have limited experience with the library resources and the research process.

Availability of Library Materials
Make sure the library actually has the materials your students will need to complete an assignment.

Avoid giving the same topic to a large class. Library materials on that particular topic will quickly become checked out or misplaced. If you cannot avoid assigning one topic, the best way to insure that the materials will be there for all your students is to put them on reserve.

Avoid Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger or trivia hunts are typically not the best way to teach students how to use the library and conduct research. If you can, please avoid questions which ask for obscure facts without giving the student the research methodology they will need in order to successfully complete the assignment.

Library Assignment Help
Librarians can help instructors provide a list of useful sources, or types of sources, to be used for a particular assignment. This list can be made available as a webpage or handout. Working with a librarian, you can verify whether or not the library owns the particular sources your class will need. If you would like help designing a library assignment, please contact a LRC Librarian at (252)527-6223 x.507 or

Library Reserves
If there is one or more sources which the whole class will need to consult for quick information, you may want to put those sources on reserve. When an item is on reserve, you can specify how long an item can be checked out or request that those items stay in the library.

Reference Help
Librarians are available to help students when they are doing research in the library. Our librarians can be better prepared to help your students if they aware of the assignment ahead of time. A quick e-mail to the circulation desk with your assignment included would be a great help!

Instruction Sessions
A library instruction session can help your students become familiar with the resources available in the library. Sessions can be customized to meet the needs of your particular assignment. In addition to library resources, instruction sessions can also serve to orient your students to a variety of things such as the research process, searching the Internet, and evaluating information sources. Give the library plenty of notice when  scheduling a library instruction session.

For more information, please contact:
Richard Garafolo
Director of Learning Resources Center
Learning Resources Center (Building 5)
Phone: (252) 527-6223, ext. 504
Fax: (252) 233-6879