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Research Skills: The Library

When you want to do research in your school library do you often find your school just can’t afford the resources (or even the librarian) you need? This is why so often we take our students online to do research. In doing this, we often teach students that libraries are not a valuable resource because nothing could be further than the truth. 

Books are still important-even in these digital times. Books are researched, vetted, edited and verified by experts. This is not always the case online, it’s valuable to teach students to get their information from a variety of sources. Teaching students to observe and ask questions can be a good starting point for research, but often when we as teacher first assign a research project, they don’t even know enough about a topic to determine what questions they should be asking.

If your school is lucky enough to have a librarian, most of the work finding materials can be done with help. Be kind to your librarian and they will pay it back. Teach students to use your school’s search engine for books. Does your school connect to other libraries? Can you borrow these books and bring them to your school so your students have access?

What services do your local public libraries offer? We were shocked to learn our local public library has access to all kinds of things like archives, city records and historical maps and documents. These tools are far too expensive for our school library to acquire, but access to these materials is priceless. Check to see if your local public library has a community librarian who may be able to point you in the right direction.

Many libraries are switching from owning hard copies of things like newspapers, periodicals, movies and documentaries as their digital versions take up far less space. Check to see if your school or local public library has access or online subscriptions available.

Have you ever taken your class to visit a public archive? Most have access available to students during a field trip. They will even pull specific materials for you if there is enough time given in advance. Archives are full of historian, too.

The biggest challenge we have found in taking students to the library is time. If you want your students to become experts in how to find materials, you need to take the time to teach them-in the library. Model this as their teacher.

Do you still take your students to the library? Have any tricks or tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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