Library Instruction Program

Library workshops can help student researchers learn how to search effectively and efficiently. Our classes are designed in collaboration with faculty to support course objectives and specific assignments.

Why bring a librarian to your class?

Only half of our incoming first-year students understand the meaning of "peer-reviewed," yet 70% of them say they are able to determine whether a source is appropriate for an academic project. It turns out that when they're doing scholarly research, many students have trouble finding relevant sources simply because they don't know how to adapt their strategies to an academic context. (More: Research Skills of Incoming Students [.pdf].)

We customize our workshops to meet faculty learning goals. Faculty tell us that students in classes that receive instruction from a librarian do better research than students in other classes. We want to make sure that all students attain a high level of information literacy.

Request a workshop: Email a librarian


Here is a sampling of the types of workshops we provide:

Introduction to Library Research
For incoming and introductory-level students
Through hands-on activities, students learn how to find and use resources offered by the Middlebury Libraries and beyond. Learning goals are determined in collaboration with the faculty member. Potential topics include locating books in the library, using interlibrary loan, and getting research help.

Research for an Assignment
For all levels
In this workshop, the librarian will collaborate with a faculty member to design learning goals and activities to prepare students to effectively research a class assignment. Targeted skills may include developing focused research questions, conducting preliminary research, efficient searching, authority evaluation, and source evaluation.

Finding Primary Sources
For all levels. Most effective when students have already been introduced to the basics of library research.
Students learn about primary sources available in the library, in Special Collections & Archives, from online collections, or that can be borrowed from other institutions. Targeted skills include how to use relevant library databases and the techniques necessary to find primary sources for a topic.

Special Collections
For all levels
Class sessions in Special Collections & Archives can range from surveys of faculty-selected materials to sessions for which staff provide hands-on, guided explorations of rare books, archives, manuscripts, maps, music, and more. We are also happy to support students through assignments requiring continued engagement: bring your class in for an hour, schedule several visits for in-depth investigations, or require that students return on their own to work with staff and collections. Sessions and assignments are planned in conjunction with the course instructor. If you are interested in setting up a visit, or wondering what materials might be appropriate for a class, please contact Special Collections & Archives at

Flipped Library Workshop
For students in the early stages of a research project
Students independently complete an online tutorial on library basics before the workshop. During the live session, students discuss effective research strategies based on what they learned. They then spend time researching their own projects with librarian and faculty assistance.

Citation, Research Management, and Academic Integrity
For all levels. Most effective when students have already been introduced to the basics of library research.
Why do we cite? How can we effectively record and manage the sources we find? How do we create citations in the format appropriate for a discipline? Topics may include academic integrity, how to cite in Chicago, MLA, APA, or other discipline-specific style, research management strategies, and using Zotero to create bibliographies.

Research Round Table
For thesis students or advanced researchers
In this seminar-style workshop, students collectively problem-solve each other's inquiries while the librarian provides guidance and demonstrates approaches onscreen. While the content of the workshop varies in accordance with the students' research needs, topics that arise may include researching more efficiently, searching beyond Summon, evaluating authority, research as inquiry, and thinking about how student work fits into scholarly conversations on their topics.

Advanced Critical Concepts
For thesis students or advanced researchers
These workshops draw on the ideals of information literacy, which is a model of critical engagement with information not only as a product but also as a social process. Students explore issues such as authority vs. exclusion, the life cycle of information, the dual role of students as content consumers and content creators, and the importance of approaching a topic with open ended questions.

Library Q&A for Student Groups
For all levels
The style and content of these workshops can be based on any of the models above, or we can create something entirely new. In some cases, librarians may guide students through a selection of library resources, and in other cases, students may collectively problem-solve each other's inquiries. Examples of student groups who have met with a librarian in workshops such as these: Peer Writing Tutors, Transfer and Exchange Students, and the STEM Posse.

Faculty Feedback

We welcome faculty feedback. Here are a few comments we've received recently:

“[The librarian] was warm, funny, and engaging--the interactive tasks she set students to made them work and [think]. I've had students do better, more informed research in the seminar than any other I have taught.”

"I especially valued the solid pedagogy that guided the presentation."

"I debriefed with the students right after the workshop was over and they all said that they found it helpful (and weren't necessarily expecting it to be)."

"... It's surprising how much we assume our students can research because they are so computer savvy - the time spent with [the librarian] was so instructive."

Scheduling Workshops

When do workshops take place?
Faculty suggest that using class time for library workshops signals to the students that the content is important. Your librarian will be able to work with you if other arrangements are desired.

Where do workshops take place?
Workshops held in the library allow physical library resources to be immediately integrated into workshop activities. Students become familiar with the library as a space and enjoy a low-stakes introduction to the environment. Workshops may be held in the Digital Media Lab, a computer lab, or a seminar room. You may also host a workshop in your classroom.

At which point in the semester are library workshops most effective?
General orientations to the library work well at the beginning of the semester, and they can also be useful later. Workshops to prepare for a specific assignment are best scheduled just as students are beginning their research.

How far in advance should I schedule a workshop?
For the time and location most suitable to your course, schedule your workshop early. However, we'll work hard to accommodate your students with even a couple of weeks notice.

Does the library offer any open workshops?
The library may periodically offer open workshops. Faculty and staff can also sign up for regularly scheduled technology workshops.

How can I request a workshop?
Please use the email a librarian form, or contact your departmental librarian directly.

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