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Library workshops help students learn how to research effectively and engage with sources critically in order to produce creative and informed scholarship.

Our classes are designed in collaboration with faculty to support course objectives and specific assignments. Below are some ways librarians work with faculty to create workshops tailored to their courses. You may also find our general advice and assignment ideas of use. 

Ready to work with a librarian? Contact Us!

Introduction to Library Research

For incoming and introductory-level students.

Through hands-on activities like scavenger hunts, games, and small-group discussions, 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 questions, conducting preliminary research, revising searches, and evaluating sources.

Librarian talking with student using laptop
(Credit: Todd Balfour )

Targeted skills may include developing focused questions and evaluating sources.

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

students looking at rare books in Special Collections

Staff provide hands-on, guided explorations of rare books, archives, manuscripts, maps, music, and more.

Flipped Library Workshop

For students in the early stages of a research project.

Students independently watch an instructional video on library basics before the workshop. During the workshop, 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 LibrarySearch, 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 an open-ended question.

Four students with laptops sitting in a circle.
(Credit: Todd Balfour )

Students explore issues such as the importance of approaching a topic with an open-ended question.

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.

Brainstorm with a librarian

When you’re to start planning a research workshop, contact your library liaison.

Or, chat with any librarian at the Research Desk!