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October 6, 2009

Transitions (continued): The Student Experience of the Library

The rush of activity at the beginning of the school year subsides eventually into a fast-paced rhythm that signals this really is fall. Aside from a short visit for a conference at Berkeley last week when the superabundant produce in the San Francisco Farmers Market was redolent of fall but the blazing heat was distinctly unseasonal, the working rhythm of my life at this time of year settles into a busy routine. The routine is deceptive this year, as each regular activity is happening to me for the last time at Yale: the year’s first meeting of the Advisory Council on Library Policy; a panel to determine on recommending Yale candidates for Marshall and Rhodes scholarships to the UK; meetings with freshmen advisees; arrangements for forthcoming semi-annual meetings of the University Librarian’s Development Council and the Yale Library Associates, and a whole set of other regular committee meetings.

Focusing on Yale but with one eye now on my approaching transition to Oxford, I find myself taking a special interest in working with Yale students. Students at both Oxford and Yale expect a great deal of themselves. I never cease to be amazed at the talents and accomplishments Yale students notch up, from the time they are admitted and throughout their careers. I know freshmen who are taking classes in Chinese or other languages five mornings a week, and then planning to join singing groups, dancing groups, try out for sports teams and/or the Yale Dramat, explore the possibilities of community service supported by Dwight Hall…and all this in addition to the regular daily and weekly load of classes and paper-writing. By the time they reach their senior year, which is the stage at which most potential candidates for Rhodes and Marshall scholarships emerge, some have already set up successful charities among communities in different parts of the globe and have become expert in the regional politics of far-flung nations or the artisanal techniques that provide a precarious living for whole villages, some are proficient in five or six languages, some have worked as assistants to high-level advisers of foreign governments or United Nations agencies. This year there is a crop of talented people planning careers that may take them into academe or politics, who gave up large amounts of time to work for the Obama campaign in different states. And all have managed to sustain stellar grade point averages. Engaging intellectually with students of this caliber, even in the brief space of an interview, is energizing and makes one feel full of hope. I’d be thrilled to encounter each and every one of them at Oxford in the next phase of their careers.

The Yale Library is now much more closely involved in the educational experience of students at Yale, at all levels, than it once was. See Barbara Rockenbach’s earlier post on this blog site for some examples of the way librarians work with faculty and students to tap into new technological opportunities. Barbara’s work in the Bass Library’s Collaborative Learning Center and her Teaching w/ Technology Tuesdays are among many ways librarians work with students to support their educational experience. The Personal Librarian program now provides all incoming freshmen with a link to a librarian they can ask for help with any aspect of using Library resources. Senior essay writers [link] can find invaluable help with using source materials and discovering new sources from librarians in many different parts of the system. Manuscripts & Archives, where the staff have long experience of digging up material each year for seniors, and then working with them to help shape their research topics, award prizes for the best senior essays based on the collections each year. The Social Science Library’s Applebaum Prize for the best senior essay based on government documents is now entering its third year. Beinecke Library curators give an enormous amount of time and attention to working with students and faculty on collections. They are also responsible for running the annual Van Sinderen Prize program rewarding undergraduate book collectors. International library programs, including all the areas studies curators, provide support to faculty and students who teach and study overseas, and this year for the first time they created a special flash-drive with essential library links to help Yale students with trouble connecting via the internet from far-flung parts of the globe. Similar connections can be found in every part of the Library system. It is good to think that Yale’s librarians are matching the ingenuity of Yale’s students and can be there to support them, wherever they may be, as their education unfolds.

Posted by Alice at 4:50 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2009

Getting the New Year Off to a Flying Start

This week's post is supplied by Barbara Rochenbach, Director of Undergraduate & Library Research Education.

Barbara Rochenbach:

Welcome back to the new academic year! As the semester begins, the Library is busily engaged in the support of teaching and learning across campus. The Teaching w/ Technology Tuesdays will be returning for the fourth semester with upcoming sessions on Twitter, new online presentation software beyond PowerPoint, and the mobile web and handhelds. Teaching w/ Technology Tuesdays are for those teaching at Yale (staff, faculty, and students) interested in innovative instructional activities that utilize technology. They are held in the Bass Library, L01 at 11:00am every Tuesday September 15 – November 24. For a full schedule for the semester, please see: http://clc.yale.edu.

The Library Research Education Program is also gearing up for the fall semester offering course-integrated research sessions, discipline-based research services, and research clinics and consultations. Librarians, archivists, and curators work closely with faculty to design library research classes tailored to specific courses. We encourage instructors to contact us to schedule a research session to meet the needs of a specific course or student research assignment. For a list of the Library subject specialists see: http://resources.library.yale.eduedu/online/selectors.asp.

Beyond research sessions the Library also offers personal consultations or 30 minute informal group sessions help faculty and students develop skills such as: creating bibliographies and proper citations; presentation skills (using PowerPoint and effective speaking techniques); finding, citing and presenting images; using Google Earth; and utilizing information management software (Zotero, RefWorks, Endnote). To find out what classes and workshops are being offered this fall, visit: http://library.yale.edu/researcheducation.

Posted by Alice at 1:12 PM | Comments (0)

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