Face it. Library instruction can be mind-numbingly boring. But with a little effort and a lot of ingenuity, you can make it fairly tolerable, maybe even – *gasp* – fun! For the past couple years I’ve been collecting neat ideas, and I’m finally in a position to be able to use them.
Photo from David González Romero
How to let students know that your session is going to be super fun times? Open with this clip! I happen to know that students love it, because a very generous one suggested I use it as a good ice breaker. Thank you, lovely student. (Also a shout out to that girl that would smile and nod every time I said anything! Thank you!!)
When using articles in your examples, why not use attention-getting papers like, “An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep Over Various Surfaces“. Yes, that is a real article. So is this. And this. There is no excuse for using a humdrum boring-as-nails article in your examples. (Unless you’re using an example relevant to the course material. I suppose that could be considered an acceptable excuse.) For a whole collection of awesome and unusual scholarly publications, check out winners of the Ig Nobel Prize.
Are you warning students about the evils of Wikipedia? We all love Wikipedia, but it can be important to caution students against citing it in their papers. An adorable clip of Michael Scott can wake them up and be a great starting point for discussing the merits and pitfalls of the world’s favourite encyclopedia.
Another sure-fire hit, at least with first-year students, is Google Scholar. I realize that I’m getting to the nerdier side of fun, but considering how easy to use and positively familiar Google Scholar is, students tend to get a little excited about the fact that they finally know how to do research. Clearly, this will not address the needs of budding young scholars who will go on to grad school, but for students that are lost and confused, Google Scholar can be a welcome antidote.
If all else fails, give out chocolate. I’ve found this works out quite well. You’re guaranteed to make some friends if you fill your users with sugar!
Do you have any tips on how to keep students interested and awake? Share your ideas in the comments below.