Nothing beats the flexibility of coming to a library session, get a head-start on your project and leave without having to worry about time or rushing for your next class.
That’s what the librarians wanted 1st Year Engineering students of EG1413 (Critical Thinking and Writing module) to have when they developed the 3-hour clinic sessions.
So for 2 days, from 9am-12nn and from 1-4pm, students came into the clinic sessions and left after their questions were answered.
Some stayed on for the whole hog. It was very much on-the-fly based entirely on topics or questions posed by the students. And boy, was there ever a deluge of questions.
Students wrote their topics or questions on yellow 3-by-5s (old cataloguing cards) and passed it to the librarian. The librarian would then show how to search and retrieve the articles based on the topics.
Some topics were similar – social media and privacy, social media and the Singapore political landscape, social media and how it affects teens or the elderly, social media and intellectual property violations, etc. These were grouped and search techniques were taught.
More than 80 students attended the 2 clinic sessions. At any one point in a session, there were at least 15-20 students in the class.
It was not just a matter of searching for articles.
Some had topics in mind that were kind of hazy. Some had started reading and found interesting patterns and trends but did not know what to make of it. The librarians guided them to see how headlines, keyword summaries, Subject Terms, etc could guide them in scoping or framing their topic, making it easier for them to manage the deluge of information or a run-away topic.
Differences in the types of information retrieved from the databases Business Source Premier, Communication and Mass Media Complete and Factiva were also demonstrated with the students’ topics.
Those who had to leave gave their email addresses on the yellow cards so that the librarian could email them after the clinic sessions.