Fire up the coffee machine and ready the stacks: senior thesis writing is about to begin! Although the 2015 academic school year has just gotten started, motivated upperclassmen will soon be library-bound with a potential thesis topic in hand and a long list of research questions in mind. This time of year usually calls for instructing new students on library basics, but don’t forget about your university’s seniors. Thesis writing is a long, research-heavy process that will require all the help your academic library staff can provide. Want to make sure your library is ready for the influx of senior thesis questions? Here are a few tips to get your space ready for senior thesis time.
Consult department heads and advisors
Not every program at your university will require students to write a senior thesis, but for those that do, the process begins with selecting a topic. Because these research assignments are such a massive part of a student’s course grade, the topic often has to be approved first by their advisor and program department head. Reach out to the advisors and department heads of these programs and inquire about the topics students are considering. Let them know what information you have available to students, and offer your insights into how students can research potential themes. Get some insight into what topics students are considering—it may influence how many copies of Foucualt’s Discipline and Punish you have to order this semester.
Make sure your collections are in tip-top shape
A student writing his or her thesis on Aeschylus’s Oresteia will fare just fine with old books; their subject hasn’t changed much since 458 B.C. But for the American Studies major writing on Kanye West, it’s essential to have the newest resources available. Before seniors fully delve into research mode, make sure your library has access to the most up-to-date research journals so that students have access to a full range of information dating right up until the present. This will make their research process much easier, and your collections will be more relevant than ever.
Ready the research spaces
You know what topics students are researching and the collections have never looked better, so what’s next? As you know, the library can sometimes become a pretty popular place. Everyone from serious graduate students to socializing freshmen gather here, and sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming. Prepare for the students buckling down for an all-nighter before their latest chapter is due by providing dedicated research spaces for these procrastinating scholars. Offer reserved spaces for serious student to get down to business and stock them with extra computer chargers and headphones, comfortable chairs and a healthy supply of coffee. Nothing is more frustrating for a deadline-crunched senior at the library than a rowdy group of students turning study time into social hour.
Let us know: how does your library prepare for research-heavy periods like senior thesis time?
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