The Benefits of Offering Academic Classes in Libraries

March 14, 2016 / by Lindsay Mullen


If your library is part of a big university, you may have a few classrooms interspersed among your resources. Whether you’re housing a semesterlong biology course in the basement or playing host to a weekly workshop in conjunction with Creative Writing 101, it’s important to make the students and staff involved in these classes feel at home. Why? Classes in your library can offer an awesome learning experience for students—and they can help you in unexpected ways. Here are a few reasons why offering your library for more academic classrooms can be a benefit.

Leverage underutilized resources

We know, we know: ever since you upgraded your library databases, those microfiche newspaper records you’ve been keeping around have been gathering even more dust than usual. But the Tuesday section of American Journalism in the 19th Century may gain new insight into the time period they’re studying by rolling through that collection and taking a look at the early printings of the Chicago Tribune—many of which just aren’t available online.

If you’ve got some resources that haven’t been getting much love, think if there are ways they could be used in some of the courses taught in your library. Let the professor know what you have available, and offer to help them set them up before the class begins. It couldn’t be easier—you don’t even have to go outside!

Teach great research skills

What’s potentially the greatest benefit of academic classes inside the library is the proximity to a world of resources. But many students don’t know how to access the sheer amount of knowledge you’ve got on every floor. Because of this, it’s easier than ever to work with a professor to help students get acclimated to your library and learn how to navigate it.

Students in the  Modern Chinese Cinema class that meets on the third floor may have to spend their entire day to get through the nine-hour documentary Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks, but with your help, they can get the supplemental resources they need for their paper on the film in less than a third of the movie’s run time. Spend a half hour of class time refreshing students’ memories on the benefits of Boolean phrases (for example, should they be searching for Chinese socialist market economy or Chinese socialist market econom*?) and arranging a quick tour around related wings of the library, and they’ll be showing off efficient research skills in no time.

If you’re interested in getting your library even more involved in academic classes both inside and outside your building, it’s worth taking a look at what your colleagues in other libraries are doing. Revisit our blog post on four academic librarians making waves in the future of the field, and then check out our case study on how the great librarians at the University of Arkansas are using Mango.

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Topics: Higher Ed

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

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