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How librarians can help undergrad students, grad students and everyone in between

Think back to the beginning of your undergraduate career: What did you use the library for at that point in your education? Was it a go-to gathering place when working on group projects or a quiet oasis to get some serious studying done? How did that change as you moved from undergraduate to graduate studies?
As an academic librarian, you know from your own experiences that the services students utilize most often depends on their level of schooling. The research needs of a college sophomore differ greatly from the help a graduate student needs to defend their thesis.
How do you offer assistance to these vastly different kind of students? Read on for a few helpful tips.

Library 101

Navigating the library can be overwhelming for incoming and transfer students. Your school’s collection of rare Gothic horror novels or newspaper archives from the early 1900s may be awesome for someone writing a thesis, but for students in COMP 101 who only need to write a three-page paper, the possibility of combing through these vast reserves can be intimidating.
Want to funnel new students in the doors and get them using all the great services your library has to offer? Plan events that teach new students all there is to know about your library. Take new students on tours of the library as part of freshman orientation to show them the ropes of researching their first assignment. If you’re finding new students need a little bit more instruction before fully diving into your library’s resources, work with professors to coordinate a session on the best research strategies for their classes. College freshmen might need a little bit of extra handholding during their first semester at college, but once you’ve given them the library introductory course, prepare for packed study tables and long nights of studying.


Major-Specific Materials

For most college juniors and seniors, they’ve spent the last two years taking basic prerequisite classes. With English 101 and Introduction to Philosophy out of they way, they’re finally ready to jump head-first into high-level, major-specific material. As their coursework becomes more rigorous and narrowed in focus, these students are going to need assistance finding resources to help support the specific topic they’re studying.
That’s where you come in. You can prepare undergraduate upperclassmen for success by helping them access the books, online journals, special collections and other resources they need. Have a student writing a senior thesis on the changing tourism trends in Central and South America? Arm her with the best Boolean keyword phrases and direct her straight to the Hospitality and Tourism online journal.


Graduate Student Services

The life of a graduate student is much different, and more intense, than that of an undergraduate student. Instead of just writing short papers and keeping up with the class reading schedule, graduate students are often doing research work, writing about their findings and teaching lower-level courses in addition to taking classes themselves. With so many irons in the fire, it’s no surprise that these students might need a little extra help every now and then. How can your library lend a hand?
By their first semester of graduate studies, these students have probably developed a good foundation of research skills. And yet, they may have questions about how to properly use and cite the works they’ve uncovered—and how to make sure they themselves aren’t victims of copyright infringement. Offer research workshops that address questions about copyright usage, where to publish their work and how to protect their own intellectual material. Additionally, graduate students can benefit from writing consultations and peer reviews of their work. An extra set of eyes on their thesis can help take their writing from good to great with just a few suggestions.
From helping a freshman English major find a literary analysis on the works of Gertrude Stein to putting the finishing touches on a graduate psychology student’s methodology chapter in their thesis, your library has plenty of services to offer students of all levels.
If you’re looking to keep your library on the cutting edge by providing students with the best resources, take a look at our checklist of the 9 innovations shaping academic libraries today!
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