Learning “the College Way”

Betsy Barefoot, senior scholar at the Policy Center on the First Year of College, argues in the Chronicle that for many first year students becoming comfortable in the library is a step toward being comfortable with college and its demands.

Although going to the library is usually part of childhood and adolescent memories for traditional students from relatively affluent families, it represents a new experience for many first-year students. I have found that some freshmen are afraid of the library, while others see it as a sort of museum — a place that belongs to the past, not the present.

She argues that it’s important for librarians to be involved with students, not just in a one-shot introduction to the library in a required first year seminar or composition course (which “may not transfer” to other courses) but from the start, during admissions tours and in planning the first year experience – and beyond.

The most effective way to ensure that first-year students become information literate is making library instruction an integral part of courses across the curriculum. That integration requires continuing and creative collaboration between librarians and professors.

None of which is a surprise to librarians, of course – but even librarians who work closely with faculty may not be involved in the planning that goes on for incoming students. Since Barefoot is well-respected in FYE circles, this essay may be a ticket to some of those conversations.

Just tell them “Betsy sent me.”

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

One thought on “Learning “the College Way””

  1. Barbara – I think we are even now. You beat me to the punch on this one. Admittedly I just intended to point our ACRLog readers to it with a “there’s not much here for academic librarians to argue with” angle. I think it was really great that she pointed out the importance of offering more than just a freshman orientation to the library or even a library 101 class that goes no further in the curriculum. I just asked our information literacy coordinator to share the link to the article (we have the Chronicle site license) with our information literacy task force faculty and our FYE staff and faculty. Let’s get the word out there!

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