General Advice

  1. Consult with your library liaison while you are creating your syllabus. We can help you create classroom activities and assignments that will knit together the subject matter of your course, the development of research skills, and a broader understanding of how to find, evaluate, and use information.

  2. For maximum impact, have two library instruction sessions for First-Year Seminars. The first session is an orientation to the physical space of the library and library resources and services in general. The second allows them to meaningfully research after having gained familiarity with the tools (MIDCAT, Summon, research guides, etc.).

  3. Hold a workshop with Special Collections  to have students learn how and when to use primary versus secondary sources. Bringing students to Special Collections in a First-Year Seminar, will likely make them more comfortable with the research process for primary sources: how to request items to view, how to handle them etc.

  4. Include your librarian’s name (and contact info) in your syllabus.

  5. Refer students to your librarian in class and during office hours.

  6. Learn about the skills of incoming students ( .

  7. Help your students avoid poor papers based on last minute research by assigning a bibliography in advance of a more complex research paper.

Workshop Ideas

  1. Introduction to Library Research For incoming and introductory-level students Through hands-on activities, students learn how to find and use resources offered by the Middlebury Libraries and beyond. Learning goals are determined in collaboration with the faculty member. Potential topics include locating books in the library, using interlibrary loan, and getting research help.

  2. Research for an Assignment For all levels In this workshop, the librarian will collaborate with a faculty member to design learning goals and activities to prepare students to effectively research a class assignment. Targeted skills may include developing focused research questions, conducting preliminary research, efficient searching, authority evaluation, and source evaluation.

  3. Finding Primary Sources For all levels. Most effective when students have already been introduced to the basics of library research. Students learn about primary sources available in the library, in Special Collections & Archives, from online collections, or that can be borrowed from other institutions. Targeted skills include how to use relevant library databases and the techniques necessary to find primary sources for a topic.

  4. Special Collections For all levels Class sessions in Special Collections & Archives can range from surveys of faculty-selected materials to sessions for which staff provide hands-on, guided explorations of rare books, archives, manuscripts, maps, music, and more. We are also happy to support students through assignments requiring continued engagement: bring your class in for an hour, schedule several visits for in-depth investigations, or require that students return on their own to work with staff and collections. Sessions and assignments are planned in conjunction with the course instructor. If you are interested in setting up a visit, or wondering what materials might be appropriate for a class, please contact Special Collections & Archives at

  5. Flipped Library Workshop For students in the early stages of a research project Students independently complete an online tutorial on library basics before the workshop. During the live session, students discuss effective research strategies based on what they learned. They then spend time researching their own projects with librarian and faculty assistance.

  6. Citation, Research Management, and Academic Integrity For all levels. Most effective when students have already been introduced to the basics of library research. Why do we cite? How can we effectively record and manage the sources we find? How do we create citations in the format appropriate for a discipline? Topics may include academic integrity, how to cite in Chicago, MLA, APA, or other discipline-specific style, research management strategies, and using Zotero to create bibliographies.

  7. Research Round Table For thesis students or advanced researchers In this seminar-style workshop, students collectively problem-solve each other’s inquiries while the librarian provides guidance and demonstrates approaches onscreen. While the content of the workshop varies in accordance with the students’ research needs, topics that arise may include researching more efficiently, searching beyond Summon, evaluating authority, research as inquiry, and thinking about how student work fits into scholarly conversations on their topics.

  8. Advanced Critical Concepts For thesis students or advanced researchers These workshops draw on the ideals of information literacy, which is a model of critical engagement with information not only as a product but also as a social process. Students explore issues such as authority vs. exclusion, the life cycle of information, the dual role of students as content consumers and content creators, and the importance of approaching a topic with open ended questions.

  9. Library Q&A for Student Groups For all levels The style and content of these workshops can be based on any of the models above, or we can create something entirely new. In some cases, librarians may guide students through a selection of library resources, and in other cases, students may collectively problem-solve each other’s inquiries. Examples of student groups who have met with a librarian in workshops such as these: Peer Writing Tutors, Transfer and Exchange Students, and the STEM Posse.