The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) is committed to support students throughout their studies at Rutgers. The SEBS Academic Support page provides not only an Academic Success Calendar, but also lists two special courses. Organized by the Office of Academic Programs, the Academic Mentoring course aims to help first-generation SEBS students with their transition to college in the Fall semester, while Portals to Academic Success aims to better engage students experiencing difficulties in the Spring semester. I have been hosting library instruction sessions for both courses for a few years in the Chang Science Library, sometimes online or in a hybrid format, and often times in the Douglass Library.
At first glance, the library session seems far from being a serious college class. After a brief introduction to Rutgers libraries and a sprint demo of the assistance QuickSearch (the libraries’ search engine) can provide for a class assignment, I focus on grabbing attention with some problem solving exercises. These usually address typical college student headaches and how the libraries can help solve these issues, such as finding the best study space for a group or an individual, finding required resources for their next class and tackling last-minute assignments.
Putting everything into practice, students are invited to search for a book in the Rutgers catalog that is meaningful to them — something they have read or want to read. Benefiting from what they have just learned about Library of Congress call numbers and the instant APA style citation generator, they proceed to design a mini poster with the powerpoint template provided for them in the Pass@SEBS LibGuide I created for these classes. The poster will also feature a picture related to the book to highlight the importance of giving proper credit to images. The assignment takes about 15-20 minutes to complete, which may include an optional quote or some sentiments about the book, and even a QR code, gaining popularity again everywhere.
If I am lucky to have a graduate assistant from the School of Communication and Information, we both walk around and explain library call numbers and holdings again, point out missing citation elements, remind students to italicize the book title when formatting is lost via copy/paste, and answer any other question. Many of the SEBS course instructors are good sports and help students fix up their posters. Some have even designed their own!
In Spring 2022, nearly 100 first-year students visited the Douglass Library Instructional Alcove to enjoy my fun class. I say “enjoy,” as this year seemed to be very different from previous semesters. Was everyone totally Zoomed out and pleased to be attending class in person? Did they realize more quickly that everything they heard in class would have an immediate and direct benefit for their next paper? I never had to perform the librarian shush or make a single “no cell phones in the classroom” grunt for a whole week of classes! To my usual closing question at the end of each class, “What did you learn today?” most of them listed two to five things compared to the single one new skill or fact I expected.
The course instructors, all volunteers from SEBS, always do a fantastic job stressing the importance of library research. This spring, the students seemed to have truly appreciated all the efforts that their professors, deans, administrators, and the librarian put into the program. A selection of the best mini posters from Spring 2022 illustrates that they paid attention in class. I am confident the skills gained in these classes, along with Rutgers University Libraries services and resources, will help students succeed in their studies.
A selection of posters created by students, faculty, staff, and librarians on the Cook Campus 2019-2022.
- Gallery 1 – Posters from Spring 2019 PASS course
- Gallery 2 – Books recommended by SEBS faculty
- Gallery 3 – Books we read at the Chang Science Library
- Gallery 4 – Selected classics
- Gallery 5 – Non-fiction titles
- Gallery 6 – Harry Potter Series
- Gallery 7 – Posters from Fall 2019 Academic Mentoring course
- Gallery 8 – Books recommended or mentioned by presenters at Science Cafés
- Gallery 9 – Posters from Spring 2022 PASS course