Over the past two semesters, I have been “oriented” to the library multiple times for multiple classes. Both ENGL 101 and ENGL 102 include a library orientation. Many other 100-level courses include some sort of “getting to know your library” lecture, usually provided by an Ablah Library staff member.
The heart of these library orientations is in the right place. It is vital for all college students to know how to conduct research, and to be familiar with the resources available, both physically and online.
However, is it really necessary for so many courses to provide a library orientation? I, personally, have sat through four of them in the last four months. The orientations have varied from a 15-minute online presentation to an in-depth lecture on electronic databases. Each orientation I have received has contained a kernel or two of information I didn’t already know, but most of the time I just drift off and think about other things. During my most recent orientation, I wrote this column.
At the risk of cutting into the valuable time spent staring at the front door of the Heskett Center during the hiking expeditions that are Wichita State’s new student orientation days, perhaps a library introduction could be conducted. Or students could be required to take a one-hour pre-session course on library use in their first 45 hours at WSU. Either of these options have the added advantage of providing some standardization in library education as well.
I’d like to reiterate that I mean no disrespect to the people conducting the library orientations, or to the instructors who choose to include it in their curriculum. They are only demonstrating a desire to see students maximize their use of the amazing resources at their disposal.
However, library orientation is an area where the administration should step in and provide singular leadership and direction. It is an issue important to every student in every program.