Research partners prove: It’s not your daddy’s library anymore

From AAPSNews Service

Librarians at The University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor District Library have taken students at Skyline High School under wing, showing them the ins and outs of library use which, these days, is heavy on technology.

The partnership involves Lead Teacher for Media and Technology Sara Duvall, and Instructional Technologist Pete Pasque who are working with the libraries to teach their students the best practices of library research and use.

Skyline students and U-M undergraduate librarians during a recent visit to the university campus.

It’s a partnership that proves that today’s school media center is not your daddy’s library.

“It’s not about how many dusty old books we keep on the shelves, or who returns what,” Duvall explained, noting that today’s library has fewer items on shelves and more resources devoted to teaching online research techniques.

In fact, in the Skyline media center, students manage physical items that are checked out.  “It’s a complete honor system. They take care of it. I spend most of my time teaching them how to use online resources,” Duvall added. Pasque teaches and also spends his time helping students and teachers accomplish their tasks with technology.

And part of their instruction has moved out of the Skyline building onto the U-M campus.

Gabriel Duque, undergraduate learning librarian at U-M’s Shapiro Library, said the library hosted a group of advance placement history students from Skyline in December over three consecutive days, helping them learn the ropes and teaching them research techniques.

Skyline is one of only two schools the U-M library has worked with to date on such a partnership. As part of the visit, Duque set up a Skyline Web information page, giving students basic information they would need during their library visit and offering resources they can use for follow up.

“We threw a lot at them and they stayed with us,” Duque said. “I don’t think the goal is for them to be experts. It’s really important for them, fundamentally, to see the difference between the high school and a big research library.”

Students visit the computer lab to learn about databases and the eCatalog.

A second group of Skyline students is scheduled to visit the Shapiro Library in March, he said.

In addition to a library tour, students learned about the university’s Web page, how to access the library’s catalog system and then had to search for a book for a specific project. They worked with the library’s CQ Supreme Court collection and the ProQuest Historical Newspapers, among others. Duque said it was set up as an “ ‘Amazing Race’ kind of activity” for students.

“This was a great experience,” Duque said of the Skyline visit. “I was glad they were pleased with it.”

Skyline students also learned about resources at their local public library this fall. Sherlonya Turner, youth services manager at the Ann Arbor District Library’s main branch, was invited to visit the Skyline media center and said she was pleased that many students had AADL library cards. But, she had more to share.

“We went out and showed them what was available,” she said. “We pointed out that the library’s a lot more than a physical space you can visit.”

Students also enjoyed lunch during their visit to the campus.

But just because young people are growing up immersed in technology doesn’t mean they know it all, she explained. “They’re aware they can go online and Google,” she said. “But they need to use verified sources. We can help with that.”

She said the AADL also can be helpful in specific areas for students, including when they are researching local history. “We are totally flexible to different users and different needs,” she said of the students. “It’s part of what we do. We want to support kids – their job is school.”

Turner said the library also provides students live tutoring services, both online and on site, depending on the hours. Members of the Circle K Kiwanis group from the University of Michigan are on site Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-8 pm. at the downtown branch. Through their online tutoring program, Brainfuse, Turner said Ann Arbor students in grades 3 to 12 can get help from 2-11 p.m. daily.

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