After my last post on this blog, it may come as no surprise that I decided to start with the "How Handouts for Research Assignments Guide Today's College Students". (I've pretty much decided that every time I post to this blog it will in some form or another deal with handouts :)
I thought the entire article had an interesting tension as the author's see the print handout as the key information resource for students ("we would argue that handouts are often a roadmap for students to use during the course-related research process; they carry handouts with them when they complete assignments...") minimizing the importance of other types of support (both online and in-person) that professors may provide to student research while they simultaneously exhort professors to move past a focus on print based library materials.
That aside, one of their major findings appears to be that these assignment handouts don't include the library or guidance on information resources.
I think we've all encountered students coming to the library looking for information for a research project that they haven't been given enough guidance on...so if we're not on the actual assignment handout (and I'm not surprised that we're not...although the libraries are central to us...it's not always going to be foremost on the mind of everyone else) what are best practices to still provide support?
In the past when we've seen students from the same class come in to the reference desk to work on a particular assignment, we'll contact the liaison so they can email the professor and let them know that they're available to help their students (I'm always surprised when I tell instructors that they can forward students directly to me and they think that they'll be inconveniencing me by making me available for student questions!).
I think our Library Course Page system and the way its been integrated into our new web presence is another solution...sure it's not a handout, but if they come to the Libraries website and log in, they can easily see course-related support.
The Phase II Environmental Scan may also be useful...by contacting faculty and instructors for syllabi we may be able to locate assignments before the handout is finalized and offer to have our contact info added to the handout, or offer to collaborate on its creation. (It never hurts to offer...the worst that can happen is that they'll say no. And that would only put you back to where you currently are.)
How else can we bring the library to the students if not included in the assignment handouts?