An Inside Look at Library Skills Sessions

This post was written by our multi-talented Helen Mason who alongside being cataloguer-in-chief and overseer of our AV collections has been turning her hand to teaching this term.

As everyone re-assembles after the performance/projects week, and librarians are gearing up for another round of library skills sessions with the new 2013 students, it seemed a good moment to write about what these sessions are all about.

Jerwood Library’s librarians offer training sessions tailored to the requirements of each of the modules taught in the Music Faculty. The idea is that these will help students develop and improve their research skills, discover and familiarise themselves with, and hopefully become confident using, the excellent online resources available via the library catalogue, resulting in brilliant written assignments, and an ongoing broadening of their understanding of the subject.

A couple of weeks ago we closed the library so our BMus students could have a free run of the shelves and get to grips with some offline, print-based resources.  This session moves from thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of types of resources, considering the merits of Urtext and non-Urtext scores and finding legal pathways through thorny matters of copyright. It culminates in a ‘treasure hunt’ exercise involving chocolate!  In a second session those same students are back with us to find out how to make best use of online study facilities in a session which mixes online demonstrations with practical ‘hands-on’ exercises.

As well as induction tours which happened in the second week of term, we’ve also held separate sessions for our musical theatre students, jazz students, and new MMus students and we have further sessions with other MMus students timetabled in for later in November.

It’s a busy time of year, but it is excellent that these practical research skills sessions are included as part of students’ core curriculum.  Librarians know what amazing resources their libraries hold, but the challenge is to broadcast that to others, spark their enthusiasm and, importantly, show that it’s fine to ask us for help.

If you have any comments about library skills sessions – if you’ve been to one of our sessions perhaps, or if you offer similar sessions elsewhere and have good ideas to share – please do get in touch!

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