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Instruction Services: Words & Numbers

Personal Librarian Program

Every first-year student is matched with a Watzek librarian according to FYS section, with all students in a section sharing the same personal librarian for that semester. Several times over the course of the semester, librarians email general information and invite students to connect. The program is intended to provide every student with an approachable person to contact with any questions about the library.

Words and Numbers faculty are strongly encouraged to work with their students' librarian to give their students a more robust and course-integrated introduction to the library. (In many cases, the librarian will also be the liaison to the instructor's department; librarians will contact FYS faculty before the beginning of the semester.) Librarians are available to meet with classes for an introduction or a more in-depth workshop, or to be on hand as a resource to students. Contact your class's personal librarian to discuss what makes the most sense for your section; if you are unsure of whom to contact, please contact Erica Jensen (

Library Skills for First-Year Students

We encourage Words and Numbers faculty to take one or more small actions to introduce all students in a systematic fashion to the practicalities of using a college library. The following skills and habits, often taken for granted, provide a strong foundation for higher-level library use:

  1. Using course reserves
  2. Using Primo, the library catalog, to discover and locate resources
  3. Accessing the full text of an electronic resource (article or ebook)
  4. Locating a print book by reading its call number
  5. Requesting items from other libraries (through Summit and interlibrary loan)
  6. Seeking help
  7. Recognizing scholarly writing, and being able to describe some of its characteristics
  8. Developing an awareness of specialized search tools

Reinforcing these skills in the first year helps to ensure that when students face research assignments—whether in the major, in a class satisfying the BRW requirement, or any other place in the curriculum—they are able to approach them with confidence and dexterity.

Sample Syllabus Paragraphs

Including a paragraph about library resources in your syllabus is an easy way to underscore their importance. The following examples are offered as starting places, and should be freely adapted to best fit the particular course.

As part of a section on campus resources

I encourage you to familiar yourself with Watzek Library as early as possible as an essential resource for your liberal arts education. Beyond borrowing books from the library, you may access many required readings on course reserves, receive one-on-one help with research, request items from other institutions, access streaming materials, gain access to a wealth of electronic resources, and find silent study spaces. Begin at the library website,, or by asking for help at the Research Help desk near the entrance of the library.

Your Personal Librarian

Throughout the semester, you will hear several times from X, your personal librarian. X will email you useful information about Watzek Library and throughout the semester will be on hand to respond to questions you have about how to get your bearings in the library and make the best use of it.

Data Visualization Contest (Numbers only)

Watzek Library sponsors an annual contest to celebrate thoughtfully constructed data visualizations—because data have stories to tell. Learn more here: