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Instruction Services: Words & Numbers

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 begin familiarizing yourself with Watzek Library as early as possible; it is as an essential resource for your liberal arts education. Beyond borrowing books from the library, you may find 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.

To introduce the librarian for your class

X is the librarian for our class, and can assist you in getting your bearings in the library and finding materials that support your work in this course. X is available to meet with you one-on-one by appointment, which can be arranged through their calendar [including a link to the calendar] or by email. You can reach X at [email].

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: