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Embedded Librarians: A Few Ideas

Announcements and Content Creation

One idea is for the instructor to give the librarian freedom to create library content within D2L - widgets, boards, embedded guides, chat boxes, announcements, emails - to meet the students at their point of need.  The instructor may assign an argumentative paper.  The librarian sees this on the calendar and emails tips and ideas for research to the students.  Or steers them to the embedded library guide.  Or interacts with them in the course's library chat box or library discussion board.  The librarian may see a discussion board question that asks "How do I get to Opposing Viewpoints?" She will swoop in and answer the question, in true librarian superhero style.  

The student doesn't have to seek out the librarian (which is usually only done as a last resort), but the librarian is there and can assist early enough to actually get the students on the right track in time for the assignment to be completed.  Win!

Discussion Boards

If you want a librarian to monitor a specific library-related discussion board, there are a few things to consider:

  1. What is the point?
  2. How much work?
  3. Graded or not?

1) Do you want it to be a basic "Ask the librarian questions here" format, or do you want it to be a place where students post specific things (or an assignment!) for the librarian to review or comment on?

2) How much work do you want the board to be for the librarian (and how much work can the librarian deal with reasonably)?  A basic "Ask questions" board doesn't need a lot of time, but needs to be monitored pretty often.  A graded board about structuring citations or search phrases may not need to be monitored daily, but will require a lot more work for each post (and there will likely be a lot more posts).

3) Do you want this to be graded?  If so, do you want the librarian to do the grading?  Make sure all this is agreed on ahead of time so there are no surprises.

Both formats serve an important purpose, and both involve the librarian in the class in a deeper way than having a "one-shot" in-class presentation about library resources.


Have an assignment that's heavy on research?  Want to see if your students are up for the challenge?  A librarian can work with you to create a quiz that tests specific things they'll need to know how to do in order to complete their research project.  Afterwards, the librarian can look for common problem areas, and places where your students seem to be struggling.  Then those issues can be addressed via the discussion boards, a quick tutorial video, a library guide, or even a visit to the class (virtually through Zoom or Collaborate or face-to-face in an on-campus class!)

Flipped Instruction

One of our librarians tried a "flipped instruction" concept in a GHC Human Communications class.  The librarian set up a the usual guide, but with a twist.  Five short videos about key library resources were created.  Student groups (assigned by the instructor at the beginning of the semester) were each given one of these videos to watch.  On the "Library Day" the students presented the library material, and the librarian graded them on content.  (The instructor critiqued style and delivery.)

This is a true active learning assignment.  It works well for COMM classes because the class is intended to hone students' presentation skills.  What better way to do that than show fellow students how to search and use tools in a particular database?

If you'd like to see the guide, you can find it here.


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