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First-Year Seminars: Resources for Instructors & Peer Advisors: Introduction

The Library & First-Year Seminars

First year students arrive with a wide range of experiences with libraries. Library orientations and information literacy sessions offer the opportunity to "level the playing field" and reduce library anxiety among first year students. When connecting students with the library in their first year, we work toward helping students:

  • feel at home in library spaces
  • feel comfortable asking for help 
  • enter a community of learning and conversation
  • recognize they have a role in contributing to the community


The Student Perspective

First year students often have little exposure to...:

1. Scholarly research and writing. In general, they...

  • are unfamiliar with formats (journals & journal articles, edited volumes, scholarly books, etc.) commonly used by scholars.
  • struggle to discern differences between sources written for a general audience & sources written for scholars.
  • don't grasp that citations reflect a broader scholarly conversation - and they typically have difficulty decoding and tracking down citations. 
  • lack familiarity with navigating scholarly sources, including using tables of contents, indexes, and abstracts.

The Student Perspective

2. Academic libraries and specialized research tools. They... 

  • have little experience using reference books, including why they are useful, and no experience with specialized reference works.
  • lack familiarity with the Library of Congress shelving system used by most academic libraries, and appreciate learning that books are shelved by topic.
  • are hesitant to ask for help from librarians.
  • tend to start searches via Google or Google Scholar, bypassing library databases altogether.



Deep thanks to librarians at Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library for creating content under Creative Commons licenses. Content on this page is adapted from Gustavus Adolphus College, Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library,Resources for Teaching Research - First Years: Student Perspectives" and "Resources for Teaching Research - First Years: Three Modes of Information Literacy". Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Creative Commons License