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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


New!! In-person Library orientation activities for first year students

Do you want your students to come in to the Library to learn about our resources, study spaces, and people? We have two in-person activities designed specifically for first year students available at the front desk. Students help to solve a mystery, and learn about the Library along the way!

Students can come in any time that the library is open, and ask for a first year activity. They each take about a half hour to complete. Students are encouraged to work through them independently, but can certainly work as a small group. At the end of the activity, there is a certificate of completion that you may use to assign credit, or allow them to complete this for their own edification.

The Student Perspective

First year students often have little exposure to:

1. Scholarly research and writing. Students begin university classes with varying experience in...:

  • information formats commonly used by scholars (journals & journal articles, edited volumes, scholarly books, etc.) 
  • discerning differences between sources written for a general audience & sources written for scholars
  • decoding and tracking down citations, and the idea that citations reflect a broader scholarly conversation
  • navigating scholarly sources, including using tables of contents, indexes, and abstracts.

2. Academic libraries and specialized research tools. Students begin university classes with varying experience with...:

  • using reference or specialized reference books, and identifying why these are useful in the early stages of a research project
  • the Library of Congress shelving system used by most academic libraries, and appreciate learning that books are shelved by topic
  • asking for help from librarians
  • using library databases, and tend to bypass them by starting searches via Google or Google Scholar



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