24 Pages

If We Hold It, Will They Come? Searching Sessions at SUNY New Paltz

WithSusan Kraat

With each technological leap, Bibliographic Instruction librarians are seeking innovative ways to reach users. Reference librarians at the State University of New York at New Paltz implemented a series of drop-in workshops during the Fall Semester of 1997. The sessions were designed to help students with searching skills, using the OPAC, ERIC on CD-ROM, SearchBank online database, and the Internet. A new electronic classroom was constructed to provide an interactive environment for the classes. The purpose of this study was to study data collected at the time of the workshops and to ask whether non-mandatory sessions have a viable place in a library instruction program. Should the workshops be repeated, and how might they be more effective? The study further proposed to examine how these and other forms of instruction might fit into a college wide program of information literacy.

Librarians who worked on the project were interviewed. They answered questions concerning the objectives of the sessions and whether those goals were met. In addition, they offered suggestions for improvement 36and opinions concerning mandatory instruction. Administrators discussed progress towards an institutional commitment to a college wide Information Literacy effort.

Workshop participants were asked to complete a survey at the end of each “Super Searching Session.” Requested information included the type of workshop attended; grade status; whether they were a transfer, adult, or international student; how they learned about the workshops; and if they felt the classes were helpful. The number of students attending was low, despite extensive marketing efforts. Results of these surveys indicate greater attendance by upper level undergraduates and graduate students. A high number of attendees were transfer and adult students.

College committees and roundtables have been created to explore ways of meeting the Middle States standards for Information Literacy. In addressing the desire for students to have a “meaningful encounter with technology” while at New Paltz, administrators discuss issues such as required courses; discipline-specific courses that incorporate computer and/or information literacy; the role of the library; cooperation of faculty, library, and computer services. A university-wide initiative that would nurture the beginnings of such “meaningful encounters,” must be the first step towards an institutional program of Information Literacy. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-342-9678, E-mail address: <[email protected]> Website: <>]