The Library literature demonstrates that students best learn to use library resources when they see the connection between what they are doing, and a specific assignment. There is also evidence that library skills do not transfer well from one class to another, and that undergraduates overestimate their own research skills. Students who have been introduced to the library, likely can do with another session, one that is targeted to the class they are taking.

Assignments that are effective for learning library research skills include:

  • Research papers
  • Literature reviews
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Essays
  • Article reviews

A class library session will be most effective when:

  • The librarian has been provided a copy of the assignment in advance
  • Students understand the purpose of the assignment
  • The instructor has verified that required materials are available in the library 
  • Students have ideas for topics
  • Librarians and students have been informed as to which style of citation will be expected

Students will be most successful doing library research when:

  • They have been provided with a clear explanation of the assignment, with all vocabulary terms defined
  • They know what the instructor is expecting of the final project (e.g. number of pages; number and type resources expected; grading rubric)
  • Due dates and submission requirements are included
  • They know where to get further assistance (reference desk, Academic Achievement Center)
  • They understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it
  • Examples are provided
  • The assignment supports the course's stated learning outcomes

How Librarians Can Help

Librarians can help ensure that the resources your students need are available. Please verify through the Library's online catalog for books and AV materials, and the A-Z Journal list or appropriate database for journal articles. Ask a librarian if you need help with either of these resources. If Maxwell Library does not own specific resources required for your class you may request a purchase by completing the form at

If the entire class will be using the same resources please consider placing the item on reserve Articles, book chapters, and videos may also be made available in digital format and accessible through the web, Blackboard, or Moodle. You can request a print article or book chapter to be digitized through MaxExpress and video streaming can be requested by filling out the MVS Streaming Request form.

Interlibrary loan is available to all BSU faculty, staff, and students. Please be aware that although the service is free for users, the Library does pay copyright fees anytime more than five articles are requested from any one journal. When all students in a class are required to request the same article, the fees will run well into hundreds of dollars. If Maxwell library does not own the article you need for your students, please request an electronic copy through Interlibrary loan, and provide students with the link.