Today I observed a fellow librarian teach a library instruction session to a class of mostly freshmen students. She started off teaching library basics, similar to what’s taught in UNIV classes, and doing a basic search in the VCU Libraries Search. But, since this was an art class, she spent more time discussing art-specific resources. She even brought in some art reference books to be passed around, a great way to get students more engaged and likely to use the materials.
She really focused on the course guide, since it should be more helpful to students than using the simple search. It’s more organized, and students won’t have to worry about getting as much non-related information during their search queries. She jumped into a Proquest database, and showed how to search for information in a database. Since the class was mostly first year students, she only showed how to use the Boolean “AND.” She pointed out “OR,” because it was already there in the database, but did not actually show how to use it.
A good part of the class was spent finding images. She mentioned that students may need to use certain browsers for certain databases, and/or update their browser settings when trying to access certain information. The art databases can have more complicated graphics and designs, and the students needed to be aware of those potential issues. I’m glad this was mentioned – I often have instant message reference questions, and the solution is usually to either update, or switch to a different browser. However, there have been many users who have refused to do so! I have found that very surprising, and confusing. Even after explaining that Firefox and Chrome are free to download, and would probably solve the problem, patrons have refused to do it. Why? I don’t know. Very strange, indeed. It’s good to know that for art databases and image viewing, this could be the main cause of most user issues.