The library is traditionally known as the go-to place for information and help with resources. It’s true, helping to find information is our passion, but something not as commonly known is how much teaching our librarians and staff do. This includes instruction in many free library workshops offered over the course of the academic year. During the 2020 fall term librarians taught 233 individual sessions to over 10,321 participants!
Having been a student several times in my life, I know taking an extra workshop seems like extra work. And yet, there is so much great knowledge and information to be learned in these sessions. I just have to give you some reasons why attending a library workshop could greatly benefit your academic journey.
Feel more confident using library resources
Navigating academic resources, and the library for that matter, can have a bit of a learning curve. Most students will get some interaction with a librarian in an introductory English class, but that is just scratching the surface of the information that is out there, and much of it is online.
Taking a library workshop on searching techniques, or on how to use specific databases, can help immensely with assignments you don’t even know are coming yet. By taking some time to learn just a little bit about how information is organized, or how a database works, you will start to feel more comfortable using them regularly as a part of your learning activities. Finding good reliable resources to support your essays can also translate to better grades! Workshops will provide you with time to ask librarians questions about specific aspects of searching that are unclear to you. I promise you will be amazed by the depth of information available to you as a University of Alberta student.
Workshops can boost your academic long game
Searching for academic information is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the types of library workshops offered. There are workshops that offer information on scholarly publishing, literature reviews, systematic reviews and so much more. These can help you develop a long game for your academic studies.
If you are a graduate student starting work on your thesis, learning how to manage and capture all that you find can save you a lot of time and hassle when the time comes to compile the literature review and bibliography for your manuscript. Early career academics can learn about ORCID IDs to keep track of your publications and learning about journal impact factors can help you to decide which journals to try to publish in. There are library workshops for every type of student, and many will give you strategies for managing your academic endeavors in the long term.
Workshops can enlighten and illuminate
The last few years have highlighted the importance of finding balance in academic life. Learning and conducting research can be challenging, and once in a while you need to escape your routine to experience or learn something completely new. A number of library units, such as the Bruce Peel Special Collections and the Digital Scholarship Centre, focus their workshops on topics that provide an exploration of past, present and future.
Bruce Peel workshops invite discovery of local and world history. You can learn how civilizations have developed and changed; and encounter rare and intriguing books and artifacts. Through the Digital Scholarship Centre, you have the opportunity to learn about new technologies and explore new possibilities afforded by emerging digital research methods. Whether learning about photography, or how to take 360-degree images for a virtual reality experience, these types of workshops will illuminate, teach you new skills and help recharge your creative and intellectual batteries. It is important to “smell the roses”, and these workshops can be a great way to pause and appreciate the learning potential around us.
So, if I’ve managed to get you interested, or even a little bit intrigued, I suggest you take a look at the many workshop offerings at the library. You will find there are many online and in-person options this term. Also, you can always find this ongoing catalogue of workshops on the library’s website just under the Search the Library box. Click on the little yellow arrow to see the full listing, as the box only displays the next upcoming sessions. Also, if there is a library workshop you would like to see offered, we are always open to suggestions.