Exploring the Library Without Tears

Libraries can be intimidating. Here are a couple of ways to break the ice while setting up a low-stakes writing or speaking activity.

Goldilocks goes to the library: try out three different places in the library to sit and work on homework, visiting all three floors. What does each feel like? What suits you best? Why? Have students write a short reflection and compare notes in class.

Secrets of the library: in pairs, assign students something unusual in the library to examine and report back to the class: for example, the SCRIB (special collections and rare books room), old issues of Ladies Home Journal or Life Magazine, the zine collection, the relaxation room, old college yearbooks, etc. This will involve seeking directions from student staff at the information desk or asking reference librarians clarifying questions. This activity could then become the basis of a short oral presentation. This is a low-stress variation on the “scavenger hunt” activity, asking students to find a variety of obscure things or facts in the library that is often well-meaning but can seem like tedious busywork to students.