I recently had the opportunity to be a part of a library tour and instruction session for the Rural Minority Scholars program at the University of Alabama. I took a group of 3 recent high school graduates enrolled in the program on a tour of Gorgas Library. We went to different floors of the library and I pointed out important things of interest. The students were very interactive and enjoyed searching for things listed on a worksheet given to them at the start of the tour. I thought the worksheet was a good idea to keep them involved in the tour as well as giving them something to take home that had useful information about the library on it. They were particularly interested in certain areas of the library, including the Sanford Media Center and the Williams Collection. Before beginning the tour, I thought that the students might be so preoccupied with finding the answers for the worksheet that they would miss the overall experience, but this was not the case. I enjoyed that they asked questions prompting discussion, and I felt the library tour was overall a good experience for them as well as for me.
After the library tour, there was a discussion where the students shared what they had seen on their tour, followed by an instruction session assisting the students with writing their upcoming research papers. The topics of their research papers were health related, so the instructor shared resources specific to that field. I felt this was helpful for the students to be knowledgeable of resources that are discipline-specific to their program. The instructor even created a LibGuide page for the class with links to these resources to make it easy for the students to find. With technology advancing like it is, it is important for the instruction librarian to utilize these technological tools such as LibGuides to enhance their instruction. The instructor also showed the students how to look up on the library’s website where certain software is available on campus. I felt this was important because many students are not even aware of many tools and resources available to them through the university. During the session, the instructor also asked the students the topics of their research papers and used those as examples when demonstrating how to search the databases and other resources. I felt this was beneficial for the students to be able to see firsthand how to use these tools as well as keeping them involved in the discussion.
Overall, this opportunity was a great learning experience for me. I really enjoyed interacting with the students and answering their questions, as well as getting to see library instruction firsthand. I noticed how important it is for the instruction librarian when presenting the necessary tools and resources to pay close attention to the needs of the students you are instructing and plan your lesson accordingly. This enables students to get as much out of the experience as possible.