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Working with Subject Librarians

By Melissa Mallon, Director of Peabody Library, Vanderbilt University

Cite this guide: Mallon, M. (2020). Working with Subject Librarians. Vanderbilt University Course Development Resources.

Improving Student Research Skills with Embedded Librarians

Vanderbilt subject librarians are available for every department and program on campus; their deep subject expertise and vast experience teaching research and information literacy skills makes them ideal partners in the teaching and learning process. Librarians often work with faculty to provide in-person instruction to students, but they are also extremely adaptable to providing the same level of support in digital environments such as Brightspace.

Embedding a subject librarian in Brightspace is a sure way of providing consistent and personalized research assistance for your students. Librarians can be embedded in curricular and assignment development, assist in locating or creating Open Educational Resources for courses, partner in the assessment of student learning, provide on-site office hours, and more.

Examples of ways librarians can enhance the teaching and learning process in Brightspace include:

  • creating discussion board forums in Brightspace for students to leave questions related to evaluating sources, creating citations, accessing resources, and more;
  • recording asynchronous video tutorials using Kaltura or Zoom;
  • contributing research tips & strategies to a course blog or Twitter feed;
  • setting up “virtual office hours” via Zoom or chat;
  • alerting students to the latest books or articles relevant to their research topics (via email or the Brightspace Announcements);
  • creating a Research Guide targeted to your course’s research projects; and
  • collaborating with instructors to design assignments to authentically assess students’ research and critical thinking skills.

Brightspace also includes links connecting students to the Libraries’ Ask a Librarian service, and each course is automatically populated with a “Your Library” tab that includes targeted disciplinary resources.

Integrating a subject librarian into your Brightspace course is a great way to more deeply engage students and increase their access to much needed information for course projects. To take advantage of the many ways librarians can support students at their point of need, contact your librarian to discuss options for course instruction. To embed a librarian in your course, email Brightspace Help with your request to add your librarian with the “Subject Librarian” role to your course.

If you would like to discuss other ways the Libraries can partner with you in teaching and learning efforts, please contact Melissa Mallon, Director of Peabody Library and Director of Teaching & Learning for the Vanderbilt Libraries.

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