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Presented at the 2014 Kentucky Pedagogicon Conference, held at Eastern Kentucky University, this librarian-led discussion explored designing assignments and syllabi that effectively utilize the resources and services of a 21st century academic library. After reviewing real-world examples, the audience was asked to identify misguided research instructions that may lead 21st century students down a 20th century path.
When faculty design syllabi, they often design research assignments based on the experiences they had in libraries as graduate students. They may still view the academic library as a warehouse for the storage and preservation of bound journals, microfilm, and books. However, library resources and services have changed dramatically, just in the past 5 years.
Transformative changes in library collection development have included: the emergence of quality open access resources; the dominance of the eJournal over the print journal; the availability of scholarly eBooks; and the rise in digitally born content (eJournals, newspapers, primary sources, etc.). What was once considered a “bad” or untrustworthy format simply because it was found on the open web is now potentially valuable and should not be automatically discounted.
Academic libraries today provide vibrant spaces for collaboration, access to print and virtual collections, and librarians with expertise in delivering instruction that engages students in effectively evaluating all types of information sources. Effective assignment design and syllabi creation will help students be more effective in their research and better users of information. The products they create will be higher in quality and potentially more interesting to the reader.