Each semester we get a new group of seniors into the library to start the research section of their Graduation Project or Capstone Project as some of you call it. They are usually a mixed group of students who either have no idea what they want to research, have a definite direction they want to go in and a few come in with a couple of ideas to try out.
The first of their visits is more of an exploratory session of looking at topics and discussing pros and cons with their English teachers and deciding if the topic is too broad or too narrow. Their second visit to the library includes direction and information from the school librarian. I go over the different resources we have in print and online, which ones might be a better source for them depending on their topic and we review research aids that are available for them on the media center webpage.
Once everyone is approved for the direction they want to pursue, we provide the seniors with the opportunity to speak with librarians outside of our school library. We have librarians from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Cape Fear Community College and New Hanover County Public Library come in to speak with the seniors. One of the librarians also reviews what is available from the Health Education Center located within New Hanover Regional Medical Center, their librarian is not usually available to leave her place but she is always interested in helping seniors who might need medical research information.
The Presentation includes:
- How to get to their campuses – driving and parking information
- Policies on printing or checking out their materials
- Types of resources they provide
- Which research topics might be better suited to their collections
- How to chat with them online and set up appointments if necessary
- Taking questions on individual research topics from the students
The librarians have also created a joint website with all of their contact information, handouts, tutorials and PowerPoints on it for the seniors to access at a later date if necessary and we have that linked on our media center webpage.
There are a number of benefits for the students by bringing in these librarians: they provide additional support and encouragement, the students are exposed to different types of libraries and collections and the students have a familiar face to look for when they visit their libraries. We encourage the seniors to make visits to locate information for their research but also to get familiar with either how a university or community college library functions especially if they are planning on pursuing their education.
I feel our students are very fortunate to have a community of librarians that want to be a part of our seniors’ graduation projects and I think the students actually enjoy the visit once it starts. As one senior commented to his teacher, “I didn’t think I would get anything out of this but it was really useful”. High praise from a senior, what more could we ask for?
Author: Joann Absi
I am the media coordinator at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, NC. I have had positions at elementary, middle and high school libraries during my career. I am a past president of NCSLMA. Currently I am serving as the Communications Chair for NCSLMA and a member of AASL/ALSC/YALSA School/Public Library Cooperation.