Reaching Out for Research Help

Teaching research skills has become a large part of a school librarian’s job description. With the additions of inquiry arches in social studies and science curriculum across the country, our students’ need for research skills has increased dramatically. Inspired by college-level librarian offerings and in an effort to personalize learning, I created a way for students to book research appointments with me. 

Personalizing Learning

The personalized approach to school library offerings has been a focus for my programs in my school. The benefits to personalizing a student’s school library experience as much as possible are far reaching. My goal is to encourage students to seek me out for help in multiple areas. Presenting students with ways to use the school library for what they need increases student usage of the library.  

Research on the Rise

The increased amount of research embedded into the curriculum has caused a greater need for me to enrich students’ skills in this area. This increase has mostly been in working with social studies and science content classes. This shift can be seen from elementary to high school-level schools. When pushing into classrooms, the level of research skills a class needs depends on the grade and the project. Lessons range from introductions to research strategies all the way to detailed database work. Time in teaching is always a barrier, and teaching research is no different. Offering individual research appointments allows students to schedule time to ask questions and work through problems on an individual level. 

Research Appointments

Providing students with the chance to sign up for research appointments has been an overreaching successful program. When I go in for research work in the classrooms I advertise this service. The largest struggle that all new programs or initiatives face are getting the word out. Once I started to have students sign up and word spread, appointments have increased each month. The way that students request an appointment is through a Google form linked to the “Research Tools” page of our school website. To see my form and the information I included click here. I have a free extension on this form called “Email Notifications for Google Forms.” This extension forwards me an e-mail when a student fills out the form so that I’m alerted right away. This is really helpful, especially when students are requesting appointments on the same day they need them.

Personalized research appointments for students has been a great enhancement to my school library. Students are getting a lot from having individual time to ask questions and get answers. When I am able to be helpful and guide students in a positive way, it brings students to the school library and fosters a connection to the school library. I look forward to seeing how this program continues to grow with students and their research needs over time. 


Author: Elizabeth Libberton

Elizabeth Libberton is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the ALA Awards Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the steering committee for the AISLE Lincoln Book Award.

Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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3 replies

  1. This is such a great idea! There’s a stro g push in general education classes to personalize learning for each student – it’s wonderful to see this idea taken into the library as well!

  2. Love this! I’m wondering how you’ve gotten your staff and students to see that research is something that requires assistance. I realize that this sounds like a strange question, however, in my school, it seems cut and paste is the norm, no one sees research as a process, and nobody really cares where the information comes from. It’s a huge struggle!

  3. I love this idea! I teach a lot of research lessons in my high school library and I always tell the students they can come to me with any individual research questions. But I never thought of making this a more structured program. I’m going to start thinking about how I can work this into my library.

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