Small Samples, Broad Applications: Using Bibliographies to Support Instruction, Collections, and Budgets
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Students in Organic Chemistry for Majors were required to write a paper as the culminating course assignment. Prior to completing this assignment, students were given the option of attending a library instruction session covering relevant databases and resources. Upon submission of their papers, bibliographies from 53 students were collected and evaluated. Bibliographies of students who attended an instruction session showed improvement in several key areas in comparison to the bibliographies of those students who chose not to attend. Subsequently, calculations were made to attempt a holistic account of costs associated with completing the assignment. Factors such as the cost of journals, databases, and librarian time were all included in the overall cost estimate. Instruction librarians can use bibliographies to quantify their impact on student success, thereby justifying their value to potentially reticent faculty members. This method of comprehensive accounting can help justify collections and staff budgets to library and university administration, and with a larger sample size could also help guide collections decisions in the particular subject area.
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