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Tips for Writing a Library-Based Assignment


If students are unclear about what they are to do, they will have a difficult time completing the assignment. Give assignments in writing (not orally) to reduce confusion.
  • For example: statements of "No Internet Resources" are not helpful and need to be more clearly defined. Most of the library resources are now delivered via the Internet and students are unclear if an instructor means they can’t use online journals, or if just random Internet sites are banned.

Use of correct terminology

Students interpret assignments very literally and are easily confused by terms they, and the librarian, cannot interpret definitively. Define any questionable words. For example, some instructors differentiate between magazines and journals, while others use the terms interchangeably. Does "library computer" mean the library website, catalog, a particular subject database, the Internet, etc.?

Time Frame

Do the assignment yourself to see how long it takes before deciding how long students need to do it. Remember to allow for their inexperience.


Library resources are constantly changing. New sources and new ways of accessing materials replace old ones daily. Check your assignments regularly so your students are not asked to use outdated or non-existent methods and sources.
  • If you are no longer familiar with the library and it’s current offerings, contact the library’s instruction coordinator or your departments subject liaison, for a refresher.


Go to Assignment Pitfalls...


This page is modeled after several similar pages at found at the following schools, South Dakota State Univ., Montana State Univ., Univ. of North Florida and Jacksonville State Univ.