When Ankita Prasad began her freshman year at the University of Delaware, she already had the pieces in place for academic success. As a high school senior, she took UD’s English 110: Critical Reading and Writing as a dual-enrollment class, during which the class visited Morris Library to explore the space and learn about credible resources.
Ankita used books and databases from the Library to complete the research paper for that course, so when it came time to do the same as a college freshman, she was prepared.
Not everyone enters college with that same level of familiarity.
To ensure all first-year students are best set up for success in this new, exciting and at times overwhelming environment, the UD Library, Museums and Press created “Taking Root: A First-Year Experience Library and Museums Tour.”
First-Year student Emily Killian submitted this artwork as a reflection of her experience.
Designed as an in-person, interactive tour of Morris Library and Mechanical Hall Gallery, Taking Root gets students acquainted with the breadth of resources available to them as Blue Hens.
On the tour, students walked through displays and activities centered on themes found in this year’s First Year Common Reader, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.
In Mechanical Hall Gallery, they explored how artwork could connect to scientific inquiry, selecting a topic from the art to do further research on at Morris Library.
While in the library, the students also discovered documentaries and biopics of women in science they could borrow; and learned about historical women in science through Special Collections materials. To conclude the tour, they created images, videos and poetry using multimedia tools to reflect on their experience.
The tour was a crash course in many of the resources students will benefit from throughout their academic careers. While students were familiar with some of these resources, there were other resources students didn’t realize were there to help set them up for success.
In fact, when Ankita—the first-year student who had already learned about good research practices—took the tour, she couldn’t believe how much she learned.
“The most surprising thing I learned about Morris Library during the tour was just how vast and resourceful the building actually is,” Ankita said. “Not only did the tour help me discover more about both buildings and their various sections, but it also provided examples as to how each of the areas can benefit students in their projects and assignments. I feel more comfortable with all the resources I encountered and am inspired to make use of them throughout my college experience.”
Despite her previous time in Morris Library, she didn’t know the Student Multimedia Design Center on the Lower Level existed. Now, she can’t wait to use it.
While the Student Multimedia Design Center’s professional grade software and equipment and the extensive Film & Video Collection were favorites among the students who took the tour, another resource stood out too: The staff.
The value of easy, in-person interaction with Library, Museums and Press staff was constantly highlighted.
“I really look forward to the Reference Desk, because [the librarians] are incredibly helpful and can even inspire new perspectives,” said Lauren Marsh, a freshman and political science major who took the tour.
“In my opinion, it is much better to have face-to-face interaction with someone when trying to find material,” Lauren explained, noting how she’s gone to the Reference Desk for help finding materials for her papers. “Otherwise, it can be quite difficult at times to narrow down what I need to find.”
First-Year Student Kelsey Hallisey submitted this artwork as a reflection of her experiences.
Ankita, a freshman Honors student and neuroscience major, feels similarly. “I often make use of the Reference Desk in Morris Library,” she said. “The staff are always kind, knowledgeable and willing to help me find whatever I am looking for or answer any questions I have.”
This ability to receive help was Ankita’s biggest takeaway.
“I feel that often, students, including myself, do not seek out help when we struggle due to the idea of independence and not wanting to bother others,” Ankita explained. “However, my experiences at the library and gallery have demonstrated the vast amount of help available here at UD—not just from staff, but also from peers.”
“One advantage of being at such a large school is that there are almost always other people here who have been in our shoes and understand out struggles—even professors!” Ankita continued. “It is always beneficial to chat with [those] people and receive genuine advice. So much help is available at this school so long as the student makes the effort to reach out. The library and gallery are great places to start!”
Ankita’s emphasis on people gets to the heart of Taking Root.
In addition to teaching about the types of tools available to them as Blue Hens, the Taking Root tour also showed the students how to access those tools and just how easy it is to ask for help when they need it. All three of these components are essential when it comes to setting up first-year students for success.
Whether you’re a first-year student, a researcher in need of help, or a frequent visitor, the next time you’re in Morris Library or one of the gallery spaces, let us know how we can help you succeed.
As part of the Taking Root tour, students were tasked with creating something that reflected their experience in Morris Library and Mechanical Hall Gallery. Students embraced the assignment, creating poems, videos, memes, images and more. Examples of such images can be seen throughout this article. More highlights of this student work will be showcased in an exhibition in Morris Library during the 2019 spring semester. Stay tuned for more details.