A Librarian who Lectures

Yesterday I delivered a lecture to 200 students. It was kind of terrifying, but also completely new to me and thrilling!

In the content of the session I covered: What is information and how to evaluate it; The benefits of using the Library to find information; Why the Library is a quality alternative to Google and Wikipedia; How to use the Library to find things from reading lists; What we can do for you, and what you can do for us.

I used my predecessor’s slides from the previous year, but updated and altered, to guide the content of the session. I was glad to have enough time beforehand to really make it my own. The students didn’t seem to find my lame jokes all that funny though – unsurprisingly!

I was worried I would speak too fast, but actually I was a bit slow, and nearly overran. It’s hard to judge it when you’re just practising at your desk.

Don’t let them know you’re afraid. My mantra was that I know more than them, even if I do still feel new. I also told myself that to them I am a lecturer – I’m standing at the front, giving a lecture, therefore I am the lecturer. They don’t know that only six months ago I was in their seat.

Don’t underestimate how long it takes for people to settle down, take their coats off, and finish conversations. I started almost 10 minutes late because people were still filing in.

They wanted to chat, so I had to balance making the session as interactive as possible without it descending into chaos. An overstatement perhaps, but it’s something to bear in mind, particularly with undergraduates. I did this by mainly using show of hands for some questions, as discussion is hard to regulate in such a large class.

Make it personal to their course. I tried whenever possible to emphasise that *I* am the History librarian, and that’s why *I* have come to see them. I tried to emphasise the resources that are particularly useful for History students, and relate the benefits of using the Library for assignments (read: better marks!). At one point I referred to the students as ‘Historians’. This is something that stuck with me when I was an undergraduate, when a lecturer on my course did the same. It made me feel much more a researcher and stakeholder in the university.

Overall, despite being scary, I’m so glad I did it. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to such a large audience before, and it’s an experience not many get to have.


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