Adapted, with permission, from Allyson Washburn, Dixie State College's Val A. Browning Library, George, Utah (http://library.dixie.edu/index.html)
An effective library assignment has a specific, understood purpose, relating to some aspect of the course subject matter or learning objectives. It will lead to increased understanding of the subject through the process of locating information related to the subject. A library assignment that meets this criteria is an excellent teaching tool and can enhance and enrich the student's learning experience, increase the understanding of the subject matter and build research skills.
In order to be effective a library assignment must be implemented in an appropriate manner. Students should be prepared for the assignment, told why they are doing it and what purpose it serves. If the assignment requires the use of specific sources, students should be given a list of them and arrangements made with the library to assure availability and access. If it involves the use of complex sources or unfamiliar research strategies, students should be oriented to these--by you or by a librarian in a customized, scheduled library instruction class. When testing an assignment, try to put yourself in the student's shoes with their experience and perspective.
When it comes to library assignments, librarians are an excellent resource. While a librarian will not create an assignment for you, one will be glad to work with you in developing the assignment, look at a draft, and provide comments. Since students will be coming to the Reference librarians for help, it would help us (and therefore the students) to have a copy of the assignment, and recommended sources, in advance. When an assignment is over, librarians may be able to provide feedback. Did any students seem confused or have trouble understanding the assignment? Were there any resources or access problems related to the assignment? Faculty and librarians working together can make library assignments a successful learning experience for students.