First Year Legal Research–2.0
This year, the reference librarians at Biddle gave their One L legal research workshops a 21st-century update. Our focus was entirely on the use of digital materials, primarily those available on Westlaw and Lexis.
At the same time, we kept one important remnant from the analog world: we maintained the use of small groups rather than large lecture classes for the workshops. The IT department facilitated our work by installing large screen plasma monitors and computer work stations with wireless keyboards and mice in four group studies in Biddle. The sessions allowed us, as instructors, to engage the students in a more direct way than would be possible in a large group. The small group sessions also facilited a bit of infomality, which helped to keep the students’ attention.
In an effort to make the instruction as relevant as possible, the sessions focused on actual problems that the One Ls were working on: closed and open memos, a classic of the first-semester law school experience.
While we assigned the students to the same study room for all three workshops, instructors moved from room to room, allowing more librarians and first year students to get to know one another. We’re looking forward to the Spring semester, when the reference staff will be premiering a new workshop for the One Ls that will focus on using the Internet to conduct legal research.