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Supporting Colleagues With Instructional Programming Ideas

In our respective law schools, we don't always have control over the amount of mandatory research instruction our students receive and who is doing that instruction. As such, to ensure that our students have the research skills they need for practice, librarians must use their creativity to come up with instructional opportunities for our students. There are so many iterations of non-credit legal research programs out there. Law librarians run certificate programs for students on legal research, run lunchtime brown bags on how to conduct topical research, partner with vendors to provide programming to benefit their students, hold quick Peanut Butter & Jelly and a Demo sessions highlighting a single resource, and much more.

Sometimes it takes multiple iterations of an idea to work. This means that we need to hesitate before discouraging a colleague who wants to try something, even if we've tried something similar before. It often takes the right team and spark of energy for educational programming to work. And there is nothing more demoralizing than wanting to try "new" things and to constantly be told that they won't work because your library has tried something similar before. We need to give our colleagues with these ideas guidance on what stumbling blocks they may encounter, but while supporting them in their initiatives, so they say energetic and excited about our profession. We want to embrace those librarians and encourage their innovation and enthusiasm. We deal with many challenges in our chosen profession, and feeling a lack of support from our colleagues shouldn't be one of them. As our libraries change and resources and staff are potentially reduced, we will need their creativity. While we must be realistic about the amount of programming that our libraries can sustain, considering educational programming with an open mind and expressing encouragement towards our colleagues' ideas is critical to the morale of the library.

Those wanting to try new programming would do well to listen to their colleagues by asking questions to try to get a sense of what didn't work well with the last educational programming that "failed." At what time of day did they offer the programming and were there a lot of conflicting events? How long was the program? What kind of marketing did they do for the programming? Did they get any formalized feedback on the programming from those who did attend and, if they did, was their any constructive feedback? Building off of past programs and making incremental changes will often result in finding your law library's instructional programming "sweet spot." Even one small change in the program can be the catalyst for a program to succeed when it didn't last time--and having energized librarians running these programs can go a very long way in an instructional opportunity being a success. Let's nurture that excitement.

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