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Amy’s post about induction procedure and policy made me realise that I don’t really know how induction works in other libraries so I thought I’d share my experience of the Bodleian Law Library approach;

Apparently law students have a lot of serious essay writing to do before term even properly starts so a good library induction is essential.  I ended up being quite heavily involved in inductions at the law library, for both postgraduate induction week and undergraduate induction week, mainly because I volunteered myself as it sounded like lots of fun!  At the law library undergraduate inductions are a quite a big event. We  held induction sessions during 0th week for each college and these were followed by hands on classes and lectures in 1st week.  Not only was there a library tour during 0th week inductions but a quiz and class in our IT suite  intended to educate the students about using library resources and start their first essays.   The quiz required students to work in pairs, using the print resources in the library to answer the questions. So not only did it help the students to find the key areas of the library for their course but also introduced them to the different resources available. For the first question we gave them the task of finding the title and author of a book by looking for a shelfmark.  Another question involved using the law reports, we gave a citation and they had to find the party names.  Before induction week I tested the quiz to make sure it all worked, I was an obvious candidate as I had about the same level of knowledge of the library resources as a fresher! It was a brilliant task for me to do though as it helped me learn the basics of finding cases and statutes as well as textbooks and journals. I had to ask for help at one point when Halsbury’s Statutes seemed impossible to locate but apart from that I got all the answers right! It seems like a very effective way to make the new students actively learn about using the library from the very beginning of their time here.  A library tour is good but probably not as effective as getting them to go off and find things for themselves.  Of course the tour guides were on hand during the quiz to point people in the right direction and answer any questions, which of course there were many because the library resources can be quite confusing if you are new.  Finding books was a pretty straightforward and hassle free task because by the time you reach university most people have been to a library and looked for a book.  But a law reading list can look very scary once you reach citations for legislation and law reports, understandably this was the point students became stuck.

A citation can look like this: Pepper v Hart [1993] AC 593

Walk into a library with this on your reading list and trying to find it must be a very daunting task.  I can tell you that it is because it took me a while to figure out what all the numbers and letters mean.   So by including tasks like finding a case in a law report as an activity during the induction means that students are at least familiar with the basics of where to look and how to begin interpreting the citation when they start the course.  The skills needed to navigated law library resources are followed through with the Legal Research Skills Programme (LRSP), a compulsory part of first year for undergraduates, which aims to teach students how to find material on their reading list.

I like to think that the law library induction programme helped this years freshers make a start on those first week assignments and made the world of legal resources a little less intimidating! I haven’t had any queries about where to find cases cited on reading lists so I guess the quiz alongside the LRSP must have worked well.

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