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Research and Instruction Services

The Bowdoin College Library Research and Instruction Services team supports intellectual inquiry and engagement with the world of scholarship.

We provide research assistance and information literacy instruction for the Bowdoin community, cultivating the skills needed to discover, evaluate, interpret, create, and share information. As educators we collaborate with faculty and other members of the academic community to help students learn the critical thinking skills and research methodologies necessary to ensure a successful career at Bowdoin and beyond.

We are passionate in our mission to inspire thoughtful and creative interactions with information and to contribute to the development of informed global citizens.

For more information, contact your research and instruction librarian.

In order to:

  • Select, evaluate, and employ the appropriate resources for each stage of research
  • Identify the benefits and limitations of sources, including issues related to scope, accessibility, and availability
  • Recognize how sources can be organized

In order to:

  • Construct and refine the research question
  • Identify and make use of scholarship relevant to the research topic
  • Acknowledge and apply general and discipline-specific research methodologies
  • Analyze how a search result list is produced and presented in relation to the search query
  • Formulate and refine a clear thesis supported by logic and evidence
  • Recognize the importance of citation in navigating the scholarly conversation

In order to:

  • Assess the quality and relevance of research materials
  • Select and ethically employ the most appropriate materials for a given need
  • Analyze the factors, perspectives, and circumstances that influence the creation or content
  • Investigate the credentials and biases of information creators, authors, and publishers
  • Intentionally engage with multiple perspectives

In order to:

  • Disseminate discipline-specific information to specialized and general audiences
  • Contextualize evidence within existing scholarly conversations
  • Contribute clear, precise, and well-organized expositions to the body of scholarship

In order to:

  • Responsibly cite information sources in any format
  • Distinguish and acknowledge the original ideas of others
  • Recognize and understand the legal and ethical issues related to research, including those of intellectual property, copyright, and privacy
  • Protect one’s own rights and the rights of others, ensure confidentiality, safeguard personal information, and comply with contracts and laws

For more information, contact your research librarian.

Designed to be a collaborative effort between faculty and librarians, the library's instruction program provides individual and class instruction.

For more information, contact your research librarian.

We have developed a multi-faceted, collaborative program by incorporating traditional, innovative and interactive instruction services to assist students in developing skills to find, evaluate, analyze, and ethically use research resources.

Librarians work with faculty to develop sessions that enrich the learning experience. Students will work with a librarian to critically engage with information throughout the research process.

Grounded in the Bowdoin College Library Research and Instruction Services learning outcomes, the education program of Special Collections & Archives emphasizes active learning for information, archival, and visual literacy. We work with faculty across all disciplines to meet a wide variety of learning goals and support teaching with our unique materials. Our emphasis on active learning places the student at the center of our instruction design, providing the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning to build transferable skills that directly promote students’ academic growth and development.

Learn more about SC&A instruction.

Designed for general subject areas or customized for specific classes, the guides present 24/7 access to the most relevant research resources, research strategies, and information about the library’s services and resources.

We encourage students and faculty to meet with librarians individually to get targeted assistance with projects large or small, assignments, locating materials, questions, or suggestions for re-invigorating the research process, or just extra support.

The pre-major librarian program assigns a librarian to each first-year student in order to assist with the transition from a high school to a college library and to introduce them to library services and resources early in their college careers. Faculty are urged to contact the pre-major librarian if they have a student advisee or student in their course who would benefit from additional support.

Throughout the year the Library offers various workshops and events designed to provide opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to explore skills, technologies, ideas, and collections.


Contact your research librarian to schedule a class, appointment, or simply to find out more about our instruction program.

First-year library instruction at the seminar level provides an essential foundation for students’ understanding of how academic literature is organized and used. This solid grounding will serve students throughout their entire Bowdoin careers and form the basis for developing more advanced library research skills in their major fields of study.

The First Year Writing Seminar (FYWS) provides an opportunity for first year students to engage with the academic library for the first time.  Our first-year seminar library instruction provides the essential foundation for students’ understanding of how academic literature and resources are organized and used.  

All First Year Writing Seminars are assigned an instruction librarian. The librarian will contact the faculty member early in the semester to discuss how the library can best support you and your students.  Our instruction is designed to be a collaborative effort between librarians and faculty members. In Summer 2020, we finalized our common learning outcomes for the First Year Writing Seminar.  These outcomes are based on the general Learning Outcomes for our instruction program. Although not all classes will incorporate the Library in same way and all outcomes may not be addressed, they provide a framework for library instruction for our first-year students.

  • Introduce students to the Library
    • Recognize the role of the academic library and how course work is integrated with the library
    • Participate in an introduction to the academic library
  • Understand the differences among types and formats of information sources
    • Identify the benefits and limitations of sources, including issues related to scope, accessibility, and availability
  • Engage with the iterative process of research
    • Analyze how a search result list is produced and presented in relation to the search query
    • Recognize the importance of citation in navigating the scholarly conversation
    • Construct and refine the research question
    • Identify and make use of scholarship relevant to the research topic
  • Critically evaluate information sources and examine intersectional context
    • Assess the quality and relevance of research materials
    • Intentionally engage with multiple perspectives
  • Practice ethical standards of the scholarly community
    • Responsibly cite information sources in any format
    • Distinguish and acknowledge the original ideas of others

The following links will help support your efforts to introduce first-years to finding resources, information literacy, and the critical evaluation and ethical use of sources.

  • Research Help
    • Includes information about evaluating sources, differentiating primary, secondary, scholarly and popular resources, steps in the research process, citing sources, and links to library research resources.

For more information, contact your research and instruction librarian.