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Partnership between Libraries and Drexel Smart House helps Students Develop Information Literacy Skills

By: Jenny James Lee with assistance from Jay Bhatt, Drexel University Libraries' Liaison Librarian for Engineering and Chris Baccash, Vice President for External Relations, Drexel Smart House

The partnership formed between Drexel University Libraries and the students of Drexel Smart House (DSH) has led to a unique relationship built on a culture of collaboration and a dedication to building strong information literacy skills.

DSH, a student-run organization founded in 2006, seeks to engage students both in and out of the classroom, bringing laboratory research and classroom instruction into a real world environment. The program encourages collaboration between disciplines, working in areas such as architecture, civil and architectural engineering, mechanical engineering, interior design and digital media design.

Students who are a part of the Smart House organization have the opportunity to work on cross-disciplinary projects, expanding their research skills. Engaging in the process significantly helps these students, professionals competent in finding, evaluating and using many different types of information resources.

Early on, Drexel Smart House founders realized the need for information literacy instruction for the organizations' growing student body. They reached out to Liaison Librarian for Engineering Jay Bhatt to ask for his assistance in helping students become familiar with a wide variety of print and electronic resources.

“There was a helpful session from the library during freshman design, where several engineering search engines were presented to us.  However, because the nature of the Smart House is multidisciplinary, sometimes individual consultations are what some students need in order to attain research specific to what we are working on,” Michael Magee, past Vice President of Drexel Smart House, said.

The partnership between The Libraries and Drexel Smart House has grown and has resulted in additions to the Libraries' collection, the creation of specified research guides and numerous consultations. Thses help those involved in the research for Drexel Smart House build information literacy skills.

“Being able to provide students a variety of information resources from face-to-face interactions and virtual informative research consultations, to library instruction sessions, has become my favorite part as the collaboration has continued,” Liaison Librarian Jay Bhatt said.

The relationship will only grow from here as more students become involved in the Smart House project and as work begins on renovating the physical house.

“There are constantly students coming to us with ideas and they don’t exactly know where to get started. Most of the time, all they need is a little boost in efficient research methods in order to give their ideas merit, and with it, the encouragement to move on,” Magee said. “Consultations can also lead to some very interesting dialogue which spawns inspiration for new ideas.”

In 2009, the two organizations developed the Library-Smart House Collaboration for Information Literacy Development, which aspires to be an example of  collaboration among students, faculty and libraries.

For more information about the Drexel Smart house, please visit:
To read an article about the collaboration between the Libraries and Drexel Smart House please click here.

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