How to Write a Library Report

Visiting the library is a learning experience.

College faculty often encourage students to become proficient, comfortable users of the library. In addition to requiring students to complete a research project, they also expect students to use the library to explore difficult or intriguing topics from a lecture or the course reading. According to Peter Suber, philosophy instructor at Earlham College, students should visit “the library routinely to find scholarship that clarifies difficult passages in the reading, answers background questions, or deepens . . . understanding of a fascinating idea.” Suber, like other college instructors, assigns a library report to assess students’ engagement with the library.

Maintain a record of you library visits in a notebook or on note cards.

Note the topics you explore and sources you consult.

Consult books, book chapters and journal articles in addition to web sites, dictionaries and encyclopedias. Also seek students and library staff with whom you can consult.

Write summaries and/or responses about the material you consider and the people with whom you speak. You may wish to write an in-depth analysis of one or two sources.

Organize your notes by visit, topic or alphabetically by source and then write a brief commentary about each entry. Commentary might include a summary of a pertinent resources, a description of two opposing views, clarification of a difficult topic, background information or analysis and exposition of a source.

Type the final report.

Patricia Harrelson is a retired college English instructor who began writing in 1987. She writes about education, communication and theater in publications such as the "San Francisco Chronicle," "California English" and "Central Sierra Seasons." She specializes in Web content, including blogging for businesses. Harrelson has a Master of Science in speech pathology, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Antioch University.