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"How to Workshops" for Students in the Library

by Charlotte Toh
Reference Librarian
Singapore Polytechnic Library


A series of ‘How-To-Workshop' kicked off in the library with the first session held on 1 November 2006. Subsequent sessions were held on 6, 8 and 13 December. For the first time, these workshops which traditionally were held in the School classrooms, were now played out in the library. The library sees this as a good way to collaborate with the Department of Language & Communication and also engage students in using library resources for their coursework.

A total of 134 students signed up for these four fun-filled activity-based workshops. The Self-Access module conducted by the LC Dept was attended by first and second year students, comprising of a mix of local as well as international students, mainly from China and Myanmar.  


During the two-hour workshop held in the Colours Zone, they were taught English language skills, presentation and creative writing skills through an activity-based programme which required them to use library resources.

During the first workshop, the students either paired off with someone whom they did not know or worked in teams of 4-5. They were given worksheets painted with different scenarios. The teams had to locate suitable books from the Colours Zone and pick up relevant information on the following topics:

  • spend a good time in France
  • overcome feelings of sadness
  • manage time and anger
  • improve self-image
  • find the right treatment for eating disorder
  • find a suitable martial arts activity

Students were also introduced to the use of transition markers to help them connect ideas and establish relationship in their writing. They were asked to insert the transition markers between sentences in a given passage.

Two DVD programmes from the ‘Get Real' series [Teens sex and Branded Stuff] were screened during the second and third workshops. Then followed a lively discussion in which students talked about the issues involved and explained why they took a certain stance on the two topics.

A reading program was introduced in the fourth workshop in which students picked up their favourite books from the Colours Zone. Then they trooped off to the library courtyard to read some passages and share their reasons for choosing the books and passages with their fellow students. It turned out to be a pleasant experience for the participants as they enjoyed the readings over some light refreshments in the warm ambience of the library courtyard.


Lecturers Cyrine, Melinda and Lee Yee who facilitated the programme were pleased that the students not only picked up relevant language skills but also understood better how to locate library resources more effectively from the briefing given by the librarians. They also became more familiar with the collection and layout of the Colours Zone.

The students themselves were upbeat about the programme, as these positive comments show:

"The workshop is great! I got to learn and improve my English so that I can get a better grade in my language module. The most remarkable part is that the course is very fun. It actually really helps me to remember what I've learnt in the workshop. I really had an enjoyable and wonderful time in the workshop."
- Jessica Ependi, Diploma in Property Development & Facilities Management

"The workshop was interesting and beneficial. The activities helped me to learn better, e.g. improving my writing skill with the use of transition markers."
- Yan Piang, Myanmar student, Diploma in Electronics & Communication Engineering

"I found this workshop fun and interesting as I learnt something new. It also helped me to prepare for the argumentative test."
- Suwati, Diploma in Property Development & Facilities Management

"The workshop was interesting. We were able to communicate and learn from each other."
- Chng Hwee Yen Christina, Diploma in Property Development & Facilities Management

"I enjoyed watching the show and participating in the discussion."
Xu Jia Wei, Chinese student, Diploma in Computer and Network Technology


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