Spiva Library

Sample Class Assignments

Below are some suggestions intended to give you ideas as you begin to create library assignments. You will need to add the specifics that make the assignment relevant to your course.

Note: Assignment ideas reproduced from University Library @ University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign


  • Prepare a bibliography of books, journals and web sites with evaluative annotations. Students may be asked to prepare as a "required reading list " for the topics, in which case the annotation would include an explanation of why a particular resource was included.
  • Create a web site as a resource for the course. Included on the site might be discussion groups, e-journals, meta sites, and organizations.
  • Prepare a literature review on a particular topic for a specific time frame.
  • Compare the search results of the same precise topic on one or more Internet search engines and a library subscription database(s).
  • Research a controversial topic using a variety of sources. Discuss how the different types of sources (e.g. newspapers, websites, news magazines, academic journals, academic discussion lists) treat the topic.
  • Compare a popular and a scholarly article on the same topic in terms of content, bias, style, audience.
  • Research a particular topic in the literature of the 70s and 80s. Research the same topic in the literature of the 90s and 2000s. Discuss the evolution of the field based on this exercise.
  • Read an editorial and find facts to support or contradict.
  • Prepare a nomination of a person or group for a particular Nobel Prize. In addition to defending their nomination, students would be required to learn about the prize, criteria for the award, etc.
  • Research the publications and career of a prominent scholar. The assignment might require biographical information, a bibliography of publications, and analysis of the individual in their field of research.
  • Research a classical work through reviews, citation indexes, biographical information, etc. and discuss the effect of the work on the discipline.
  • Research a particular company, organization, research lab, etc as preparation for a (hypothetical) interview.
  • Evaluate a relevant web site based on specific criteria, including accuracy, comprehensiveness, authority, bias, ease of use, visual style. Students may be asked to compare a number of web sites representing government, personal, commercial, and scholarly sites.
  • Submit a research log with the assignment for which the research was undertaken.
  • Submit a major research project at various stages (e.g. outline, bibliography, introduction). If feedback is provided promptly, students can be redirected and advised as the project progresses.

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