Cheng Library Welcomes Middle and High School Researchers

Students from four local schools visit the Cheng Library for instruction and research assistance.

Richard Kearney instructing students from Eastside High School in the Cheng Library classroom.

Each year the Cheng Library’s popular user instruction program provides orientation and research sessions to hundreds of classes on campus, offering everything from an introduction to library resources and services for Pioneer Success Seminars to advanced research techniques for graduate seminars.

In addition, the Library also welcomes visiting classes from local middle schools and high schools, and provides students with help in using academic library resources for special assignments and projects.

This year the Library hosted sessions for classes from Eastern Christian High School in Haledon, Henry B. Whitehorne Middle School in Verona, and John F. Kennedy High School and Eastside High School in Paterson. Three of the classes visited during the January break between the University’s fall and spring semesters.

Reference librarian Richard Kearney taught the classes, three of which focused on preparing entries to compete in this year’s New Jersey History Day contest. Kearney has served for 18 years as a judge in the event’s final qualifying competition held at William Paterson each May.  His expertise was valuable for the students, and he began each session by describing the qualities judges look for when evaluating entries.

“I try to give the students a peek behind the scenes, to demystify the judging process, and to set them at ease so they can approach their projects with a sense of confidence and a spirit of adventure,” Kearney said. “When students get excited about and interested in their topics, the research can be enjoyable. When it’s time to put the pieces together for an entry, whether it be an exhibit, a documentary film, a website, a performance, or a paper, I emphasize that the key to a great entry is the interpretation or the specific story they want to share with others.”

During the sessions, students explored a wide variety of information sources, including reference materials, books, article and image databases, government document collections, multimedia resources, statistical compendia, and web-based digital collections of primary sources.

Students from John F. Kennedy High School visited the library for an orientation to sources in literary criticism to support their study of the classic novels Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby.  The students made use of critical essays and other resources focused on the novels, the authors, and the historical and cultural context of their work. The availability of so many of the library’s resources in electronic format meant that the students could save copies of relevant items to refer to after class.

At the Cheng Library, Richard serves as the history subject specialist and liaison to the History Department.  He has created research guides related to New Jersey History Day and all aspects of world history, United States history and historical methods.

Kearney hopes the on-campus experience will help students acquire new research skills and give them a appreciation for what they can anticipate when continuing their education in college. 

In addition to introducing the students to these valuable academic materials, Richard commented, “I also want them to think of the staff of the Cheng Library as a good neighbor, a local resource they can trust when they need assistance with the kinds of materials and services we offer.”

February 12, 2018