RS 100 Classes Complete Poker Runs in the USMA Library

Librarian Darrell Hankins helps Plebes learn to search the Library’s resources with our Scout! Search tool.

Librarian Darrell Hankins helps Plebes learn to search
the Library’s resources with our Scout! Search tool.

On 25 and 26 August, cadets enrolled in the Center for Enhanced Performance’s RS 100 course got a chance to spend some very active time in the Library, finding their way from one service point to another and learning about Library resources, services, and staff along the way. The Library Poker Runs are designed to get cadets familiar with the people here at the Library who can help them in their studies, and with the resources they can use to complete the assignments they’ll have throughout their time at West Point.

Rare Book Curator Elaine McConnell tells cadets about some of the unique resources in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

Rare Book Curator Elaine McConnell tells cadets about some of the unique resources in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

Cadets are given a checklist of locations in the Library (Circulation Desk, Reference Desk, Reserve Room, and Special Collections & Archives Reading Room) and are directed to complete a task at each checkpoint. The tasks help the plebes learn a multitude of research-related skills, such as how to search within our collections using Scout! – the Library’s discovery tool; how to renew books online; what to do when the Library doesn’t have an article or book they need (hint: Inter-Library Loan!); and the difference between primary and secondary sources. A highlight of the Poker Run is a visit to the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room, where this semester they got to see Custer’s demerits (all six pages of them!) and hand-drawn plans (dating back to the 1870s) for the construction of the railroad tunnel underneath the Plain.

Librarian Michael Arden advices cadets as they search for books and  journal articles using the Library website.

Librarian Michael Arden advices cadets as they search for books and journal articles using the Library website.

After completing each task, the cadets draw a card, and the cadet team with the best poker hand at the end of class wins a prize from their instructor. Almost 100 cadets participated in this round of Poker Runs, and judging from discussions with them at the end of class, a fun – and educational! – time was had by all.

Narrative by Laura Mosher; photos by Barbara Maroney