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Written by Jimmie Epling   

A Parent's Guide to

Last Minute Student Assignments 

By Jimmie Epling

What do you do when your young scholar casually remarks about supper time, on Sunday afternoon, or just before practice, ”I just remembered, I have a report due tomorrow in…”?  Once the initial shock and momentary exasperation subsides, where do you turn for help?  Sure, you could turn to Google and Wikipedia.  But can you trust everything you find there.  The Darlington County Library System can help you and your young padawan channel the force to, as Yoda would say, “do. Or do not. There is no try,” complete that last minute assignment.  

Here at the Library we know many students wait until the last minute before announcing the need to complete an assignment by tomorrow.  How do we know this?  It is by the number of parents and caregivers who call us, visit our website, or drop by the Library looking for help   It is not uncommon to hear a remark like, “…knew a week ago their assignment was due tomorrow and I only found out about it today.”  When my son was in school, I learned that time is relative.  For a teen, a week can seem a long way off and a month is almost an eternity.  But for you, it is another challenge in a day filled with too much to do and not enough time.  So what will you do?  Here are a few tips!

First, take a deep breath and relax.  You and your young scholar will get through this together.  Others have been down this same path before.  Just remember, you have the friendly and understanding staff at the Library to guide you through this challenge.  

Next, learn all you can about the assignment.  Be patient with your absent minded young sage in training.  You may need your best interrogation skills to probe for answers to questions that are vital to the success of your joint mission.  You will need answers to these questions.  What is the name of the class?  Do you have a topic?  How long does the report need to be?  Are you limited in what you can use, such as print and internet?  You may need to ask a few more questions, but these are the basics for any assignment.  Get a clear idea of what you need to complete the assignment.  The more information you have, the easier your search will be and it will provide us with what we need to serve you quickly and efficiently.   

Once you know what you need, start your quest for information at the Library.  Years ago when your child came home from school with an assignment, you either turned to the encyclopedia you might have at home (I’ll not ask how old the edition might have been and if you kept up with the yearbooks) or you headed off to the Library to get the information from an encyclopedia there.  Now you can go online to “Google” your topic for information or consult Wikipedia.  Good information can be found both ways, but just be aware the source of the information you get from both might be suspect.  You need not rely upon questionable free resources, you have an alternative.  The Library has authoritative information available for you online and in print at any of our four locations, Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, and Society Hill. 

You can visit the Library to look through encyclopedias, almanacs, gazetteers, biographies, and borrow books loaded with information.  Our hours are set to be as convenient as possible for you.  Our Darlington and Hartsville locations are open until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with Lamar and Society Hill open until 7 p.m.  All four are open Saturdays 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  If that young scholar suddenly remembers an assignment while you are at church on Sunday, do not despair.  The Darlington and Hartsville locations are open from 2 to 5 p.m.  The staff will be happy to help you find what you need!  

Can’t make it to the Library during our regular hours?  No problem, you now have access 24/7 to the Library’s Digital Branch by going to  Start your research on the Library’s homepage by going to “Research Resources” for a variety of excellent information and reference databases.  The Library’s databases are provided by DISCUS, South Carolina’s Virtual Library.  This free online information service gives access to an online library of thousands of databases, reference resources, newspapers, magazines, and books.  As an example, a popular assignment given to younger students is to do a report on a state or country.  All the required information you need, such as the flag, population, national emblem, natural resources, customs, statistics, and more are readily available through CultureGrams and Britannica’s World Data Analysis.  Students in the upper grades are often assigned a research paper on a current hot topic or issue of the day.  Opposing Viewpoints in Context covers today’s hottest social issues, from Offshore Drilling to Climate Change and Health Care to Immigration.  Another excellent resource is Points of View Reference Center which is designed to provide students with viewpoints on over 500 current issues.  If your child needs information about someone from the past or the present, take a look at Biography in Context which has over a half million biographical entries.

Once you have helped your young scholar collect the information needed to write the report, organize it into related chunks.  Arrange the chunks of information into an order that makes sense.  Then start connecting the chunks with your own words.  This is hardest part of the assignment.  Unfortunately, while we can provide your budding scholar with guides on how to write a report, research paper, or book report, we cannot write it for you.  

Just remember, if you suddenly discover your young padawan has failed to remember an assignment until the last minute, do not fret.  Visit one of our four locations in Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, or Society Hill, and the staff will be happy to help you.  Do not worry, if ever we are closed, our online Digital Brach is open 24/7 at has a wealth of information available for you.  The Darlington County Library System is committed to easing your stress by helping you deal with those last minute reports!    

October 9, 2015 



Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 December 2015 )

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