Teaching Information and Research

This weekend Mr. Rochester and I attended A&M’s football game in which we soundly defeated Oklahoma State. I am like a small child when it comes to large stores or crowds; one has to keep a grip on me or I will wander towards the first shiny thing I see. Given this propensity, Mr. Rochester usually ends up dragging me Quiet Man style through the crowds.

It occurred to me this weekend that instruction sometimes feels like that, as if we have a firm grip on our students’ arms and we are dragging them through the maze of library databases and catalogs or maybe that is just how I feel after teaching 7 sessions in one week.

I have previously made my feelings known about OPACs, so I will not bore you again, but I will explain why I feel I am pulling a class harshly through the research process.

Sometimes the class comes to us and they are not working on a particular assignment. The professor or TA just happened to have that day open and the instruction will correlate with nothing the students are actually doing at the time. They may listen dutifully, but they will forget most of it the minute they walk out the door. Why should they remember how to find articles if they do not need articles for the 5 assignments they have due this week. They are more worried about the immediate than the later and I can not fault them for that.

The other problem is time. We simply do not have enough time with the students. In a student’s entire college career, they will be lucky if they have a single one hour session on library research. In that one hour, we have to choose what topics are the most important. Choosing a database? Finding articles? Using the catalog? Finding books in the library? Finding an article from a citation? Plagiarism? Evaluating resources? Effective web searching? Proper citations? The list could go on much longer.

So we choose a couple things and then drag them through the resources. I know that these one hour sessions are better than no sessions at all. I know that some of the students walk out at least remembering where to go when they need help. I hope that they leave feeling like they can ask for the help they need.

I wish that more colleges and universities valued research among their students as much as they pretend to and give lip service to the idea. For the future, I wish that more institutions will understand and support the role of library instruction as a foundation for students’ success.

–Jane, is glad the flurry of classes is over… for now

Engineers Are Funny

In response to my suggestion that, being an engineer, Mr. Rochester can only communicate in computer code, he sent me this via email:

If (Love_for_Jane > 0) then
Mr. Rochester will not burn plethora of boxes cluttering his house
Else
Do j = 1, plethora
Burn box_of_books(j)
enddo
kick Jane out on the street
pawn ring
endif

That is why he is the best man alive. His geek-o-meter is much higher than mine.

-Jane, loves him

Work, on not doing it

Behold, the power of the manilla folder.

When I was a shelver, I would not even pretend to be working, but just stand there with the book open, reading. Actually, our favorite pastime was stealthy hunting down our counterparts and starting rubberband wars. Now that I am a librarian, and thus possess the power of the universe, I surf the net and pretend I am doing “research.”

–Jane, researching right now

Carnival of the Infosciences #10

Ok, no pushing or shoving. You there! In the front row! I said no pushing. Back of the line, kid. Everyone will get a chance to ride on the rollercoaster. Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle and for your added safety, be sure you are strapped securely in your chair. Everyone ready? OK, let’s go!

There were tons of great submissions, so this week we really have the cream of the crop and there are tons of great reads. First up:

On apophenia, danah boyd gives an outsider’s view of librarianship in “somewhere in-between the ALA and Google is harmony.” She is critical and supportive at the same time. I was fortunate enough to hear all the keynote speeches she discusses and, though I think she was a bit harsh to Roy Tennant, she has Michael Gorman down pat.

Gary Price defends searching the library way at Search Engine Watch in his post “On Library Card Catalogs, OPACs, The Perfect Search & Teaching Searchers.” This post was in response to Danny Sullivan’s comments on the inadequacy of human based catalogs.

“Looking for online tools”? Rebecca Hedreen at Frequently Answered Questions offers us a wonderful list of online collaborative tools that we can use for distance education or just an honest day’s work.

On of the tools mentioned in the post above, Writely, is reviewed by Laura Crossett from Lisdom. Laura thinks Writely is a “brave new processor.”

The Krafty Librarian ponders “Job Descriptions Without Salary Information.” Why do they exist and if you post these kind job descriptions do you think you are missing out on potentially great employees? Be wary is the theme.

Thom Hickey from Outgoing wants us to look at PURLs and consider their implications in “A string of PURL servers.” My question is how this technology can be related or integrated with Open URL.

Meredith Farkas, from Information Wants to Be Free, has a fine discourse on “Librarians In Academia: Faculty or Support Staff?” A question many of are struggling with at our own institutions.

Christina Pikas asks if you hold open the door or slam it shut as she discusses “the various uses of the term ‘gatekeeper’” on Christina’s LIS Rant.

While not exactly about libraries, Michael McGrorty of Library Dust fame examines, in his beautiful own way, different aspects of the things that seem to occupy much of our time, weblogs in “This Pleasant Slavery.”

And for another view on blogs, Rochelle Mazar from Random Access Mazar talks about metaphors for blogs and what they mean to us as a society in “Find the Right Metaphor.”

Editor’s Choice
Some things I had flagged for editor’s pick also got suggested. I decided, as the editor and person in charge, to keep them for this portion anyway.

OPACs and how we use them seem to be on a lot of people’s mind lately. I think much of the discussion stems from our frustration with our current system. On Library Stuff, Steven Cohen wonders what would happen if the library catalog was a “two way street” in “Libraries and the Communities that Sustain Them.”

Genny Engel juxtaposes the two unlikeliest characters: Michael Gorman and dana boyd
with “danah boyd and Michael Gorman Slug It Out.” This post is part of a group blog on technology called LITABlog.

Chrystie at Blog Junction ponders the most basic of all information needs, “What are my friends doing?” and how libraries help or hinder that need in her post entitled “In a coffee shop on Capitol Hill.”

Thanks for stopping by and being patient. Next week, the carnival will move to Christina’s LIS Rant.

–Jane, likes the ferris wheel

Coming Soon

The Carnival will arrive shortly. Those of you on the edge of your seats will need to take some deep breaths and go about your day calmly. The Carnival will be pulling into town this afternoon. Until then, go answer some reference questions.

–Jane, teaching a class… soon