Saturday, May 18, 2013

Academic life

One of my favourite librarian blogs is Ned Potter's The Wikiman. He's an academic liaison librarian and does loads of cool stuff. Recently he posted this presentation on his website, which is SPOT ON! So much great research and ideas in here - really relevant for my current job.

At our library we have an information literacy program. We have library orientations for each new cohort of students, we have regular training sessions on our preferred reference manager and databases and we offer sessions-on-demand, often delivered in the student's own classrooms. But still, the most common questions I get are about Microsoft Office programs like Word, how to use the computers (their own and the library PCs) for tasks such as uploading documents and taking screenshots, and also of course help in locating research relating to their assignment questions. As well as the above mentioned points, they often mention how much time it takes them to do everything, especially searching. And how many times have I heard them say to a friend that they've finished their assignment, they just need to find some references!! These students may be technology literate, but they still need a lot of support in information literacy, especially digital information literacy.

My advice for first year students, that I spout at every opportunity...
  • Understand that Google is just one place you can search for information. Google can not search the deep web, but your Library Search can
  • Understand that a thorough search takes time, so start early. Attempt to search all potential sources of information before beginning your assignment
  • Be critical of your sources; ask yourself how authoritative the source of information is
  • Don't write your assignment, or come to your conclusions before doing the research
  • Get used to using a reference manager. It will take time at the beginning, but will save time in the end
  • Check your referencing carefully - its one of the most common areas where students lose marks but one of the easiest things to fix
  • Understand academic writing conventions - the library has resources to help you with this
  • Be patient and methodical - it pays off
  • Ask your librarian... anything!
The University of York (incidentally, a wonderful little city where I lived for 2 years) is doing amazing things in education. Ned's presentation has given me some ideas about how to support students in the future. I'd love to make a presentation like this one for my students:


Everyone love things with titles like "6 things that will...", "The 10 best...". I think about half the books I catalogued for W.A. public libraries today (my other job...) started with something like that!