How not to do research




Here are some posts from a thread on an email list I follow. I am deleting anything that could identify the particular libraries where the posters work, although they are clearly all academic libraries. 1. A scenario reported by one of my colleagues:  student sitting at a computer not 5 feet from the reference desk where said colleague is stationed. He’s been there for quite a while.  As his friends walk by, he asks them how to find something, how to do something.  Colleague asks repeatedly if he needs any help and is rejected every time.  Then he starts phoning … Continue reading






Ask your friendly librarian




In the early 1990s, my then 20-year-old step-son wanted to buy a used car. He found the choices and all of the questions he needed to answer overwhelming. I suggested he could get some good answers at the library, and he asked me to go with him. We walked into the library and straight back to the reference desk. I asked the librarian what information they had on buying a used car, and she quickly handed me four books. I gave them to my son and showed him to the copier. He looked through them, copied several pages, and gave … Continue reading






Information literacy: the work of librarians past and present




As long as there have been public libraries, librarians have been involved in education. They have helped people choose what to read for leisure and helped with their information needs. The recent emphasis on information literacy is more of a new term than a new concept, but as technology has transformed everything in society, information literacy needs to be done differently. For most of the twentieth century, the best way for most people to identify books on a particular subject was the card catalog in the library. Specialists could use various published bibliographies or the Cumulative Book Index among other … Continue reading






Beyond information seeking: ways the library meets some other needs.




In earlier posts to this blog, and other places around the Internet, I have written about how to ask reference librarians questions, how to use a library catalog, and some of the differences between libraries and other ways of finding information. All of these articles have assumed some kind of information-seeking, or at least literature seeking. That is, if you want something in particular, I have given pointers for how to find it. Today, I will look at a random sample of a few other good reasons to visit the library. 1. Libraries are cool in the summer (in case … Continue reading