Encouraging college students to use the library

Classes have started at colleges and universities. Some time at the beginning of every term, academic librarians conduct tours of the library and visit classes to offer library instruction. Or perhaps meet them in the library’s own classrooms. What are they trying to accomplish?¬†What happens when they don’t get through to students? The results can be comical. They also help perpetuate a cycle of ignorance. After all, some students who never catch on graduate anyway. And some of them wind up teaching somewhere. … Continue reading

Government web sites you should know about: consumer issues

Various offices of the federal government offer a wealth of information that the public can use. It seems good to describe some of them here from time to time. This first installment looks at three web sites devoted to various consumer issues. Federal Trade Commission The FTC’s Consumer Information page has separate tabs for information on Money & Credit Homes & Mortgages Health & Fitness Jobs & Making Money Privacy & Identity It also offers a video/media library. There you’ll find not only videos, but audio tips and games. Quite a bit of the content deals with scams and consumer … Continue reading

Information literacy: an endangered species?

I heard on NPR recently that CNN is losing market share in the US because viewers prefer the “more opinionated” coverage of Fox News and MSNBC. That’s sad. I say that not as a fan of CNN–I don’t regularly watch any of those networks. I say it’s sad because people who prefer to hear only what conforms to their own viewpoint have essentially decided not to be informed citizens. They have consciously and deliberately turned their back on information literacy. The term “information literacy” seems to have originated in the mid 1970s, but the need it expresses is much older. … Continue reading

Information seeking: the Internet vs bookstores vs the library

[ad name=”Google Adsense 468×60″] Finding information isn’t difficult. We can talk to friends, watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, etc. Not to disparage this easy information (or even the recreational aspects), but it is ephemeral. At some point, everyone needs to find information (or recreation) that’s nailed down, so to speak, in a form that can be consulted. Here’s one librarian’s view of when to look for more or less permanently preserved on the Internet, the bookstore (or for that matter, a record store, etc.), or the library. I’m not making any attempt to be comprehensive here. … Continue reading

Search engine optimization: how library and Internet differ

I have described how searching an online library catalog differs from using a search engine. I have pointed out that libraries have lots of information that is either not available for free on the Internet (most of the best databases) or not at all (most books and periodicals–especially if they are more than 15-20 years old). I have mentioned that library collections must be highly selective, whereas anyone can post something on the Internet. The Internet makes finding information easier than ever. Finding useful, accurate, and reliable information remains as difficult as ever, and one reason is called search engine … Continue reading