Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Glasses perched on nose, bun firmly coiled on head...

I am one of those very traditional librarians that wishes we could go back to the days of the card catalog and print indexes. I have such a nostalgia for the way libraries used to look when I was in grade school (Dewey Decimal system anybody? library cat perhaps?). I even loved the way the library smelled. And I love...BOOKS. As in, real books. No offense to Kindle and Nook users, I know they have their place, but I love the feel of a book in my hand and the sense of them surrounding me. There's just something very comforting and serene about it to me.

So, that's why, for a class I'm teaching tomorrow, I'm breaking out the big guns: print reference sources.

We have a lot of these at our library. We are insistent that these are important sources that we need to have. The problem is, the students really don't like to use them. They'd rather just Google everything. It makes me rather sad.

The assignment for this particular class is for the students to find several sources on an artist from a specific ethnic group, which they will be assigned. But they have to locate an appropriate person on their own. Where do we turn for such information? Google's siren song is STRONG, very, very strong, and I had to fight very hard to resist it. All right, I didn't resist it, I succumbed, and was rewarded for my laziness by 10 frustrating minutes and some sucky sources. So, I delved into our online catalog, and yes, there are TONS of print encyclopedias for every ethnic group under the sun. Use the index in one of these babies, and suddenly, you're in business.

After my reference shift this afternoon, I ventured into the reference collection in search of a volume to take with me to class. Yes, I'm going to make them touch a book. I'm sure they won't like this, given that many of them haven't even bought the text book for the course, but they will bend to my will. I found 2 perfect sources, and after blowing the dust off their tops, I tucked them under my arm and brought them up to my office. I plan to smuggle them out of the staff entrance tomorrow so that I can take them to class with me and the students can *see* how useful these are. Not only can they find their perfect person in half the time of a bunch of frustrating searches, but each entry includes a bibliography of book and article sources that they can use right in their paper. We either have them or can order them via Interlibrary Loan. I mean, it doesn't get any better than this.

At least, I hope they see it that way.

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