No public Twitter messages.

Facebook
RSS

Do we give them enough credit?

Nov - 5 - 2007
Nicole C. Engard

I don’t know the answer to this, but it seems to me that people all over feel that undergrads today have no idea how to use the library or library resources. I got the impression from an attendee at the NFAIS Humanities Rountable last month that he felt that students were too lazy or that they just didn’t understand real research. Then at my training class on Friday an attendee there said that her students can never find things and she just wants to make it as easy as possible – she felt that seeing a link to a resource and a call number for that same resource was too much information for their tiny little heads to bother with.

Now – was it just because I was destined to be a librarian that I knew how to use these tools when I was an undergrad … was it because my mother showed me how to use library resources as early as middle school by taking me to the local university to use their collections for my research? Was it that Juniata offered and intro to library resources type course (it wasn’t just that – it had more meat to it – but it did have a bit on the library)?

I don’t know the answer – but I get a bit annoyed with the dismissive attitude towards undergrads. I think we need to give them more credit – or teach them better/sooner how to use these tools. And yes, they’re lazy – but news flash – human beings are lazy! We want the easiest/quickest way to get the solution – but that doesn’t mean that all undergrads are a lost cause …

Just a little Monday afternoon rant from me (the librarian in the academic library without many undergrads).

15 Responses so far.

  1. Me says:

    At my library I am impressed by the amount that my students absorb about how to use our resources. And it’s not easy – as you all know. We all need and want to have our time respected.

  2. Me says:

    At my library I am impressed by the amount that my students absorb about how to use our resources. And it’s not easy – as you all know. We all need and want to have our time respected.

  3. Alexis says:

    In my own experience, it’s not a lack of ability, but there is a definite lack of education. Students aren’t learning research skills in lower grade levels, so they often come to college unprepared. As long as profs want to foist the learning onto other profs, ad infinitum such that no one ends up teaching these tasks, how do we realistically expect students to become information literate?

    It’s funny, I was just discussing this with colleagues this morning. My own take is that high schools should have a required course in information literacy, including research skills, internet skills, data manipulation, and writing. Colleges need to follow up with a required 101 the first semester students hit campus. Too many times have I seen the solution as a two hour course in a library. Two hours! As though we could teach actual research skills in two hours. Sigh.

  4. Alexis says:

    In my own experience, it’s not a lack of ability, but there is a definite lack of education. Students aren’t learning research skills in lower grade levels, so they often come to college unprepared. As long as profs want to foist the learning onto other profs, ad infinitum such that no one ends up teaching these tasks, how do we realistically expect students to become information literate?

    It’s funny, I was just discussing this with colleagues this morning. My own take is that high schools should have a required course in information literacy, including research skills, internet skills, data manipulation, and writing. Colleges need to follow up with a required 101 the first semester students hit campus. Too many times have I seen the solution as a two hour course in a library. Two hours! As though we could teach actual research skills in two hours. Sigh.

  5. Nicole says:

    While I agree with you (schools should teach more of this) … where are the parents? Like I said – my mother is the one who showed me that the university library had a bunch of resources I could use on my tiny report on Cameroon in the 5th grade! She’s the one who took me to the library and helped me learn the card catalog and then the online catalog.

    I think we sometimes expect too much of our education system – and forget that parents are not just there to provide food and a roof! Sorry – a pet peeve of mine if you can’t tell!

  6. Nicole says:

    While I agree with you (schools should teach more of this) … where are the parents? Like I said – my mother is the one who showed me that the university library had a bunch of resources I could use on my tiny report on Cameroon in the 5th grade! She’s the one who took me to the library and helped me learn the card catalog and then the online catalog.

    I think we sometimes expect too much of our education system – and forget that parents are not just there to provide food and a roof! Sorry – a pet peeve of mine if you can’t tell!

  7. Cheryl says:

    Thank you, Nicole. I was only doing my job. The more parents teach their children while they are growing up, they more they will give back….look at you!
    I am proud to be your mother.

  8. Cheryl says:

    Thank you, Nicole. I was only doing my job. The more parents teach their children while they are growing up, they more they will give back….look at you!
    I am proud to be your mother.

  9. joan says:

    I think the problem is too many database interfaces and too many different rules in each one. Why must we have unique truncation symbols for each database? Why do some databases work with natural language searching and other databases require strict Boolean?

    I do think as librarians our jobs right now have to be about teaching our students to use the tools we have. But the long view is to work to make the tools better.

  10. joan says:

    I think the problem is too many database interfaces and too many different rules in each one. Why must we have unique truncation symbols for each database? Why do some databases work with natural language searching and other databases require strict Boolean?

    I do think as librarians our jobs right now have to be about teaching our students to use the tools we have. But the long view is to work to make the tools better.

  11. Simon says:

    I agree 100% with Joan. Probably the number one frustration of my life is telling students “OK, in the catalogue you can’t use ‘the’ at the start of a title, because the system won’t work”, and “OK, in *this* database, you need to use quote marks and an exclamation mark, but in this one you use no quote marks, type AND, and use an asterisk”.

    No wonder they can’t find anything. Can we petition the vendors to adopt a standard? (Of course, I’d be out of a job if we made it too easy…..)

    That said, some students don’t have great skills – I can think of a number who’ve come to me looking for something online, and say they’ve searched Google. I go on Google, do the simplest, most obvious search, and what they’re looking for is the #1 hit.

  12. Simon says:

    I agree 100% with Joan. Probably the number one frustration of my life is telling students “OK, in the catalogue you can’t use ‘the’ at the start of a title, because the system won’t work”, and “OK, in *this* database, you need to use quote marks and an exclamation mark, but in this one you use no quote marks, type AND, and use an asterisk”.

    No wonder they can’t find anything. Can we petition the vendors to adopt a standard? (Of course, I’d be out of a job if we made it too easy…..)

    That said, some students don’t have great skills – I can think of a number who’ve come to me looking for something online, and say they’ve searched Google. I go on Google, do the simplest, most obvious search, and what they’re looking for is the #1 hit.

  13. Nicole says:

    But is that an information literacy issue? No! That’s a product inadequacy issue! Which makes me point you to this awesome idea.

    Who knows better than librarians how our products need to work for our users? But that’s a whole other issue/post.

  14. Nicole says:

    But is that an information literacy issue? No! That’s a product inadequacy issue! Which makes me point you to this awesome idea.

    Who knows better than librarians how our products need to work for our users? But that’s a whole other issue/post.

  15. [...] in this paragraph – not in the hand of librarians. The problem lies with the parents!! I’ve said this before – parents are in charge of the rearing of their children. Parents are the ones who will instill a [...]


Bookmarks for April

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on ...

Bookmarks for April

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on ...

Bookmarks for April

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on ...

Bookmarks for March

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on ...

Bookmarks for March

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on ...