As part of our adherence to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education as approved by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), Ellender Memorial Library has a mandate to inform students of the most efficient and ethical methods of performing scholarly research, as the purpose of any university should be to turn students into both serious scholars and informed citizens. In order to accomplish this, the Reference staff offers classes in Information Literacy, or what librarians variously term Research Methods or Bibliographic Instruction. In these instructional sessions, we inform students on the proper use of library resources, focusing on the following outcomes:
(1) The use of the Reference Area, located on the 2nd floor of Ellender Memorial Library.
- Students will be able to begin their research by consulting dictionaries, encyclopedias (both general and subject specific), biographical sources, almanacs and subject oriented books of facts.
- Students will understand that these sources are the first place they should go for background information on any topic, and for beginning bibliographies, and that their ability to use these reference materials (which are non-circulating) is the first crucial step in answering research questions which arise during a course of study.
(2) The use of the eLibrary, the library’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)
- Students will master the use of eLibrary, our web-based catalog.
- Students will leave with the understanding that eLibrary can be searched, from any location for books, videos, multimedia items, and journal titles, through any web browser.
- Students will learn that the catalog can be searched by keyword, author, title, standardized subject, or periodical title, and that by using our Power Search interface, they will be able to combine search terms using boolean terms like and, not and or, enabling them to perform searches based on author and title, or those where keywords are combined.
- Students will learn that the Power Search interface will allow them to limit their search results by criteria such as format or item type (book, reference book, electronic book, government document, CD-ROM, etc.).
(3) The use of the Electronic Research Databases
- Students will understand that they will need to supplement print indexes (bibliographies) such as The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature and the MLA, as these print versions have been replaced by web based (but proprietary) online databases.
- Students will learn that this new technology allows them to quickly search for journal articles, and sometimes book chapters, by using an interface which is similar to that used by our eLibrary Power Search, thereby giving them not only the advantage of speed, but also the advantage of comprehensiveness.
- Students will learn that these online databases make it possible to combine as many terms as are necessary to find exactly the information that is required, and they will become familar with this process.
- Students will learn how to use the various database interfaces to very easily differentiate articles in magazines from those in scholarly journals.
- Students will develop the ability to download the entire text of some articles onto a workstation, personal computer, or laptop, which will give them faster access to content than they had previosuly, when many articles had to be acquired via Interlibrary Loan.
- Students will understand that using these databases IS NOT the same as “getting an article from the internet,” for they will learn that the articles in these databases, whether they have been typed into html by the library vendor, or have been scanned into a pdf format using Adobe Acrobat, are the actual articles from the actual journals and magazines, whether they be scholarly or popular.
(4) The use of the World Wide Web
- Students will learn how to use the best search engines on the World Wide Web, such as Google and All The Web.
- Students will understand the difference between a Directory, such as Yahoo and a search engine.
- Students will learn that a good search engine allows for phrase searches, for combination (boolean) searches, and for domain limitations.
- Students will understand that it is essential to keep in mind that site evaluation is important, and they will be directed to helpful tutorials such as Evaluating Information Found on the World Wide Web .
(5) The use of the Documentation Styles, such as MLA, APA and Turabian
- Students will understand that no one does research in a vacuum, for the point of most research is to create a document, whether it be a Research Paper, Publishable Article, or Lab Report; therefore, they will learn they can find information on citing sources using the Library’s most recent editions of various documentation manuals in print.
- Students will learn that these manuals are located at the Reference Desk, on the 2nd floor of the library, and in Reference.
- Students will learn to supplement the information they can find in these manuals with the authoritative internet-based sources for documentation that can be found on the library’s website, and which are usually housed and managed by professional organizations or university faculty.