Monday, July 30, 2007

First Tour and Catalog Introduction

Five international students came to the library for instruction on the catalog and a tour of the library. Naturally, I was a bit nervous, but I had spent the morning preparing a handout the students could work on after I had given them a brief overview of the catalog. With time I am sure my presentation will be more smooth, but today's session certainly helped me see what international students may need help with.

A lot of them just needed help finding the "Search" button. In other words, after they key in a title or search phrase they could not find the search button. They also could have just pressed the "Enter" key. I thought I had shown them the line in the expanded record indicating the subject heading, but more than one student needed help finding that. I feel I could have done better explaining the different between the expanded record and the brief listing of results. Overall, I believe they understood how to use the catalog, but I am glad I had the worksheet and allowed them to search and ask questions along the way.

I used the Vision software to demonstrate how to use the catalog. There's more I would like to learn about this program.

In the last week, our OPAC committee changed the options for the catalog search. The default on the catalog page used to be "Search by Title," but now the catalog defaults to "Quick Search." I am still learning what this means. My supervisor tells me that it is the automatic "And," so a search for "James and the Giant Peach" would search for the words "James" first then "and" then "the." Apparently, it will only search among the first 10,000 records with the word "James." I thought the students today understood and were able to find things rather well.

With time I imagine my skills at giving a tour will improve. As it was, I felt like I wandered a bit. I'm glad they asked me questions, and I'm glad I asked the student working in the Copy Center if I had forgotten something. I forgot to tell them about how to request a book or article through Inter-Library Loan, which happens to be through the Copy Center. They really seemed to enjoy the Special Collections with all of its old books, photographs, and art books [the one in the shape of a shoe in particular]. It helped to have an outline of the tour written out that I could reference along the way to remind me what to mention. Next time I need to mention how much fines are.

As I look back on the worksheet I created it seems that I should have verified that the students answered the questions correctly. How are they to know if they are doing it right? Am I assuming too much if they do not ask any questions?

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