Phil talks about the difference between a catalog and an index. He often begins his instruction sessions with a straightforward question like: "What can you find in the library?" He writes the answers from the class on the board: books, magazines, journals, maps, CDs, DVDs, periodicals, newspapers, indexes, etc. He then asks a question like: "What will you find in journals and books?" Answers might include articles, chapters, poems, short stories, etc. The chalkboard is divided into two sections, and answers to the two questions appear on either side. Again, he asks: "What is the difference between one side and the other?" Answer: one side shows parts of a whole, and the other side shows the wholes.
At this point he says that you will find the parts in an index or database, and the wholes can be found in the catalog. Therefore, articles, poems, chapters, short stories, etc. and/or their titles will be found in an index or anthology, while titles to books, CDs, videos, magazines, newspapers, indexes, anthologies, journals, maps/atlases, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. will be found in a catalog. A library catalog, therefore, will tell you what that library has inside its building. (True, many catalogs include links to websites, especially government websites, since most of their "documents" are now "born digital.") An index will give you titles of articles, books, poems, etc., that may not be within the library itself, but which you can request via interlibrary loan.
An approach such as this seems pretty straightforward, yet it can really make sense to students and be just the thing to help them conceptualize the library and its resources.
Catalogs Contain Records about the Whole Item (This allows you to learn about as well as find items in the physical library.)
- Videos (DVDs, videocassettes, films, etc.)
- Musical scores
- Topics in the books (See the end-of-book index)
- Short stories
|"Card Catalog?" OSU Archives. Flickr.com.|
Today the instruction librarians met for a meeting. We talked about a First Year Seminar [FYS] instruction request form, which is being coded today. It includes a menu of options for the instructors in the FYS program. They are no longer required to bring their freshmen students to the library for instruction, so we hope that giving them more options and flexibility will entice them to come. Students need to feel comfortable in the library; those who do tend to succeed more than those who do not.
Anyway, two librarians graciously demonstrated signature components of their teaching sessions. The first drew an inverted triangle and began to explain the research process with the use of her illustration. Anyone starting a research project (especially a project on an unfamiliar topic) would do well to consult the reference resources. As my colleague mentioned, professors assume that students have basic background information on their topics--that they are consulting encyclopedias before doing their research, yet we librarians see that students do not take advantage of these resources--at least not the ones in print.
Students frequently hear their professors condemn encyclopedia articles as sources worthy of citing. They understand that they must cite X amount of articles and-or books, so they skip the step of consulting an encyclopedia article when it could be extremely beneficial to them in a number of ways. First, it gives them a basic backdrop for understanding the article or books they read later. Second, it can identify keywords they can use later in their database searching. Third, it contains a list of references they can then consult to further their research.
Anyway, the broad base of the triangle is where you begin the research with reference materials, such as textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. Books fill the second portion, and journal articles fill the last tip of the triangle. In sessions I have taught, I included another segment to the triangle for personal interviews and personal experience. Students ought to reference their own life experiences and compare and contrast them with the ideas encountered in their research process.