Friday, January 30, 2009

Looking for a job? Are you trying to decide on a career?

Occupational Outlook Handbook

What do you want to be when you grow up? If this question still haunts you, consider looking at the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which details average yearly salaries, job duties, qualifications, educational attainment, etc. Accessible online at Additionally, you can gain a sense for the future growth or decline of a particular career. If you want to know what kinds of jobs are available or preferred by those in specific majors, check out This site provides several career options for each school subject, such as math, reading, science, computers, and even helping people.

Did you know that an average pharmacist makes between $80,000 and $100,000 annually? If you like chemistry and math classes this might be just the career for you. Discover what other workers and professionals make from the Occupational Outlook Handbook: This resource also provides informed estimates about those careers that will be in most demand. So you like nature, music, or sports better? Check out the following website to discover which jobs may be more suited to your interests:

What’s your favorite subject in school? If you like computers, you might be interested in becoming a database analyst, a software engineer, a support specialism, a webmaster, a hardware engineer, or a systems analyst. Throughout the country a webmaster averaged between “$49,510 and $82,630 in 2006.” Additionally, “the number of [webmaster] jobs is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations between 2006 and 2016.” To see specific subjects connected to potential occupations, look at Or take a peek at the Occupational Outlook Handbook for more detailed information and even more occupations:

What’s your favorite college class that you’ve taken so far? Would you like to know what kinds of jobs are available for someone who likes a particular subject in school? Take a look at to see potential occupations, earnings, jobs in high demand, descriptions of responsibilities, and education requirements. For more detailed information and a longer list of jobs, access the Occupational Outlook Handbook on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teaching Upper-division College Student in the Library

What do you teach college students who have already received multiple instruction sessions from librarians? By the time a student reaches their junior or senior year they may have already visited the library in three or four other classes. Many teacher of the basic English and Speech courses like to make sure their students gain a basic understanding of the Library and its resources. These general education classes provide a foundation for students. Likewise, the Library component of these courses only lays the groundwork on which the students can build, so they learn how to find a book in the catalog, how to find a book on the shelves, how to search for articles in the databases, and how to use the Library's website to its full advantage. Sometimes they develop some information-literacy skills, such as evaluating search results, understanding the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals, knowing how information is created, or how to search the internet more effectively.

If they know all this, then what do you teach an upper-division student? Beneath the umbrella of information literacy there are so many skills to help students develop, but there are also so many kinds of resources available that they should learn about. Lower-division coeds just need to know about the largest database, so they can conduct some general searches. Once a student begins studying within the realm of their major or discipline, then they need to learn more about the specialized databases.

For example, today I taught two mass communications classes. One class wanted to know about successful anti-drug campaigns. They want to know which techniques more effectively influence teens and college students from taking drugs. In fact they want to develop ideas for an ad campaign that speaks up against binge drinking, to encourage smart, responsible drinking--moderation in other words. EBSCOhost's Business Source Complete database contains lots of articles that could help them get started on this topic of advertising and public-service announcements. Academic Search Complete yields lots of results on the alcohol, binge drinking, and college student topics.

A colleague of mine taught with me in the second class; she made students aware of the folder concept within these databases. Once students conduct searches, they can save the most relevant articles to their folders and come back to the database where they will find those same articles. If they are working together in groups, they can share their passwords and usernames with others in the groups to see the articles they think to be most useful. Juniors and seniors seem to appreciate these little tips that they did not learn about in previous library workshops. We didn't mention the whole RSS-feed concept, but maybe we should have.

In the first class, at least one student expressed interest in the CQ Researcher database. She had never heard of it before. It seems that she liked the Bibliography section, but she also seemed pleased with the whole product in general. It really is a well-researched publication.

Upper-division students really appreciate the hands-on practice time. It's important to them. Especially for those who feel that they have heard it all before, they just want to get started on their project. I am convinced that students learn the material a lot better when they get a chance to get their hands dirty interacting with the resource in question. Often times they ask questions they did not know they had previously. When a librarian is there to answer their questions immediately they are more likely to think of a librarian later and ask for their expertise.

Librarians can conduct searches and save the best results in folder and share these folders with students who tend to appreciate this. In today's questions we also emphasized the importance of using the subject pages, which identify a few of the best databases, websites, and books for the majority of majors on campus. I also invited students to look at my delicious bookmarks, where I had tagged several websites that may be useful for them and their project: alcohol, drug_awareness, drugs, marketing, advertising, etc.

Junior and seniors know quite a bit, and many of them have accessed databases via the Library website. This one skill may be just one more reason why they have survived the first couple years of college. They are a bit more sophisticated then the freshmen and sophomores. Given the chance, they will engage in an intelligent conversation or class discussion. Chance are that they will not respond to questions that they consider to be too obvious.

Teaching the upper-division classes may require more preparation on the side of the librarian, because they may also need to know how to find more statistics and the answers to specific, complicated questions. Yet this demand for more in-depth preparation also yields more satisfaction as librarians get dig deeper and understand more aspects of the subject in question.

Upper-division students can also benefit with knowledge about how to find an article if they have the journal title. ISU students ought to use the A to Z Journal List; a search box can be found on the ISU Library homepage. If that does not help them, then they need to know how to request the item through the Inter-Library Loan department in the Library.

Yes, we did tell them about finding ads on YouTube and Google Video. We also taught them how to use LexisNexis Academic and introduced them to Mergent Online. Toward the end of the class period we did have students come take one of the books we had brought into the classroom to emphasize the importance of consulting books for statistics, specific information, strategies, etc.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CQ Researcher

One of my favorite databases is CQ Researcher, which provides articles on "hot topics" each week by qualified writers. Not long ago I wrote a few potential blurbs about this database and sent them to the editor of our bathroom newsletter. It occurred to me just yesterday that these blurbs would be good for this information-literacy blog. This type of database seems like it would be particularly useful to those in Speech and lower-division courses where students need to discuss or write about current topics of interest. The editor's final edition appear at the end of this post.

Blurb #1

"Mexico’s Drug War: Is the violence spilling into the U.S.?" This is the title to a recent report published by CQ Researcher. This database discusses issues of current interest each week in the same format, looking at the past, present, and future of a particular phenomenon. Some students like the section where two experts take opposing sides to the question at hand. Others appreciate the extensive list of references at the end as it launches them on a fruitful research trajectory.

[Trajectory: adj. 1. Physics. Of or pertaining to that which is thrown or hurled through the air or space. N. 1. a. Physics. The path of any body moving under the action of given forces; by many modern writers restricted to that of a body not known to be moving, like a planet, in a closed curve or orbit; esp. the curve described by a projectile in its flight through the air.]

Blurb #2

Do you need to know more about an issue of current interest? Congressional Quarterly Researcher can fulfill your need. Each week it publishes substantive articles that deal with important phenomena in our society, typically with deep political ramifications. Take a look at the most recent issues, browse by topic, or search for issues important to you. Topics include cyberbullying, the drug war in Mexico, obesity in children, steroids in sports, global warming, etc.

Blurb #3

Will you need to write a term paper or a speech this semester? Take a look at one of the Library’s most interesting databases, CQ Researcher. It includes salient articles relevant to today’s most pressing issues, from Mexico’s drug wars to financial bailouts, gun rights to declining birth rates, and gay marriage to internet accuracy. Experts take sides on issues, outlining the pros and cons from their own perspectives. A large bibliography or works-cited section also proves useful for those willing to do more fulfilling, in-depth research.

Blurb # 4

Are you ready to branch out from the normal databases you usually access? This database, CQ Researcher, can help you understand issues of importance for our country, including a breakdown of its history, current situation, and future outlook. Find articles on China’s human rights, Mexico’s drug war, cyberbullying, race and politics, and much more. Each article offers other sources of information for digging deeper into the subject.

Editor's Final Edition Titled:

"For Current Events & Controversial Issues!"
Need to write a speech or a term paper on a "hot topic"? Try CQ Researcher, one of the Library's most interesting databases. Weekly reports focus on specific topics, from financial bailouts to Mexico's drug wars; gun rights to declining birth rates; gay marriage to Internet accuracy. Each includes:
• an overview of the topic
• an in-depth discussion of the current situation
• a Pro/Con section
• a very useful Chronology
• a bibliography
• an "Issue Tracker" for Related Reports.
Written by experts, all information is accurate and trustworthy. For help with CQ Researcher or any library resource, just ask at the Reference Desk!

Bathroom Newsletter

Recently, our Library began a newsletter for our restrooms. In our first issue we invited individuals to propose names for the newsletter and offered a gift certificate to the campus bookstore to the winner. "The Writing on the Stall" won the contest.

Each issue includes a little blurb about one of our databases or resources, a technology tip, a research tip from our student assistant, the Library's contact information, hours of the library, a masthead, and a few dates to celebrate from Chase's Calendar of Events. Initially, we used regular-size paper (8 1/2 by 11), but we decided to go with the legal-size paper, so we could increase the font size and still have room enough to write a few things of interest to students and patrons of our library.

Hopefully, this will make students aware of the services we provide at the Reference Desk, since we often will say they can find more help with a particular resource or with their research at the Reference Desk. Ideally, it will inform students of resources that will help them become more information literate.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Looking for Educational Institutions Around the World???

At the ISU Reference Desk I found an interesting directory called The World of Learning: 2005. This two-volume reference book includes entries of each country in the world with lists of their academic, research, and art institutions. It also contains contact information for each of these institutions as well as for learned societies. Alongside the contact information for the various universities, this book also names the professors who teach and research at the university in question.

Since the publisher relies on each institution to complete a form each time it updates the information, not all of the university entries include a full listing of faculty, but they do name at least the principal leaders, number of students, number of teachers, their librarians, and the names of their journal publications. A brief description of the university explains when it was founded and any name changes it has undergone.

This resource identifies international institutions as well as institutions within the United States. Most entries contain email and internet addresses next to the telephone number and physical address.

I suspect a resource like this would be useful for researchers and students who intend to study abroad. Researchers could contact the pertinent institutions in the country where they will travel and ask if they have any archives or resources that would be useful for their research. Students could learn quite a bit by going to such an institution to see how things differ from their own institution. Graduate students looking for programs could also learn about an institution's programs. It's a good faculty directory.