Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Books in the Library

Most academic libraries buy books. Yes, they often buy lots and lots of books in order to support ongoing research. Depending on the discipline, some fields of study publish more books than others. For example, hundreds of titles get published in English, history, art, philosophy, political science, and so on. Generally speaking, the hard sciences, such as biology, medicine, engineering, mathematics, do not publish quite as many books. These disciplines tend to publish their research findings predominantly in scholarly and peer-reviewed journals.

In many cases, patrons of academic libraries can browse some of the new books in a reading room. (Admittedly, not all new books go onto the "New Books" shelf. Typically, the most attractive or eye-catching titles go on the "New Books" shelf.) Some professors like to view the recent acquisitions in the Library, especially if they have helped with the selection of the titles.

New books can also be browsed online in many library catalogs. Below is a link to a tutorial that shows how to browse new books with the Eli M. Oboler Library's catalog:
New Books in ISU's Oboler Library. Another link to this tutorial can be found on the Eli M. Oboler Library Tutorials site.

The tutorial suggests that students can browse new book titles to discover potential research projects. It seems that deciding on a topic remains one of the biggest problems students face in the research process. If they wait too long, then they will not have enough time to research the topic, they will not become as interested, and they final result may not be quite as polished.

On the other hand, browsing the new books might introduce them to a subject that piques their interest. If they go and check out a new book, then they may only need to go and find a few more sources, thus saving them time. This strategy could save them time, especially if they utilized the list of references (the bibliography) within the book. A simple title search could save time, where a keyword search might take a bit longer. Additionally, like I often express in teaching situations, if they find a "new" book they like, they can go to the shelf where that book will be located after it is no longer "new" and look around to see other books on that same topic, thus expediting the search process even further.

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