January, 1999 . The electronic newsletter of the University Library, University of South Alabama, published irregularly as a service to the University Community.


TO: USA Faculty
FROM: Reference Librarians
DATE: 1/5/99
RE: Library and Information Literacy

Most commonly heard at the Reference Desk:

"I didn't know you had that!"
"I didn't know I could do that!"
"I can't BELIEVE this library doesn't have...."
"I don't need to learn this. I just go to the Internet!"
"I've just spent the last TWO HOURS searching the Internet and I can't find anything/any articles!"
"I've never used the library before." OR "I've never been in the library before." which is usually ended "...and my paper is due tomorrow."
"You don't have this journal! Can't I just call the journal and have them fax me the article? I need it tonight?"
"I don't know anything about this topic!" "...but my professor said I couldn't use an encyclopedia!"
"Why can't I find any articles on my topic? I've been searching the catalog for hours!"
"What's a journal?"
"Where are your journals? I need to find some articles."
"I can just get this from the computer, right?"
"Show me how to get to the Library of Congress Internet site. I can get everything I need there!"
"I just need ANY article on.... I have to take it to class in five minutes!"
"Here's my scavenger list from my professor.... I don't know what to do."
"My professor said it would be in Reference." We: "Do you mean Reserve? " They: "Whatever."

And these are from students who actually come to the Reference Desk! What about all those who are too afraid to ask their questions? These students aren't stupid. Most didn't learn how to do research in high school; it is not an intuitive skill. In some ways library research is harder now because of the enormous amount of information available in a variety of formats and because of the media-inspired misconceptions of the Internet which students have to overcome.

Library Instructional Services offers several solutions to the problem of students who don't know how a library works or how to do research, but we need the help of the faculty to apply these solutions. We have a webpage, Research, on the library homepage(library.southalabama.edu) and every semester we offer:

open tours of the library facility,
open classes on the use of the catalog and some of the databases,
demos of Internet searching, its value and its limitations, and
faculty-requested library sessions ( often geared to a particular research assignment).

If you have students who have never used the University Library, encourage them to attend a library tour, a class on how to use the catalog and a few basic databases, or even an Internet class. However, since our experience is that very few students will attend these open sessions without a carrot, consider giving a few extra credit points for attending. We will give them some proof of attendance which you can use as verification. Please do not send whole classes for the open session—they are first-come, first-served and limited in size. Do call us for an appointment for a special session covering whatever you think they need. Only with your help will our students acquire the information skills they must have to prosper at the University and in the future. Attached is the schedule of tours and open sessions whcih you may copy and handout as needed. This schedule is also available on library webpages--Research and Newsletter.

Call Jan Sauer at 460-6045 if you have questions.

SOUTHcat Plus
University Homepage
To make comments or suggestions, or to get more information, call (334) 460-6045 or e-mail Jan Sauer.
  Last updated: 1/14/99. js
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