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One New Thing
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
One New Thing: Looking before I leap

I know there is heaps and heaps of information available on the topic they are studying: but from now on I won’t let them know my expectations until I know how many websites they need, how many journal articles they have to get that have to be more than a certain number of pages long, and how many books that aren’t textbooks (their textbook? anyone’s textbook? a picture book, not one with words?) that they should look at. Any librarian can tell you there’s stuff in books that’s not on the web and vice versa: so it’s strange to be looking on the web for something you know is better found in journals, because students are expected to show by their references that they can use several kinds of sources…

This is an example of what I call the Librarian Challenge, when you perform the sorts of tasks you might be more likely to do in a game show rather than in real life, in order to test your librarian skills. (My last go at this game was when we got the Blaster worm on the catalogue computers, and the Librarian Challenge was to look up the catalogue and find the books before the computer rebooted itself. “You have twenty seconds remaining…!”)

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