Librarian Response, Bryn Mawr College


Questions for Librarians:
What specific resources in the social sciences do you think would best
contribute to or support student learning in the classroom? For each full-text
database, index or other web-based information source, explain briefly
how it could help expand the students' critical information gathering skills.

The Library Web Site, with its resources organized for specific disciplines
is one of the most valuable, yet under-used resources for support of student
classroom learning. It suggests databases chosen particularly for their
usefulness in terms of authority, relevance, and timeliness. By avoiding
generic web search engines, and massive metasites, both of which often
lead to ephemeral, inaccurate, tangential search results, the Library's
web pages can greatly improve research efficiency and reduce wasted time.
By pointing them to peer-reviewed, academic articles and publications,
databases provided through the Library Website helps train students to
recognize high-quality writing in their research topic. PsycInfo, the primary
index to articles in psychology and related subjects, can serve as an example.
Highly specific indexing generated by field experts, combined with an online
thesaurus, expose students to the vocabulary and organization of the literature(s)
relevant to this discipline.

What roles and responsibilities do librarians on your campus
currently assume regarding the instruction in the use of electronic information
sources in support of student and faculty research?

Librarians tend to assume typical and traditional roles. They
are called upon occasionally by select faculty to give brief (c. 50 minute)
instruction in relevant resources. Professor/course-specific instruction
sessions may occur during or outside class time; usually tied to specific
assignments. Instructor may or may not be present.
They also provide instruction as part of reference desk assistance,
often needing an extensive reference interview to clarify a student's confusion
or uncertainty about the assignment. Typically, a student may state she
is required to "use the web" in fulfilling an assignment, but is unclear
how that's supposed to happen.
In some rarer circumstances, librarians may be involved more
deeply in pedagogy. They may work with faculty behind the scenes do devise
assignments or contribute to overall course design. I have on occasion
discussed with instructors challenges in teaching in the new web environment,
where information literacy skills are more severly tested than ever before.

What goals do you have for collaboration with faculty, students,
and information technologists in the field of electronic information?

Better coordination, better communication, so that I can better
know what is needed from me and how well my efforts are succeding.

Mark Colvson