Librarian Response, University of Massachusetts


Q. 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

We recognize that students are demanding more online resources
that are full text. They want to be able to access the information on their
computer in the comfort of their dorm room or apartment. It has become
one of our goals to develop ways to not only provide that type of access,
but also to set up some way to instruct students to go to the library web
page first and to other internet sources as supplementary material. Statistics
at the reference desk have been declining dramatically over the years,
so we are developing initiatives that will take reference and instruction
services to the students and the classrooms.

To answer the first question I will list some of the resources
we subscribe to in the social sciences that we feel support student learning
and then I'll discuss what initiatives we are undertaking to expand students'
critical information gathering skills.

Although we still subscribe to the print indexes and abstracting
services for the social sciences, we are slowly dropping those to purchase
online databases. I will not list the print resources, but only the social
science electronic resources (fewer than what we have in print). Unless
specified, they are citation and abstracting databases.

1. America History and Life: North American history, 1964-
2. Boston Globe: Comprehensive full text coverage of Massachusetts
business and economy, 1980-.
3. CAB Abstracts: land use, agriculture, rural sociology, tourism,
etc. 1993-
4. Center for Research Libraries: collections include more than five
million volumes of research materials rarely held in North American libraries.
5. ComAbstracts, communications, 1980-
6. Contemporary Women's Issues (full text)
7. Dun and Bradstreet Million Dollar Database: Covers 1,260,000 U.S.
leading public and private businesses.
8. EconLit (economics worldwide, 1969-)
9. Electric Library: (full text) over 6 million 100% full-text documents
from six different media sources updated daily
10. ERIC (education, 1966-): We will be subscribing to the full text
documents component of the database (currently on microfiche).
11. Ethnic NewsWatch, the U.S. ethnic presses, 1993-
12. Expanded Academic ASAP: scholarly and general periodicals, some
full text, 1980-
13. General BusinessFile ASAP: business periodicals, some full text,
14. HAPI: Hispanic American Periodicals Index , 1970-
15. Historical Abstracts: history, non-U.S. and Canada, 1969-
16. IDEAL: 250+ full text journals, 1996-
17. JSTOR: full text backfiles of 100+ scholarly journals
18. Latin American Database: news and educational service on Latin
19. LegalTrac: law journal article citations, 1980-
20. LEXIS/NEXIS Academic Universe: thousands of full text titles in
law, news, business, and reference, 1980-
21. PAIS International: international public policy, 1972-
22. Project Muse: Johns Hopkins UP full text journals-recent.
23. PsycINFO: psychology, 1887-
24. SocioFile (Sociology and related fields from 1974 on-)
25. Sport Discus: sports science, physical fitness, 1975-
26. Sports Business Research Network (full text sporting goods equipment
market reports, trade magazines, newsletters, consumer market statistics)
27. Standard and Poors Net Advantage: financial information
28. Statistical Universe (indexes 5,000 federal statistical publications,
1000 state and nonprofit publications, 2000 international publications.
Links to full-text in public domain.
29. Stat USA (full text of business, trade, and economic documents
from 15 U.S. government agencies. Includes government periodicals, books,
import/export statistics, and market reports.

We will continue to add more databases and full text resources.
Providing access to library resources, however, is not, in itself, sufficient.

In addition, we are committed to developing web pages for each subject
area that can be used to support the curriculum for that discipline. We
have begun designing pages that include the course assignments and the
library and Internet sources that should be the first point of reference
for that particular assignment. These web pages are products of direct
and ongoing communication and class visits with faculty in the discipline
and are tailored for each course. Librarians attempt to insert critical
thinking and evaluative aspects with the resources and during their presentations
to the classes. A main objective for our library is to publicize our services
and be so connected with the departments that students will always go to
"their" subject web page first.

Other initiatives we are undertaking are developing web modules
for information literacy. One is a series of modules geared for the freshman
and sophomore that could be used individually to teach about the world
of information, books, journals and evaluating resources. The other is
a web course to be offered for credit geared towards juniors that teaches
more of the sources and functions of information in society.

Q. 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?

Currently all subject specialists assume responsibility for teaching
information sessions when requested by someone from their constituency.
We tailor classes to the needs of each group and consistently spend the
bulk of our session on electronic resources (how to effectively search),
as well as selected web sites of importance for that subject area. English
112 classes are coordinated by our Library Instruction Coordinator. We
also set up independent research consultations and workshops for database
and Internet searching.

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

We would like to expand upon our ability to be a "team" with
the others and be proactive, rather than reactive, in our desire to bring
the information to the students and faculty, regardless of their location.
To do so will require much more contact with these individuals prior to
the semester, in order to develop appropriate web pages that will support
the curriculum for each faculty member.

Another dilemma is that many of our students do not have OIT
accounts and are not able to access our library databases if they are not
in the library, even though they are students here. Easier access for students
out of the area also needs to occur. Librarians have not interacted much
with staff from OIT. Currently, the librarians have been learning web applications
by themselves without much support. It would be a real asset to have a
stronger connection with OIT for support, rather than looking elsewhere,
as we now do.

Lori Mestre
Education Reference Librarian, Interim Co-Head of Reference
University of Massachusetts, Amherst