Librarian Response, Haverford College


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.

Given the breadth of the disciplines encompassed by the social
sciences, it is a bit difficult to name specific sources which would be
useful across all of the disciplines. So, I will answer the question with
a selection of the types of resources rather than specific resources:
Given the continuing importance of journal literature, I think
that it remains important for students to learn the basics of what an index
is, how one is structured, how one searches, and then how to apply that
basic knowledge to a discipline-specific index, e.g., PsychINFO, Sociological
Abstracts, EconLIT, etc. The emphasis in teaching this should be in giving
the students a knowledge of the purpose and structure of this type of source
so that s/he can transfer that knowledge to new situations. In fact, given
the rate of change when it comes to the specifics of electronic resources
(access software, interface design, etc.), this is the emphasis which all
of our instruction in this area should have.

In economics and sociology, the use of survey datasets, statistical
series data (usually in a combination of print and electronic forms) and
other types of statistics is becoming increasingly necessary. At present
we have only a relatively small number of senior thesis students needing
this type of resource, but given the increased accessibility of such sources
via the Internet and the greater computing power available to students
on their desktops, I can only imagine that the need will grow both in numbers
of students and in complexity. I would like to see a more integrated and
proactive approach to providing support to students in this area--one in
which faculty advisors, computing staff and librarians could provide advice
and guidance to students during the thesis formulation so that they know
not only whether relevant datasets exist but also what type of support
they can expect to receive in downloading, extracting and manipulating
the data in order that they can make informed decisions about whether or
not to pursue thesis research which requires this type of resource.

I do not have alot of experience with simulation/scenario building
software but I think that there are probably curriculum areas in which
such products would be useful tools. They may, in fact, already be in use
by some of our faculty. I am thinking of products such as SimCity, Virtual
U, Capitalism, which allow the user to explore the impact of various actions/policies
on an imaginary city/organization/corporation. I am not sure how the library
would fit into this. Perhaps there are ways to customize some scenarios
by incorporating real-life background info and data. I have not given this
a great deal of thought. It really just occurred to me.

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?

We do the standard lecture/demo type of library instruction and,
of course, one-on-one instruction at the reference desk. As both traffic
at the desk and the willingness of faculty to "give up" a class period
for library instruction decrease, we really need to explore other means
of delivering instruction and other forms of outreach. We also take part
in some ACC workshops for faculty and staff.

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

I'd like to see a more integrated approach--one in which faculty
and librarians and IT staff communicate with each other more often and
in a more proactive way. Involvement of all parties earlier in the development
process would lead to better designed projects and assignments. We, of
course, know this already and have always known it. The trick is to find
ways to make it happen given time and resource constraints.

Mary Lynn Morris, Acting Science Librarian
(Also Electronic Services, Government Information, and Economics)
Haverford College, 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041-1392