Assignments

Easter is almost upon us, pesky presentations are ancient history, but assignments have materialised out of the ether – or so some of our students would have you believe.

In common with most libraries, we are closing for the long weekend. This seems to have come as a shock to those who have a couple of assignments due at the beginning of May – less than two weeks away!

Most of our students are well prepared. Today several were gathered around the Issue Desk, having finished an exam. It’s interesting listening to them chat  about their forthcoming assignments. One young man mused about spending ‘forever’ getting his references together. He thought he knew where they all were and merrily sprinkled his assignment with citations, only to discover that he didn’t know what they were after all. Three hours it took him to sort them out. “Never again”, he said.

Another lad labouriously put his references into alphabetical order manually, and had just finished when his girlfriend came in and pointed out that Word can do that for you! Next time.

It makes me sad that we have somehow failed to convey to the students available tools which could make their lives easier – such as Reference Manager or Write-n-Cite. It is a combination of too many new concepts, ideas, and not realising how relevant these things might be.

Unlike the aforementioned students, others are not organised. A few days ago, a couple of students came seeking books on congenital malformations [though that’s not their actual topic!]. They didn’t want to hear about broadening search terms, or hints that perhaps journal articles might be more appropriate.

According to them, the library was useless, it didn’t have ANY books, and those that are here are too old! Nothing more than two years would suffice. I’m sure that most of us working in a library have felt that at some point, and those of us who have been thwarted as students in our search for material, might concur.

Fortunately in our institution, every library user has access to a Subject Specialist, who will spend time teaching search skills and  going over the intricacies of expert searching of databases. Or just how to access information more effectively.

However, if the students leave it to the last minute, as these ladies had, the Subject Specialists can be booked up, that’s when life becomes difficult. This is especially true of those who are computer phobic or computer illiterate. [Is there a difference?].

Truly we want to help; it’s disappointing for us, if someone leaves dissatisfied, which almost happened to these ladies. They didn’t get the exact books they wanted, but they did get textbooks with large chapters on their subject. They decided they didn’t have time to make an appointment with a Subject Specialist and had no idea of the relevance of using a database.

An extremely quick demonstration of what CINAHL was and how to access it, revealed two full text articles which delighted them. They went off to explore for themselves and left delighted with their progress, promising to see the Subject Specialist and not to leave the research to the last minute. Happy days.

By the way, I haven’t forgotten that I promised to talk more about our self-service machines – or lack of. Another topic in the near future is the eBook. Love to have your comments – Happy Easter.

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. debhuntinbrokenhill
    Apr 17, 2014 @ 23:57:13

    Sounds like I could do with you sitting beside me when I search the internet and flinch at the sight of ten million articles on topics I’m not remotely interested in! What’s CINAHL?

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    • Carricklass
      Apr 18, 2014 @ 20:53:57

      Thanks for asking Deborah, and sorry for posting an acronym assuming that everyone would know what I was talking about. CINAHL is cumulated index to nursing and allied health. A great database for nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. It is American, therefore midwives have to take care as the profession is so different in the USA.

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