Recommended Reading on Web Search, Distance Education, Computer Protection, and Branding. (Hard Copy)

Article excerpt

This month I look at strategies for searching the Web and providing resources for those at a distance, protecting your PC from malicious intruders, and mBranding and wireless communication.

*** 1/2

Super Searchers Go to School: Sharing Online Strategies with K-12 Students, Teachers, and Librarians by Joyce Kasman Valenza

ISBN: 0-910965-70-6

Published: 2005

Pages: 255 pp.; softcover

Price: $24.95

Available from: Information Today, Inc., 143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055; 800/300-9868; www.infotoday.com

Although this book's title specifies K-12 grades (kindergarten through the end of secondary school), it actually applies to students of all ages. I work with adults and find many of the same issues cropping up again and again. Number one: Students think they are expert searchers. How do you overcome that attitude and help students learn to use new tools and to critically analyze retrieved materials?

This is what this wonderful book is all about--sharing teaching and learning strategies. Unlike many of the previous books in the series, this one focuses less on tools and more on planning, although a number of search tools are mentioned and listed in the appendix to the book. However, there are many more reference works--books, journals, and teaching tools listed than actual search resources.

The author, a school librarian, columnist, and author of two previous books and many articles, interviewed 12 experienced teacher/librarian/technologists to find out how they encourage their students, young or old, to learn. Each of the interviewees has a different perspective, but all face common problems of getting students' attention and encouraging them think critically. The use and development of pathfinders is commonly discussed, as well as the issue of how much help to give a student.

If you are involved in teaching anyone how to search the Internet, you will learn from this book. At the very minimum, you will get new strategies for motivating your students [you'll most likely find new resources to teach them as well).

** 1/2

Internet Reference Support for Distance Learners edited by William Miller and Rita M. Pellen

ISBN: 0-7890-2938-3

Published: 2004

Pages: 212 pp.; softcover

Price: $29.95

Available from: Haworth Information Press, 10 Alice St., Binghamton, NY 13904-1580; 800/429-6784; www.haworthpress.com

What is a distance learner? That is one of the issues brought out loud and clear in this book: Even students on your own campus may be "distance" learners because they prefer not to set foot in the library. An on-campus student could be connecting with a "distance librarian" when collaboration between libraries results in reference chat being covered by someone in another part of the state or country. In other words, even those who think they don't have distance learners should probably be dealing with the issues presented in this book.

The book is a collection of 13 articles, most of which provide practical case studies of how a particular institution implemented or enhanced its offerings to those patrons not physically located in the library. The information is a little dated, as technologies change quickly in this area, but it is still useful.

In particular, the intersection of many technologies (not just for reference, but for online courseware, chat and IM, portals, and content management) complicates the picture of just what is meant by the phrase "virtual reference." It seems many libraries are struggling with unrealistic expectations from students, limited budgets, and an expanding universe of digital content. What to provide students and how to do it is an issue of wide debate.

Those wanting to offer services to users in a remote location (which could be an office down the hall) will gain insight from the experiences described in this book. …