The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know

The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know

The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know

The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know

Excerpt

This book attempts to answer the questions every student has about conducting college-level library research. For years, I have watched undergraduates approach each new research assignment—whether to write a short essay, review previous work in a field, support a debate position, or gather primary and secondary sources for a long term paper—as if they have never needed information before. Yet I know they have successfully discovered facts and ideas since childhood, so why is every project such a struggle? Technology alone is not to blame: students were puzzled and anxious about how to do library research long before Web searching became everyone's first, and often only, method of information gathering.

I think part of the problem has to do with unfamiliar surroundings and unrealistic expectations. No two libraries are exactly alike. Each has a distinctive book and periodical collection and its own array of electronic resources. People who can quickly orient themselves to other complex places, such as a large shopping mall or a busy airport, somehow have trouble functioning in a strange library, or when presented with a vast array of choices on a computer screen. College faculty assume students are already acquainted with a handful of reference works and that they can find background information and use an online catalog and article database on their own. Many professors . . .

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