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Teaching Students About Searching and Browsing Classified and Indexed Knowledge: incorporating bibliographical and library instruction into college courses

Teaching Students About Searching and Browsing Classified and Indexed Knowledge: incorporating bibliographical and library instruction into college courses

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Published by Gwen Williams
A presentation to UMKC Faculty, Librarians,
and Reference Librarian Search Committee, October 2004. Audience and purpose: Presentation to teaching faculty on ways to incorporate bibliographical and library instruction into college courses. For by learning how to consult various library tools while conducting research for actual course requirements, students would learn not only the conceptual subject matter for the course, but also would learn how to consult the library and its resources for further learning and knowing.

A presentation to UMKC Faculty, Librarians,
and Reference Librarian Search Committee, October 2004. Audience and purpose: Presentation to teaching faculty on ways to incorporate bibliographical and library instruction into college courses. For by learning how to consult various library tools while conducting research for actual course requirements, students would learn not only the conceptual subject matter for the course, but also would learn how to consult the library and its resources for further learning and knowing.

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Published by: Gwen Williams on Sep 10, 2009
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05/11/2014

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Teaching Students about Searching and Browsing Classi
ed andIndexed Knowledge:
incorporating bibliographicaland library instruction into college courses
by Gwen Williams
seealso@me.com
7 October 2004 presentation to UMKC Faculty, Librarians,and Reference Librarian Search Committee
Audience and purpose: Presentation to teachingfaculty on ways to incorporate bibliographical andlibrary instruction into college courses. For by learninghow to consult various library tools while conductingresearch for actual course requirements, students wouldlearn not only the conceptual subject matter for thecourse, but also would learn how to consult the libraryand its resources for further learning and knowing.
The various activities that people do when looking for resourcescan be described as searching and browsing activities. This seems tohold whether we are looking for print resources or for the current jackpot—electronic resources, full text, easily downloadable in PDF,easily downloadable so we can print copies on our laser printers.We would all likely agree today’s undergraduate students havedeveloped facility and ease in using search engines and browsingtechniques for navigating the web for various resources and variousreasons. We would also likely agree one of the tasks for educators of today’s college students is to
gure out ways to explain the differencesbetween, on the one hand, searching and browsing the web forpotential research paper sources and on the other, searching andbrowsing the published literature in books and journals. We may hopethat once students understand these differences in searching andbrowsing, they will also understand these are differences beyond
Copyright 2004 Williams.This work is covered by a creative commons license. Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0.http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ 
 
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criteria for publishing. We may hope they will come to understand thatsearching and browsing the published literature, available throughlibraries, are acts of searching and browsing classi
ed and indexedknowledge.Moreover, once students understand the differences between theweb and the recognized, published literature, I believe they will notonly select the published literature over “Kim’s Great Guide to GreatPlays and Homepage of Favorite Cajun Recipes” but that they will alsobe quite happy to do so. Ultimately, they will also be better prepared toanalyze and critique the credibility and authority claims of webresources they retrieve through Googling or following hyperlinks, skillsthat each of us deploy when we search and browse the web.Understanding these differences seems especially important forour students given that e-books are now available and appear poised tobecome ever more important for higher education in the near-future.Students will need a clear understanding of the print book in order toknow an e-textbook on any subject is nearer a print book than it is to awebsite.We already know that students, until they encounter scholarly journals during their university studies, tend to believe that byperiodicals we mean to suggest only newspapers or wide-circulationmagazines, readily available in bookstores, convenience stores, andoften online. And why should they think otherwise? Their experienceand knowledge indicates that they
can
 
nd
some
periodical literatureon the web. Moreover, this online reading experience and knowledgeseem intertwined with their initial confusion when we discouragesearching and browsing the web for research paper sources. For it isprobably often the case that when a student reads a newspaper articleonline and desires to read more on the particular subject, that he or shethen proceeds to the use of a search engine, and thus encounters moreweb resources—maybe more newspaper articles, maybe even Kim’swebsite, if Kim has purchased a high ranking slot in the results displayfrom Google. Little does the Googling student know he or she isembarking on the searching of an index, similar to say, Lexis-Nexis, inone respect: it is an index pointing to resources. But, unlike Lexis-Nexis, it is an index ordered on different principles, of a mostlyexclusive commercial nature, and generally based on automated
 
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machine extraction of words, as opposed to an indexing resourceconstructed on principles of classi
cation by subjects and by periodicaltype. But ultimately, I believe student confusion about searching andbrowsing the web for research paper sources results because studentsdo not yet have a clear understanding of the periodical as such.Moreover, as institutional digital repositories are planned,collected, constructed, and distributed in multimedia formats,understanding the principles of indexing and classifying knowledge, asexempli
ed by our practices in librarianship, will greatly enhance theability of persons to search and browse these rich, often unique, oftenarchival, resources. Students will especially need an understanding of indexing and classifying knowledge if they are to participate in theseexciting repository endeavors, be it as contributors or researchers.I would argue the foundations for this understanding lies withinour students learning how to search and browse the classi
ed andindexed knowledge in books and journals. I believe it is possible toeducate students on these matters by focusing our initial attention onobjects much more concrete than objects in and of the digital realm:we can teach these important principles by focusing on the print bookand the print journal. I also believe it is possible to educate ourstudents on these matters by incorporating bibliographical and libraryinstruction into courses. For by learning how to consult various librarytools while conducting research for actual course requirements,students would learn not only the conceptual subject matter for thecourse, but also would learn how to consult the library and itsresources for further learning and knowing.I am astonished whenever I encounter students who know littleabout the elements of a book, including the bibliographical description,very useful for compiling works cited pages for papers and used toconstruct library catalog records, found on the title and verso pages; thenotation apparatus, be they footnotes or endnotes, which opensmultiple possibilities or trails to follow in researching; the ready-madebibliography at the end of the book, carefully compiled by the author,enabling readers to search for known works and to assess thecomprehensiveness of the author’s own researching work; and theback-of-the-book index, which points toward particular passages in the

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