Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Using Library Experts Wisely

The article below from the InsideHigherEd blog explains some of what faculty can expect from th elibrary and what students should expect when starting out or stuck in the middle of a research project.

Don't be surprised at how much of an answer you get when you ask a question at the "Ask Us Anything" desk in the library.

"Today’s librarians bear about as much resemblance to the tight-bunned owlish matrons of 1950s films as laptops do to manual typewriters. They're more like the wizened sexton of a sprawling church, the guy with the giant ring of keys who unlocks every door, closet, and coffer. Library specialists routinely direct us to databases, DVDs, digitized archival material, recordings, hidden stacks, and journals we had no idea even existed"

Monday, August 22, 2011

Surprising things students don't know

Contrary to how librarians see themselves, a recent study in Illinois concludes "[t]he idea of a librarian as an academic expert who is available to talk about assignments and [guide students] through the research process is, in fact, foreign to most students. Those who even have the word “librarian” in their vocabularies often think library staff are only good for pointing to different sections of the stacks." What Students Don't Know

It's not that students are not succeeding in finding information to use in their papers, it's that "They’re taking very long, circuitous routes to their goals..." which can result in a dislike for the research process and possibly education in general.

Here are some other observations:

  • Faculty and librarians make assumptions about students that frequently overestimate their skills - assuming they have some idea, for example, of what a scholarly source is
  • Students who were interviewed mentioned Google more than twice as often as any other tool, but have little knowledge of how to use Google to find good academic sources
  • The central dilemma for librarians:
    • "librarians are more relevant than they have ever been, since students need guides to shepherd them through the wilderness of the Web", yet
    • “Students showed an almost complete lack of interest in seeking assistance from librarians during the search process.”
    • "Librarians are believed to do work unrelated to helping students, or work that, while possibly related to research, does not entitle students to relationships with them."
  • The central solution (and problem)
    • Because librarians hold little sway with students, they can do only so much to rehabilitate students’ habits. They need professors' help. Unfortunately, professors are not necessarily any more knowledgeable about library resources than their students are. “Faculty may have low expectations for librarians, and consequently students may not be connected to librarians or see why working with librarians may be helpful,”
    • One big reason for this: "library directors see the library as serving primarily a teaching function; professors see it above all as a purchasing agent."
  • One part of the solution for the researchers in this project - putting more of an emphasis on pragmatism vs. idealism. Seeing this pragmatic approach in a more positive light. Seeing it as helping students avoid their long circuitous research processes and substituting much more efficient search methods.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

At the Library, the week before Classes

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore... or maybe Henry Livingston, Jr.

Twas the week before Classes, when all through the place

Few students were stirring, tho faculty were preparing the chase.

The resources were checked, from the website with care,

Plus indexes for students, who would soon would be there...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Annual Student Library Research Awards - 2010-2011

Joey Sauthoff, with one of his advisors,
Prof. Paris Peet.

Rebecca Rotz with her advisor,
Dr. Freddy Siahaan.

Each year as a part of the University’s Celebration of Student Research Conference, two students who have made excellent use of library resources in their research project are singled out. This year’s library scholars were Joey Sauthoff and Rebecca Rotz. These students were honored on April 19, 2011 during the keynote address which was given by Dr. Diane Husic, Professor of Biology at Moravian College and immediate Past President of the Council of Undergraduate Research.

At the ceremony, Dr. Kirk Moll, Library Department Chair, awarded Honorable Mention and a check for $50 to Rebecca Rotz, Junior, Mathematics and Economics Major, for her research project “Factors Influencing Retirement Status (Retirement: When Will I be Ready?)” Moll presented a check for $100 to the First Prize Winner Joey Sauthoff, Senior, Criminal Justice and Interdisciplinary Arts Major, for his research projects “Scenic Designs of ‘Expecting Isabel’” and “Directing ‘An Inspector Calls.’” These awards were generously funded by Berk Laite, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Library Department.

After the ceremony both Sauthoff and Rotz displayed their research in a poster session. Sauthoff was advised in his research by Ship faculty members Prof. Paris Peet (Music and Theatre Arts) and Dr. Michael Pressler (English). Rotz was advised by Dr. Freddy Siahaan (Economics).

The Research Conference is an annual celebration of student research held each spring. This year approximately 500 students entered and displayed their research.

Students interested in applying for the 2011-2012 Award schould contact Dr. Kirk Moll - KAMOLL at

Monday, August 1, 2011

Get Summer Library Help

August is here and the semester is quickly going by. It is not too late to get some help finding some good library sources for your paper or speech. Please stop by the library "Ask Us Anything" desk to sign up for a quick, 15 minute appointment. You can also get quick help online at

Little Red Schoolhouse featured on Public TV

Karen Daniel (SU Archivist)

Shippensburg University’s Little Red Schoolhouse will be featured on television. The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) produces Humanities on the Road, a television series that airs on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN).

The purpose of the series is to provide public access to the talent from the PHC’s Commonwealth Speaker’s Bureau and to showcase non-profit organizations that host the tapings of the programs. In this case, viewers from all over Pennsylvania will learn about our Little Red Schoolhouse and SU’s dedication to education.

This is happening because in July, 2006, I received an email from Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of Education and History at New York University. He was writing a book about the history and legacy of the one-room schoolhouse and was interested in the history of the schoolhouse on our campus. He had read an article in a 1974 Phi Delta Kappan that described the Potato Point School, which was moved from its original site and reconstructed here in the early 1970s.

According to the article, both President Gilmore Seavers and his predecessor, Ralph Heiges, worked hard to raise money for the project. Alumni contributed substantial donations of funds and equipment for the restored schoolhouse. Dr. Zimmerman wanted to know if the SU Archives had any files on the project, especially what it meant to those who contributed to it. I sent him scans of correspondence, memos, records of donations, brochures, news releases, news clippings, and photos. His research resulted in a book, Small Wonder : the Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory, published by Yale University Press.

One example of how the author used archival material is a reference to a letter from Howard Etter, the last teacher in our schoolhouse, to Al Mason, our Alumni Director in 1973.

In November, 2009, a representative of the PHC invited me to apply to be the site for Jonathan Zimmerman’s program on one-room schoolhouses. The application was successful, and Shippensburg University was selected from more than 75 organizations. The episode was taped before a live audience at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 30. Dr. Zimmerman’s spoke about why and how the little red schoolhouse became an American icon.  PCN-TV will broadcast the episode to 3.3 million households next fall.

For more information contact Karen Daniel at KADANI at