Friday, February 8, 2008

Pre- and Post- Testing to Assess Library Orientations

What do you know? What did you learn?

Library Department Head, Kim Barclay has announced the introduction of pre- and post-testing for all student orientations conducted by LBCC librarians. Students who come with their instructor for a presentation on library print and electronic information resources and how to use them effectively will be given a short (under 5 minute) test on one aspect of library research, such as the online catalog. The orientation will conclude with a second short test on the same topic to help assess whether students have understood and are able to apply the information presented.

“We want to assure ourselves that our orientations are having the desired impact on student success,” said Barclay; “test results will be a useful indicator, guiding the content and direction of future presentations as well as providing data that can be helpful with future accreditation and program review.”

Faculty perspectives will be sought too

Later this year, LBCC faculty who accompany their classes to an orientation also may be asked to provide feedback to the library about the extent to which the presentation met their needs and expectations. “It’s important to us that the library’s customers have the opportunity to tell us where we have been successful and where the content of the presentation needs to change and improve” Department Head Barclay explained.

For more information contact: Kim Barclay

Library Update #48

Student-Tested, Professor-Approved Web Resources that Work

Librarian says tapping into the “Hidden Web” helps students make the grade

With the help of general websites such as Google and, students have become savvy online searchers. But are they finding the research that’s going to help them make the grade?

Kim Barclay, LBCC Library Department Head says that even the most agile Internet searchers might be spending their time gathering research that their professors find questionable if they’re using general search engines alone. The problem lies in the fact that these popular services just can’t get at the right content, and should only be one part of a student’s research arsenal. She says that general search engines search what’s free on the Web, but often the relevant, most accurate (and professor approved) information resides in what insiders call the “Hidden Web”— expensive password-protected databases typically consulted by professional researchers and, more to the point, faculty.

“Free search engines are great for finding quick answers to simple questions, but when the answers really matter — for a research assignment or team project… when it’s going to impact your grades — we recommend using something more authoritative,” says Barclay. “Professors expect students to use research that’s relevant, reliable information vetted by scholars in the field, and the general Web doesn’t necessarily deliver that. But we do and it’s free to students, just as it’s free to our faculty.”

Barclay says you just need to add the library’s home page to your “Favorites” list. The library has dozens of educators’ most sought-after Internet resources — information sources that would typically cost thousands — available free to students. Whether your academic major is in the natural sciences, social sciences, literature, business, or other discipline, the information professionals at your library have selected databases that support your research. Tapping in through the library’s website means finding information that can help with late-night or 11th-hour research, from anywhere on or off campus.

Once on the library home page, click on the “Articles and Databases” tab on the left side of the screen. Each of the resources will be listed and will have a brief description of what you can do there. If logging in from off campus, click the “off campus access” link to “authenticate” yourself as an LBCC student or faculty member.

While used by faculty and professional researchers, Barclay says these Internet sources are easy to use, but it may take a visit or two to learn the ropes. “It’s like going to a grocery store if you’ve only shopped at the gas station’s food mart. It might take a few minutes to understand the layout, but once you do, you find the selection and quality knock the socks off the gas station’s convenience,” Barclay says.

“And if you really want some personal service, just visit the ‘live’ librarians at LAC in Building E or at PCC in Building GG,” Barclay invites. “They can provide expert advice on the ins and outs of research that can make all your reports and papers that much better in the future.”

For more information contact: Kim Barclay

Library Update #49