Friday, November 10, 2006

Final Blog Relections

One of my goals in blogging about my experiences on the reference desk at Woodward was to use the blog as a way of reflecting on my experiences and revisiting interesting and/or challenging questions to get as much benefit as possible from my experience.

Another course I am taking uses the content-performance matrix (pictured below) to distinguish among the five levels of content and two levels of performance. The matrix was created to help trainers develop materials that focus on the application level, rather than the remember level.

Much of what happens at the reference desk falls into the category of “perform a procedure” and “solve a problem/make an inference”. This has application to both the learning I’ve been doing in LIBR 534 and the training we do as librarians, both formally in instructional classes, and informally when patrons ask us questions. The aim is to produce searchers who can not only remember what we teach them, but actually apply it when faced with a reference problem that is different from the practice examples we have used in instruction.

Working on the reference desk this term has provided weekly review lessons in applying the various concepts, processes, procedures, and principles we’ve studied.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Interdisciplinary Questions

Some of more interesting questions at Woodward come from students who are writing essays for mandatory English courses. Often these are referrals from Koerner because they are to do with medical topics. The focus is generally non-technical, as they're writing for a general audience, although they need to use articles from refereed journals. Recently, I had a student looking for articles on the psychological effects of second-hand smoke. This sounded relatively straightforward, but most of the articles we found in PsycInfo were about the psychological effects of quitting smoking and PubMed returned articles about the physiological effects of second-hand smoke.

Google Scholar was most useful this search (as it often is in these cases) and after some digging we found a study done in the UK where they used a Likert scale to evaluate the feelings of study participants who were exposed to side-stream smoke.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More catalogue quirks

I had one of those teeth-grinding encounters with the online catalogue today. A patron came and asked if we have the Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. I typed the title in from the abbreviation she gave me, but got no hits (not an uncommon occurrence). I went to Google and found the home page of the Entomological Society of British Columbia, copied the journal title and pasted it into the Journal/Ejournal box. Still nothing came up.

Finally, I did a keyword search using the journal title and up it popped. Why didn’t it show up under a journal title search? It had been catalogued --
Title: Journal [Now why didn’t I think of that?]
Author: Entomological Society of British Columbia

Just for fun I went back and searched for “Journal” under Journal/Ejournals. It returned 3,801 hits – not the most productive way of finding what you’re looking for. However, had I searched with “Entomological Society of British Columbia” as the author, I would have found what I was after.

Cataloguing a journal with its parent institution as author seems somewhat opaque, especially if you don’t also catalogue it under its full title as a journal. I tried searching for the Canadian Medical Association Journal by listing the CMA as author. It came up, but was record 111/118.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Antibacterial Resistance

I had a young woman ask for information on the antibacterial resistance of organic substances, specifically against e-coli and staphylococcus. When I asked from which discipline she was approaching the question, she said she was a high school student working on a science project comparing the antibacterial effect of garlic oil, tea tree oil, and olive oil.

I didn’t feel I did a particularly good job drawing out exactly what she was looking for. When we searched PubMed looking for antibacterial resistance of organic substances, the results were drug-related (not surprising given the source). I did find an article that looked at the direct her to the reference section on traditional medicines, which I know has resources that cover garlic, tea tree, and olive oils.

I went back over the search after, but suspect the reason I wasn’t able to find anything particularly useful was that the term “organic substances” is too general. Had I pressed her to give me a specific organic substance that she was looking for, we might have made better progress.

Any suggestions?