This post is more than a week late, but I was on a break and, honestly, needed to not think about anything library for a while…
Now that I’m back at my desk with my monitor perched atop 4 volumes of the 29th edition Library of Congress Subject Headings in order to help correct my horrendously bad posture that lead to the pinched nerve in my neck I thought I’d share about our effort to begin dialoging with our students about source types in databases.
The Problem: Database interfaces are, seemingly, designed for digital immigrants, but our students are digital natives…
When a 14 or 15 year old human searches a library database they typically see something that looks like this…
As a digital immigrant who started life in an analog world and even worked in a library with a bonafide “Reference Room” I have a pretty good idea about the kind of content I’ll get if I click on the Reference, Magazine, Website, or Academic Journals links above. The reality for my 14 and 15 year old frosh and sophomores trying to search more varied databases for the first time is that most of them have never seen, touched, or used a print reference source; virtually none of them have seen, touched, or used an academic journal; and shockingly few of them have seen, touched, or used magazines or newspapers!!! #Gasp #EyesBulgingEmoji #IFeelSoOld
I can wring my hands and clutch my pearls, but that doesn’t go very far in helping my students know what source type link to choose if they want to find specific kinds of information so we decided to try to give our students some basic experiences and knowledge that they all have in common that we can reference as we’re doing more specific research lessons when we see them for project sessions. Thus was born, the Museum of Not-Digital Sources. It was a limited time engagement exhibit presented by the Mid-Pacific Library and all of our frosh and sophomores came through for 40-60 minutes with their English classes.
We fired up Canva and built display cards analogous to informational plaques you might see in a real museum. We use Gale databases heavily so we decided to base most of the language and terminology they might see on the language and terminology typically found in Gale.
Much of the experience hinged on students coming to a broad understanding about the kinds of sources available to them in databases, the characteristics of each type of source, and to think about how they might use types of sources to address varying information needs.
As it turned out, I was away from campus during the week when our museum was up and running so my library partner, Nicole, saw all of the classes. Here’s slideshow of the museum experience as it looked for students.
Of course, no field trip to a museum would be complete without an activity to complete as you make your way through the museum so students completed a scavenger hunt as they went through the museum.
The museum visit wrapped up with students completing a Google Form where they were asked to apply some of what they had learned from the visit.
Our museum wasn’t the end of our discussion on sources types by any stretch of the imagination. It was just a way for us to get all of our younger high schoolers on the same page with some common knowledge and experiences that we hope to build on going forward.
How are you scaffolding knowledge about source types with your students? We’d love to see what you’re doing!
PS–If you’re considering weeding your reference collection, you might consider keeping a few copies of different types of sources. It’s always nice to have artifacts to use with students!
This explains SO MUCH: Database interfaces are, seemingly, designed for digital immigrants, but our students are digital natives…
Thanks for sharing, David!
My brain just melted. It’s so true- why would they be familiar with any of these physical sources…unless like more unfortunate offspring, they have a librarian parent? This has got me thinking about spring time initiatives and displays- and another nice excuse to partner with my humanities department. Thank you!
Well done! I wish I’d thought to do this when I was trying to explain the concept of “reference source” when teaching tertiary sources. It’s easy to forget that most younger students have never seen a print encyclopedia! Which is a really weird concept… Nice job David!
Love this. Stealing all of it. Thank you for sharing!
What a great idea! Thanks for giving me some new ideas for addressing this issue.
I love this! I’ve done something similar with classes by giving them some “hands on” time with different types of sources and then asking students to describe the source type characteristics and when/why someone would use a source. It’s truly delightful to watch teenagers read a newspaper for what is clearly the first time. We also learned that more source types than you would expect have crosswords!
The Museum of Not-digital Sources was actually inspired by something you shared about having your kids look at newspapers because most of them didn’t know about different TYPES of content within a newspaper! So, thank you!!!
I love that we can collaborate from half a world away! 🙂
Thank you for sharing this. I will be using this next year when we begin our research cycle in the fall.
OOH this is such a great idea, and so well-curated and planned out! Thank you for sharing!
Dave, I love this so much. You never cease to amaze me with your thinking.