Written by: Emilia Marcyk
Primary Source: Information Literacy Resources
How will you describe SearchPlus to students this fall, either in the classroom or on the reference desk? Consider these suggestions from the literature:
Buck and Steffy (2013) surveyed 71 librarians across the country about teaching with discovery tools. One part of the survey asked librarians to choose descriptions that they found helpful when introducing a discovery tool to students. The most commonly chosen descriptions were:
Description: Response (percentage of respondents who found description useful)
- A place to “launch” your research: 57%
- Search across the library databases: 51%
- One-stop shopping: 50%
- All of the library content in one spot: 44%
- Like Google: 41%
- Interdisciplinary tool for finding information on all topics: 40%
- Credible sources all together: 34%
- Use a demonstration instead: 32%
- Like Google Scholar: 15%
(Buck and Steffy 72)
They also found that librarians used metaphors to describe discovery tools. One librarian compared Google to Walmart (has everything, but quality varies) and the discovery layer to a boutique (has less, but curated for quality). Others pointed to the similarities between online shopping sites and the discovery tool, especially when talking about facets.
In their 2011 survey of librarians at the Oregon State University Libraries, Buck and Mellinger found that librarians at the reference desk talked about the discovery tool as a “good starting point” or as place to find a few articles, especially when a subject-specific database was not available for a student’s topic. In the classroom, librarians tended to recommend the discovery layer based on appropriateness to the subject of the class.
Do you already use any of the descriptions or approaches above? What language have you used to introduce SearchPlus to students? What works and what doesn’t?
Buck, Stefanie, and Margaret Mellinger. “The Impact of Serial Solutions Summon on Information Literacy Instruction: Librarian Perceptions.” Internet Reference Services Quarterly 16.4 (2011): 159-81. Web.
Buck, Stefanie, and Christina Steffy. “Promising Practices in Instruction of Discovery Tools.” Communications in Information Literacy 7.1 (2013): 66-80. Web.
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