We know. We know. Libraries are confusing. You are not the only one to feel this way. In fact, there have been countless academic studies conducted on how terrible people feel about library systems. There is even a word for it: “Library Anxiety.” It’s a feeling of fear, confusion, and general panic that when you enter the library, you may not know what to do. Some even suggest that the library is akin to many other arts and cultural organizations – designed to make you feel stupid.
Yes, stupid! Last year, several major art museums conducted a survey to see what people were thinking or feeling when they visited and perused the art collections. Some of the things people had to say were: “I don’t know where to start,” “I don’t know what to look at first,” and “Your labels make me feel stupid.” It’s hard to deny that similar feelings aren’t felt by patrons of the library. Just replace the word “labels” with “databases” and you get the idea that we feel your pain.
Don’t worry, there is an anecdote. This summer, your librarian, Elena Heilman, will be teaching a 1 unit online course on basic library research (LibSc-1 information). Here is some information on what you can hope to learn. Also, check out the summer 2011 catalog and course schedule for more information:
Catalog/Class Schedule Description
This course will help students acquire beginning information literacy skills necessary to conduct academic or personal research. It provides a step-by-step guide to the research process that is applicable to term papers, course work, and life-long learning. It emphasizes developing effective search strategies, selecting information tools, locating and retrieving information sources, analyzing and critically evaluating information, and using information.
At the conclusion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Select, analyze and develop a research topic
- Plan a research strategy
- Choose relevant books and periodical articles
- Apply database search techniques
- Organize and analyze information
- Evaluate and cite information sources
- Recognize ethical and legal issues regarding plagiarism and copyright
Actually, library systems aren’t as difficult as they appear, but it does help to know your way around them. It’s like learning how to use Facebook or Twitter when they first came on the scene. You weren’t born knowing how to use them were you? Library research is much the same way. No one expects you to know how to do it magically. So, give this course a chance and you might never experience “library anxiety” again. We promise, we’ll make you feel smart!