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E-books and Readers’ Advisory

Barry Trott, Column Editor
Katie Dunneback, Guest Columnist

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E-books are on the minds of publishers, authors, and readers these days. And they should be on the minds of librarians as well. As with any new format for materials, there are challenges and issues that libraries face in adding e-books to their collections. (more…)

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From Reference Librarian to Interim Dean: A Journey of Comparisons and Contrasts

Marianne Ryan, Editor
Mark Stover, Guest Columnist

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The path to becoming an academic library dean is not prescriptive nor necessarily linear. Each ascends to that post in a unique way; all come from different backgrounds and experiences. For some, such a position is a goal from the start of their careers; they lay careful groundwork and make strategic choices to chart their course. In other cases, the decision to move into management evolves as the career unfolds, making it seem logical or even necessary to consider moving on to an administrative opportunity. (more…)

Farewell Stacks … Hello Digital

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Many individuals helped create this memorable volume. Tim Clifford, our production editor at ALA Production Services, is responsible for the great cover graphic commemorating the journal’s fiftieth anniversary. The members of the RUSQ Editorial Advisory Board helped authors to create their best work by offering thoughtful and constructive feedback. (more…)

Announcing the Move of Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) to an Online Publication

Barry Trott, President

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At the 2011 Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) Board voted unanimously to approve the move of the division’s professional journal, Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ), to a solely online publication beginning in fall 2011. (more…)

A Reference Librarian in Special Collections: Making the Most of a Learning Opportunity

Diane Zabel, Editor
Maureen Perry, Guest Columnist

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Many librarians have been asked to take on additional responsibilities during these tight economic times. In this column, Maureen Perry writes about what she learned from her year as a hybrid librarian, splitting her time between reference and special collections. (more…)

Libraries As the Spaces Between Us: Recognizing and Valuing the Third Space

James K. Elmborg

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Much has been written recently about the “library as place.” This essay approaches the question of library space philosophically, arguing that developing commercial attitudes toward space leads us away from more productive ways of conceiving libraries. A concept called Third Space is introduced, and its relevance to libraries and librarianship is explored. (more…)

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The Reading List 2011

RUSA CODES Reading List Council

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The Reading List annually recognizes the best books in eight genres: adrenaline (which includes suspense, thriller, and adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and women’s fiction. (more…)

Outstanding Reference Sources: The 2011 Selection of Titles

RUSA CODES Reference Sources Committee

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The Outstanding Reference Source list of titles identifies the most important reference publications for small- and medium-sized public and academic libraries published in a given year. (more…)

Notable Books: The 2011 Selection of Titles

RUSA Notable Books Council

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Since 1944, the Notable Books Council has annually selected a list of twenty-five very good, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader. (more…)

The Compleat Philosophy Librarian

Neal Wyatt, Editor
Wayne Bivens-Tatum, Guest Columnist

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Philosophy can be considered one of the “key” subjects, unlocking as is does much of the theoretical conversations that take place in other fields. It can also be a daunting proposition for librarians trying to develop a collection that is broad enough to capture the subject, yet deep enough to take users beyond a rudimentary level. (more…)

Higher Education and Emerging Technologies: Student Usage, Preferences, and Lessons for Library Services

Erin Dorris Cassidy, James Britsch, Glenda Griffin, Tyler Manolovitz, Lisa Shen, and Linda Turney

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This study examines the utilization and preference of popular Internet and communication technologies among students at Sam Houston State University (SHSU), a Carnegie Research Doctoral University in East Texas. The researchers wished to study the local relevance of various technology trends reported in librarianship literature and then to use the survey data to inform decisions regarding library service development. (more…)

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The Impact of Social Marketing Strategies on the Information Seeking Behaviors of College Students

Lisa O’Connor and Kacy Lundstrom

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Effects of social marketing strategies on student research behaviors were investigated. Three objectives were identified as target behaviors for change: (1) decrease procrastination due to the illusion of immediacy (2) increase students’ willingness to seek expert assistance when it is warranted, and (3) increase the selection of information sources based on criteria other than the information need itself, which includes the habituated and automatic use of Internet sources based on the assumption that they are more convenient, reliable, and easy to use. (more…)

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Identifying Reusable Resources in Digital Reference Responses

Jeffrey Pomerantz

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Are the resources provided in answers to reference questions reusable for answering future reference questions? This study seeks to answer this question as a means to address the scalability problem of human-mediated reference work. Using the Internet Public Library’s archive of over eighty thousand records of answered reference questions, this study identifies (1) what resources are provided in responses to digital reference questions, (2) the extent to which these resources are reusable in future responses, and (3) the useful lifespan of a resource that has been provided. (more…)

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“Are We Getting Warmer?”: Query Clarification in Live Chat Virtual Reference

Marie L. Radford, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Patrick A. Confer, Susanna Sabolcsi-Boros, and Hannah Kwon

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As virtual reference services (VRS) have become vital alternatives to traditional face-to-face (FtF) and phone reference, guidelines for best practices emerged to ensure that users are being well served across different modes of service delivery. (more…)

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Updating Your Tool Belt: Redesigning Assessments of Learning in the Library

Karen Sobel and Kenneth Wolf

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Most librarians and staff who perform library instruction in academic settings place a high value on assessment. They understand that determining what our students bring with them to the instruction lab and what they learn during the hour we teach them helps improve teaching. (more…)

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Materials Matchmaking: Articulating Whole Library Advisory

Barry Trott, Editor
Tara Bannon Williamson, Guest Columnist

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As noted in this column in RUSQ 48(2) (“Building on a Firm Foundation: Readers’ Advisory Over the Next Twenty Five Years”), one of the challenges facing readers’ advisors in the coming years will be format-based advisory. (more…)

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Entering Unfamiliar Territory: Building an Information Literacy Course for Graduate Students in Interdisciplinary Areas

Lisa O’ Connor, Editor
Jill Newby, Guest Columnist

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There has been a long-standing interest within the academic librarian community to provide support for graduate students involved in interdisciplinary research. (more…)

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Resource Description and Access (RDA): An Introduction for Reference Librarians

Diane Zabel, Editor
Liz Miller, Guest Columnist

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A new cataloging code, Resource Description and Access (RDA) was published in June 2010 and has been undergoing tests at select libraries. (more…)

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All Together Now!: Integrating Virtual Reference in the Academic Library

Vicky Duncan and Angie Gerrard

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Although much has appeared in the literature regarding the initiation of virtual reference services, to date a case study discussing online reference service’s integration into an academic library’s current suite of reference services has not been written. At the University of Saskatchewan, the integration process forced the library to take a broader look at reference services as a whole (more…)

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New-Wave Knitting: Thirty-Eight Resources for a Core Collection

Neal Wyatt, Editor
Kathleen Collins, Guest Columnist

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As the crafting trend continues apace, knitting remains very popular as the seemingly endless number of titles published on the subject, in print and online, can attest. How do we know which books and resources will best serve our patrons, and where do we turn for guidance and hands-on (as it were) reviews? (more…)

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A Model of the Reference and Information Service Process: An Educators’ Perspective

Denise E. Agosto, Lily Rozaklis, Craig MacDonald, and Eileen G. Abels

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Over the past decade and a half, reference and information services have increasingly moved away from library reference desks and away from libraries’ print collections into the electronic world. (more…)

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Citation Management Software: Features and Futures

M. Kathleen Kern, Editor
Merinda Kaye Hensley, Guest Columnist

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Reference, instruction, and technology come together in the arena of research support. No matter the level of the researcher (from the student writing his or her first high school research paper to the Nobel prize–winning scientist) source citation is fundamental to good research. (more…)

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Guidelines for Resource-Sharing Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters

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This guideline began with a report prepared by the Task Force on Resource-Sharing Response to Natural Disasters, June 2007. (more…)

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Food and Travel: Twin Readers’ Advisory Pleasures

Barry Trott, Editor
Brad Hooper, Guest Columnist

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Sometimes we can get so caught up in the minutia of our daily work that we forget the passion that brought us to the library profession, and to readers’ advisory work in particular. In this issue’s column, Brad Hooper rekindles some of that passion as he looks at the connections that readers’ advisors can make between food writing and travel writing. (more…)

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Facilitating Students’ Intellectual Growth in Information Literacy Teaching

Gabrielle K. W. Wong, Guest Columnist

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To graduate as self-guided, motivated lifelong learners, university students must become information literate. Teaching information literacy (IL) skills has long been a core role of librarians. As information and communication technology evolves, the focus of IL teaching changes with it. (more…)

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Catching On: Management Training in Depository Libraries

Marianne Ryan, Editor

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On July, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced that he would retire from his position at the end of the current baseball season. Although the season didn’t end until October and spring training doesn’t start until February of next year, there was immediate buzz and much speculation about who would be the next skipper of the storied franchise. It is never too early to start looking for a good manager. (more…)

The Role of the Academic Reference Librarian in the Learning Commons

Judith A. Wolfe, Ted Naylor, and Jeanetta Drueke, Guest Columnists

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Frontline reference librarians purvey their skills in a variety of reference service models. These range from the traditional to the tiered to the information commons (IC) to the learning commons (LC). Libraries might use one pure form of any model, a hybrid model, or a model in the process of transformation. (more…)

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Who Says There’s a Problem?: A New Way to Approach the Issue of “Problem Patrons”

Shelley Ferrell

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This article compares the concept of the “problem patron” in the library and information science (LIS) and nursing literatures as the basis for developing a new framework for use in LIS. The trend in the LIS literature has been to identify either the patron or the patron’s behavior as the problem. (more…)

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A Blueprint for Building Online Reference Knowledge Bases

Boris Bosančić

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This paper presents a theoretical framework for understanding the process of generating and storing knowledge from online reference service transactions. Terminology for this study has not been sufficiently developed in scholarly work, so this paper uses the phrase “online reference knowledge base” (ORKB) to denote a place for storing knowledge generated from online reference services. (more…)

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Finding Articles and Journals Via Google Scholar, Journal Portals, and Link Resolvers: Usability Study Results

Lydia Dixon, Cheri Duncan, Jody Condit Fagan, Meris Mandernach, and Stefanie E. Warlick

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Finding journal titles and journal articles are two of the toughest tasks on academic library webpages. Challenges include choosing the best tools, using terms that make sense, and guiding the user through the process. In addition, the continued development of Google Scholar raises the question of whether it could become a better tool for finding a full-text article than link resolver software or journal portals. To study these issues, researchers at James Madison University analyzed results from two usability tests. (more…)

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“The Rolls Royce of the Library Reference Collection”: The Subject Encyclopedia in the Age of Wikipedia

John W. East

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This paper reviews the development of the subject encyclopedia as an information resource and evaluates its present role, with particular focus on the academic library. The paper looks especially at online subject encyclopedias and the extent to which academic libraries are facilitating and promoting access to these resources. (more…)

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Clean, Green, and Not So Mean: Can Business Save the World?

2010 BRASS Program Planning Committee

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No matter how you define it, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a hot topic. From community investing to business ethics to environmental sustainability and beyond, proponents of CSR view the business landscape through a lens that focuses less on profitability and more on the greater good. (more…)

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Outstanding Business Reference Sources: The 2010 Selection of Recent Titles

BRASS Business Reference Sources Committee

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Each year at the ALA Annual Conference, the Business Reference Sources Committee of RUSA’s Business Reference and Services Section (BRASS) meets to select the outstanding business reference sources published since May of the previous year. With all due respect to the familiar and longstanding column title, committee members have come to think of our charge more broadly as finding the most outstanding business information sources, the better to reflect the evolving nature of the formats and means of accessing business information to meet reference needs. (more…)

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Best of the Best Business Websites (Free Resources): The 2010 Selection

Business Reference and Services Section Education Committee

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Welcome to the second annual presentation of the “Best of the Best Business Websites (Free Resources).” These three websites were selected by the Business Reference and Services Section (BRASS) Education Committee, which is a part of RUSA. The committee is responsible for compiling and selecting the best free online resources to meet business librarians’ needs in serving their user populations. (more…)

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A Selection of Core Resources for Readers’ Advisory Service

Neal Wyatt, Editor

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What would happen if you asked a group of readers’ advisory (RA) librarians—ranging from some of the top experts in the field to sharp readers who recently graduated from library school—to handpick a collection of professional tools, including books, articles, websites, blogs, and databases? You would get an eclectic collection of hard-working titles and sites that serve the daily needs of on-the-desk staff, foundational texts that set the standards of the service, and idiosyncratic picks that seem to always provide inspiration. (more…)

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The Development of the Virtual Notebook, a Wiki-Based Ready Reference Technology

Matthew M. Bejune and Sara E. Morris

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Traditionally, library professionals have used a variety of ready reference technologies to assist in providing reference and user services. Technologies such as card files, vertical files, and reference notebooks are frequent components of library service desks. Ready reference technologies serve many purposes, most notably, helping staff to answer frequently asked questions and facilitating the sharing of information between library staff. This paper traces the development of the Virtual Notebook, a wiki-based ready reference technology, at Purdue University. (more…)

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Best Historical Materials

RUSA History Section Historical Materials Committee

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Welcome to the annual review of the “Best Historical Materials.” Each year members of the Historical Materials Committee, RUSA History Section identify and review valuable and unique English-language print bibliographies and websites of interest to the historical community. With the increase in free and fee-based electronic indexes and databases, both the production and value of lengthy print bibliographies have diminished. However, this year the group selected three print bibliographies and four websites for inclusion in our annual list. (more…)

Best Free Reference Websites: Twelfth Annual List

RUSA Machine-Assisted Reference Section

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Welcome to the twelfth annual “Best Free Reference Websites” list. In 1998, the Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of RUSA appointed an ad hoc task force to develop a method of recognizing outstanding reference websites. The task force became a formal committee at the 2001 ALA Annual Conference, and now it is appropriately named the MARS Best Free Reference Websites Committee. (more…)

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Happy Anniversary, RUSQ

Diane Zabel, Editor

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This volume marks a milestone for RUSA. RUSA’s journal is celebrating its fiftieth year. The first volume of our division’s journal was published in November 1960. This inaugural issue of RQ (the title preceding RUSQ) was eight pages long. In the past fifty years, our journal has come a long way in terms of length and production quality. Issues now average 104 pages in length, and the top notch staff at ALA Production Services is responsible for the crisp and contemporary design. While the look and feel of the journal has changed over the past half-century, the journal has consistently published a balance of thoughtful articles on practice and empirically based articles on issues in reference and public services librarianship. (more…)

Protection, Not Barriers: Using Social Software Policies to Guide and Safeguard Students and Employees

Brian K. Kooy and Sarah K. Steiner

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Academic librarians have been using social software and networking sites for public services since they appeared on the Internet. While issues of privacy, identity management, and self-disclosure when using such technologies have been written about, very little critical attention has been paid to establishing policies or guidelines related to their use. This article is based on the authors’ experience creating a social software policy and internal service guidelines at Georgia State University and on the results of an informal survey study that gauged academic librarians’ need for and awareness of such documents. (more…)

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Helen E. Haines: A Life with Books

Barry Trott, Editor

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With this issue, Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) begins its fiftieth year of publication. In November of 1960, the first copy of what was then known as RQ (sometimes referred to as “Reference Quarterly”) appeared “as an eight-page newsletter.”1 Since that time, the content and the presentation has expanded to its present format. Throughout its history as RQ, and later RUSQ, the journal has been essential to the forward progress of both the theory and the practice of reference librarianship, in the broadest sense of the phrase. (more…)

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The Live-In Librarian: Developing Library Outreach to University Residence Halls

Molly Strothmann and Karen Antell

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Because of the proliferation of remote resources that allow users to complete research without visiting a library in person, many academic librarians have responded with outreach initiatives that extend library services to a variety of campus locations. Residence halls, however, have received little attention as an outreach venue despite the fact that most universities stress the importance of housing’s educational mission. In the three years that University of Oklahoma librarian Karen Antell lived as Faculty-in-Residence, she developed extensive library and educational programming for the students in her residence hall. (more…)

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A Follow-Up Study of the Factors Shaping the Career Choices of Library School Students at the University of Alabama

Stephanie D. Taylor, R. Alexander Perry, Jessica l. Barton, and Brett Spencer

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Our paper presents the results of a survey of MLIS students’ motivations for choosing a library career, as well as their outlook on the job market, preferences for various subfields, and dreams about the future. In 2004 several researchers conducted a survey of MLIS students at the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies and reported the results in a 2006 RUSQ article. (more…)

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Islam in Europe: A Research Guide

Neal Wyatt, Editor
Jessica Adamick, Guest Columnist

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The firestorm of controversy over the recent vote in Switzerland to ban the building of minarets on mosques highlights the perilous and contentious state of Islamic community, culture, and religion in Europe. Finding reliable and current research and resources on the many threads that informs the debate surrounding the European Islamic community, Western perceptions, and the tensions between factions can be difficult. (more…)

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Reflections of a Reference Librarian

Susan J. Beck

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In this, my final column as RUSA President, I am taking some time to reflect on my career as a reference librarian. I guess you could say that I am probably in the declining years of my career. I am over fifty and have been a reference librarian since 1980—you do the math. (more…)

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Engaging Auditory Modalities through the Use of Music in Information Literacy Instruction

Lisa O’ Connor, Editor
Katherine Kimball and Lisa O’Connor, Columnists

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The human body is composed of multiple sensory modalities, and each of them engages a different part of the brain when stimulated. A common assumption of learning theory is that individuals prefer some sensory paths over others for learning, hence the distinction between kinesthetic, verbal, visual, and aural learners. (more…)

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Notable Books: The 2010 Selection of Titles

RUSA Notable Books Council

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Since 1944, the Notable Books Council has annually selected a list of 25 very good, very readable and at times very important fiction, nonfiction and poetry books for the adult reader. (more…)

Outstanding Reference Sources: The 2010 Selection of Titles

RUSA CODES Reference Sources Committee

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The 2010 list of Outstanding Reference Sources for small and medium-sized libraries has been announced by RUSA. (more…)

Students and Federated Searching: A Survey of Use and Satisfaction

Abe Korah and Erin Dorris Cassidy

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This study assessed student use of and satisfaction with the WebFeat federated search tool, which was implemented by the library at Sam Houston State University. Students voluntarily responded to an electronic survey, providing feedback on how often they conducted class research using the federated search tool, individual databases, and online search engines and how well each search tool satisfied their class research needs. (more…)

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Reference Desk Consultation Assignment An Exploratory Study of Students’ Perceptions of Reference Service

Pamela N. Martin and Lezlie Park

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This paper describes the experience of three sophomore English composition classes that were required to visit the reference desk for class credit. Student perceptions of reference consultations are analyzed to gain a clearer understanding of the students’ attitudes toward reference services. (more…)

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