Things are calm in the Iowa City library today – we have a few students working away on various projects and some of our regular readers keeping us company. It’s a great time to prepare for Spring 2011 and to reflect on the Fall of 2010.  We’ve been checking in new books (see Sarah’s last post), adding new electronic databases, and working with our colleagues to make sure our audio visual is in tip-top shape.

Perspective from the library staff - the way we see it

As last semester was my first as a Kirkwood librarian, I wanted to share a few things that struck me as something faculty may be interested to know – a little bit of perspective from the library floor:

  • We offer a robust reserve-book service – students often come in and borrow a textbook from our two-hour, in-library-use-only collection, many of these books are provided by faculty for student convenience. I am often surprised how, even into late November and December, students often do not know their professor’s name or the name of the course. Now I’m hesitant to generalize this across all students and all classes; perhaps this is isolated to a somewhat small group. Yet we all wonder: why don’t students know the professors’ names? What can Kirkwood faculty (and Kirkwood librarians) do to encourage deeper relationships? We’d love to hear your perspective on solutions, and if you, too, encounter this strange phenomenon.
  • As librarians, our standards for academic rigor are high, and the citation is a basic unit of scholarly communication. Citations help readers (be they faculty or any other interested party) track down where information comes from and indicates how reliable research is. And yet we often hear at the library desks “I need a citation – any citation – for  a paper. I’m almost done but the assignment requires x number of sources.” Each of our librarians would certainly respond that citations are not post facto afterthoughts – a journal article, book, or other source should obviously be used in the formation of thinking and the discursive act of writing. And yet we’d be naive to think students never just “grab” a citation to make it appear work has been done. So we’re curious again – what can Kirkwood faculty and librarians do to discourage this late-in-the-process citation grabbing? How can we partner to enable students to truly explore research, rather than just satisfy an assignment? It’s an age-old and difficult question we’d like to explore with you.

Are you interested in sharing your perspective with the larger Kirkwood family? LibBlog welcomes your ideas – email me, Nicole Forsythe, and let’s start a conversation!