Old-school Research

It’s easy to forget how easy research has become in the information age until something doesn’t work. For the last few months ERIC databases has pulled down many of their articles for review. Apparently, there were some old articles that had been posted that included personal information of study participants including in some cases, social security numbers. Half way through this past summer, when I first discovered this, ERIC had all of their articles off-line. Now they are starting to reemerge, though many articles are still unavailable.

So this semester when it was time to do our multi-genre research project, I made sure the students knew that this resource had limited availability. “So can we use Google?” some replied.

Now I know I’m old.

Instead of using books, hard-copy journals, microfiche, and live sources, my students rely on the resources they can access on their computers for all of their research requirements. They didn’t realize that there were physical copies of the current journals in the stacks,
back copies bound by year, and books on shelves using the Library of Congress system that actually places all of the books on the same topic on one shelf where you can browse by theme – I fondly call this “shelf surfing.”

Public libraries, an important pillar of American society, have adapted with the times providing as much technical as literacy support for the communities they serve. However, the university library serves research purposes, so it’s almost like walking into a time capsule that takes me back to my undergraduate years: shelves lined with yellowing texts, the comforting smell of aging paper, and small and quiet cubicles for solitary study.

I sent my students to the library.

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