Monthly Archives: March 2009

Monday Motivator: Help the Hungry!

This is another easy week for us; once again, I’m jumping on someone else’s bandwagon. The NSCC Staff Assembly is sponsoring a food drive for Second Harvest this week. 

Drop-Off Locations for Food Drive:

 

·         Security (A70)

·         WorkForce & Community Development (C251)

·         Social & Life Sciences (K120-B)

·         Library Circulation Desk (K150)

·         Records (S207)

·         Admissions (S215)

·         Weld Bldg. Reception Desk (W24-A)

It is sometimes hard for us to fully comprehend that people go hungry here in the United States. But they do. Just over the weekend, there was a segment on the news about a school in Clarksville that handed out packets so that children would have something to eat over the weekend. Almost every organization that deals with hunger has reported an increase in requests since the economy has taken a downturn.

So please remember the less fortunate and donate some food today.

Information Literacy Standard 5: Use information legally, ethically, and wisely!

The official standard goes like this: The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses information ethically and legally.

But what does this all mean in the real world. Well, for beginning researchers, it centers on the following:

  • Plagiarism. While most plagiarism is unintentional, coming from unskilled writing rather than conscious cheating, it is still stealing someone’s ideas and/or words without giving proper credit. One of the first skills, the researcher should learn is how to quote, paraphrase, and summarize properly. This includes learning the proper citation format (MLA or APA for most of the assignments here at NSCC).
  • Copyright. Probably the simplest way of putting it is that people own the expression of their ideas. Therefore, copying an entire book violates copyright. Downloading a movie or music without permission violates copyright. It is worth your while to become acquainted with the fair use of copyrighted materials for academic purposes.
  • Netiquette. We might never yell at an instructor in class, but sometimes email seems like a totally different animal. Using email to send information should be done in an appropriate form. Think of it as a memo to your instructor, not like a quick text to a pal.

With information so easily accessible on the web and so easily transferred to another form, we may forget that copyright and ownership issues still apply. So be a good web citizen and use information both legally and ethically.

Information Literacy Standard 4: The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

For most cases, your purpose is to argue a specific point. Therefore, you want to make sure that you use the information you gather in the most effective way possible to make that point:

  • Use quotations and paraphrases in a way that best supports the thesis of the paper.
  • Use various methods, such as presenation software, to exhibit your information.
  • Use appropriate design principles. This may be something as simple as double-spacing and using an easily read font, or it may be not using a dizzying array of colors and clip art in a presentation.
  • Decide the form your information should take. Does this warrant a serious, business-like style? Or can you be a little playful? Which one gets your purpose across more effectively?
  • Make sure you communicate clearly!  No misspellings or MLA goofs.

Information Literacy Standard 3: The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

In a perfect world, you could trust all information that crossed your path to be true, accurate, and reliable. But let’s face it. You have to read your sources with the skill and skepticism of a good CSI investigator. Even solid source material can sometimes have facts wrong: Newspapers may rush to print before all the facts are in. Authors are human and have their own biases. And with the web, anyone can post anything without having to be tied too closely to truth or integrity.

So what’s a poor student researcher to do?

Well, use those critical thinking skills of analysis and evaluation to do the following:

  • Examine and compare information from sources to determine those with the most validity, reliability, accuracy and authority.
  • Analyze the structure of an article to determine the strength of its arguments.
  • Recognize propaganda techniques.
  • Draws logical conclusions based on the all the information read.

Now you may have been told that if you use the databases, your sources are reliable, and if you use the web, they are not.  But really, it’s not that simple. Some websites are excellent sources, and some books or articles are totally biased. You need to analyze and evaluate any source you use.

Information Literacy Standard 2: The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

With so much going on in the library, I had put aside my information literacy series. But it’s time to get back to business. If standard 1 deals with the ability to know when you need outside information and what type, standard 2 is the stage when you go get it!

  • What kinds of sources will you need? If you need books and the library doesn’t have them, this is the time to put in that Interlibrary loan request. If you need scholarly journal articles, make sure you know how to select peer-reviewed journals in the various databases.
  • Come up with good search terms. One of the reasons that students often get frustrated when searching for sources is that they don’t think through their keywords in searching. They either try too general a term (like war) that gives them too many hits to work with or they get too specific. In this latter case, students may try to find an article or book that will answer the entire assignment for them. Sometimes, at the library desk, we’ll get students who want a book on Plato’s thoughts on the current political crisis (What they need would be a book on Plato’s political theory and then apply it themselves to the current situation.)
  • Searching often involves trying terms and then narrowing or broadening them as they get closer to sources that work for the assignment. For example, a search in EBSCOHost today on depression came up with more than 80,000 hits. Adding the second keyword “elderly” brought it down to 3000. Adding a third term “male” brought up 171 articles, a much more manageable figure.
  • It would be worth your time to learn a bit more about search strategies, especially Boolean operators
  • Once you find the information, you need to be able to store it. Students have used some of the following methods:
    • Cutting and pasting the pertinent information into a new document.
    • Copying the entire article and highlighting the important information.
    • Keeping notecards (Yes, it’s old-fashioned, but it works.)

You may have to experiment to find the method that works for you.

  •  
    • Make sure that, whatever method you choose, you keep up with bibliographic information for your works cited page.

Real Dummies Don’t Ask for Help!

An obliging student checks out a book on resumes!
An obliging student checks out a book on resumes!

Every so often a student will say that he or she is having problems in a class. “I need a physics (or chemistry or grammar or etc) for dummies,” they’ll say. Well, now if you need it, you can check it out. The Kisber Library has just cataloged a huge selection of the dummies, idiots, and demystfied books that have as their sole purpose making tough subjects easier.

Among topics in our new collection:

Basic Math

Algebra                                                               

Charles is learning to be a CSI!
Charles is learning to be a CSI!

Statistics

Calculus

Physics

Chemistry

Anatomy and Physiology

Forensics

Spanish                                                            

Pam is "Hola, amigos."
Pam is "Hola, amigos."

French

Geography

Web Pages

These are just a few. There seems to be no limit to the topics. You can manage your anger, paint a wall, make the best barbecue sauce ever, or learn about arthritis.

Deborah checks out the latest on arthritis!
Deborah checks out the latest on arthritis!

We bet there is something you want to know about, but have always been afraid it’s too hard to learn. Well, now you have no excuse. Check out our new exhibit today!

Andrew's learning to prepare for yummy barbecue sauce!
Andrew's learning to prepare a yummy barbecue sauce!

And in case you don’t think these books work, here is the Jolly Librarian before reading one of the books:

 

 

the-dummies-008

And here she is after reading “Anger Management for Dummies.”

the-dummies

The Monday Motivator: 3 Good Things

This comes from Richard O’ Connor, Ph.D. , author of Happy at Last. This exercise has been shown to increase feelings of happiness and decrease feelings of depression.

Each night before going to bed, think (or write down) three good things that happened that day. They can be small or large, anything that made you smile or feel good. For each item, answer the question, “Why did this thing happen?”

That’s it. Pretty simple!  But it does work. This is one that I’ve tried.

The Library Extends its Hours!

Starting March 16, the library will be open extended hours to better serve students. They are as follows:

M-R    7:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

F          7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Sat.     9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

This is an experiment for the rest of spring semester. We hope to accomplish three things:

  1. Allow morning students enough time to print off a paper and make copies before class.
  2. Give students a chance to finish papers in the evening and/or allow evening students a chance to check out books or make copies before they go home.
  3. And of course, give students access to librarians and staff for research help.

Let us know what you think!

What’s Going On in the Kisber Library When You’re Not Here?

Students are often surprised to find out that the library is open during breaks. “What do you do when we’re gone?” they ask. Well, here’s what we’re doing during spring break:

  • Emily Bush has done a research workshop for students and a general orientation about library services for the admissions staff.
  • Sally Robertson is cataloging new books.
  • Pam Gadd has been cleaning off tables and computers.
  • Faye Vaughn is ordering materials and working with some glitches in our Films Online series.
  • Andrew Mason is processing magazines.
  • Deborah Finney-Webb is working on interlibrary loans.
  • Sandra O’Donnell is processing new books.

But if you come by, we’ll be more than happy to take a break from cleaning or catching up on things and help you with any problems you may have.

  • We’ve all been helping students with their research questions, word processing problems, and various other issues that come up.