Thursday, April 18, 2013

You are here

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by Terri Bogan

Why am I a librarian? I don't really have a concise answer to that question. The entire process leading to "librarian" was a bit organic. I've always admired librarians. They always seemed to KNOW things. When I was 8 years old they knew how to help me find the "grown up" books my precocious-little-self wanted to read. During my young undergrad years they seemed to know how to answer questions that I didn't even know how to ask (BTW, this is a trade secret ... or a superpower if you are more inclined to the imaginative). I spent many hours in the library to complete a B.A. in English and managed to flounder my way through the research process to generate quite acceptable papers, but I didn't like floundering. Floundering was inelegant and inefficient. Fortunately, I mentioned this frustration ... to a librarian. The ink was barely dry on my diploma when I found myself entering a graduate program to learn the art of Library and Information Science. Yes, it is both an art and a science but that is a post for another day.

Project Information Literacy
Studying Library and Information Science helped me to understand the organizational structures of information and the information seeking behaviors of various demographics and disciplines. I chose to specialize in academic librarianship and help the student demographic. My own experience stumbling about the research process was still quite fresh and painful and I'm sure this was a major contribution to my specialization choice.

Students are required to research and write papers, but do not generally arrive at collegiate life equipped to deal with either the library or the complex world of information. They often flounder about and sometimes even produce excellent papers and presentations but ... they flounder. Project Information Literacy ("a large-scale study about early adults and their research habits") has found that students fear and are overwhelmed by research assignments, but they are also excited and intrigued. The most difficult part of research for them? Getting started.

LibGuides - HIU Subject Guides
Getting started. How do you start when there are so many directions to go and so much information available? I call this the Where am I? moment. Librarians are well equipped to help students discover where they are in the research process and where to look for information. We leave You are here markers everywhere to help students begin research and to reorient them each time they move during the research process.

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It is a similar concept to the subway map. You begin a journey and make decisions all along that journey. You may need to switch trains or make stops along the way, so you get off the train at a station. Each station has a map telling you that You are here so you can reorient and see where to go next. 

What I seek to do as a Reference and Instruction Librarian is help students see where they are in the process (or journey), understand the pathways through the complex world of information, and help them map the best route to get where they need to go.

Remember, we are here to help!

Terri Bogan is Reference & Instruction Librarian at Hope International University. She is passionate about helping students navigate the ever expanding world of information. She specializes in the area of information literacy and instructional design.

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