Electronic Resources at the Library

While many of you are already thinking summer, we’d like to remind you about some of the great eResources we have available on our library website to help with homework, reading and more. There is more here than just an online encyclopedia—how about book suggestions, read-alongs, and more!

To access any of these great eResources, all you need to do is visit our website at:

http://carletonplacelibrary.ca

eResourcesDid you notice how many of these offer French options? And everything is available 24/7! All you need is your library card. Click on one of the links above, and get searching.

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Have you changed the way you search?

I help library patrons use the internet on a regular basis.  Many times, they just don’t know how to turn the printer on, but sometimes, it is more complex.   Sometimes, they need help searching for a particular website or idea and it occurred to me that I search differently than a lot of people.

For example, when you want to visit a particular store’s website, how do you go about finding the site if you don’t already know the address?  Do you go to Google and type in the name of the store?  Of course this will work every time, but it is one extra step that you might not need to take.  If you haven’t noticed, most stores use their entire name in their website.  If it is an American company, then the site will usually end in .com  and if it is Canadian, it will end in .ca more often than not.  I’m thinking of things like canadiantire.ca  or walmart.com.  So the next time you are looking for a site, why not just type in the name of the company and add .com right in your location bar.  It will take you right to the site without having to navigate through a search engine.  (Where is your location bar?  It is the long white bar at the top of your browser that starts with http://  )

Now, if you use Firefox as a browser, did you know that Mozilla incorporated a Google search bar right into your location bar?  (Again, the location bar is the spot where everything happens!)  So, you can actually just type in a subject or word into that location bar and if it is really specific, Google will take you right to the website, or if it is more general, then it will bring you right to your Google search results.

What if you use Internet Explorer?  Well, IE has done something similar with Yahoo and made the location bar a search engine.  Again, just type in your word and you’ll have some instant results.

I no longer take the extra steps and travel to Google or some other search engine and I encourage people who are searching online to just try typing in the website or keyword themselves.  Try it, you’ll feel really smart!

Is it true…or not?

One of our patrons, who tutors children, was talking about kids last night and how she has noticed that kids really don’t know how to research anything anymore.  In past generations, before the computer age, we were all taught in school about doing research in our library.  Part of the problem here is not just the invention of the internet, but the lack of librarians in schools now (and access to the library in school).  Who is going to give instruction to our children when librarians are really only in many schools now just to catalog books?  Teachers can only do so much with their limited access to libraries, so it is up to librarians in public libraries now to help young people learn how to research.  And it involves using the internet, but so much more than that.

With the age of the internet, information is now so easily accessible through Google and other search engines that children rarely think to use books to find information for projects and such.  But we’ve all heard the warning that you can’t trust everything you read online, and if you think of it, this is a warning that is not really necessary when it comes to books.  Sure, there are probably many books out there with very inaccurate information, but you probably wouldn’t come across an entire book written about a false subject that wouldn’t have warnings or some explanation regarding the use of the false subject matter. (We could debate this, of course, but you get the general idea.)

I was thinking about this when I ran across a great site called The SurRural Librarian, written by a rural, small-town librarian in Vermont.  She is a jack-of-all-trades at her library, performing every task such as cataloging, research, internet instruction and basically anything else that her school requires.  Each year, she provides an interesting class to the students in her school which requires them to really think about the information that is available on the internet.  She researches and comes up with a list of sites that could be real or could be false.  They all look VERY real, no matter the subject, and the children are asked to use their knowledge and research skills to determine if the sites are real or not.  And some are very tricky.  (You can see a complete list of the sites here.)

For example, which of these sites are real and which are fake?

Google Gulp

Republic of Molossia

Buy Dehydrated Water

If you couldn’t tell, you aren’t alone.  And if you couldn’t tell, how are children doing research supposed to tell a real site from something fake?   It makes teaching our children how to do research online more difficult.  That doesn’t mean that kids should stop using the internet altogether when it comes to school work, but they also have to become a bit savvy in order to be able to make sure their facts are real when they really do sit down to research.

So what are we to do as a community of libraries to help our children research more accurately?



Dummies, Idiots and Coles Notes

I noticed a book sitting in our new bin the other day called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Singing” and knowing music, I thought to myself, how could you possibly learn how to sing using a book? Okay, so the book has a CD along with it that will guide you along each lesson, but can a person really learn how to sing well through a book? And how would they be able to evaluate their progress?

We have a large assortment of dummies books on our shelves and more waiting to be added to our collection, all on various topics. I confess that I have used a number of these types of books to learn about something, and they usually have great ideas, links to websites and pictures that are useful.

We often have teens come into the library looking for Coles notes (the same as Cliff’s Notes) on a particular book to help them with an English assignment. We do not carry any kind of book like this in our library, a is probably similar to most libraries. It is not that we don’t want to help someone understand a book better, it is just that often, kids will use these books as an alternative to reading the real thing. And of course, there is no substitute. The help books cannot possibly give a student a feel for the language the writer uses, or the experience of reading the story and trying to figure it out. After all, learning how to read a novel as a young person will also make their research skills stronger.

So then why is it perfectly acceptable for us to have dummies books or idiot’s guides, and openly offer them to anyone who asks for something on a particular topic? Aren’t these really the same things as Coles notes, only for the adult crowd?

What do you think?