Campus News
Student News
Alumni News
Sports Shorts
Dateline Archives
Dateline Staff
University Library: Caroline Bordinaro and Carol Dales Reveal the “Path” to Successful Database Searches

 

 

Caroline Bordinaro, reference librarian (left) and library instruction and information literacy coordinator, and Carol Dales, reference and distance learning librarian; photo by Joanie Harmon

University Library: Caroline Bordinaro and Carol Dales Reveal the “Path” to Successful Database Searches

Caroline Bordinaro, reference librarian and library instruction and information literacy coordinator, and Carol Dales, reference and distance learning librarian, presented their research on the difficulty of database searches at the California Association of Research Libraries Mini-Conference at CSU Fullerton on Dec. 9 and at a California Library Association conference in Pasadena on Nov. 6. Their presentation, “Waldo and The Full-Text: Guiding the path from citation to article” focused on comparison and analysis of websites at 49 California colleges and universities.

According to Dales, students who come in looking for specific articles as cited by their professors, their syllabus or other articles often have a good idea how to use an electronic database, but have difficulty with the databases of the University and other academic library Websites at community colleges and universities.

“We noticed that our Website and many other academic library Websites made it less than easy to find a specific article,” she says. “We decided to investigate academic library websites around California to see what the patterns were, what libraries did to make it possible to find specific articles, and what software they and Web design they used. We also wanted to borrow from them and figure out how to make our own Website more effective so that our students would be able to do this.”

Bordinaro states that the relative ease with which one could find an article on a general topic was not efficient in searching for a specifically cited article.

“We were not the only ones who were making the process difficult,” she notes. “While a lot of free websites made it very easy for students to search on a topic, they did not guide the path from citation to the full text of the article very well. A lot of the Webpages were buried in the Websites. We spotlighted libraries that we felt were doing a good job, that had very clear directions for students and that provided the pages themselves on the homepage so that the students could click on it and go right to the article.”

Bordinaro, who is also the librarian for the McNair Scholars cohort, describes plans to make the CSUDH database more user-friendly by borrowing some of the features they found to be efficient on the Webpages they researched, and to avoid using seemingly easier search engines on the Web.

“We want to encourage the students to use our library resources, especially the electronic resources,” she says. “They’re very high quality and we can guarantee the accuracy of the information. As easy as Google and Yahoo! and other Internet search engines are, and as satisfying as it is to see a whole list of results, they don’t make features like author or a specific journal or a span or years available. With the library databases that we offer, you can narrow it down to a particular author or limit your search to only academic or peer review journals. You simply can’t do that on the Internet, it’s much too broad.”

Dales emphasizes other disadvantages of relying on the Internet instead of academic databases, often at great cost to the student.

“Students assume that articles available through our databases are also available on Google,” she says. “They have grown up with the Web and think of it as the source for all the knowledge they need, and are astounded when they find out they are asked to find information that is not available for free on the Web. They will actually find the article they need and get to the stage where they have to cough up $15, $25, or even $75. And they will do that because they think it’s required. They are entitled to use our library’s resources for free.”

In the meantime, Bordinaro wants to let students know that the University Library is available to them, along with any help they need in navigating it, with mini-workshops and courses on everything from database searching, using the Web more effectively, and how to search the library catalog to find books. .

“We are always here,” she says, “always available and willing to help anybody who wants to learn how to use our resources and to use them well.”

For the spring schedule of mini-workshops and courses, open or save
http://library3.csudh.edu/cbordinaro/wkshp_sprng06.doc

-Joanie Harmon

 

 

 
Dateline Home Dateline Email To Top of Page
California State University, Dominguez Hills • 1000 E. Victoria Street • Carson, California 90747 • (310) 243-3696
If any of the material is in violation of a copyright, please contact copyright@csudh.edu.
Last updated Monday, January 23, 12:13 p.m., by Joanie Harmon