Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Information Universe & me

Good day everyone!

I want to share a couple of examples of my experience with 'the information universe'

Firstly, when I was working as a Graduate Trainee in a library at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), students would naturally come to library staff for help with various research problems. Most commonly it was simply a case of showing the student(s) how to make best use of the library's physical and electronic resources. The campus where I worked taught healthcare subjects (nursing, phsyiotherapy etc) so it was also important to find the most up-to-date information possible. Let's say in this example I am showing how to research a Nursing question.

The first port of call would be the library's OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue). Using variations on the search terms, and then where necessary filtering results by site (e.g. searching only at our campus would be more likely to locate relevant books/journals) and by date (if we want only recent material).

Next, if the student then wanted to find journal articles relevant to their subject, I could show them the subject-related databases subscribed to by MMU. One option would be to use 'search it', a service which searches multiple databases at once. This makes a good first choice for some queries, but the search options there are limited, so I could also show them the individual databases - such as ScienceDirect and Internurse. I would give a demonstration of how to use these, especially how to use the search functions effectively.

Secondly, as part of the Graduate Trainee programme at MMU, we had training in Presentation Skills which required us to prepare 2 practice presentations on any topics we liked. Now, I hate to give people incorrect information about anything, so one I had chosen my topic I researched it as best I to make sure everything was factually correct! In these cases though I had to use information freely available online - the subjects were a bit obscure for MMU libraries! I'll focus on just one of them here - a place known as 'Thornton Abbey' in Lincolnshire.

Some people may frown on this, but once I had chosen my subjects, my first action was to look them up in Wikipedia. This was just to get a good starting point for the subject! Next, I checked out the links given in Wikipedia - in this case, to English Heritage and to a local history blogger. Next, some more Google searching led me to other websites (such as the University of Sheffield's own site - turns out the archaeology department were carrying out a dig last year and this year - this was before I knew I wanted to apply to Sheffield myself!). Finally, I wanted to use some pictures in my presentation, and I had to make sure they were usable under copyright law. Wikimedia Commons and Flickr were useful for finding pictures usable under Creative Commons licenses.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to point out two fairly different aspects of the information universe! If you want to know more about the Abbey, here's the University of Sheffield Archaeology Department's website for it.

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