Category Archives: Reference

If you need a flowchart to cite an article, you’re doing it wrong

So the APA just recently published a new edition of their style manual, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.  And hoo, boy: what a mess.  Among other things, they’ve made substantial changes to the way writers are supposed to cite journal articles accessed online, especially via licensed subscription databases. This blog post is […]

The Library Web Site of the Future: thanks but no thanks.

Steven J. Bell has a piece in the February 17 Inside Higher Ed titled, “The Library Web Site of the Future.” Since we’re currently in the early stages of completely overhauling our current web site, I read it with some interest. (Take note that, as of this reading, the comments are not particularly charitable toward […]

An anecdote, and thinking about people as reference sources

I was listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young‘s “Ohio” the other morning, and it reminded me of one of my favorite anecdotes. My apologies if you know me and I’ve regaled you with this one before: When I was in my senior year in high school, I was working on a paper and needed […]

Thinking about “scholarly” vs. “popular” serials

We’ve all done the classic “how to tell a scholarly journal from a popular magazine” lesson, usually with a face-off between something like Newsweek and The Journal of Neurobiophysiology or Critical Discourses in Freudian Meta-Rhetorical Analysis.  And we all tell our students that one of the classic hallmarks of a “popular” or trade magazine, as […]

The things students don’t know…

I just had a student come to the reference desk with a question about a business assignment about India for a class I taught last week. (Every student in the class has to write the same memo about India, so I’m not worried about her confidentiality: she could be any one of the 19 students […]

in which I date myself, and also crack myself up

I just got asked a question about citing multiple authors in APA style, and to illustrate the point, I used Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe as an example.  I’m virtually certain it went right over the student’s head.

Reference traffic vs. reference questions

It’s hard to compare the experience of working the reference desk at my current job with the experience at MFPOW, the NCSU Libraries. Just trying to explain one to the other is hard, as I’ve discovered in talking with my co-workers here. At Saint Mary’s, we have one person on the desk at a time, […]

Dangers of being too helpful

I’d like to think that, if we worked hard at it, us reference and instruction librarians could almost work ourselves out of a job.  We’d teach students to be so good at not only finding information for themselves and evaluating it, but also learning new systems and new tools for themselves, so that they didn’t […]

My transcendent moment of Google-fu

Last semester, I had a terrific moment at the reference desk, helping an upperclass student doing some fairly specialized research. The student needed books and/or articles that cited a very prominent work from a decade or so ago, let’s say, Susan Faludi’s Backlash, but she was looking for a particular topic, let’s say work-life balance. […]