An essential part to any library are the people who use the library. Without patrons libraries cannot exist for very long. As a future librarian, I will need to be able to meet the users’ needs (including those who will read this blog) and connect them to the right reference resources and services. This blog is for the users (of which I am one), as well as other librarians. In order to meet users’ needs, I need to know about different resources and know how to evaluate them in order to pick the best ones to have at the library as well as the right ones to help each user the best way possible. This blog was a way to help me develop my reference evaluation skills, create some resources for users to use, and look at some new services and technologies available.
There are thousands of resources and services available for libraries to use, so it is impossible to be familiar with every single one. Not every one of those resources are equal. Knowing how to evaluate different kinds of resources can help sort out those resources that would be most beneficial to whatever library I choose for employment, as well as resources that are not worth having. While a great deal of this blog deals with specific resources that may not be useful for everyone, the evaluation methods used are valid when evaluating similar resources. Some resources I have evaluated include the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, the Mental Measurements Yearbook, the Anti-Immigration in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, and the Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology. I chose resources that I found intriguing and that I had never used before. Each one has a different purpose and different way of presenting information and searching for information. For example, in my database analysis, I looked at EBSCOhost and ProQuest and evaluated them by comparing them to each other using evaluation tools like scope, authority, accuracy, arrangement, special features, record structure, and advanced search functions. EBSCOhost contains 54 databases, while ProQuest has 22 databases. I also looked at a similar databases in EBSCOhost and ProQuest (American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies (ABSEES) and Ethnic NewsWatch). They both have similar Boolean searching and truncation, but ABSEES has no command line searching while Ethnic NewsWatch does. 6
One reference service that I have become interested in is live chat services. Many libraries, including both academic and public libraries, now offer live chat services to help users who cannot make it to the library for any reason. While live chat is something people have been using for a few years now (in various forms), libraries have just now started to use it. Live chat services help libraries stay relevant as well as a way to meet the needs of users today who are connected more and more online.
The Information Portal began because of a trip I took to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the summer. This trip was a professional one where a group of librarians and future librarians went to see the different libraries and how they survived and even thrived during the Troubles. This inspired me to create an information portal on resources on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which includes the events leading up to the Troubles and the aftermath of the Troubles. While this information portal is focused on University of Kentucky students, there are many resource included (like the CAIN website) that anyone can access and use. Information portals help bring together many kinds of resources (like websites, databases, periodicals, and books) on a certain topic. As I had never created one before, this proved to be a wonderful learning experience.
From starting this blog, I have come to understand even better the importance of lifelong learning. In my professional life, as well as my personal life, I need to keep learning about new resources and services that are developed every year. Libraries need to stay relevant and need to keep up with what is going on in the world. I cannot stop learning because then I will lose touch with the people who help keep libraries going and give libraries purpose.