The Bucknellian

Question and answers with the library’s best resources

Emily Haas and Julie Spierer

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Have you ever felt intimidated or overwhelmed by a research assignment? Next time (if you haven’t already), consider turning to a research librarian for advice!

The University has seven research by subject librarians who all have offices located on the first floor of the Bertrand Library. Each librarian is specialized in research for several related subjects and are trained to help students with research. The research librarians can help students with anything from finding and navigating resources, to interlibrary loans, citations, evaluating information, refining your topic, and helping you find books and articles through the University’s databases or in the print collection.

In addition to the research by subject librarians, Ben Hoover, the evening library services specialist, can help students with news sources and research strategies.

All of the librarians are eager to help students succeed in the research process and are always available for help. You can schedule an appointment with any of the librarians by emailing researchbysubject.bucknell.edu, by directly emailing the librarians covering your subject, or just by simply walking into their offices. The emails of all of the librarians can be found on the Bertrand Library website under the tab Research by Subject Guides.

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Courtney Art and Art History, Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Comparative Humanities, East Asian Studies, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Theatre and Dance

What are the most common problems students have when conducting research?:

“A common issue I encounter is research questions that are too broad or too narrow[…] Another common problem is just knowing where to look for information. The library not only provides access to over 250 databases and the entire physical collection of the library, but also to materials worldwide through interlibrary loan, so the process can be daunting.”

What advice would you offer students looking to improve their research skills?:

“Be persistent, but also know when to stop and ask for help[…]Sometimes just talking through your research question with a librarian, professor, or peer will allow you to find a different entry point into your research.”

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Carrie – Social Cciences (Anthropology, Economics, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Psychology, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies)

What is the most rewarding piece of being a research librarian?:

“I enjoy working with students, and seeing them have those ‘a-ha’ moments when they are engaged in the process of research. For those students who I am lucky enough to work with across multiple classes, I enjoy seeing their growth and watching them become more confident and conscientious users and creators of information.”

Do you think more students should be using books or do you agree with the cultural shift towards digital resources?

“I think students sometimes overlook books as a resource, and part of my job as a librarian is working with students to connect them with the resources that will best address their research needs. Depending on the type of research being conducted, books can be very valuable, and that is what I try to teach our students.”

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Jim – Science and Engineering

How can students get the most out of the library as a resource?

“Students aren’t aware of all of the services we offer. We’ll help you find sources and define, refine your topic, get hold of things that maybe we don’t own, because we can still get it if we don’t own it. […] it all comes under the big heading of information literacy, one of our missions is to make sure that students are information literate.

What are the most common questions that students ask you?

“Am I doing my citations correctly? Why can’t I find anything on this topic? Why can’t I get this up on my computer screen? Why don’t I have access to this book or journal — a question of access, am I looking in the right places? Everyone knows Google and Google scholar, but what we hope is that they will go beyond that into the more specialized indexes and databases.”

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Jill- Accounting, Law and Legal Studies, and Management

Do you think more students should be using books or do you agree with the cultural shift towards digital resources?

“I’m happy that so much content is available digitally because it can be so much easier for researchers to quickly find and access the information they need. Digitization has also made processes like interlibrary loan really fast[…] [However] when you go out into the stacks to find a book, you’re sure to find that there are other books nearby that might be even more useful or interesting!”

What advice would you offer students looking to improve their research skills?

“Meet with a Research Services librarian. We can save students time and frustration, and much of what a librarian can show them pertaining to one research project is transferable to research in other subjects. Research can be challenging, and there is probably no better way to enhance one’s skills than by meeting with someone whose area of expertise is in conducting research.”

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Jason- English, Languages/Cultures/Linguistics, Spanish, and Film & Media Studies

What are the most common problems students have when conducting research?:  

“Many students run into problems when their topic is too narrow or too broad, or if they have an ill-defined research question in mind.  They also default to Google, and don’t take the time to explore the many research databases that Bucknell offers on the Research by Subject guides.”

What advice would you offer students looking to improve their research skills?:

“Students should think of research projects as part of a larger scholarly conversation to which they are adding their own unique voice and perspective.  The materials found through the Worldcat library catalog and databases will help students bolster their own voice in this scholarly conversation. Also, I would advise students to not wait until the last minute to start research, and to make an appointment with a librarian if they run into difficulties.”

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Nancy – History, International Relations, Political Science, Africana Studies and Latin American Studies

Do you think more students should be using books or do you agree with the cultural shift towards digital resources?

“My hope is that students find sources that provide evidence to support their arguments and enrich their research, regardless of format. Many students still express a preference for print books, especially for close reading. Ebooks have advantages, too, such as the ability for multiple simultaneous users, searchability, portability across devices, etc.  As a user of print and ebooks myself, I think that we’ll continue to use and see the value of both.”

What advice would you offer students looking to improve their research skills?:

“Stop in or make an appointment with the librarian for your subject area, even if it’s just to get an overview of sources in a particular subject area, or to check in and chat about what you’ve uncovered so far and what you hope to find next[…] I recommend digging into the Research by Subject guides, the online tutorials, and the guide we created about information literacy concepts and habits of mind. This guide is an open educational resource that’s been customized for use in many other academic libraries across the country:  http://researchbysubject.bucknell.edu/framework.”

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Kathleen

What is the most rewarding part of being a librarian?

“Working with faculty to come up with ways in which students can build their research skills, being in the classroom[…]especially one-on-one working with students, when you can begin to see them approaching the research process as an opportunity to explore and learn about something new; […] It’s witnessing that ‘aha!’ moment when students stop thinking about research as an assignment that has to be done, but rather, as a learning opportunity.”

How can students get the most out of the library as a resource?

“Students could take more advantage of some of the resources that we have by using Research by Subject to find the most appropriate databases to use, and also by reaching out to librarians in those subject areas for consultations. Even if a student isn’t necessarily struggling with doing research, it can be very helpful to just talk through what they are thinking, their approach, and getting some suggestions for how they can proceed more effectively rather than going through it on their own.”

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