Thursday, January 24, 2008

How Students See the Reference Desk

I want to share some of my notes from our "Serious Students" panel about what the students said about using the reference desk. I was happy that two of the students recognized that what happened at the reference desk was teaching. Going to the "help desk" (that’s what they all called it) was a learning experience. One student spoke about "active collaboration" with the librarian in answering her questions. Another explained that she watched how the librarian searched and which databases were used and patterned her research on that interaction. So although the students said they go to the reference desk "when all else fails," once they were there they had positive experiences. They thought the lines at the desk were not an obstacle; waits were not too long. The reference interview was useful to "clarify my thoughts." Both "awareness and a certain comfort level" were factors that they thought were necessary to get students to move beyond Google to use library databases.

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