|April 17, 2003
Volume 33 Number 14
|A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico|
Librarian at Large
Librarians: An Internet
A much-discussed survey in the Chronicle of Higher Education1
reported that although 97 percent of faculty and student researchers used
printed books and journals and that 96 percent verified information found
on the Internet in print sources, almost 90 percent went online first.
The surveyors claimed to be surprised that faculty members spent only
10 percent of their research time in the library and 85 percent in their
office or home, and that 43 percent of faculty members use the library
“significantly less” than they did two years ago.
Some have concluded that this means libraries are less valuable, but they fail to note that the concepts of “library” and “library use” are rapidly changing. Fewer faculty members and students may be visiting the library in person, but more are using library Web sites such as our Library Research Station at http://www.csuchico.edu/library/. We have made library resources available on a 24/7 basis, and people are using them.
If Carl Sagan were alive today, he might exclaim that “The Internet has billions and billions of pages, and a few of them must support intelligent life!” Librarians have traditionally used subject expertise and knowledge of their users to act as gatekeepers and build relevant print collections. We still do that, but, increasingly, we are also Internet gatekeepers and interpreters. Keep in mind that not everything is on the Web, much is on the “invisible web,” and that Internet information tends to be recent and a mile wide and an inch deep, lacking history or context. Many Web sites are to scholarship as McDonald’s is to cuisine.
How does one select and evaluate Internet resources? We invite you to use the Research Station as a gateway and to take a nice, healthy CRAAP test to determine the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose of specific resources. See http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf.
And, always feel free to ask a librarian.
Jim Dwyer, Library Collection Management
1 Carlson, Scott. “Students and Faculty Members Turn to Online
Library Materials Before Printed Ones.” Chronicle of Higher
Education 49 (8): A37–38 (Oct. 3, 2002).
2 also see Herring, Mark. “10 Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library.” American Libraries 32 (4): 76–78 (April 2001).