Practicing Pre-emptive Reference With Student Blogs
ACRLog features occasional guest posts by academic librarians who wish to share their commentary on popular issues, or in this case, have an idea they’d like to share with colleagues. Today’s guest post is from Brian Mathews, Distance Learning Services & Mechanical Engineering Librarian at the Georgia Tech Library & Information Center. We often hear the phrase “be where the students are”, and Brian has found an interesting way to apply this at his institution as described below:
Itâ€™s that time of year again! That time when students â€œdiscoverâ€ the library, seeking those last minute resources for a paper due tomorrow. This is a major challenge that we face. Despite classroom instruction and outreach efforts, many students are unfamiliar with the library and the available resources.
In an attempt to be proactive, I started following student blogs in search of educational opportunities. Popular online journal sites, such as LiveJournal and Xanga, allow users to identify their college or university. By subscribing to their RSS feeds, I am able to monitor them in Bloglines and use a keyword crawler to sift through new entries for terms, such as paper, assignment, library, or class.
While academics may not be the predominant theme in student journals, it does come up. Students will often share classroom experiences and express frustrations with assignments. This channel provides a meaningful and timely opportunity to interact with them. Rather then waiting around for students to approach me, I can provide intuitive assistance by responding to their posts.
Preliminary findings are available here: Intuitive Revelations: The Ubiquitous Reference Model.