Just exactly what do non-librarians think of the myriad library databases they can access courtesy of their local library. Not much apparently. Well, they certainly don’t think of the library’s resources as learning tools. Or it may be that they only think of the library resources as gateways to information, but by themselves not as resources that can facilitate or promote student learning. We need to do more to get our user community thinking of the library’s databases, bibliographic manager tools, and more as robust learning tools.
This comes after reviewing the lists of the top 100 e-learning tools. This ranking came about after Jane Hart, head of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, in Somerset, England, wanted to know how learning and technology experts would rate the technologies. So in July she asked 64 e-learning experts to list their top 10 tools. From that list she compiled a list of the he most frequently cited items in her survey. At the top was the Firefox Web browser. Next was del.icio.us, the social bookmarking tool. That was followed by Web-based e-mail, specifically Gmail from Google. Guess what? You won’t see a library database or information management resource among the top 100. Others have noted the absence of what would seem to be obvious e-learning tools, such as courseware systems.
It’s not as if the responding experts ignored information retrieval tools. Both Google and Google Scholar are on the top 100 list. And it’s not as if these experts wouldn’t know something about library databases. After all a good number work at academic institutions. No, I think it’s just a case of our failing to create awareness about these resources to the faculty and researchers who should identify them as valuable e-learning resources. It looks like the list is now open to anyone (or at least the until the 100th person contributes) who wants to add their own top ten list of tools. So far one librarian has done just that, and mentioned the library web site as a top ten tool. Perhaps someone would like to take it a step farther and point out that the databases (AND academic librarians) are among the top learning tools available to students, educators and researchers. It’s one place where awareness can begin.