We’d like to welcome a guest blogger, Michelle from CLAV, who would like to share her thoughts on the importance of database training. Thanks for posting, Michelle! (If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please email beasleys @ carnegielibrary.org.)
The importance of database training
The library offers many resources, a great deal of which are online. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the internet has become quite a hot commodity in the last 10 or so years. Printed books, magazines, newspapers, etc. have slowly been on their way to the back burner while electronic resources have been on the rise. Not a day goes by when patrons don’t ask questions like “Can you help me with this on the computer?”
It’s important that you answer those types of question with a big YES!
“Oh, you are looking for an article on women’s rights from the sixties? YES, of course I can help you. Let me show you this awesome database called MasterFILE Premier. You can get to it from our website by clicking on…”
Our number one job at the library is to help our patrons find information. That is essentially why we are here. It is because of this that we must stay up to date with the resources we offer. The databases we have at our fingertips are there to help us. I know how busy library land can get, believe me, but when a database training or any e-resource training is offered, it is vital to our survival that at least one person per library attends.
Just this past week there was a training session offered about our history and ancestry databases. Now, we all know we have databases available, however, how many of us have really taken the time to browse through each one and learn how to use them? We could all spend hours learning how to use the different aspects of each database, but honestly, who has the time or patience? The history and ancestry databases training I went to was over two hours long and yes I did have to get up early, but I learned more about those databases in those couple of hours than I would have on my own. I learned that the two history databases had articles available that could be translated into different languages, that you could listen to an audio recording of some of them, and they were labeled based on an individual’s learning level. I know I wouldn’t have discovered that information so quickly on my own.
The library I work at is located within walking distance of two high schools. Can you say research projects? Every so many months the pattern begins. Students stream in the front doors, look around for a few moments on their own and then make their way back to the front desk with a hopeful look in their eyes. “Can YOU help me find something for my history project?”
After the first so many days pass by we notice that the books on our shelves about their subjects are slowly disappearing. If we didn’t have database-trained staff on hand when these students came in, where would they get the information they need for their projects? Google? Bing? While some of the information you find on these search engines is true and helpful, wouldn’t you rather the patron get the information they are searching for from you? Yes, they could browse our sites and find the databases on their own, but would they know how to navigate through them and narrow down their searches if we didn’t show them how to do it?
Unless WE show our patrons where to find and how to use the resources we have available, they may never know they exist. It is our responsibility to show our patrons why we are still relevant to our community. Not only will we be helping the patron, but in the long run, we will be helping ourselves.
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I just want to add that our websites should also educate patrons about online resources. Sadly, most patrons don’t make it to the Reference Desk.
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