The Twitterverse has been abuzz with chatter about Steve Kolowich’s recent article, What students don’t know. This reports on a study of Illinois college libraries showing students ignorance of library resources, and their love of Google — Nothing new, but the report states the issue so clearly that it’s drawn much attention.

In reaction to this, Paige Jaeger has a good article suggesting that we in libraries should not dwell on the problems, but instead work on the solutions — Students are going to use Google — We should live with it,  and go from there:

Teach students to search Google, even if you don’t like it. …. If students are swimming in Google, we have to throw them a life preserver.

Jaeger cites articles that have specific ideas on how to leverage students’ Google proclivities to teach them about library resources. One by Paul Barron especially catches my attention — Teach students how to do the best possible job in Google, and then show them how much better they can do with library resources:

Using Google to Hook Students

Educators know that libraries provide access to more relevant information sources and that there are specialists in libraries who enjoy helping students with their research projects. The challenge is influencing the students to use the resources.

Students’ preference to begin their research with Google provides opportunities for educators to integrate the databases hosted in the school library into their research. After teaching a student to use the advanced search features in Google, educators can show how, with minimal modifications, Google’s advanced search syntaxes are similar to the features provided by the library’s proprietary databases. After teaching students to search using Google’s advanced search options, an effective leading question is to ask the student, “Would you like me to teach you a search method that saves you time, provides more relevant resources, and that will improve the quality of your research and earn you a higher grade?”

This approach works! Lori Donovan, a teacher-librarian at Thomas Dale High School from Chester, Va., noted: “I revised my lesson plan for teaching students how to search the Web and library databases. Students were frustrated using the Web; when we got to Gale and ABC-CLIO, their amazement in the difference of the quality of information was priceless. One student researching working women of the 1930s said, ‘Google is aggravating; I found much more in Student Resource Center.’”

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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