Module Five: Connecting Users with Information: Research-Based Resources and Services




The lectures and readings for the next few weeks will be covering the many types of information sources and their various uses. The goal is to introduce you to how these information sources are created and used so that you’ll become a more discriminating information provider.  This week’s lecture also introduces the concept of the “information cycle” (see below infographic) and describes the concepts of authenticity, relevancy and currency of associated to information created during each stage of the cycle.  The lecture also reviews the traditional, research-based information sources that once lined library reference shelves.  It surveys the different types of sources within this genre and the criteria used to evaluate them.

Next week’s module will move away from these traditional, library-based reference sources to discuss the new types of sources that information communities are creating among themselves.  In this way, it is hoped that you’ll understand the differences between research-based and community-based sources and gain experience locating and using them.

Things to Read:

This week’s readings reinforce and expand upon the main topics covered in the lecture.  The article on “Reference and Informational Genres” in the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (ELIS), was written by Thomas Mann, a long-time librarian at the Library of Congress and a well-known expert in LIS reference sources.  In his essay, Mann provides a detailed discussion of what a reference source is and defines the different reference genres.  He also explains how to locate reference sources in library catalogs and databases, which you’ll need to be able to do.

Things to View: 

Here is a link to YouTube video produced by the University of Illinois Undergraduate Library that reviews the information cycle.  Using interesting real-life examples, it explains the types of sources created at each stage of the cycle and the type of information they contain.

Popular Canadian political satirist Rick Mercer addressed the issues we face with information today in his rant “Fake News”

Things to Explore:

  1. While finding social and community-oriented information for or about your chosen information community may not be too difficult, finding relevant, research-based/peer-reviewed material is often a bit tougher. Sometimes, it requires a bit of creative, non-linear thinking as well as an awareness of searching techniques that can tease out material that meets your needs. Consequently, the LIBR 200 LibGuide has been developed to provide you with links to databases as well as research tips that you can use to towards locating and best utilizing research-based information sources. The tools presented in this LibGuide have been prepared to help you discover how and where to find material, as well as how to understand if the material is appropriate in terms of relevancy, currency, authority and authenticity.  It is also important to remember that even though you are partaking in information studies – it is absolutely okay to ask one of the MLK librarians for assistance. The iSchool has been assigned our very own librarian, Ann Agee, whose job is to help you with your research. Call or email her with your question or to make an appointment for a personal consultation.  You can find Ann’s contact information in the HELP section. (And here is a link:  HELP) )
  1. The East and Franks articles take a more critical look at research-based reference sources.  East discusses subject encyclopedias and their declining use.  He also offers strategies as to how information professionals can make their users aware of subject encyclopedias’ value and uses. The Franks article on “grand narratives” introduces the biases and limitations of research-based information sources, which provides a good transition to next week’s topic of community-based sources.

East, J. W.  (2010). The Rolls Royce of the library reference collection: The subject encyclopedia in the age of Wikipedia. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50(2), 162-169. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Franks, S. (2010). Grand narratives and the information cycle in the library instruction classroom. (p. 43-53).  In Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.

  1. An on-line tutorial has been developed by the Minnesota Opportunities for Reference Excellence initiative.  While the tutorial is a bit dated (it was first presented in 2011), especially given how quickly the digital info-sphere has evolved, it is still an excellent primer for those new to reference. In particular, the sections on pitfalls to avoid, how to approach an interview/search, readers’ advisory and professional ethics introduce concepts that are timeless regardless of the information medium.   5 part intro to Reference Process: Minnesota Opportunities for Reference Excellence (MORE) (Links to an external site.)