John Farrier's Liked Comments

A few observations from helping teenagers in the library:

1. I routinely encounter young people who have never used a book index before. So I teach them.

2. Those of us who grew up using physical card catalogs have an advantage in internet searching. We were implicitly taught how to keyword, which is essential in library database searching. Younger people try to use library databases like Google and get frustrated. So I teach them.

3. For a while, we kept a paper newspaper at the reference desk to show to students who had never seen one before.

4. On that subject, those of us who grew up working with print had an easier time understanding what newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals are. Through a computer screen, and especially through a library database, they look pretty much the same.

5. As I've said this before at Neatorama and elsewhere: a previous generation didn't know how to find information and knew that they didn't know. So they'd go to the library and ask a librarian. One of the great challenges of information literacy education is that a younger generation doesn't know how to find information but is convinced that it does. It is common for people to say that all information is just a quick Google search away--a perspective that is terribly, terribly incorrect.

6. Terminology changes. It is common for younger people to say that they want to "rent" a book when they mean "check out." My best guess is that they are working from early memories of going to video rental stores and renting DVDs. This gets complicated for college campuses that offer textbook rental because then the librarian has to find out precisely what the student is trying to acquire, and how.
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Indeed, the internet long predates the WWW and some of those old tools are still useful. I remember using Gopher. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. "Gimme five bees for a quarter," you'd say. Now where were we? Oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. I didn't have any white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones.
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Profile for John Farrier

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