Indexes [was: Re: The *real* Jim Whitehead]

From: Janie Wilkins (
Date: Wed Mar 28 2001 - 10:35:52 PST

Joseph S Barrera III wrote:

> > Am I the only one with Google? ;)
> Yes. The rest of us have to make do with the Reader's Guide to Periodicals.

Actually, the good old RGPL is still a wonderful reference tool. I use it
regularly in my job... if you want to find articles written before 1980, print
indexes are still the way to go (with the exception of JSTOR, which has mostly
really old stuff). But I must say that I use Google approx. 30-40 times per day
when I am on the reference desk, compared to using the RGPL a few times a week
at most.

On a related note, I have noticed a trend lately for High School teachers to
require students to use the RGPL and other print indexes when doing research.
The assignment will usually tell them that they must have at least X number of
print sources that were found using a print index and that they *must*
photocopy the page from the print index that shows where they found the
citation. Sometimes they take it even further and tell the students that they
can not use *any* web resources in their research.

The problem with this is that many of these teachers do not understand the
difference between a web page and a subscription periodical database that is
accessed via the web. For instance, we subscribe to the web versions EbscoHost
and ProQuest and we have had teachers tell students that they could not use
these products because they are on the web. These products are simply
aggregating articles that originally appeared in print by digitizing and
indexing them. They are great time savers, but because of some sort of
technology backlash we have kids pawing through the print version of the RGPL
for current articles that could be found and printed in seconds using one of
our (expensive) online database subscriptions.

I noticed this trend beginning two years ago when I was at an academic library
... has anyone on FoRK noticed this trend on campuses? Are some professors
doing the same thing with their assignments? Have you ever encountered such a
requirement on an assignment? More importantly, how do we educate the educators
about the difference between web pages and web-based databases?

I am all for students learning proper research skills and learning how to use a
print index, but not when it isn't appropriate and not when it excludes a
perfectly legitimate source of information.

~Diva~ (who shall become Mrs. Diva in 24 days from now)

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