Our students have grown up believing that just about any information they need can be obtained quickly and easily using Google and Wikipedia. They are not alone, since several recent studies that have determined that about 75% of college students begin their academic research assignments using Google. At the OWHL, we want to make sure that our students learn to identify, locate, and use a wide range of scholarly sources, most of which are not available on the free Internet. But to convince busy students to use those sources, we have to make them quick and easy to find.
Last fall the OWHL purchased a new tool to help us achieve this goal. This relatively new product, called LibGuides, has quickly become very popular in academic libraries. Our version is dubbed OWHLGuides, and it helps us build web pages to organize and promote the electronic resources that we pay for along with the best of the free Internet. Individual OWHLGuides are created for specific assignments, and are typically organized by source type. In addition to links to books, reference sources, images, and materials in other media, they contain citation support and link to a comprehensive discussion of the Research process.
Are OWHLGuides working? They are certainly getting used. We currently have 49 “published” guides, in support of seven academic disciplines. The top ten guides have a total of 13,133 hits! As an illustration, the two guides that we made in support of the BIO 100 Disease Project have been viewed by the students taking BIO 100 4,160 times. These numbers suggest that the students are finding the OWHLGuides helpful, and are returning several times over the course of their research to find additional information. We will continue to monitor the use of the OWHLGuides, and will continue to improve our existing guides, and create more. If you are a PA teacher, we’d be happy to create one for your class.