Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2008

Abstract

Is the research process an “unbeatable” game, where the odds are always against the student? We see our students sitting blankly in front of computer screens, dropping search terms into databases like coins into one-armed bandits, hoping for the jackpot—full-text articles on their subject seemingly elusive as three cherries in a row.

Games generally have a learning curve—the more you play, the better you become. Increasingly, however, gamers turn to tips and tricks resources for shortcuts, strategies and cheat codes that can give them the edge and propel them to the next level. When it comes to research, the stakes for students are often too high for them to invest the time it takes to master the challenges in the library, but where are the accompanying guides to help them through the tough parts?

Library Secrets! is a developing Tips, Tricks and Hints project designed to provide students with the cheat codes to the library—all the information that is already there, imbedded in thickly worded database instructions, dull small type on the policies page, hidden in dusty manuals, but in manageable pieces, like a helpful suggestion passed surreptitiously outside the bookie’s window: “here’s the horse to put your money on, don’t waste your time with the others”.

Library Secrets! incorporates social software applications to create a collaborative venue for discussing library research, sharing tips and gloating about successes when users have cashed their chips at the end of the process. Part of the “gamble” on the library’s end is predicting how and if students will take to these new technologies. This project is being developed as part of the presenter’s final project as a resident librarian.

This session will present the background research that went into developing the program, the various technologies that are being used and future opportunities for development on the horizon.