Libraries sponsor workshops on Web research

by Christopher Sigurdson

These days, libraries are ghost towns and computer labs are buzzing.
Since most research can be done by tapping a few keys, people are turning to computers to get information that used to be found in libraries.
University libraries responded to the trend this summer by organizing two free workshops on Web research strategies.
“The mission of the library is getting people to find the information they want and getting them to understand what they are looking at,” said Dawn Littleton, who conducted the workshop. “It’s half about education and half about enabling people to find what they need.”
Littleton discussed several Web searching strategies at the workshops. She highlighted strengths and weaknesses of search engines and subject guides.
Therissa Libby, a graduate student in neuroscience, attended the workshop.
“I chose this workshop because my Web searching is pretty limited,” Libby said. “I thought I’d see what I don’t know. There were a couple of things that were new to me that I think will be useful.”
Search engines like Alta Vista, Excite and Infoseek are used most commonly when looking for specific words, terms and phrases. But these engines often produce more quantity than quality.
Littleton suggested using guides like Yahoo, Magellan and Argus Clearinghouse when looking for broader subjects rather than specific items.
The workshops also attracted professionals in different health fields.
Mary Bany, who works for the National Chronic Care Consortium, attended the workshop to enhance her searching skills.
“It was a good introductory class,” Bany said. “It gave me some tips on where to go for information.”
Evaluating Web site quality, managing bookmarks and researching quickly were also discussed at the workshop.
Three similar workshops are planned for fall semester.