Sunday, December 17, 2006

Librarian Secret #2 - Not All Things You Get on the Internet are "Internet Sources"

I worked a couple of hours on the Reference Desk today, and several high school students came to me with their questions for their homework projects. Bless their little hearts, some of them are really confused about "sources." I remember being one of them. And yet, I didn't have nearly as many choices as these kids have.

They ask me for a "Newspaper Source" for their paper on Global Warming. I start typing into the computer. They say "NO! I need a NEWSPAPER!" I explain that old newspapers fall apart, take up space, and present a HUGE fire hazard. So thanks to the "Digital Age," we have gotten rid of all of them and we have it all on the computer now.

"But NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" they cry. "My teacher said "NO INTERNET SOURCES!" Don't you have newspapers?


Just because you access something over the Internet, doesn't mean that it is actually an "Internet Source." There is a phenomenon called "The Deep Web." Or perhaps there is a new catchphrase for it. The information in this Deep Web costs money. And our taxpayers pay for those resources to be available.

So... if you teach children and assign them papers, or if you are a parent who will help your children with homework one day, please explain the difference between an Internet source and a database. PLEASE! These poor kids are freaking out.

Oh, and teach them not to use so many "quotation marks." It's really "irritating" to read.


Jessey said...

I really really fear for our future.
I am quite "scared" now.

Brant said...

While working at Kinko's, I was manning the computer department one day when a girl came in asking for help researching a project about Ancient Egpyt. This was the barely-pre-Google and definitely pre-Wikipedia (mid-'98).
Peter and I tried to help her find a few things, when he finally suggested that she just go to the library. She replied "Oh I went over there. All their computers were tied up." Apparently the walls of books were just for decoration.

I can sympathize with your predicament, tho - teaching undergrads that citing a Lexis-Nexis article involves actually reading the article to discern where it originally appeared, and not cutting and pasting the URL into your bibliography, as if I can tell from the URL that you're citing the 24 July 2004 Washington Post.

Brant said...

On a related note, you may want to visit the Gallery of "Misused" Quotation Marks.