Thing 2: Resource Discovery

Part A: Theory and Concepts

Developing skills relating to resource discovery leads learners to understand that the search process encompasses both the sources themselves, as well as the means to access those sources. Learners understand that resource discovery is likely to be a non-linear, iterative process where they will engage regularly with finding and evaluating information from a wide range of sources to satisfy their research question. In addition, it entails understanding specific formats and types of information appropriate to the discipline. Resource discovery requires flexibility on the part of learners to pursue alternative avenues as understanding develops.

CILN Framework

We might summarise resource discovery as finding the right stuff at the right time. But as simple as that sounds, resource discovery can require a really complex set of decisions and judgments, as well as flexibility, persistence, curiosity and luck. It’s a highly intellectual, creative and often strategic process, and one that we engage with so frequently that we probably don’t even recognise that we’re doing it.

For our students, resource discovery mostly centres on finding appropriate materials for an essay, assignment, or dissertation. For us as library staff, it might be searching for the content of the next tweet from your library account, working out where a particular book can be purchased from, finding out more about a subject so you can classify a new book, searching classification schedules, looking for images for a poster or exhibition that you can use freely, or helping a student track down an article. It might also be searching for a hotel for your next holiday, or looking online because you need a new winter coat. It doesn’t always mean heading straight to Google (though, let’s face it, it mostly does.)

Resource discovery can sometimes feel like a single, one-off activity (‘I’m looking for this one thing’), but it helps if you can think of it as a process. It’s a process that includes understanding what you need to find and where to look for it, how your chosen information system works and how it’s organised, how to formulate initial search terms and deciding whether you need filters or limits, how to assess if your search has worked and refining it effectively, how to decide if you’ve found enough information and if that material is appropriate (‘can I reuse this image freely?’). It involves gathering information as you go, and using that to refine your search terms and approach. It also includes understanding how to access the information you’ve found.

The resource discovery process is rarely linear, and often iterative and messy.

A key feature of the resource discovery process is that it is always heavily contextualised. Our students’ discipline and its norms, for example, may have an impact on the process, as is their social, material and emotional context – what their friends do, what device they’re using, how much time they have, how stressed they are. We too may have norms or standards we have to adhere to which affect how we search for information. Our approach is contextualised by experience and habit, by what has worked in the past and what our colleagues do. It’s contextualised by our material environment, how good the wi-fi is, and which browser we’re using. Crucially, too, it’s contextualised by our affective state, how we’re feeling. Searching for information about, say, your health, when you’re feeling calm and rested, and when you have easy access to professional help, may be a completely different experience to searching for that same information if it’s 2 am and you’re exhausted and stressed.

So resource discovery is a complicated process, encompassing both our ability to find and access the information we need. It requires creative, self-aware, strategic thinking throughout the process, and an awareness that we can learn more from errors we make than the times we get it right. The process is affected our environment and experience, and by our willingness to refine, reassess, browse, and be decisive about what we’ve found.

Part A: Reading

Stuart, A. (2019). Embedded librarianship: the future of libraries. Library Journal.

The author recounts their experience of being a health science librarian, and the need to provide access to resources supporting evidence-based practice, as well as support with which databases to use for particular purposes. They argue in favour of embedded librarians as a way to best help students to identify which databases to use for health science information.

Stanziano, Susan, (2016). Information Seeking Behavior of Older Adults. The Serials Librarian 71. 3-4, pp. 221-230.

The author explores the various methods used by older adults to acquire the information they need, and demonstrates how contextual factors like literacy, computer literacy, mobility and dexterity play a part in how successful older adults can be at searching for information. The author contends that missing computer literacy in older adults can lead to being left out from the mainstream of information access, and this can be detrimental to health.

Part A: Task

At the start of this blog post is the description of Resource Discovery given in the information literacy framework. Your task is to summarise this in no more than 40-50 words. Try to ensure that you’re capturing everything given in the fuller description.

Part B: Practical Applications

Having read through and considered the theory and concepts behind resource discovery, now try to identify two case-studies or stories about how you have searched for information, successfully or unsuccessfully. Consider the process you went through, decisions you made, how you refined your search, and the outcome. It doesn’t have to be information sought online, but from any source.

Once you’ve written your two stories, consider what themes emerge in both of them, and if and how they overlap. Do you feel more confident searching for information in a professional or person context? Why might that be?

Next steps…

Blog about what you have written, or submit your work using the dedicated Thing 2 form.

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