Since last fall, I have been working the reference desk at a large university and my experience so far has showed me that student search preferences do not necessarily reflect what is discussed in the literature.
I have been surprised to observe:
- Students prefer to search the library’s local OPAC.
- When searching the OPAC, they like to limit the search by author, topic, title, etc.
- If given the choice between searching a subject specific database or the free-text search box on the university system’s union catalog, they consistently choose the subject specific database.
- They think Google Scholar sucks.
- Those who are not experienced searchers, are usually effusive in their appreciation when receiving search instruction.
Kids today are not a mass of lazy mush-brained morons. They recognize search results produced by page rank algorithms are convenient sometimes, but not all of the time. Do students use Google to troll for content on subjects on which they lack knowledge? Certainly. But so do I, and I am (allegedly) a professional.
The following articles prompted this blog entry: