Can the internet substitute for library searches?

Scott T. Meissner smeissne at PRAIRIENET.ORG
Sun Oct 6 11:07:30 EST 1996


Rob Alba recently asked some questions about the use of the
internet for finding information traditionally found in 
libraries.

IMHO the internet is great at allowing people with questions
to get access to people with knowledge.  But many students may
see this as a substitute for searching the peer reviewed 
information.

What is found in libraries and the scientific literature are 
articles that are peer reviewed.  While an internet E-mail
message for help will get any and all levels of feedback.  In
many cases that information may be of low quality.

Until the scientific journals are on the 'net there will be
a need to go to libraries and get to the original literature.
Given what the library of congress is going through with
trying to get its collections on the 'net I doubt that 
the stacks of texts and journals in the libraries are in 
any danger of being made redundant anytime soon.

When I see an inquiry in this group asking for help I 
often wonder if it is from a student who has been given 
an assignment to look up things in the library, and who might be 
trying to get a quick answer over the net.  Since I can not
know if this is true or not, I tend to ignore these sorts of 
requests.  Especially requests for article citations, 
or information that could be found in a textbook, give me 
the impression that if I reply I just would be doing the 
student's work for them.  Some of the requests even state 
that something like "my teacher gave me an assignment..."  But
did the teacher expect them to do this over the 'net, or were
they susposed to be using the library?  Unless I know what 
their assignment was I might be helping the student to 
avoid learning to look up information in a library.

Wouldn't it be better to encourage internet discussions after
the students have gotten questions from reading texts or articles
they got from a library?  



Scott T. Meissner, Division of Science and Mathematics
	McKendree College, 701 College Rd, Lebanon, IL  62254
	Tel: (618) 537-6934 
	E-mail: smeissne at a1.mckendree.edu




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