Can the internet substitute for library searches?

David L. Robinson dlrobi02 at HOMER.LOUISVILLE.EDU
Mon Oct 7 20:19:03 EST 1996

Rob: Good question. There seems to be two types of inquiries by students 
to newsgroups like "plant-bio": Some students appear to be unwilling 
to do even the most basic of library searches......they will usually ask 
really obvious questions like "why do plants need phosphorus?". I would 
recommend that we (as professionals) *not* reply to questions like these, 
because as you observe it teaches bad habits.

But some students may be sincerely curious about topics that are not 
discussed in their textbooks or other common library resources 
(eg. "do bryophytes produce auxin?").....these are the kind of queries 
that we can help students with.

Also, keep in mind that not all students have access to big-budget 
libraries like students at large universities have. 

Dave Robinson
Bellarmine College
Louisville, KY

On 5 Oct 1996, Rob Alba wrote:

> I find myself a bit concerned about a trend I am seeing more and more
> frequently on the discussion lists I subscribe to.  What I
> notice happening is students sending very basic "topical" queries to
> appropriate discussion lists in place of (I believe) the "old fashion"
> library search. 
> I guess I have 4 questions:  First, have others noticed such a trend?
> Second, assuming this trend exists, do you think the value of getting
> students to use the internet for research purposes sufficiently great
> enough to risk a decrease in our future students' ability to use library
> resources efficiently/effectively?  Obviously, in the best of all worlds,
> students should be using both types of resources to produce quality work
> and meet their assignment objectives.  Thus, my third question is this:
> How does one successfully convey to students the value of using the
> internet without (mis)leading them to believe that libraries are no longer
> essential? My fouth question is tangential:  Do you think the internet
> will eventually make libraries obsolete?
> Any thoughts or discussion you have regarding these questions (or their
> inherant assumptions) would be most welcome.  I would very much like to
> to hear both instructors' and students' views on this topic and my
> questions.
> Sincerely,
> Rob Alba
> Department of Botany
> The University of Georgia
> robalba at

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