Posted by: Emily | October 8, 2009

Fourteen articles about colonialism?

So my classes this semester are taking on a more or less standard format. I want to be creative and new each time, but I also want to eat well and watch the latest episode of Fringe. Can’t do it all. I’m introducing the catalog, a database, and then our reference database, Gale Virtual Reference Library. Please don’t yawn. I’m also asking more questions and doing more student demonstrations than ever before. But, there’s a place for direct instruction.

In today’s class, the students were writing papers on the history of the Belgian atrocities in the Congo. So, we looked up the word “colonialism” in GVRL and came up with a bunch of articles. Then we talked about why there were so many, and what might be different about the article in the Encyclopedia of U.S. National Security and the article in the Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. It was a sort of off-the-cuff idea that percolated in my office ten minutes before the session and then made sense as an amplification of a student demo of GVRL in the session.

But I think this might end up being a fruitful kind of library exercise that would encourage taking a minute to think about the source you’re using and what its potential point of view, scope, and relevance might be.




  1. Hi Emily! I’ve been enjoying your posts–and mostly just tend to be thinking “amen” at the end rather than have something concrete to say in response. But, if I made an effort, I guess here I’d say this is something I do quite a lot (maybe more one-on-one at the ref desk than in class), but in class find the responses totally hit or miss–either they have nothing to say or make a couple good observations. Worth attempting, though!

    • Hi Amy! Go Orange!

      Yeah, the students sort of stared blankly, but I wondered if that wasn’t just because I didn’t have a guided exercise. Or, they simply parroted this thing about how there are ‘many different points of view.’ Which is true, but pretty simplistic.

      What I wish I understood better was what’s within the scope of the library instructor, and what is the domain of the instructor. Because I can’t teach *that* much in 50 minutes.

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