With the help of Thu Khong, the college Webmaster, the RCC library has expanded its web site with a new look and many new features. You may want to make the library’s web page (http://www.rcc.mass.edu/lib) a Favorite on your desktop browser. Here is a selection of new features now available. More are coming.
· Need to check a quick fact? Go to the Resources section for E-Reference tools: online dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, thesauri and a whole range of other quick reference tools, many from Yahoo! and the Librarian’s Index to the Internet.
· Read the morning paper. Also in the Resources section. Under E-Journals and Newspapers are today’s edition of online versions of the Boston Globe, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today as well as current issues of the Atlantic Monthly, Chronicle of Higher Education and other online journals.
· Search the Net. Select the Search the Internet section of Resources and choose from nine of the most popular search engines, all in one place, with descriptions of pros and cons of each.
· Under Guides and Instruction—Internet Research Guide, find:
o Library Research. Online tutorials from several university libraries on how to write a college research paper.
o Citing Sources. Rules for citing sources for research papers using APA and MLA formats.
o Tutorials on how to use Internet search engines and evaluate websites to distinguish the gems from the trash.
The ability to search 15 library databases from your home computer is the most important improvement in the new web page. Altogether, the library has access to 35 databases, containing millions of journal articles. Before December 2001, these were available from only 3 computers in the library itself. In that month, accessibility was expanded to 15 new library computers and to the rest of the 500 computers on campus. As dramatic as this improvement was, students began asking immediately, “Can we download database articles from home?” And rightly so! Students at every other Massachusetts community college can do this, why not RCC students? Over the past six months, the library has been working to bring this about. Now the databases of the Gale Group, including the popular Infotrac, are available from home.
To get access from your home computer, go to the Electronic Resources page of the library’s website and choose the Off Campus option for the selected databases. You will need to type in your RCC library ID number, which you can get by coming to the library and registering to be a library user. For the rest of the databases, the library has negotiated agreements with other vendors to permit all 35 databases to be available from home in the near future. In the meantime, all of them continue to be available from every college computer. If, for some reason, you cannot get them from yours, call the IT Helpdesk at x5555 to get the problem fixed.
Electrical cords are all over the floor, plaster dust falls on computer screens, new furniture hasn’t arrived yet and a wall needs to be built. Nevertheless, the new library instructional classroom is up and running, thanks mostly to Walt Geer, Vice President for Information Technology for getting all the equipment hooked together. The classroom is proving to be a much more efficient way of teaching the techniques of information retrieval at RCC than was possible just last semester. Time was when a class trip to the library to be shown “how to use the library” involved how to search the card catalog, how to use printed indexes, how books are arranged on shelf and that was just about it. Computer technology has revolutionized both the amount of information available and also the complexity of how to access it. Now students must consider which database to search, rules of Boolean search techniques, field-searching strategies, not to mention how to narrow down a query when the computer spits 50,000 articles back at you. It can be overwhelming.
Most students need a library session in order to know how to find books and online articles but especially how to choose more pointed topics in order to take advantage of a wealth of information now available. That’s why the English Department, Barbara Melnick, Chair, has recently agreed to require library instruction sessions for all English Composition I students. The library is making good use of its new, unfinished facility. So far this semester 759 students have received library group instruction. Learning how to access online information is an essential skill in the Information Economy. It can also be extremely engaging. In one recent class, every person in the room was so concentrated on their own online hunt that no one noticed that the class had run over by ten minutes. One student broke the spell. “Hey,” he said, “we’re all late for the next class!”
If your class needs instruction on how to use informational resources, contact Mark Lawrence (x5109, firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up a class designed for the particular research needs of your students.
In September, the library inaugurated a Quiet Library policy. No talking allowed. It’s been months in the planning stages. It all started with two students trying to study for exams. They complained bitterly to library staff that the library was way too loud. One was angry, the other literally near tears, demanding a quiet space to work. In the spring we took a poll of students asking “Do You Want A Quiet Library?” Two hundred answered “Yes!” enough to fill the library nearly twice over. Many added written or verbal comments. Some confided about noisy homes where they couldn’t concentrate and the disappointment that the RCC library was little better. Others described confrontations with fellow students over the issue. By hearsay, we learned of those who abandoned RCC altogether. Despite the fact that they pay tuition and go to classes here, these students feel forced to go to Northeastern or elsewhere to find a legitimate college library atmosphere. According to Mark Garth, Director of Career and Transfer Services, over 40% of RCC students transfer to four-year colleges. This must mean that considerably more than the 200 who signed our poll are doing serious library study someplace or they wouldn’t get the grades to transfer at all.
Working toward a quiet library is not just a library issue; it’s a college issue. Many students have noted that socializing has occurred in the library for lack of appropriate alternative places on campus. A poorly designed student lounge and no cafeteria are common complaints. Most college libraries have soundproof rooms for study groups. Space for these would be possible here too if 30% of the first floor of the library hadn’t been sliced away for other purposes over the years. Until these other issues are resolved, the library is continuing to demand a quiet space for serious students. It’s a hard job, though, and we appreciate the recent vote of confidence by the faculty and seek it from other quarters as well.
So, the next time you come to the library, whether you’re a student, faculty or staff member, or administrator, remember:
SHHH! PEOPLE ARE STUDYING and working hard to improve their lives. That’s why they came to this college in the first place.
In October, Career and Transfer Services sponsored the annual College Fair at which RCC students, interested in transferring to four-year schools, could talk with representatives of local colleges. A valuable resource for these students or anyone exploring colleges is the RCC library database CollegeSource Online. CollegeSource Online contains college catalogs from over 20,000 colleges in the US and abroad. (RCC is in there too; take a look.) Beyond catalogs, the database has extensive information on:
To access CollegeSource Online and the other library databases, select Electronic Resources from the library’s website http://rcc.mass.edu/lib. CollegeSource Online is in the Education section. In order to access the database from off campus, please visit the library’s circulation desk to get the User ID and password needed. No ID or password is needed on campus.
To build a better college library and provide superior customer service, we need your comments. Send both praises and gripes to email@example.com.
If you missed the September issue of Welcome to the Library, you can find it in the What’s New section of the library’s web page http://rcc.mass.edu/lib.
Welcome to the Library, published by Roxbury Community College Library, Roxbury Crossing, MA
Designed and written by Mark Lawrence
Roblyn Walker Honeysucker, Library Director