I remember my first couple months as a reference librarian. Every question seemed to draw upon yet another undeveloped region of my brain – or worse, force me to consult some scary reference work I’d managed to avoid in library school. I’d step away from a two-hour shift absolutely spent. As time passed, the questions got easier (either that, or I got better); and before long, truly challenging questions became rare. Thus began my “Jaded Age,” my “No Question Can Scare Me, I’m a Librarian” phase. But teaching some seriously smart kids this past year has brought me back down to earth, humbled by all I’ve learned – not just from them, but also from old-fashioned books, new-fangled technology, and pure luck. Here’s a short summary:
- There is a scholarly journal devoted exclusively to the study of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings.
- An extensive black market for wildlife is partially to blame for the endangerment and / or extinction of many animal species around the world.
- Hairspray was invented in the 1950s.
- The “deep web” (the part of the web that’s off-limits to Google) is really, really deep.
- Once you get past that initial search interface, the INSPIRE databases are amazing.
- Students (and parents) appreciate having learned how to evaluate information resources.
- Words like “between,” “across,” and “among” are called prepositions (I must have missed grammar class that day); and, per MLA style, should not be capitalized in a bibliographic citation.
- Without a good grammar book, it’s nearly impossible to explain the rules governing proper punctuation.
Personal discoveries (aka “growth opportunities”).
- I need a better way to explain this one – and actually be believed: “Research is iterative. Sometimes you really do have to re-do!”
- Grading exercises and papers takes an enormous amount of time – but it sure is fun!
- The year passes much more quickly when you’re the teacher.
I also discovered that record-keeping is not my strongest suit (if it were, these lists would be far longer) – yet there’s so much more to learn. So watch this space: I promise to capture and share my discoveries more faithfully as the 2012-2013 academic year unfolds. In the meantime, enjoy the summer – and contact us anytime for help with your next research or writing project!