It's been a long two years since many of us have been on campus, and for a large number of you, this is your very first time at Emory & Henry. In these last few months, as we in the library had been preparing for the start of a new semester, I found myself once again reflecting on the role, now my role, as a librarian. In particular, I have been thinking a great deal about the library’s role (and the librarians’) in helping students with their research.
Thinking back to my own experiences as a student here at E&H and my recent studies in Library school, research projects and papers were a frequent occurrence. Sometimes the topics were easy to work on, sometimes trying to track down the needed information was more of a challenge. Through it all, if I hadn't had access to a library and the resources they provide, I would not have been able to complete those assignments. These memories have since conjured an idea that I wanted to share with you.
Say for instance that you have been assigned to write a research paper. You have been given a general topic to research and are given expectations to use a certain number of resources. You are given the requirements to write a successful paper for this class, including page count, a citations page, and you are expected to create a strong research question that will allow you to form an argument for you to make. This is your starting point, let’s call it point “A”.
From point “A”, your goal is to create this research question (making sure that it is concise, clear, and makes a strong argument), locate resources to either defend or refute the claim your research question makes, cite the resources you use, and then put everything all together with your own ideas to form your paper. We will call your finished paper point “B”.
Now, standing between points “A” and “B” is a large, open space. So how do you get across this space to that finished paper and make sure that when you do get there you have a well-written document?
You build a bridge. Sounds a little daunting doesn’t it? The thing is, you will do this every time you perform research and you will get better doing it every time. Better yet, you don’t have to build it alone!
Now place yourself into this scenario, with you standing at point “A”, looking across the huge space you have to travel in order to get to “B”. Look beside you. Do you know what you have standing beside you? A group of bridge builders waiting eagerly to help you. You might recognize them as your librarians! That’s right! You don’t have to build this bridge alone. In fact, you will find yourself building a sturdier, grander bridge when you reach out for help at the library. Here you will be able to start building the foundations required for you to then start laying the platforms you’ll be traveling across to that final draft of your paper, that point “B”. You’ll be strengthening your research question, creating search queries to peruse the existing information found online and in the library, you’ll be searching for those scholarly articles, and you’ll be looking for a way to piece all of that information together.
In the library, you’ll be able to do all of those things mentioned above. You can get help constructing that strong research question and you can receive guidance on how to use different search tools to locate a score of information you need. And even if we don’t have the specific information you need, we will do our best to get it for you and in a timely manner. Meaning that we will reach out to libraries all across the country to try and locate that elusive book or article. With the right tools, you can build any bridge imaginable. Just remember that one of those tools you should really consider utilizing, and, at no cost to you, is the library and the people inside. They are here to help you succeed!