[Humanist] 29.522 bibliographic wayfinding

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Dec 2 09:48:38 CET 2015

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 522.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    "James R. Kelly" <jrkelly at library.umass.edu>             (209)
        Subject: Re:  29.511 bibliographic wayfinding

  [2]   From:    Richard Heinzkill <heinzkil at uoregon.edu>                  (21)
        Subject: 29.511 bibliographic wayfinding

        Date: Tue, 01 Dec 2015 15:28:37 -0500
        From: "James R. Kelly" <jrkelly at library.umass.edu>
        Subject: Re:  29.511 bibliographic wayfinding
        In-Reply-To: <20151128073150.C6B316625 at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Willard,

This is a very interesting question and one on which you've already  
bestowed a fitting, contemporary name.

I first encountered the issue when I entered library school upon  
leaving off after only a short while a graduate program in English  
literature. What I came to realize courtesy of library science classes  
was the absolute lack of preparation I had in the ways of graduate,  
scholarly research and the then-essential tools of the trade (ca.  
early 1970's). Once armed with the bibliographic background library  
school afforded, I re-essayed my graduate work in English and earned  
an MA.

By way of some other pertinent background, undergraduate library  
instruction didn't really come into its own in the U.S. until the  
mid-1970's (variously called bibliographic instruction, library  
instruction, and latterly, information literacy). This to some extent  
has helped to make the undergraduate a more savvy tyro, but the truly  
deep and exhaustive complement to it intended for graduate students  
has generally disappeared. I knew of the U of Toronto's famed  
bibliography course as of some date in the later 1970's, but similar  
ones were few and far between and have generally languished with the  
inroads of new styles of criticism. Here at UMass Amherst, there has  
been a traditional research methods course on the books for years  
(probably now gone), but it hasn't been taught in the 21 years that  
I've been here. I've tried to resuscitate it as a co-taught course  
with English Dept. faculty and librarians, but that has gone nowhere.

The closest I've been able to do albeit in a different arena is to  
teach the Literature of the Humanities course for the School of  
Library and Information Science at Simmons College in a manner that at  
least tries to expose the students to not only the traditional  
humanistic disciplines but also to embed those subjects in the context  
of digital humanities, current practices in special collections and  
archives, and the discovery of noteworthy sites on the internet which  
should have greater currency in their respective fields. I had the  
great good fortune of spending the first 20 years of my career as a  
cataloger, and the knowledge gained therefrom has made me a much  
better reference librarian over the succeeding 20+ years. That  
combined with a familiarity with traditional and digital tools as well  
as having to hand a cadre of librarians at other institutions has made  
all the difference.


Jim Kelly

Quoting Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 511.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>         Date: Fri, 27 Nov 2015 11:33:52 -0500
>         From: Ryan Deschamps <ryan.deschamps at gmail.com>
>         Subject: Re:  29.510 bibliographic wayfinding?
>         In-Reply-To: <20151127080718.A48416CBD at digitalhumanities.org>
> Willard,
> It was great to see this message today as I have been looking for an excuse
> to re-connect to the list.
> I have a few angles to approach this question. In the world of Library and
> Information Studies, this topic is taught as "information behaviour." My
> experience with the literature on the topic is that it is mostly anecdotal
> and/or theoretical ("every one is different"). The discussion shifted
> around 2005 to usability studies and human-computer interaction. I don't
> think anything very transformative happened in terms of this research,
> other than it gave some strategies to improve search portals and etc. Later
> on from that, librarians found themselves locked into "here's how you use a
> database" lessons that were less relevant to students already familiar with
> the tools of the internet, so there was a shift to more broad instruction
> and "Library guide" development online. As I was a public rather than an
> academic library, I cannot speak to the success of these approaches.
> Certainly, a good amount of debate exists regarding the cost-benefit of
> this sort of thing.
> As a current PhD student in public policy, i've tried a number of
> strategies, but mostly "ad hoc" I would say. The best one, imho is to find
> a useful call number, hit the stacks and look for something newer than
> 2010. Eventually someone makes a claim that there is a "classic" work and
> you hit those up and then see who cited them.
> Another approach I've used for literature review is using a citation
> network and conducting some community detection. This is particularly
> important for interdisciplinary work due to common use of phrases with
> different meanings/contexts ("policy network" and "agenda setting" for
> example mean slightly different things in policy versus communications
> research).
> I think Google scholar is excellent for syllabus development, given the
> citation scores. If I am entering a field that I am not familiar with,
> syllabuses often do help with getting a grounding on the topic.
> And then there is just plain old social networking. Visiting other
> scholar's offices and asking for advice.
> I do have to say I am lucky for my library training. Many of my colleagues
> with much higher IQs think me a genius sometimes because of my ability to
> find sources that no one else seems able to find.
> I would imagine that there would be some different strategies for the
> humanities. I would also guess that, like the way I am more likely to
> encounter humanities articles, humanities students are more likely to
> encounter social and information sciences more frequently as well. This is
> often frustrating, but occasionally it is very rewarding too.
> Ryan. . .
> On Fri, Nov 27, 2015 at 3:07 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
> willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
>>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 510.
>>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>>         Date: Fri, 27 Nov 2015 07:58:46 +0000
>>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>>         Subject: bibliographic wayfinding?
>> A question better answered by many, I hope here, and with accompanying
>> discussion: what do our bibliographic wayfinding practices look like
>> now? (The word, 'wayfinding', is not yet in the OED, but the entry for
>> it in Wikipedia is helpful, with some surprises, at least for me.)
>> Let me explain the basis of the question. My studies for an MA degree
>> were unmemorable except for one course, in bibliographic methods for
>> students of English literature. Our professor took us to the library as
>> a group and showed us how to use its resources. We must have had
>> follow-up exercises, but what I remember very clearly is the
>> step-by-step processes from book to book he showed us then, by
>> *doing* it, then and there. That stuck and has served me well ever
>> since.
>> Later, but still in the dark ages some here will recall, during which I
>> did my doctoral research, I put my old professor's lessons into
>> practice. There were, of course, the standard reference books and one
>> very helpful reference librarian with a PhD in history. But typically,
>> on my own, I'd find a useful book or article, then follow the references
>> in its footnotes and bibliography to other books and articles, and so
>> on, until I had a shortlist of items that kept turning up or that
>> otherwise looked worth investigating further. I'd supplement this with
>> items I found nearby in the library stacks, in the same special issue of
>> a journal and so on. My topic involved several disciplines (chiefly 17C
>> English, Classics and Biblical Studies), so I had to stray off the usual
>> paths for a doctoral student in English. The library I worked in
>> (University of Toronto primarily, 7 million volumes then) was up to the
>> task and kept me very busy, but I don't recall physical or mental
>> exhaustion ever playing much of a role in limiting my bibliographic
>> wayfinding.
>> Now it does play a significant role. It's so easy to find relevant items
>> from a far larger stock of materials, and so easy to be made aware of
>> unsuspected intellectual terrain, that giving up the search when it is
>> still yielding good stuff has become something I must live with. The
>> choice is between that and never finishing anything. How I handle the
>> items I do access -- is 'read' the right verb here? -- I treat somewhat
>> differently. The fundamental process of note-taking, compilation and
>> assimilation remains much the same. But the mechanisms are different and
>> doubtless make a difference I am too busy to study.
>> So let me ask a slightly more specific question: what would or does a
>> (post)graduate-level digitally-aware course in bibliographic methods
>> look like now? Who teaches it? Do research librarians play a role? Is
>> digital humanities involved, and if not, why not?
>> I imagine a year-long course, required of all doctoral students in the
>> humanities and interpretative social sciences, covering the above and
>> adding in (given how much diverse data there are to manipulate)
>> elementary programming skills. What better context for their introduction?
>> Comments?
>> Yours,
>> WM
>> --
>> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
>> Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
>> Group, University of Western Sydney
> --
> Ryan Deschamps
> PhD Candidate Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy
> ryan.deschamps at gmail.com
> Facebook: www.facebook.com/greebie  Twitter: www.twitter.com/ryandeschamps

James R. Kelly
Humanities Research Services Librarian
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts
154 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9275

(413) 545-3981; (413) 577-1536 (fax)
E-mail: jrkelly at library.umass.edu

Distinguished Bibliographer, Modern Language Assn. International  
Bibliography; Adjunct faculty: UMass German & Scandinavian Studies,  
Simmons College School of Library and Information Science; Archivist,  
Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing; Rare  
Book and Slavic Cataloger, Amherst College

Currently reading: The Way the World Works by Nicholson Baker;  
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín; A Sportsman's Notebook by Ivan Turgenev
Seemingly forever reading: The Man without Qualities by Robert Musil
Currently listening to: The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

Si hoc signum legere potes, operis boni in rebus latinis alacribus et  
fructuosis potiri potes! (Henry Beard, Latin for All Occasions)

        Date: Tue, 1 Dec 2015 17:38:22 -0800
        From: Richard Heinzkill <heinzkil at uoregon.edu>
        Subject: 29.511 bibliographic wayfinding
        In-Reply-To: <20151128073150.C6B316625 at digitalhumanities.org>

There is a lot to reply to in Ryan's reply to Willard's inquiry. Just a
few comments.

Ryan seems to be dismissive of library instruction as though some
familiarity with the internet is the same as effectively searching the
databases the library spends good money to subscribe to.

Browsing is certainly a tried and true method for locating material but he
seems unaware that the subject section of the catalog identifies books on
his subject that are not in his favorite call number section.  When a book
is about several subjects the library does not buy several copies but
assigns one call number and then adds several subject headings in the
catalog to alert researchers about their existence. And needless to say
going to the shelf will not identify e-books the library gives access to.

Ryan does not seem to be aware that the raw material for doing research in
public policy may entail using a wide variety of resources such as
government documents, reports and policy papers from  NGO's, polls, and
statistics, etc. Neither the catalog nor Google Scholar covers these
resources adequately.  Instead Library Guides point to where these types of
publication can be located, both those available to anyone, and those the
library has paid for and therefore restricted to the institution's members.

Richard Heinzkill, retired reference librarian, University of Oregon

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