The iSchool’s Library Liaison Answers Your Research Needs

iStudent Blog

Published: September 3, 2015 by Allison Randall Gatt

Getting ready to start your first paper? Step one: research, research, research. SJSU’s King Library will provide you with a vast array of sources for your research needs, but if you feel a bit overwhelmed by all the choices and don’t know where to start, the iSchool has a great personal resource for your research—library liaison Ann Agee. She’s the librarian for aspiring librarians, and here are a few priceless bits of advice to save you time and get you headed in the right direction.

“As the librarian for the iSchool,” Agee says, “I help students find resources for their topics, troubleshoot any technical problems they might have with the library databases, and provide answers for those tricky APA citation questions.” Ah, yes—the APA citations. You’ll want to get that down.

Basic Questions, Frequently Asked
If it’s just the basics you need, there are frequently asked questions that have easy answers. For instance, if you have a problem with you library account, you’ll want to talk to the King Library’s senior customer service coordinator for access, Jeff Frank. You can call him at (408) 808-2326 or email him at jeff.frank@sjsu.edu.

If you need to know if your article is peer reviewed, Agee suggests searching the journal title (not the title of the article itself) in the database called Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory. “If the journal is marked as refereed (another term for peer reviewed),” says Agee, “your article has been through the peer-review process.”

If you need to access restricted materials, you’ll need to get the login and link from your instructor. Agee reminds us, too, that the login is updated every semester.

Getting Started with Resouce Guides
If you’re just starting out at the iSchool and you need some help with your core courses and some of the best resources to use, Agee’s own research guide has pages for the best resources for INFO 200, 202, 203 and 204 (as well as a MARA tab, and my favorite—HELP!—where you can contact Agee directly) to get you started.

Since she is a librarian (and we all know how awesome they are), Agee also has a few special tricks to finding great material for your research papers and projects. “Look for that ‘seed’ article,” suggests Agee, “and then track down the titles in its References list. Finding one good, solid article on your topic can lead you to a lot of other authors writing on the same subject so you can get different perspectives for your paper.”

And then there are always “libguides,” a personal favorite of mine. I created a libguide in my INFO 210: Reference and Information Services class, and it was so much fun! Libguides are basically reference guides created by librarians who are experts on certain subjects, and like Agee’s pages on core courses, these libguides are a list of the best resources on your subject. Just search whatever your topic is and then type “libguides,” and you’ll be amazed what you come up with.

Sharpening Your Skills
Agee suggests another way to increase your library-searching prowess is to take a couple free tutorials with Google. “ ‘Power Searching’ and ‘Advanced Power Searching’ will really help cut down the time you spend looking for what you need,” she says.

These skills are essential when it comes to doing your research for INFO 285: Research Methods in Library and Information Science. Agee suggests browsing the Help sections of the King Library databases as well the Thesaurus (or Subject Terms) link. Remember your INFO 202 skills: The thesaurus is a list of the database’s controlled vocabulary or the terms it uses to describe what you’re looking for.

Whether you’re started your first term paper for graduate school or you’re a seasoned paper-writer in need of some skills to dig a little deeper, the King Library and the iSchool’s library liaison have the answers you need. Happy researching!

For even more links for research help, check out:
King Library Quick Answers

Online Student’s Guide

For related blog content, check out:
Making Technology Assistance and Resources Easy to Find at the iSchool

Use the iSchool Pinterest Boards for Great Tips and Resources During Grad School

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles