Making the Most of the King Library Resources

iStudent Blog

Published: January 29, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Whether you’re just beginning INFO 203 or conducting intensive research for a seminar, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San José State University has the resources to help you succeed. It’s true that in an online program you may never get a chance to walk through the library doors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of everything it offers. From one-on-one research support to specialized subject guides, students at the School of Information have access to a breadth of tools and services that are designed to support virtual learning. I spoke with Gareth Scott, library liaison, about the King Library resources he recommends most for iSchool students.

Reach out to your library liaisons

First and foremost, the library liaisons (Scott and DeeAnn Tran for the MLIS, MS in Informatics and certificate programs; Craig Simpson for the MARA program) are there to help you. You can book Zoom appointments or – when it’s safe to do so – even visit in person. And don’t feel like just because you’re pursuing an information science degree you’re supposed to be a library expert. In fact, Scott says that many of the questions they field from iSchool students are fundamental ones. As students get used to navigating their way around the King Library’s databases, one common report is, “I’m not finding exactly what I’m looking for.” As Scott explains, “Some students are still learning how to use advanced search and subject headings. We offer search tips, help with keywords and synonyms, and suggest different databases. If you’re not finding what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll help you think about all the terms that can be used for your topic.” 

Explore the LibGuides

LibGuides are library research guides curated specifically for iSchool students. With a number of LIS databases organized by subject, course and relevance, “There’s a lot to be found,” says Scott. The LibGuides also provide links to citation help, Writing Center resources and professional associations, which are rich sources of information as well.

Sign into OneSearch

While you’re doing research through the library portal, Scott recommends using your OneSearch account, which allows you to request material beyond the King Library and access resources available only to students. “With a OneSearch account you can also save your resources and your searches,” he says, which is very helpful when you’re working on a more complex project. In addition, you can set up handy email alerts: when OneSearch finds new material based on your search criteria, you’ll be automatically notified.

Make use of interlibrary loan

Interlibrary loan (or ILL) is an incredible resource that allows you to draw on the catalogs and resources of libraries from around the world. Set up your ILLiad account to request material from other libraries, and be sure to check out the borrowing privileges for distance learners. Most requests are free.

Watch tutorials

Stuck on a question in the middle of the night? You can always check out the online tutorials. Whether you’re just starting to explore the library or need a quick refresher on research techniques, there are a number of how-to videos that you can access anytime. You’ll find links to excellent tutorials in the LIS LibGuides, addressing such issues as basic library orientation, topic development, plagiarism and note taking. There are also tutorials specifically designed for the MARA program and Special Collections searches. In addition, the INFO 203 peer mentors have created extremely helpful how-to videos that tackle a broad range of topics, including library searches, resources and tools.

Rely on RefWorks

“We always introduce things like RefWorks,” Scott says. “It’s good for students to know about it before they get too far along in their coursework.” RefWorks saves and manages your citations in a single database, allowing you to easily produce a bibliography when you need to. Information about setting up an account can be found on the LibGuides homepage.

Finally, as future information professionals, get comfortable exploring the library, asking questions, and trying out all the tools and services. The liaisons are always available to help you along your path. Scott says he feels lucky to work with iSchool students in particular. “You’re all aspiring librarians, and I was there myself not that long ago.” He adds, “At SJSU it’s extra rewarding because this is a nice, big library, and there are so many resources available and so many experts to work with. You have a lot of people who can help you.”


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