Sunday, May 1, 2011

LIS 623 Course Summary: Information in the Humanities

As usual with graduate school, this course had an uber ton of readings.  I’ll be honest.  When I had a sense of déjà vu out of an article, I’d usually skim it.  The course textbook was neat.  The Humanities:  A Selective Guide to Information Sources, by Ron Blazek and Elizabeth Aversal, was primarily one big annotated bibliography.  The fifth edition was published in 2000, so it is a little outdated.

One of our main projects consisted of updating the textbook.  My group worked on the sections covering Philosophy and Religion, Mythology, & Folklore.  It was fun (yes, I’m a geek).  I updated some of the resources already included and added a few more relevant sources.  Since 9-11-2001, the atheist community has grown and gained more visibility.  Since the textbook had absolutely zero resources pertaining to freethinkers, non-religious folks, and/or atheists, I added a handful of sources on those topics.  The professor informed us she wanted to update the text and had been in contact with the publishers.  However, I’ve yet to hear anything back from her regarding the update.

I suppose the most important knowledge, in addition to the tons of humanities resources, I took away from the course involved the information needs of humanities scholars and students.  Since I have a MA in Literature and I’ve worked in a small academic library, I can attest to the general accuracy of the claims.

As a general rule, Humanities scholars:
·       Work independently, as opposed to more team efforts by scientists (look at article by-lines to see this in action)
·       Like to browse
·       Use a variety of subjects and sources as opposed to other fields (personal experience: I’ve written conference papers requiring the use of sources from literature, history, religion, philosophy and the sciences-all in the same paper)
·       Utilize “chaining” (citation tracking, following works cited of relevant articles in order to find more resources)
·       Utilize technology to a lesser degree than other fields (this is changing with the newer generations of humanities students and scholars)

We also worked through numerous sets of reference questions.  Each set contained ten ready reference and five more complicated reference questions.  The professor forbid the use of Google “on pain of death.”  Each set covered a different subject in the Humanities and gave me lots of reference practice in addition to my library assistant duties at WKCTC.

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