Pathfinder (library science)

Last updated

A pathfinder is a bibliography created to help begin research in a particular topic or subject area. (Pathfinders are also referred to as subject guides, topic guides, research guides, libguides, information portals, resource lists or study guides). Pathfinders produced by the Library of Congress are known as "tracer bullets". [1] What is special about a pathfinder is that it only refers to the information in a specific location, i.e. the shelves of a local library. [2]

Contents

According to the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science, a pathfinder is "designed to lead the user through the process of researching a specific topic, or any topic in a given field or discipline, usually in a systematic, step-by-step way, making use of the best finding tools the library has to offer. Pathfinders may be printed or available online." [3]

The goal of a pathfinder is to gather all of the most useful, relevant, reliable and authoritative resources on a variety of academic, work-related or general-interest topics. [4] Originally provided in print format in the 20th century in large academic libraries, [5] [6] pathfinders have evolved with the emergence of the World Wide Web and may now act as portals to information about resources in a variety of formats, including books, encyclopedias, bibliographic databases, almanacs, documentaries, websites, search engines and journals.

Often used as curriculum tools for bibliographic instruction, the guides help library users find materials or help those unfamiliar with a discipline understand the key sources." [6]

Purpose

Pathfinders are intended to be a launch point for research on a particular topic, via the collection of select materials available in a particular institution on that topic. However they are not generally an exhaustive collection of all of the materials on a given topic- they are designed for beginners in research to find the fundamental information they need to get started. [7] Pathfinders also help to teach essential information and technology skills, and promote books and reading. [8] They are broader in scope than subject headings, and have been chosen from university course descriptions, thesis titles, and from term paper titles. [9] For public libraries, it has been suggested to use surveys, past experience and hot topics from local media to find topics for pathfinders. [10] It has been argued to expand the purpose of a research guide from being a list of resources to also incorporating instruction on information literacy. [11]

Format

MIT pathfinders in the 1970s had the following format: [12]

Although the format varied, it emphasised subjects that were broad in scope and providing many different types of sources to the reader. In contrast, some academic libraries created specific pathfinders that functioned as a partial bibliography. [13] In 1995, Jim Kapoun argued that key features of good pathfinders were "compactness and basic informational resources". [14]

History

Booklists have been produced by libraries since at least the 1950s, [1] but the term pathfinder was coined in 1972 by Marie Canfield. [15] From approximately 1973-1975, the Model Library Program sold pathfinders among libraries, but there was not enough interest to continue selling pathfinders, as most libraries preferred to create their own. [15]

From the mid-1990s, as the Internet became more popular, libraries began including web resources in their pathfinders and putting the pathfinders on their websites. [16] Webliographies became popular, lists of web links that were curated by librarians on a topic. These differed from pathfinders because they did not focus on the library's collection. [5] As library services became increasingly accessible online, options for creating online pathfinders expanded, including webpages, LibGuides, and open-source content management systems. [17]

Usage

Library clients can use pathfinders at their own pace, and may find them "more approachable" than a reference desk. Electronic pathfinders on a library website can be used 24 hours a day. [15] In higher education, embedding library subject guides into a learning management system has been shown to increase use of library resources among students. [18] A 2011 study found that students often do not use library guides simply by not knowing they exist, or preferring to use a search engine or a trusted bibliographic database instead. This study found that students would use the subject guides if they didn't know where to begin, or if they were navigating a new discipline or if their lecturer told them to. [19] While the stated audience for pathfinders are library clients, [15] Jackson and Pellack reported that reference librarians regarded them as a useful tool for training and for librarians at the front desk. [20] It has been proposed that creating and maintaining library guides may be considered a professional development activity for librarians. [21]

Critique

It has been argued that pathfinders do not take a user-centred approach. [22] Inconsistent formatting and overly-complex language have also been pointed to as being key points to watch out for. [23] Some students become frustrated with dead links on subject guides, or the omission of resources that they consider essential. Maintaining and updating pathfinders is considered problematic. The use of Web 2.0 tools such as wikis and blogs are considered to be helpful in enabling smaller libraries to quickly update their pathfinders. [5] It has also been said that librarians take a compilatory rather than a research attitude to creating a pathfinder. [24] Little study has been done on how well a pathfinder covers its subject matter. A study found that pathfinders did not show the multi-disciplinary nature of literary studies well. [25] Jackson and Pellack examined similar subject guides at different institutions to find out about duplication of effort in pathfinders. They found that there was little overlap between subject guides at different institutions, and that some websites used were of questionable quality. Furthermore, they found that libraries did not typically delete outdated pathfinders, because "something was better than nothing". [20] When pathfinders at the course level are created, it may cause confusion to the students if the teacher also creates their own resources list, or faculty may regard the librarian as overstepping their role. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Library Organized collection of books or other information resources

A library is a collection of materials or media that are accessible for use and not just for display. It provides physical or digital access to material, and may be a physical location or a virtual space, or both. A library's collection can include printed materials and other physical resources in many formats such as DVDs, as well as access to information, music or other content held on bibliographic databases.

Reference desk Public service counter in a library

The reference desk or information desk of a library is a public service counter where professional librarians provide library users with direction to library materials, advice on library collections and services, and expertise on multiple kinds of information from multiple sources.

This page is a glossary of library and information science.

Librarian Profession

A librarian is a person who works professionally in a library, providing access to information, and sometimes social or technical programming, or instruction on information literacy to users.

Bibliometrics

Bibliometrics is the use of statistical methods to analyse books, articles and other publications. Bibliometric methods are frequently used in the field of library and information science. The sub-field of bibliometrics which concerns itself with the analysis of scientific publications is called scientometrics. Citation analysis is a commonly used bibliometric method which is based on constructing the citation graph, a network or graph representation of the citations between documents. Many research fields use bibliometric methods to explore the impact of their field, the impact of a set of researchers, the impact of a particular paper, or to identify particularly impactful papers within a specific field of research. Bibliometrics also has a wide range of other applications, such as in descriptive linguistics, the development of thesauri, and evaluation of reader usage.

Citation analysis is the examination of the frequency, patterns, and graphs of citations in documents. It uses the directed graph of citations — links from one document to another document — to reveal properties of the documents. A typical aim would be to identify the most important documents in a collection. A classic example is that of the citations between academic articles and books. For another example, judges of law support their judgements by referring back to judgements made in earlier cases. An additional example is provided by patents which contain prior art, citation of earlier patents relevant to the current claim.

WorldCat International union library catalog

WorldCat is a union catalog that itemizes the collections of 15,600 libraries in 107 countries that participate in the OCLC global cooperative. It is operated by OCLC, Inc. The subscribing member libraries collectively maintain WorldCat's database, the world's largest bibliographic database. The database includes other information sources in addition to member library collections. OCLC makes WorldCat itself available free to libraries, but the catalog is the foundation for other subscription OCLC services. WorldCat is used by librarians for cataloging and research and by the general public.

Virtual Library museums pages

The Virtual Library museums pages (VLmp) formed an early leading directory of online museums around the world. The resource was founded by Jonathan Bowen in 1994, originally at the Oxford University Computing Laboratory in the United Kingdom, It has been supported by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and Museophile Limited. as part of the World Wide Web Virtual Library, initiated by Tim Berners-Lee and later managed by Arthur Secret. The main VLmp site moved to London South Bank University in the early 2000s and is now hosted as a wiki on Wikia.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to library science:

Grey literature

Grey literature is materials and research produced by organizations outside of the traditional commercial or academic publishing and distribution channels. Common grey literature publication types include reports, working papers, government documents, white papers and evaluations. Organizations that produce grey literature include government departments and agencies, civil society or non-governmental organizations, academic centres and departments, and private companies and consultants.

A reference interview is a conversation between a librarian and a library user, usually at a reference desk, in which the librarian responds to the user's initial explanation of his or her information need by first attempting to clarify that need and then by directing the user to appropriate information resources.

Library instruction, also called bibliographic instruction, user education and library orientation, consists of "instructional programs designed to teach library users how to locate the information they need quickly and effectively. [It] usually covers the library's system of organizing materials, the structure of the literature of the field, research methodologies appropriate to the academic discipline, and specific resources and finding tools " It prepares individuals to make immediate and lifelong use of information effectively by teaching the concepts and logic of information access and evaluation, and by fostering information independence and critical thinking. Above all they are aimed at equipping library users with skills to locate library sources and use them effectively to satisfy their information needs.

Zotero Reference management software

Zotero is a free and open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials. Notable features include web browser integration, online syncing, generation of in-text citations, footnotes, and bibliographies, as well as integration with the word processors Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, and Google Docs. It is produced by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Evan Ira Farber was Faculty Emeritus and former Head Librarian at Earlham College. Throughout his career, he was active with the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), holding positions that included Chair of the ACRL College Library Section from 1968 to 1969 and President of the ACRL from 1978 to 1979. He was also active with the ACRL College Leadership Committee and the ACRL College Libraries Mentor Program.

Projekt Dyabola is a software for creating and browsing bibliographic data and image collections, specifically targeted to the humanities community. The program is built and maintained by the Biering & Brinkmann company of Germany, and access to a web version is available through subscription. The service is available in six languages.

Pearl growing is a metaphor taken from the process of small bits of sand growing to make a beautiful pearl, which is used in information literacy. Pearl Growing is in this context the process of using one information item to find more information. This search strategy is most successfully employed at the beginning of the research process as the searcher uncovers new pearls about his or her topic.

BlackPast.org is a web-based reference center that is dedicated primarily to the understanding of African-American history and the history of people of African ancestry. In 2011 the American Library Association's Reference and User Services Association included it in its list of the 25 Best Free Reference Websites of the Year. According to Blackpast.org, the website has a global audience of about two million visitors per year from over 100 nations. In 2009, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, and Germany ranked as the top five countries in visitors to the site after the United States. A 2008 website review described it as easily navigable and well organized but also as containing omissions among some features and as a work in progress. By 2009, the organization was selected by New York Public Library reference librarians as one of the top 25 hybrid print and electronic resources for the year.

A Guide to information sources is a kind of metabibliography. Ideally it is not just a listing of bibliographies, reference works and other information sources, but more like a textbook introducing users to the information sources in a given field.

The Florida Electronic Library (FEL) was founded in 2003 to provide nearly 200 million articles, ebooks, and other digital resources to the citizens of Florida. The FEL partners with Florida's public libraries in order to enhance the availability of resources and services to patrons.

Covenant University Library, also known as Centre for Learning Resources (CLR), is the library of Covenant University. It is housed in three-story glass building with a seating capacity of 3,500.

References

  1. 1 2 Dunsmore, Carla (2002). "A Qualitative Study of Web-Mounted Pathfinders Created by Academic Business Libraries". Libri. 52 (3): 137–156. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.542.9914 . doi:10.1515/LIBR.2002.137. ISSN   0024-2667.
  2. Taylor, A.G., Joudrey, D.N. (2009) "The Organization of Information." 3rd Edition. Connecticut, Libraries Unlimited.
  3. Reitz, Joan. "Pathfinder (definition)". Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. ABC-CLIO. Retrieved 7 April 2011.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. Farkas, Meredith (October 2009). "Pathfinder in a Box: Crafting your own authoritative metasearch engine". American Libraries: 45.
  5. 1 2 3 Morris, Sara; Bosque, Darcy Del (15 March 2010). "Forgotten Resources: Subject Guides in the era of Web 2.0". Technical Services Quarterly. 27 (2): 178–193. doi:10.1080/07317130903547592.
  6. 1 2 Reeb, Brenda; Susan Gibbons (January 2004). "Students, Librarians, and Subject Guides: Improving a Poor Rate of Return". Portal: Libraries and the Academy . 4 (1): 123. doi:10.1353/pla.2004.0020. hdl: 1802/2822 .
  7. Stevens, S.H., Canfield, M.P., Jeffery, J.G. (1973) Library Pathfinders: A New Possibility for Cooperative Reference Service. College & Research Libraries http://crl.acrl.org/content/34/1/40.full.pdf
  8. Kuntz, K. (2003) Pathfinders: Helping Students Find Paths to Information. Multimedia & Internet Schools. Vol 10(3) http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools/may03/kuntz.shtml
  9. Harbeson, Eloise L. (1972). "Teaching Reference and Bibliography: The Pathfinder Approach". Journal of Education for Librarianship. 13 (2): 111–115. doi:10.2307/40322211. JSTOR   40322211.
  10. Wang, H. and Hubbard, W.J. (2004), “Integrating electronic pathfinders in digital libraries: a model for China”, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, No. 3334, pp. 618-25. as cited in Vileno, Luigina (7 August 2007). "From paper to electronic, the evolution of pathfinders: a review of the literature". Reference Services Review. 35 (3): 434–451. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.476.1509 . doi:10.1108/00907320710774300.
  11. Pendell, Kimberly; Armstrong, Annie (3 June 2014). "Psychology guides and information literacy". Reference Services Review . 42 (2): 293–304. doi:10.1108/RSR-10-2013-0052.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 WARNER, AS 1983, 'Pathfinders: a way to boost your information handouts beyond booklists and bibliographies', American Libraries , 14, pp. 150-151, Library Literature & Information Science Retrospective: 1905-1983 (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost, viewed 27 November 2015.
  13. Nuttall, Harry D.; McAbee, Sonja L. (19 April 1997). "Pathfinders On-Line". College & Undergraduate Libraries. 4 (1): 77–96. doi:10.1300/J106v04n01_10.
  14. Kapoun, Jim M. (21 April 1995). "Re-Thinking the Library Pathfinder". College & Undergraduate Libraries. 2 (1): 93–105. doi:10.1300/J106v02n01_10.
  15. 1 2 3 4 Vileno, Luigina (7 August 2007). "From paper to electronic, the evolution of pathfinders: a review of the literature". Reference Services Review. 35 (3): 434–451. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.476.1509 . doi:10.1108/00907320710774300.
  16. Prentice, Katherine A.; Gaines, Julie K.; Levy, Linda S. (28 January 2009). "New "Starting Points" for Resources by Subject". Medical Reference Services Quarterly. 28 (1): 88–97. doi:10.1080/02763860802616110. PMID   19197747.
  17. Aaron W. Dobbs; Ryan L. Sittler; Douglas Cook, eds. (2013). Using LibGuides to Enhance Library Services : A LITA Guide. Chicago, [IL]: American Library Association. pp. 3–4. ISBN   9781555708801.
  18. Bowen, Aaron (10 August 2012). "A LibGuides presence in a Blackboard environment". Reference Services Review. 40 (3): 449–468. doi:10.1108/00907321211254698.
  19. Ouellette, Dana (2011). "Subject Guides in Academic Libraries: A User-Centred Study of Uses and Perceptions/Les guides par sujets dans les bibliothèques académiques : une étude des utilisations et des perceptions centrée sur l'utilisateur". Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science . 35 (4): 436–451. doi:10.1353/ils.2011.0024.
  20. 1 2 Jackson, Rebecca; Pellack, Lorraine J. (Summer 2004). "Internet Subject Guides in Academic Libraries: An Analysis of Contents, Practices, and Opinions". Reference & User Services Quarterly . 43 (4): 319–327. JSTOR   20864244. as cited in Vileno, Luigina (7 August 2007). "From paper to electronic, the evolution of pathfinders: a review of the literature". Reference Services Review. 35 (3): 434–451. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.476.1509 . doi:10.1108/00907320710774300.
  21. Bagshaw, Anna; Yorke-Barber, Phil (3 December 2017). "Guiding Librarians: Rethinking Library Guides as a Staff Development Tool". Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association . 67: 31–41. doi:10.1080/24750158.2017.1410629.
  22. Shipman, Jean P.; Hemmig, William (March 2005). "Online pathfinders". Reference Services Review. 33 (1): 66–87. doi:10.1108/00907320510581397.
  23. Dahl, Candice 2001, 'Electronic pathfinders in academic libraries: an analysis of their content and form', College & Research Libraries , 62, 3, pp. 227-237, Library Literature & Information Science Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost, viewed 27 November 2015.
  24. Hjørland, Birger (August 2002). "Domain analysis in information science". Journal of Documentation . 58 (4): 422–462. doi:10.1108/00220410210431136. as cited in Vileno, Luigina (7 August 2007). "From paper to electronic, the evolution of pathfinders: a review of the literature". Reference Services Review. 35 (3): 434–451. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.476.1509 . doi:10.1108/00907320710774300.
  25. Neilson, J. (2004), “Electronic subject guides in literary studies: a qualitative content analysis”, unpublished Master of Science in Information Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, available at: https://ils.unc.edu/MSpapers/2996.pdf as cited in Vileno, Luigina (7 August 2007). "From paper to electronic, the evolution of pathfinders: a review of the literature". Reference Services Review. 35 (3): 434–451. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.476.1509 . doi:10.1108/00907320710774300.
  26. Brazzeal, Bradley (July 2006). "Research guides as library instruction tools". Reference Services Review. 34 (3): 358–367. doi:10.1108/00907320610685319.

Further reading