Week 2 article: Communicating the Relevance of the Library in the Age of Google

The introduction of the internet and its continual rise has been the cause for many positive changes in our world, but it has also provided us with a flood of information, which is easily accessible and convenient. Internet search sites, such as Google, Bing, and Wikipedia, typically provide people with millions of search results in response to a search phrase. In their article, Communicating the Relevance of the Library in the Age of Google: Improving Undergraduate Research Skills and Information Literacy Through New Models of Library Instruction, Jennifer Rempel and Danielle Cossarini discuss the ability of undergraduate students to find information quickly and easily on the internet, using internet search engines to complete their research for academic papers. The use of internet search engines compromises students’ ability to write an accurate paper due to the inaccuracy of internet information, often written by unqualified persons. While the internet is ostensibly a good place to find information, undergraduates will need to move away from internet search engines and towards library information retrieval systems in order to acquire relevant, well-researched, quality information for their academic papers; and librarians and professors will need to provide undergraduates with helpful library information retrieval systems training that goes beyond a single training session and features active training participation.

Undergraduates are using internet search engines to conduct research for academic papers because they are untrained in using library information retrieval systems, which can be just as easy to use as internet search engines and will provide them with peer reviewed and scholarly articles. When faced with a full time course load and, sometimes, a part-time or full-time job, undergraduates are left with little time or interest in learning a new system, especially when internet search engines have previously worked well for their academic papers. In order to help undergraduate students eliminate the use of internet search engines, colleges and universities sometimes implement a single class, taught by librarians, that teaches the basics of information retrieval systems. During this single training session, librarians pull up the college or university’s research databases and guide students through the basics of conducting a search, including how to tell if a search result is “good” or “bad”. During my experience, as a university student, I have come to appreciate these training sessions, having been through several during the past three semesters. Each training session, however, has been fairly basic and while I always learn something new, I would find a for-credit class dedicated to learning and maneuvering through library information retrieval systems quite beneficial, especially with graduate school on the horizon.

Rempel and Cossarini (2013) discuss a for-credit class, reserved for teaching information retrieval systems, but note that many smaller colleges and universities may not be equipped to provide such a class and suggest a viable alternative as “embedding librarians within a course or program in order to foster information literacy throughout the semester” (p. 50). This alternate method is similar to a class I took last semester where I was required to send my research information and questions to a specific librarian throughout the semester, working up to a research paper and presentation. This method worked well due to the frequent communication with the librarian; the librarian was up to date with my research and any issues or growth areas, which led to an active, one-on-one participation between student and librarian. The institution of courses that involve a specific librarian throughout the semester, therefore, seems to be an effective means of teaching and guiding undergraduates through library information retrieval systems.

While not all undergraduates pursue graduate school and, therefore, may not feel the need to understand library information retrieval systems, the ability to maneuver these systems is a benefit that reaches beyond undergraduate school. The world is constantly bombarded with information and “given the increasing need for all people to be information literate citizens in our culture of information overload,” it is imperative that proper research methods are introduced and taught in ways that students will retain and use in the future (Rempel & Cossarini, 2013, p. 50). Proper research methods that provide accurate information and can help a person to form an educated opinion are not found through internet search engines, which offer unreliable information, but through academic and qualified research databases, and begin with librarians.


Rempel, J., & Cossarini, D. M. (2013). Communicating the relevance of the library in the age of Google: Improving undergraduate research skills and information literacy through new models of library instruction. Nordic Journal of Information Literacy in Higher Education, 5(1), 49-53. Retrieved from https://noril.uib.no/index.php/noril.

Word document of Article2


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