Information Resources

Reference material

A traditional definition of reference material
suggests that it is that non-borrowable, usually large in size or large in
volume, information texts that inhabits a quiet corner of the library. Perhaps
this is why most students tend to gravitate toward the internet when they are
looking for quick results for their research questions. As someone who enjoys a
good encyclopaedia and atlas, the reliance on online reference materials is not
that appealing. There is something to be said for the tactile experience of a
hard copy Atlas where every turn of the page takes you on a journey around the
world. It’s just so much better than clicking a mouse. My school library does
have a fairly good selection of reference materials but there has been a lot of
debate as to whether or not we update our collection of atlases as they are
easily outdated and quite expensive to replace. It’s been suggested that we move
to using an online resource such as Britannica online or World Book online both
of which provide reference materials and other excellent teaching and learning
tools.
According to the definition given by McGraw-Hill Higher Ed, 2012,
reference material is ‘A work that synthesizes a large amount of related
information for easy access by researchers’ then is stands to reason that online
reference material should also be considered in this category. Along with ease
of access we should also be considering equal access which also suggests that
reference material should be made available both in hard copy and online. The
article on ‘Verso’ tackled this issue in a creative and resourceful way. It is
definitely a great solution to accessing referencing online materials digitally
as well as appealing to those of us who prefer a more tactile approach to our
reference materials.

Wikipedia

To Wikipedia or not to Wikipedia,
that is the question! In our world of wanting to find answers quickly, the
temptation to go to Wikipedia is hard to resist. Admittedly, I have used
Wikipedia many times as a quick search for a basic fact. For the most, the
information that I have gained has been quite reliable. As a TL I have not
recommended Wikipedia as a source for any research topics, primarily because of
its dubious authority. On the other hand, it is an interesting tool and perhaps
it’s a lesson in always referring to more than one reference when doing
research.

Dictionaries

Dictionaries are, perhaps, one of the most
valuable and highly used tools in a student’s backpack. They are filled with
useful information. We use them to for finding out how to spell correctly,
meaning, word origins, pronunciation, parts of speech, inflection, usage,
grammar and more. A good hard copy dictionary is difficult to beat but there are
some very useful online dictionaries like Wolfram-Alpha that has a wide range of
computational knowledge without the advertising that most other online
dictionaries like Dictionary.com and The Free Dictionary have. I suppose that’s
the cost for it being ‘free’.

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