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“It doesn’t happen very often in an instruction session that the faculty member will stand up and almost cheer,” said Amy Faye Fin, formerly of Bowling Green State University. Yet that’s exactly what happened, and she shared the tale during our recent webinar series on information literacy. While most instructional librarians focus on introducing the Summon service to undergraduates, we learned that it has much to offer graduate students and faculty members as well.
“I was working with a class a couple of weeks ago, searching for a variety of aspects on recidivism rates over time,” recalled Amy. “Previously, this had required searching the catalog for books and government documents, and searching in subject databases on criminal justice, sociology, psychology and so on. We might have missed a couple of key resources using that approach. That doesn’t happen in Summon. It quickly retrieves sources from a large swath of disciplines; it paints in those really broad strokes. The faculty member actually interrupted my sentence, to say ‘Wow! Hold on’ and she stood up and asked me to repeat what I had shown the class. Then she really, really encouraged the students to continue using Summon.”
While other presenters didn’t have an over-the-top experience to share, they had similar observations. “To faculty, we promote the Summon service as a way to go beyond the scope of the databases that they’re familiar with, and search in a more interdisciplinary way,” stated Jessica Mussell of Royal Roads University. In fact, “The idea of a single search box that spans the whole library appeals to both novice and experienced researchers.”
By casting this wide net, declared Amy, “Summon helps reassure scholars that critical research is not missing, that they have covered all the bases, and that they remain current on their research interests. This is easily done by limiting results to the most current year, to check what’s been published while they complete their initial literature review. This is especially useful for graduate students and faculty users, for whom comprehensiveness of the literature search is vital.” And at any point in the research process, said Amy, “Summon is the ‘go-to’ for citation searching. Just type in most of the title and the author’s last name; there’s no need to guess which database a source might be in, or start with the journal title in the catalog. Users can quickly identify the needed resources, and link to or request it. This is another thing our faculty really gets excited about.”
According to Amy, if the faculty’s in, everyone’s in. “Faculty users see themselves using Summon for their own research, as well as to help their students. We as librarians know that students listen to faculty first. So if the faculty is promoting these resources, then the students are more likely to use them.” As we’ll share in our next post, higher use of scholarly resources raises the level for everyone.
If you’re interested in hearing from the presenters themselves, all webinars in the series are available for on demand viewing. Also, register now for our upcoming session with a librarian from Wake Forest University. We’re sure you’ll want to hear the presenter’s unique perspectives on the topic of information literacy and the Summon service.