With the school year underway, Okanagan College librarians are positioning themselves once again at the forefront of innovation.
By the time students get into their classrooms, one-stop research through hundreds of thousands of academic journals, e-books and other on-line resources will be accessible with a single click.
“We’re the first in B.C. to adopt this service,” said Ross Tyner, director of library services.
“Our students have been able to research our library on-line for more than 10 years. But they always had to know where to look. Rather than losing our users to Google, the library required a single place for users to begin their research that was easy to use and returned reliable, relevant results.”
With this new tool students will be able to independently search across multiple databases and resource types simultaneously.
“It’s what students expect today,” said Tyner.
The new tool, developed by EBSCO Publishing, is just the latest example of innovation for a department that is committed to helping students understand there is a whole lot more to research than what non-academic search engines offer.
“When students first arrive here they have the illusion that they know how to search for information,” said Tyner.
“They don’t realize that they’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
This comprehensive research technology arrives on the heels of national recognition for the library’s instructional program that embeds research skills campus-wide into the first-year English curriculum.
“We’ve always taught students how to research, but now it’s embedded into their timetable,” Tyner said of the initiative, known as Course Integrated Library Research Instruction (CILRI).
The classroom-based instruction helps students familiarize themselves more deeply with academic materials all while improving their critical thinking skills.
The Canadian Library Association was so impressed with the initiative that its Community and Technical College Libraries division granted Okanagan College its 2011 Innovation Achievement Award.
“Because of CILRI, the library is now better placed to be a full partner in the teaching and learning role of Okanagan College,” said Gladys Watson, chairperson of the CTCL.
English students aren’t the only ones who receive library instruction.
Many other Okanagan College departments, particularly business, also tap into the training on an ongoing basis, even though it’s not a mandated part of the curriculum.
In 2010-11, Okanagan College librarians provided classroom-based research instruction to 5,378 students in 295 classes on four campuses.