Online Research Library
Research the Old-Fashioned Way: Why the Library is Not Obsolete
By Kelly Garbato
Although researching and writing a college paper has never been childâ€™s play, it was a bit more straightforward and less complicated before the advent of the Internet. Aspiring student researchers simply visited their universityâ€™s library, where they could easily check out a few relevant books after consulting the card catalog and use a periodical index to find a journal article or two. Nowadays, there are many more choices in addition to those regular, â€śold-fashionedâ€?standbys. Still, the Internet has yet to render the library obsolete!
The World Wide Web has become a boundless source of information, bringing knowledge to the homes of millions. Yet, despite the tens of billions of pages available online, it's a mistake to conclude that everything is available (somewhere!) on the Web. Contrary to popular belief, the entire world's wisdom is not online and free for the taking. Some information will cost you, while other resources are nowhere to be found.
Additionally, the Web is rife with misinformation. Unfortunately, many students not only turn first to the Internet for their research needs, but they are also handicapped by their inability to distinguish reputable resources from unreliable ones. While use of the Internet can make research more convenient, it may also result in carelessness. Students are better served by beginning their research at the library and using the Web as a secondary resource.
Fortunately, the Internet has also changed the way in which the supposedly passĂ© library functions. While you may still see drawers upon drawers of card catalogs, most libraries have also made their catalogs available online. Computers have facilitated interlibrary loan (ILL) as well. Likewise, paper journals and microfiche persist, but these resources are supplemented with subscriptions to online academic databases. Ultimately, libraries have used the Internet to provide the best of both worlds - the reputable resources available at the library, digitalized for greater accessibility.
1. Online Catalogs
In all likelihood, you've probably already used a card catalog, even if it was way back in elementary school. While catalogs do still exist, the good news is that most of them have been digitalized. Now available online, they're much easier to access and search. If you can connect to your library's computer system remotely, you can even browse their holdings from your dorm room!