As construction continues apace in the library, the louder sounds of power tools accompany the more traditional whispers usually heard here. Stacks of construction materials move in – steel and drywall and paint and glass and tiles. Electricians and plumbers and painters handle their specialized tasks. And as different as the fields of construction and libraries are, there are lessons we can learn from our builder colleagues.
After all, this is the time of year that your research should be ‘under construction’, as well. Now that we are over a third of the way through the semester, if you have not already done at least some of your final research by this point, you are falling behind. Now, chances are high that you have already started researching. The people who make a lot of our databases, the EBSCO Corporation, find that more of you do research early, save it, and then read it closer to the due date of your final projects. A gratifying number of you are continuing your diligence in library research, even if you are doing it from a computer lab in another building or from home, and recent research suggests many of you know to start with library databases rather than Google.
This research you do is like procuring the raw materials in ‘building’ your paper or project – the bricks and steel beams and drywall you’ll use. Only in your case, books, articles, and statistics will be your supplies. Assembling them into a worthwhile whole involves reading and thinking about them – synthesizing them into your own argument – your ‘blueprint’. As you write your paper, it’s like nailing pieces together – each sentence typed bringing you closer to a meaningful whole.
But you’re not building a mere treehouse, and having specialists at your disposal will make your work better and easier. User research suggests that many of today’s students turn to professors or colleagues (or sometimes family members) for help in finding material, and may never approach a librarian. A professor can be a good source – they, and librarians, are like the specialists you might call in, just as we’re relying on electricians and plumbers to help with work more complicated and specialized than the average person can handle by himself or herself. Don’t be afraid to call on us. There’s no more shame in talking to a librarian about research than in needing a trained electrician to rewire your house.
As you revise and rework your paper, it is like the final coats of paint being applied. A well formatted citation list at the end is like the interior design that completes a space. Soon, you’ll be finished.
Construction workers are often proud of what they have created with their own hands and minds. At the end of the semester, when all of your work is completed and turned in, you should be, too. You will have built something great. But it all depends on the foundation you are laying now.
If you need any help in your research, don’t hesitate to ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org!