20th century mathematicians and 23rd century androids …….

Captain Kirk and Mudd confound Norman, the android leader, with ‘The Liar’s Paradox’

“ You say you are lying, but if everything you say is a lie then you are telling the truth, but you cannot tell the truth because everything you say is a lie. You lie. You tell the truth. But you cannot for. Illogical! Illogical!”…. Smoke comes out of Norman’s head !!   Does Mathematics confound you? ………USE THE LIBGUIDE

I felt somewhat like poor Norman with his smoking malfunctioning head when I returned to an academic library after a 25 year break. However, thankfully UCD has a series of libguides which were really useful.  Information on finding books, e-books, journals and databases, useful websites, EU and government information, statistical information was clearly set out and easy to follow. Furthermore essential information for the new or returning student on plagiarism, citation and the different styles such as APA and Harvard is clearly laid out. This was to prove an invaluable resource to me.  Finding relevant academic articles for assignments in a range of diverse areas would have been impossible if I had not consulted the libguides. Finally Endnote is a tool which allows the student to cite while they write and is extremely useful.  The e-tutorial and webpage information enabled me to use Endnote.

Libraries are fonts of information in every subject imaginable.  I would not normally consult a guide to mathematics and statistics but I am very glad I did.  Thirty odd years ago I believed I would not need Pythagoras’ theorem ever again, however I didn’t bank on having to assist with homework !! This libguide, which I would not have consulted if it were not part of an assignment, has helped me out of a black hole!  The most useful aspects of the mathematics and statistics guide for me are the webpages, SOS Math and Mathcentre.  They are easy to understand and very useful for ‘my’ homework!!   I imagine they would be useful for undergraduate students also. The intro page would give a better impression if the entire contents were visible and the user didn’t have to scroll down so much. Furthermore it would be useful in the ‘Using this guide’ table if the contents were links.

Bibliometrics is also something I did not know a huge amount before starting the MLIS. Since I volunteered to be an Altmetric ambassador and a HSE public reviewer I have become much more aware and interested in the lifecycle of research. All metrics relating to the impact factor of research are very pertinent to a successful outcome.  The research must be granted funding to happen and must have a good impact factor to be considered to have been a good investment.  The libguide pointed out however that there are weaknesses with bibliometrics such as even a critical citation is regarded as a citation. Methods are being developed such as the h-index which attempts to create a more accurate metric by taking into account the value of the citation (how prestigious the journal, a positive or negative citation etc.) On looking at a page we automatically look left so the image (photo) on the right is a little ‘uncomfortable’, perhaps it would be less distracting and sit better on the left. When trying to access the ‘MyRI’ icon it is not a link, the small type above is, perhaps the icon would be a more automatic link for users.

It is clear that libguides are an invaluable resource for the new student, regardless of age or experience there is always something more one can learn, either from the basic information on the guide itself or perhaps from a page a link is provided to. Although it would be useful for the developer of the libguides for constructive criticism to be given, I can’t give any at this time on the libguides themselves.  I thought I was reasonably well informed however since starting on the journey to gaining the MLIS the more I learn, the more I realise  how much I don’t know yet, perhaps I will be in a better position to criticise next year!

The only suggestion I will make is that an amazing number of students either do not know of the libguides at all or simply don’t bother looking at them.  I suggest it become a compulsory element to all courses that an exercise be undertaken based on using the libguide for their discipline. Furthermore it is important to increase student awareness of the libguides and what they provide and this could be done through the imaginative use of a comprehensive marketing campaign including a social media programme.