Smashing the Gates of Academic Discourse: Part 1

Do-It-Yourself Library Instruction

Can you just show them the databases?  This is a phrase I’ve heard a lot as an instruction librarian.

I’ve thought about it, and the answer is no.  I cannot just show them the databases.

Entering the Databases Figure 1: An uncertain student encounters the magnitude of academic discourse through a library database.

I cannot “just” show them the databases because there are so many layers of destruction inherent in my process of pointing, clicking, and narrating.  I am not demonstrating how students can find a scholarly article, I am demonstrating how profoundly students are marginalized from academic knowledge production.  I am not identifying aspects of peer review, I am silencing all non-academic voices–including the students’.  I am not modeling good search strategies, I am erasing myself as a teacher.

Databases embody the exclusionary nature of academic discourse.  Students are on the outside, in search boxes, using natural language that the database most likely won’t…

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