| By Jennifer Mezick, Acquisitions and Collection Development Librarian Pellissippi State Community College |
At Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC), our users have access to many Gale resources through the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL). Through our TEL setup we are able to track only statistics for PSCC users. From our statistics, we know that Gale resources are heavily used by PSCC patrons and there are a few reasons behind this success:
In Class Instruction
Our students primarily use the resources shown to them during class. PSCC librarians provided research instruction to 137 classes this past fall semester. PSCC librarians and teaching faculty find that students who receive in-class research instruction achieve higher grades on their research assignments. One of the lessons we present to students is the importance of finding background information before searching for journal articles. Opposing Viewpoints In Context is our go-to database for demonstrating background research. All the “In Context” databases contain Topic Pages for select topics, which provide histories and explain the different viewpoints of those topics or issues.
Because not all of our faculty can find the time in a 5 to 16 week semester to have us in their classes, educating our faculty about our resources is the next best way to reach our students. Our faculty learn about Gale databases at our New Faculty Academy, where we introduce library resources, and at Faculty In-Service, where we demonstrate new databases or changes and new features to current databases. Librarians at PSCC are faculty and serve as subject liaisons. With this designation comes the responsibility to serve on campus academic committees and attend academic department meetings (and sometimes share after-work beers). Relationships with faculty are formed through these committees. I find that these relationships make faculty more comfortable talking with librarians about research assignments and available resources, which provides us the opportunity to recommend the most appropriate resources for their upcoming assignments (or their own research).
Support for Life-Long Learning
TEL is the state’s online library. Any Tennessee resident can access TEL databases, so our students have the ability to freely use resources, such as Academic OneFile, after they leave the college. Knowing this, teaching faculty and librarians at PSCC can empower our students to be lifelong learners by making sure the students know how to navigate some of these TEL databases. We have learned that and the best way to ensure that knowledge is by having students use the databases for class assignments.
Discovery Service Access
PSCC uses Primo as our discovery platform. Primo is typically the first place students search for articles, and most of our Gale databases are searchable through Primo. Gale resources in Primo have a very high success rate for linking out to content. If the resource is searchable in Primo and users can access it without receiving an error, the content in that resource is more likely to be used.
PSCC’s English courses are in high demand. Finding literary criticisms is also one of the more difficult concepts for our students to research. Gale provides some exceptional resources for literary research. The series Poetry for Students, Novels for Students, and Short Stories for Students are some of our more valuable resources for literary criticism. The database, Literary Sources is our go-to source: it cross-searches several of our Gale literature resources all in one place, making research less stressful and less time consuming for students.
Research Papers Are Hard; Gale Makes Them a Bit Easier
PSCC has a very diverse student population. We have traditional students who just graduated from high school, students who are still enrolled in high school, adult learners who have full time jobs and children, veterans exploring opportunities outside of public service, international students adjusting to new cultures and learning environments, students speaking English as a second language, students for whom the K-12 education system failed, and students who fit into more than one of these categories. If I remember anything from my undergrad days, it is that writing is hard and the requirement to have a certain number of peer-reviewed articles cited makes the research paper even more difficult. At PSCC, we want to set our students up for success. This is not the same as making it easy. We simply don’t want to make it so difficult that they feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and give up. The interface of Gale databases is intuitive and provides topic finder tools and citation tools that help make the research process more comfortable for our students. The topic overview pages in the “In Context” databases, as I mentioned above, are one example of this. Another is the clearly labeled “Case Studies” tab in Business Insights: Global. Instead of our business students spending hours scouring our discovery platform or another database that does not separate case studies as its own resource type, they can go here and search just within case studies, saving them time, confusion, and frustration. It also provides them more time to read, understand, analyze, and write their paper.
Share your success stories with us! Comment below to share how Gale resources empower your library.
About the Author
I came to libraries by way of museums and archives. I have a MA in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management and a MS in Information Science. I have been in academic libraries for 8 years. During that time, I have worked in special collections, reference and instruction services, cataloging, and at present, I am the Acquisitions and Collections Development Librarian for my college. After some apprehension, I discovered that the community college atmosphere creates the perfect work environment for me by providing the opportunity to work in tech services while also remaining involved with students and faculty through instruction, reference, and campus committees. Outside of work, I try my best to keep up with a toddler with big goals, a goofy Great Dane, a shape-shifter miniature dachshund, a husband who is always building something, and restorations to a 100-year-old home.