Despite some initial difficulties in access, my experience with the reference librarian is definitely one I would jump through a few hoops for. While one can request an appointment for a research consultation online, my form somehow got lost in the ether, but a quick trip to the library itself cleared that up immediately. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but soon become incredibly excited as the librarian, Ms. Linda Fleshman, laid out the research opportunities before me.
With my focus, Democracy in the Middle East, becoming a hot-button issue in the past decade, research can sometimes feel like an endless task. The librarian showed me research databases available to all students in my program, such as JSTOR, IUCAT and EBSCO host, which contain opinion pieces, journal articles, books, and reviews. She also pointed out the underused Internet suffix “.mil”, which is designated for organizations affiliates with the United States Department of Defense, as well as how to correctly utilize advanced Google search and the Google Scholar repositories.
With my focus being largely political, it was also a great help to discover polling websites like CQ Researcher and Gallup, where I can quickly find polling data and statistics related to my topic. These websites also have the handy “Cite Now” button, which would be a huge relief for any busy student.
Finally, although my focus is a political issue, it is one that should be properly contextualized, whether historically, philosophically, or linguistically. To this end, I will definitely be using the Political Science Complete database, where I have the option to narrow down my results by subcategory, like philosophy’s Index or the humanities International Index. Now, if I am looking for specific information on the Arab Spring movement in one particular region or country, I can judiciously use subcategories and additional search critera to ensure I am not wading through hours of irrelevant material to find what I need. The librarian went above and beyond in teaching me how to make the most out of my research time, and was kind enough to give me her e-mail and phone number in case I need a refresher course. As professor Smith put it in class “you are crazy” if you don’t use theses available databases for your research topic. So, if you haven’t already made use of this fantastic source of valuable information – go!