Sunday, November 20, 2011

Databases- the health food of the information world?

We had another session led by Alistair Allan this week. He introduced features of various databases. He also compared search engines to databases with the analogy of fatty junk food vs. more nutritional fare- basically, quantity over quality. It was a very interesting analogy connected with information obesity. I was very naive, but the most surprising thing to me was the very tiny overlap between databases. I thought that most academic papers would be on nearly all major databases, but am pleasantly surprised that there is a lot more 'out there' than I had previously imagined.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Polite Interrogation Techniques

Today we learned about reference services and the information interview. We were tasked with interviewing each other and had to both learn how to express our information needs and 'extract' the request from another. We found face-to-face interviewing much easier as we were able to gain further information and feedback. Effective communication is crucial, especially as we have to understand the scope of the query and deliver relevant information to the client. This was a practise exercise for future coursework. It is useful if you are able to give specific responses such as '5 people' and 'no shellfish please due to allergies' in connection to a restaurant recommendation. Vague questions are more difficult to answer. It's important not to make the interviewee uncomfortable. You are there to help them and sometimes must lead, sometimes follow, in order to fulfil their needs.