03 Jul

Further reading, further linking, further thinking

What is the source students most frequently turn to initially when writing papers? …. You guessed correctly.

Is that a good thing? Yes, of course it is.

Does it have recent, up to date information? Mostly, yes.

Does it have trustworthy information? Often, but for academic writing and research it needs to be checked and balanced.

Does it have extensive information on subjects? Sometimes.

Does it give you full details, in depth descriptions, weighing of views, contexts of the specific knowledge? Mostly not.

Where can information lacking in this source be found, most of the time? …. Again, good guess!

How do students get from one to the other? Through book links in the further reading sections of Wikipedia articles of course.

Who is extremely well equipped to enrich these Wikipedia articles with further reading suggestions? Librarians, subject librarians, information specialists of course (that is we, mostly).

So, take your recent acquisitions list and check whether important titles are mentioned in the appropriate Wikipedia articles. If not, add the information. It takes 2 minutes per title. Sometimes it will take an extra 2 miutes if you have to create a further reading section first.

Take a look at the Wikipedia book citing template. Oops, that looks quite complex…but it isn’t. Just copy this string:

 {{cite book |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title= |year= |publisher= |location= |isbn= }}

fill in the details and with it fill in the voids of a Wikipedia futher reading section. Details need not be complete, but at least enter title, last name and ISBN.

What is in it for us? People will see that Wikipedia and libraries are complementary and not adversaries. Students can simply click the ISBNs and find your library holdings through the Worldcat link offered.

If we think we have something on offer (well selected literature), we should offer it when and where our students need it most: when Wikipedia leaves them standing in the cold with a useful article that lacks further reading suggestions.

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