Dear all,

If you are attending ALISE in Dallas, we would like to invite you to participate in a panel discussion regarding teaching online searching course in MLIS programs. It will be a very interactive panel session, featuring frequent questions and discussion following short segments of presentations.  Whether you are a LIS educator, a student, or a vendor representative, we would love if you could come to participate in the discussion and share your thoughts. The panel session will take place on Wednesday, 1/18/12, 8:30-10:00am.

Here is the panel description:


Rong Tang, Simmons College

Carol Tenopir, University of Tennessee

Rachel Applegate, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Lynn Hanson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Jamshid Beheshti, McGill University

Maria Ziemer, ProQuest




Panel Title: To Dialog or Not to Dialog: Teaching Online Searching to MLIS Students in the Age of Google

While being titled differently, most of the library schools offer a search class featuring, among other things, the teaching of the search syntax of some legacy systems such as Dialog [part of ProQuest]. With the dynamic evolution of database industry and rapid development of database interface design, it becomes increasingly challenging to show students the value of learning Dialog classic search. Meanwhile, as ProQuest Dialog currently is in the development and has been installed through various stages and versions, as Dialog classic interface is being phased out, what platforms and search languages should a search class cover? What exactly is the difference between search skills for information professionals and search skills as end users? What other content elements should be added to a traditionally search-focused course?

This panel intends to exchange ideas for the content of an online searching course, with the hope to adopt best practices and ensure the course to deliver both essential knowledge and practically relevant skills.  Below are some of the issues that various panelists will cover in their talk:

1.      Roles, purposes, and values of the online search course in the MLIS curriculum

2.      Specific educational objectives of online search courses and evaluation methods (e.g., assignments, lab exercises, discussions, student presentations, etc.)

3.      Online systems covered in the online search course and the MLIS curriculum (e.g., Dialog, Factiva, LexisNexis, and web)?

4.      Depth of knowledge required from Master’s students about online systems (e.g., Boolean, nested logic, stop words, proximity operators, field searches –basic and additional index fields, inverted files, etc.?)

5.      What other content are covered in online search courses (electronic resource management, electronic resource librarianship, user instruction, digitalization, evaluation of databases, etc.)?

The panel will post following questions to the audience:

1.      What do you think are the purposes of a search course in the MLIS curriculum? What do you think students want to learn from this course?

2.      What other courses in the curriculum cover online searching techniques and sources?

3.      Should we continue teaching Dialog knowing that the command line search option in ProQuest Dialog will be different from the traditional Dialog syntax?

4.      What are the alternative systems that we can use to teach our search courses?

5.      What are the possible changes of directions for a search course:

·         Change the course into a search and database evaluation course

·         Change the course into a “electronic resource management” course that addresses budgeting, licensing and negotiation, copyright, access management, link and authentication

·         Change the course into a “user instruction” course, with a focus on teaching database searching

·         Change the course to a digital collection course, etc.

·         Merge the course content into various other courses (such as collection development, technical services, etc.) and get rid of the course

6.      How can we make the online search course both timely relevant and practically useful?



Rong Tang, PhD
Associate Professor
Director, Simmons GSLIS Usability Lab
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
Simmons College
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 521-2880
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