Monday, January 09, 2006

Teaching Remote Users How to Use Electronic Information Resources

Teaching Remote Users How to Use Electronic Information Resources. This article is by Karen Wielhorski. It appeared in The Public-Access Computer Systems Review 5, no. 4 (1994): 5-20.

From the article:

Remote users are no longer a small segment of library users. [1]From electronic workstations in their offices and homes, scholarsand students access library OPACs and commercial indexes, connectto distant Internet systems, and download information using filetransfer protocols that were uncommon just a few years ago. They ask questions of reference librarians through e-mail, requesting answers via fax machines. Remote users are no longer limited to just dial access; they surf the Internet to locate resources that meet their needs. Library staff have become remote users of avariety of systems, including other libraries' systems. Staff are challenged to use new electronic capabilities to enhance traditional methods of bibliographic instruction and to reinventthemselves and library services.

Do libraries have a mission to educate remote users about their electronic information resources? At least one librarian has written that end-user instruction is unnecessary due to thedevelopment of increasingly user friendly systems and the growing computer sophistication of users. [2] But is reliance on users'hands-on experience really best? It is a logical extension of bibliographic instruction programs to extend libraries' teaching activities into the remote electronic information resources arena. The growth of high bandwidth connections that will provide users with access to interactive digital video and audio capabilities will increase libraries' opportunities to reach and teach remote users. If we do not utilize these new technologiesto add value to the information we provide by demonstrating and teaching our unique skills in the electronic arena, we will have lost an opportunity to make ourselves and our libraries part ofthe electronic future.

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