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Study: Has Google replaced the library?

Google may be replacing other important research techniques for students, leaving college librarians with a lot of time on their hands.

Somewhere within the stacks of a campus library, a librarian sits and waits, longing for someone to seek her help.

She'll be waiting for a while.

According to a recent study by Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries Project, students are turning more to internet search engines and less to physical research.

The three-year study consisted of interviews with librarians, students and other campus faculty at five universities. They found that students often don't know where to turn when it comes to doing real research within the library. In fact, students prefer to just enter a few key words into a search engine rather than pour through academic journals and encyclopedias. Does that really surprise anyone?

The concept of using a librarian for academic assistance is apparently foreign to the modern student, researchers told USA Today. Not good, especially since the study found that students were completely lost when it comes to using library research materials.

The researchers said they were surprised by "the extent to which students appeared to lack even some of the most basic information literacy skills that we assumed they would have mastered in high school."

Ouch.

But it's just so easy to Google stuff!! Who needs books!? Apparently, students mentioned Google 115 times during the interviews for the study, more than twice as many times as any other research method.

Students aren't completely to blame, though, for their lack of library prowess. Researchers also point the finger at librarians for overestimating students' knowledge of research techniques, often resulting in conversations that leave students feeling intimidated.

Silly librarians! Where ever did you get the idea that students would know how to use a card catalog?

In a realization that shocks us all, Google isn't the answer to everything (gasp!). The absence of real research knowledge among students could, in fact, hinder their future careers.

One of the researchers told the Australian news website The Conversation, "This isn’t just about doing academic research, but also about being a savvy, reflective, and critical consumers of information.”

Hear that, kids? You can't just Google things for the rest of your life! Well, you probably can. But you should still hit the books anyway.

For more about researching your way to college success, visit EducationOption.

 
 
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