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The Joys of Journal Searching in the MLA International Bibliography.

This morning’s class was one of those typical classes: Teach these students how to find journal articles in the MLA International Bibliography, please. Nothing very remarkable in that. But for some reason, today’s class went remarkably well. It was one of those classes where you leave feeling all glowy and like you’d actually made a real difference. And you know what I discovered? Of all things, I love teaching the MLA International Bibliography and citation best.

The MLA-IB is such a difficult-to-use database, and yet it’s the bedrock of almost all of the research done in language and literature (the disciplines that I serve). So to have finally figured out how to unlock it for my students has been such a huge relief! It took me more than two years of working with it and with my students to figure out how to tease information out of it and how to explain that process to students, but I think I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can say with confidence that I’m covering the important concepts and significantly changing my students’ searching capabilities in the process. I’ll even go so far as to say that I can usually pull this off in an interesting way… which is probably the glowy feeling talking, but I’ll go with it.

I can’t even describe how happy this makes me. I’ve struggled for a while to figure out what unique skills I bring to the amazing group I work with, and I think at long last I can say with confidence that there ARE search skills and strategies that are unique to my disciplines and that I now have some expertise in deploying.

I’ve also discovered another secret weapon, The Subversive Handout, which I’ll write about later. (How’s that for a librarian cliff-hanger?) ;-)