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These are a few of my favorite things

I found myself listing my three favorite e-resources today. Usually I have trouble coming up with my favorite of anything, but these three popped into my head with little effort.

Ulrich’s
I hate trying to figure out where an obscure serial has been indexed, but Ulrich’s makes this easy (most of the time). But even beyond that, I absolutely love it for solving a major problem for my students. For the last two years, I’ve taught this as a cheat sheet of “print sources.” I had the hardest time coming up with an easy way to explain how to tell if what you’ve found online (on the free web or through our bibliographic databases) counts as a “print source” when print vs online is becoming a more and more murky distinction every year, and really makes no sense at all to students (or librarians, really). Students were paralyzed thinking they couldn’t use eJournals because their professors had banned “web sources,” and professors wondered why their students were using out-of-date and only-barely-relevant journal sources in their papers. It was because their poor students had been confining themselves to our print journal collection, which is only a fraction of our total journal collection. So now I get up in front of a class and show them the cheat sheet. If you can find a publication name (and I show them how to hunt one down), look it up in Ulrich’s. If it is listed, it counts as a “print source.” Problem solved.

OED
I love word histories, and this is the most comprehensive dictionary of word histories. Ever. I don’t often have much call to use it in my day-to-day work, but I love it for all those late-night “I wonder when we started using ‘research’ as an intransitive verb” moments I have. It has also solved many a word squabble in my family (which has at least 4 discussions about word usage, etymology, or relationship over the dinner table each week).

MLA International Bibliography
I love this because it’s such a treasure-trove of articles, and (please don’t laugh) because it’s incredibly quirky. I know that we’re supposed to love it when students can use resources on their own. You know… usability and stuff. But this thing is a bear to use well, and I’m pretty comfortable with it, which makes me feel useful. And I love feeling useful.

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