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Teaching Print Journals

Taking down shelving

I’m pretty excited that our current periodicals are moving to join their bound brethren.  The current print periodicals (which no longer actually reflect our current periodical holdings, now that by far the majority of our current issues are online) were housed in a huge, beautiful room on long white shelves, and they were shelved alphabetically by title (which I always hated because it assumed that you knew what you were looking for before you got there).

Now they’re shelved with their LC-classified backfiles! (And now we have a huge, beautiful room for studying in!)

This will make my life easier when I teach because when I teach using print journals (which isn’t always), it’s usually for one of four reasons:

New furniture being unpacked and arranged

  1. I’m teaching stack browsing, and point out that a call number means a topic, and that this means that if you find a great subject encyclopedia in the reference collection and note its general call number, you’ll find lots of books on related topics in the book collection, and you’ll find journals on related topics in the periodicals collection. Before I always used to hedge saying that they should go over to the bound periodical collection, write down names of journals, and then check the current periodicals to see current issues. Now I can skip that last bit.
  2. I’m teaching topic-selection. Most early-career students tend to think in book-sized topics, and we browse periodicals in their fields to get a sense of what a paper-sized topic looks like. That will be no harder to do now, and might be easier since all the discipline’s journals will be classified together.
  3. What we're up to

  4. When I’m teaching online browsing. It’s easier to see that scholarly journal issues usually have a stated or implied theme for every issue when you’re looking at the print version. Then I can stress the importance of browsing the online version to see if the great article they just found is part of a themed issue. Again, this won’t change.
  5. When students will need to use some type of periodical. It’s easier to see the difference between a magazine and a disciplinary journal in print. This won’t change.

So for me, this is all gain and no loss. I hope it’s that way for the rest of the campus, too.