Treasure Hunt

Professor Greg Downey at the University of Wisconsin-Madison created an amazing assignment for his digital native students: find information that’s not online. And where did most of them turn for help? Libraries!

In the User Instruction course I took last fall, we spent a lot of time discussing “one-shot” instruction: those 45-minute or hour-long sessions an instruction librarian might get with a freshman class to teach them everything they need to know about the library (hint: impossible. Remember, some people get Master’s degrees for this). Usually, librarians concentrate on the online catalog and one or two major databases, and that’s all they have time for.

Downey, however, clearly recognizes the importance of research, online and off, as well as all that libraries have to offer, in terms of physical materials as well as online databases and additional software and technology. This assignment reflects that recognition and respect for libraries and research; it’s also a great reminder that not everything is available on the Internet.

I’ve heard that “librarians like to seek; everyone else likes to find.” Finding is certainly satisfying, but it seems like Downey’s students got into the seeking aspect as well, and that’s what good research is about. Great assignment!

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