Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Searching Databases

As part of the budget crisis response, our library is trying to figure out if they can drop some of the search in databases they subscribe to, especially the ones used by relatively few people, and ones that are covered by other databases.

So they sent a question to us about the MLA database, and we talked about it at our meeting.  And two of us, two out of 25 or so at the meeting, said that we think MLA is important.

Good old boy said that he hadn't used a database in years, so he didn't much care.  (And I was in shock the rest of the afternoon.  How do you teach students to find critical or theoretical work without using some database?  Even if you never look up stuff to read for yourself, or try to keep up even a bit in your field.)

But still, only two of us spoke to using MLA at all.

I'm pretty sure EEBO is going away for us.  And there's talk of the on-line OED going away, too. 

Of course, I realize that people being fired is way, way more important than not subscribing to a database.  But as I think about trying to teach or research without access to recent work, I'm pretty much ... I don't even have words, because I'm at such a loss.


  1. Ack! The OED?

    I mean, I know the internet defines words for us. But the online OED is the only one that exists anymore. And no one except a library can afford a subscription anymore.

    Do y'all not teach History of the English language there? I can't imagine teaching that without access to the OED. :(

  2. Omg. Banish not the MLA from thy company! Banish the MLA and banish all the world.

    I'm afraid the response might be, "I do; I will."

    Christ. What are people smoking? Do they not understand that it's the university's job to provide resources to the students so that they can learn things? It's unconscionable to take away databases. At this point, books have become a luxury in our libraries. Without databases, how are they going to be able to access anything? It makes me gag.

    Of course, Scott Walker might just say, "You can find out anything on that there internet. Why not just Google it?" The shortsightedness of that response is why people without college degrees in leadership roles just astound me. Same for university presidents without PhDs (like mine). He has no idea what research even means.

  3. Good heavens, surely the English department wouldn't sit by as the OED goes away? Even professors who don't teach literary criticism in their courses would surely still argue for close reading and the need to look up words to do so?!

  4. Welcome to my world. We have no MLA and no OED (which is really hitting below the belt). This year we did get access to JStor Lit and Language. That's it. It sucks. And I tried to argue that without those databases we should have reduced expectations for research, but my colleagues publish too much to be believed. But guess what? Some of them have partners who work at state universities. Sigh.

  5. I'm curious: do the people who aren't using MLA use/tell their students to use JSTOR instead? If not... um... what ARE they using?

  6. I championed keeping MLA last year when our library did the same (and I'm expecting to have to do it again at some point). I kept using the phrase "I can't do my job if you take away the MLA." I was shocked that several of my colleagues don't use it. How do they know what's out there? The library wanted to argue that we could use inter library loan instead of MLA, so I got to explain (several times and with passion) how I won't know what to request via ILL unless I can use the MLA look up titles.

    Sadly the OED was gone before I had a vote, and only one other person and I want it back. In my Gen Ed Lit class on Monday, students asked a question for which the OED was the best source, but I couldn't use it and had to settle for the internet and incomplete information.

    1. I am a librarian (and a PhD) and I understand perfectly why you would need MLA to find what you need. But I do know librarians who I can see making the argument for ILL over it, which is a stance I don't understand myself.

  7. I'm a little more sanguine about this after some departmental discussion. It looks like our library would still have most of the resources in one or another indexing database, and thus will have access either on line or through ILL.

    I'm still shocked by my colleague who never uses any databases himself.

  8. Anonymous8:03 AM

    I was going to ask if there were other databases-- but I couldn't remember what my mom uses that she prefers to MLA (I was like, is it ERIC? no, that's education... )

    Most of my students use google scholar instead of anything that the library provides. Sometimes this works out ok but sometimes it really doesn't.