From Library Journal Online:
Undergraduate researchers now look at me like I’ve got two heads if I talk about subject headings or descriptors, unless I can get them to pay attention long enough to see what a difference using those antediluvian information appendages can make to the quality of their search results. I try to do this as fast as possible, since so many students can barely sit still long enough for me to sign into a database. Frankly, I don’t explain what I’m doing much of the time when I’m helping a student researcher, because they don’t want to hear it—they want to see the full-text of the perfect article onscreen right now and if I can’t do that what good am I to them, anyway? (Emphasis mine)
Then there are the wonderful students who want you to show them exactly what you did to get the results you got out of the database. All goes well until you get to the part that took you 20+ years to learn about how information works (and doesn’t work) and how you have to tease it out of a zillion online items. And trying to explain the bare facts of that would take so long the student would have graduated by the time you finished.
The syllogism that giving students the ability to search online themselves will make them good researchers is predicated on the flawed premise that they know what they’re doing in an online database, or that they can “pick it up” in a matter of minutes. This idea is a load of random. Post-baby-boom researchers may know how to mark up a web page in HTML within seconds, but they’re not going to grasp the complete underpinnings that govern sophisticated search systems in a trice. It takes extensive online experimentation and education to coax what you really want out of that computer.
Read the article…think about how to market the library and librarian as necessary.