Evaluation of Reference Resources

I have been re-reading my posts in anticipation of writing my blog, and have realized some have not been very detailed concerning the learning I feel I have gained from the readings and lessons.  One of these posts is on Reidling’s approach to evaluating reference materials.  According to her, the criteria for evaluation should be content scope, accuracy, authority, bias, arrangement and presentation, relation to similar works, timelines and permanence and lastly cost (p. 19).  In my post I said most of the criteria seemed common sense and the only ones I may have problems with are scope and accuracy/authority/bias.  I indicated I would need to rely on expert knowledge to effectively judge reference resources for these criteria.  I think this will always be necessary to some extent, as it is impossible to know and understand all aspects of the curriculum for every grade and subject as well as those who teach it on a regular basis.

Michelle brought up a point I hadn’t thought about in terms of evaluating resources.  In talking about bias she suggested it is “important to keep in mind our own bias.”   In later posts we talked about our bias between print and electronic resources, but we do need to keep this in mind when evaluating sources regardless of origin.  When Charlotte  discussed issues with the “relation to similar works” evaluation criteria, it reminded me once again of our own bias.  She suggested one teacher-librarian may see a particular resource as being “redundant” to her collection, while another may see it as “an alternative or enriching viewpoint on a similar theme.”  As well, with content scope, some teacher-librarians may prefer resources with a narrow scope while others prefer ones with a more general scope.  As long as these decisions are made with the needs of the library users in mind, teacher-librarians can decide appropriately.  It is when a teacher-librarian makes these decisions according to her own preferences, her collection may suffer.

 

Reidling, Ann. Reference Skills for the School Library Media Specialist: Tools and Tips. 2nd Edition. Worthington: Linworth Publishing Inc, 2005. p 19-21. Print.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Evaluation of Reference Resources

  1. Anne

    You’ll never be able to eliminate personal bias, or even the inclination to censor. This is why selection tools are enormously important. Selection tools are really about consensus and you as the potential consumer are given informed opinion from informed sources to help you make your purchases. My big worry is the loss of people who are knowledgeable enough to do this work in Canada – we are ten times smaller than the US, and we do need some Canadian specificity at times.

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