Library Skills inductions – keyword searching

An assignment on the importance of communication: What sort of communication? face-to-face, verbal, written, nurse-patient communication, nurse-doctor communication or something else? 

This week I have come to realize that it is difficult to deliver a library skills induction without including information on what keywords are, and how to identify them. It’s all very well showing them how to use the library catalogue and how to search on our library tool for information sources, NORA – but this is insufficient when students come to writing an assignment on a topic where they have a blank slate with no reading list. Our induction worksheet includes one example of keyword searching using our own examples, but some students find it difficult to identify keywords for their own assignments.  

The starting point has to be: what are keywords? Keywords are the significant words which underpin what a topic or assignment is about. The next step is to illustrate the difference between significant keywords (communication) and non-significant words, (importance) in the example above. And thirdly, a worksheet with perhaps ten examples of assignment titles could be helpful, where students have to pick out the keywords.  

  • In which ways can people reduce their carbon footprint?
  • Describe the best way of setting up a computer network for a small business of forty people?

 Our team has developed a separate set of information skills sessions, which will run for 10 weeks after the main inductions on a range of topics such as searching for books on the library catalogue, searching strategies, getting started on the Internet etc. Attendance at these additional skills sessions are voluntary.  

Sometimes you realize that something is not working as well as it could, only after you have delivered the session. I do think our team needs to consider a way of incorporating keyword searching into our library skills induction sessions to make them more successful. 

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