Canadian Library Month: Discover Your Library!

2016-2017 Issue 1

IMG_3981Lifelong learners, especially those online, may not realize a wealth of information and resources is easily accessible to them. Libraries can conjure up images of dusty pages, but a number of online resources are available. Databases, as well as your friendly librarian, can instantly point you in the right direction.

We caught up with McGill librarian Michael David Miller to walk us through the basics of getting the most out of library resources for School of Continuing Studies learners. Miller specializes in several subject areas, including Career and Professional Development, French Language & Literature, and LGBTQ+ Studies at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library.

If you are not sure where to start, subject guides are a must-explore. Subject guides come from a time when printed and distributed in our libraries. Instead of a physical publication, they now have an electronic home. “We used to have printed Management and Business library guides,” says Miller. “They’re all online now.”

The Management and Business subject guide includes resources, like Mintel reports, that are of particular interest to Continuing Studies students. Management and business resources reveal up-to-date industry research otherwise inaccessible.

Using Mintel reports, it’s possible to “compare how industries have grown, dropped and who the major players are,” explains Miller. Interesting insights abound. Did you know that whether or not a gin is locally made influences only a small percentage of consumers in Quebec?(1)

Industry research focusing on geographic areas can also be found, leading to interesting business and job search insights. “A lot of the private companies use the same resources we do when they do their business intelligence,” stresses Miller. “I encourage all students to learn how to use them.”

For the Google fans among us, WorldCat is your go-to general database. This heavy hitter includes millions of online records. However, beware of its limitations! “WorldCat only indexes the book, but it doesn’t index the book chapters,” explains Miller.

Subject-specific databases, found in subject guides, index and search through chapters, scholarly journals, newspapers and and smaller sections of information. This means more accurate results. “If you want to browse, the subject guides are like IKEA rooms. If you are looking there, all of your results will be only from [that room type or] subject area,” adds Miller.

Need a break from books and articles? A quick browse through the library’s streaming video and audio resources, and you’ll quickly learn several lifetimes are required to even scratch its surface. If you are learning French, English or Spanish, these resources are a great way to get extra practice in. Language learners and culture aficionados can benefit from CD recordings, streaming audio, DVDs, films, and more. You can even find videos on interview techniques and business case studies.

For those looking for a cultural experience, the number of films available through the library system is inexhaustible. Kanopy, found in Video and Audio resources, is Miller’s pick for those hard-to-find independent and festival-screened films.

While the McGill Library website includes links to just about anywhere you need to go, sometimes speaking to a librarian gets you there faster. “Anybody that is interested in the slightest in libraries and the role we play, should come and speak with us,” says Miller. “It’s always nice to have someone who can help point you in the right direction.”

Stop by in person or send an email – you can even set up an appointment. It’s worth it to stop by in person to speak with a librarian and access additional resources, such as study rooms and cell phone chargers.

If you find yourself needing a home away from home, the library can connect you to happenings abroad. “One of the best ways to keep in touch with a place is to look at newspapers and magazines,” says Miller. PressReader gives access to 7000 plus newspapers and magazines in over 100 languages.

The world is your oyster at the library, and Miller encourages students to keep their connection to libraries following their studies. “I always let students know that they will lose the resources once they leave McGill,” says Miller. “The most important resource is to get a public library card.”

Start your love for libraries at McGill. To get an overview of the resources available, take a look at the orientation.

(1) Spirits/Mixed Drink – Canada – December 2016” in the Mintel Database

*Note: A correction has been made to reflect that there were once physical subject guide publications for each subject area and not, as previously stated, libraries.

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