Why Students Like Google Better Than Our Databases

Rory Litwin at Library Juice directs the following to academic librarians:

We tell our students to go to our databases for articles that are “scholarly and reliable,” but we don’t often tell them that most of the articles they will find there, in addition to being scholarly and reliable, are not really intended for an undergraduate audience. These journal articles are mostly narrowly defined studies intended for an audience of scholars who are advancing their fields at the highest levels of learning. Our students can’t even understand the titles of half of these articles.

Often our undergrads need to read articles that present more of an overview of a topic, something that gives them a little bit of depth about it, a bit of background, and in some areas a bit of a picture of the scholarly discourse. Books are usually better than doing this than journal articles, but electronic resources are preferred and tend to be more promoted . There are some articles in scholarly journals here and there that offer a broader treatment of a topic but they are not always easy to find, especially for undergrads left to their own devices.

He proposes a solution. Read the whole post at Library Juice and watch for comments to the post as well. I’m not an academic librarian but I’m interested in this and I wonder what the librarians who work more with students think of Rory Litwin’s commentary.


  1. Heather, this is a new spin on an old problem: how do you get undergraduates to read and think critically. The problem is not really the librarians at universities, but they easy availability of unmediated searches in source material, whether licenced or free on the web. The answer has been to focus on information literacy standards and instruction. The Association for Collection and Research Libraries has developed the most referred to policy, I believe