Where Strand Four deals with the various publication formats in which scholarly information is made available, Strand Five focuses on the gateways, platforms and collection-level resources which endeavour to aggregate these formats. Libraries are key players in making these resources available, including not only library and archival catalogues but also abstract and indexing databases, subject-specific gateways, e-journal collections and datasets. In addition, library websites also act as informal aggregators, linking to other academic resources.
Therefore, in addition to being aware of the different types of information available in the academic landscape, students need to learn to locate, use and, above all, evaluate the containers or gateways through which they access them. Because of their size, it is not always evident that these key ‘finding aids’ themselves have limitations of scope, coverage or chronology, and that critical evaluation must be applied not only to individual scholarly works, but also to whole resources.
Isla has helped pioneer several teaching initiatives in the University of Cambridge library community, including the TeachMeet format and events, a ‘23 Things’ course tailored for medical library staff, and mutual peer observation of teaching. She was the natural choice for Strand Five, as she teaches students where to look for and how to evaluate complex specialist information, not in a programmatic way but using a discursive and reflective approach that develops a deep understanding of the advantages and limitations of the resources and databases themselves as information tools. Isla was also an Arcadia Fellow in 2011, organizing a high-profile symposium and ‘hackday’ on ‘The Internet- Informed Patient’ (www.iip-symposium.info/).
As Reader Services Librarian in the University of Cambridge Medical Library, my role is all about supporting readers in their research, education or clinical care. Readers come from a range of backgrounds and are at various stages in their academic and professional careers. Clinical students naturally form a major group. These students have completed up to three years of pre-clinical studies either in Cambridge or at other universities, but this does not necessarily help them gain awareness of the sources of clinical – as opposed to academic – information that will be valuable for them. Students arriving from other universities face challenges in terms of adapting to a new information environment and, in particular, discovering a different range of subscription resources.