Pets, Pipelines and P.E. : This Week in Reference

Winter may have gone soft, but our students, faculty and staff remain focused and driven.  Research Librarians and Peer Research Tutors have been busy this month helping researchers explore topics and questions like these:

  • Religious beliefs: do they change over time?
  • Opiate abuse in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, globally
  • Building teachers’ social capital and the impact that has on student learning
  • Mandatory physical education
  • European colonization of Kauai
  • Can having pets increase satisfaction in life and better your health?
  • Influence/impact of citizen photojournalism
  • Free wifi in big cities: what are the benefits?
  • Pipeline accidents in the United States


As you can see from the above examples , we often find ourselves teaching researchers how to use databases to explore an issue and find a variety of sources.  Sometimes, however, researchers know exactly what document, article or book they want, but just can’t find it.  Here’s an example of a question we received by email:

“Can you help me find a transcript of MLK Jr.’s 1964 Commencement Speech at Springfield College in Massachusetts? On June 14, 1964 MLK gave the commencement speech at Springfield College. I have searched online and found audio files but no printed transcript of the speech. This is the speech that MLK ended with the line about the long arc of the moral universe bending toward justice.”


To locate this item, our research librarian approached this in the same way most people would–she began with general Google search, looked through Wikipedia  and general bibliographies online for Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches, but had no luck. Then, she took a different approach: she thought carefully who might have a particular interest in providing access. Considering who might collect and provide access to information can be a very effective method for finding all sorts of statistics and primary sources, especially when the item you need might be located within another database hosted by an organization, college or government agency. Information contained within databases (even freely accessible databases!) often doesn’t surface in Google. In this case, our librarian carefully considered who would be most likely to have archived a copy of this speech, and paid an online visit to the Springfield College Library’s Digital Collections, since that was where Dr. King originally delivered the speech.

Thanks for reading!

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