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wherever you think you are

maura @ 10:30 pm

Right now we’re in the midst of our busy teaching time at work, when most of the English Comp classes (between 60-100 per semester!) come in for a session to learn how to do research in the library. I usually start off my sessions by talking about finding information on the internet. As a segue into discussing library resources I ask the students: “Is there anything, any kind or format of information, that is NOT available for free on the internet?” Usually most of them assert that everything is on the internet, and then I jump into finding books in the library catalog and scholarly journal articles in the subscription databases.

I was caught off guard by one student’s response last week, in an 8:30am class no less! “You can just download anything you need, even books.”

Woah. I do mention a bit about copyright during these sessions and we talk some about plagiarism, but I’ve never had a student bring up peer-to-peer file sharing before. There were a couple of articles about illegal textbook downloading on the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s website last year, but the issue didn’t feel concrete to me until today. With the insanity of textbook prices and students’ limited budgets I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was.

And speaking of pirates, they’re apparently the subject of one of the most popular courses taught in the Anthropology department of my alma mater these days. Course content includes both pirates with peg-legs + parrots as well as the kinds of pirates that the RIAA has in their sights, and copyright issues too.


4 comments on “wherever you think you are”

Em (1 April 2009 at 1:25 pm)

Maybe this is a naive question, but how to the books that are getting shared peer-to-peer get put into a shareable format? Does someone scan them in and save them as a massive .pdf?

Anne (2 April 2009 at 7:58 am)

Oh, I used to have to convince my superiors @ work that not everything was available (or if it was, that it was easy to use) on the Internet!

Thank you for this, it makes me happy (today at least) that I don’t have a job & that I did the right thing by leaving Pine Valley forever!

maura (3 April 2009 at 10:59 pm)

Em, I think some folks do scan them in, scarily enough. Also my tech advisor says that sometimes textbook publishers make the PDF available to students who buy the book, so those students might then upload it and make it available to other students.

Then it’s just like any other bit torrent file (mp3, video) — you download it to your computer and little pieces of it get sucked down from all over the internets, like Wonkavision!

Anne, my main thing that I try to get across to the kids (other than that the reference librarians can help them!) is that different information is best found in different places. And that even though the internet seems easy, if you need scholarly info it’s hard to find there! And maybe some of them even believe me. :)

daniel (10 April 2009 at 12:47 pm)

β€œIt is almost too fun for the University of Chicago, so I will make sure they read a bit of theory every week.” β€œIt is almost too fun for the University of Chicago, so I will make sure they read a bit of theory every week.”

I LOLed.

And my anti-spam word is “wicked”.

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