A Paean to the Librarian
My dissertation proposal research continues apace – sometimes stutteringly slowly, other times with a swiftness and surety which reassures me that I’m on the right path and doing the right thing. I need those moments, believe me!
This is one of those moments. I’ve just gotten off the phone with the CIIS librarian who’s also gone through the same program I have: Women’s Spirituality. She is such a marvelously helpful librarian! I had a class with her in my very first semester at CIIS, and she was tall, spare, short-haired, with a very direct way of meeting your eyes. Her voice over the phone is the same: firm and steady as she makes sure she’s clearly and slowly explained something to you step by step, then checks for understanding. I feel rather as if I’m working with some Platonic ideal of the Librarian as perfectly conceptually suited to my needs! Best of all, when I had the nerdy squeal of glee at finally learning how to access tempting but previously inaccessible on-line research databases (I’m looking at you, JSTOR — you intellectual tease, you! ;-) ), she laughed and completely understood.
So, to record the wonderful information shared with me! I don’t know if this is directly applicable if you’re not attending CIIS also, but I suspect the basics will hold true – research librarian strikes me as one of those jobs you just don’t get unless you love it, you know? So: always always always, the first step is to connect with your research librarian. Don’t be shy, or embarrassed about what you want to research, or chagrined at not having reached out at the beginning of the semester, or believe you know it all already. There’s always at least one new little trick that makes my life easier, every time I chat with a librarian. In fact, this time around my librarian’s name, email, and phone numbers are in my cell phone database. I certainly hope I won’t ever need to call for research assistance quite that precipitously, but that’s not the point for me – the point is that I’ve spoken to her and know her now, she knows me and my subject, and I know how to reach her for any necessary follow-up – on her emphatic urging! — and that is very reassuring!
Next: when trying to find a particular book, article, or whatever, always try first to check it out from the CIIS library’s on-line database. They have a simply enormous amount of access to on-line journals and databases! Articles can be received as PDFs or JPGs via email, or as physical scanned printouts via regular mail — though the latter sometimes have a cost attached. Also, from what I’ve seen, they are only B&W, and are sometimes extremely blurry. If I can, I shall always hold out for PDFs. I should also be sure to have the full citation information as well, since even if they don’t have the article in question, the CIIS library has interlibrary loan available from its website. As a useful side-note, San Jose Public — my local library — also has an excellent website, including interlibrary loan. For books I shall go through them, since there’s no shipping costs associated.
Okay, that covers a lot of the articles I’ll want. However, there’s still dissertations and theses, or perhaps more niche or more expensive journals, or those which CIIS doesn’t have access to due to copyright issues. In such situations I’ll likely be able to find them through researching either ProQuest or JSTOR.
First ProQuest: to access their research database, go to the library’s main page at http://library.ciis.edu and on the left-hand side, under Research, click Find Articles+. Scroll down through the Suggested Starting Points until I get to the Multidisciplinary subheader. Under that category are a list of ProQuest links, but the one I’ll want is titled ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. Clicking that link will lead to the CIIS Off-Campus User Authentication page where I am asked to log in with my CIIS information — have your Student ID # handy if you’re following along with me. That takes me immediately to the ProQuest website – specifically to the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text search page. Enter appropriate keywords and/or search phrases, and have a ball! ;-)
Now JSTOR: though there is a link to their database right next to the ones for ProQuest, that’s only for pre-1923 “early journal content” – not really helpful for contemporary research. Instead, from the main page again (http://library.ciis.edu), on the left-hand side under Research click the link titled CIIS Journals and E-Books. Then scroll down the page for the link titled JSTOR Complete Current Scholarship Collection, and woohoo! I’m on JSTOR’s site! Pause to chortle delightedly… then remember I’m really a sober, staid, extremely serious scholarly researcher and click the Search dropdown menu in the upper left, then click Advanced Search – while still grinning goofily at getting to use this awesome database, woo! That’s the database search page — so enter keywords and phrases, and have at it!