Sharing is Caring: what librarians do when we’re stumped

Where do you go when you need research help? The library of course!

But where do librarians go when we need research help? Well, there’s a secret closet in the back of the library where an eternal flame exists. If we sacrifice an obsolete form of information preservation, say a CD-ROM or a floppy disk, we’re allowed to ask the flame one question. That’s how we learn new stuff!

Just kidding, that’s not a real thing. Definitely don’t go searching for it. It’s not real. I promise.


The real way we learn about new (or new-to-us) research skills? We steal the knowledge! 

Libraries tend to be made up of folks who believe in access to information—our whole thing is making sure people know how to ask questions, find information, and evaluate that information to use as they will. Because of this, the resources we make, like research guides or tutorials, are things that we make available to everybody, not just students or faculty at our university.

So when I get a question I don’t know how to answer, or if I’m asked to create a resource on a tool or concept that I don’t have much experience in, here’s my secret trick: I google the question and add in the word “libguide” and I check out other libraries’ research guides to see what I can borrow/steal/absorb into my brain jello.

“Libguide” is just a mash up of the words “library” and “guide,” and it’s the technical name for the platform many libraries use to create research guides. We use it here at Bell Library!


Recently, I was asked to create a guide on the best ways to find Quality Improvement Plans, which are resources used by hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of the care they provide. I knew how to search for this type of information in a couple of databases I’m used to using, but I figured someone out there (maybe a librarian???) knew more than I did. So I typed “quality improvement plan libguide” into Google and a TON of research guides from other universities appeared! Librarians all over the country have created guides that show their students and faculty (and any lurking librarians like myself) how best to go about finding quality improvement plans.

Now I can’t exactly link to these guides, since their links will go to their own university’s resources, but I can learn about the quality improvement journals out there, learn about some search strategies to use in databases, and then I can put what I’ve learned on our own guides.

If we ever want to copy a guide exactly, we can reach out and ask the guide’s original creator if we can use their content. They usually say yes, because sharing information is our jam, and then we’ll cite them properly to give credit where its’ due.

So now you know—if you’ve stumped one librarian, the next step is to try another librarian. One of us will know what’s up and be happy to share.

Happy Stealing!


Instructional Services Librarian

Knowledge Thief

Now Knows How to Find Quality Improvement Plans



Evil elmo:

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