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“Most Difficult” Discipline Debate: Chemical vs. Legal

August 26, 2013, 12:22 pm

You’re alone on the ref desk. The shift ends in ten minutes and you have a meeting across campus that you’re expected to lead. Just then—a student approaches and asks “the question.” You know the one I’m talking about— it’s not a known item search, it’s not an instructional “how do I find articles on x” — it’s a complex matter on a subject that you’re not comfortable with. Referral is not an option.

Lauren and I were debating this last week. Which set of information tools or subject/controlled vocabulary is the most intimidating? For me it was chemistry and for her it was legal.

We decided to open it up to you—friendly readers of librarian blogs—tell us, which one gets the nod? Polymers or shepardizing? If you want to suggest something different—go for it. Medical? Financial? Patents? Gov Docs? Physics? We want to hear it and why. Make a case for the most difficult subject. Is it the content, the interface, or something else?

I’ll put together a follow-up post in September.

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