Good researchers have magnet fingers, or so it seems

by Mr. Sheehy

After three blocks of nearly futile searching, a pair of students become testy about their topics.

“I just need something on Rodney King. Not a reference to Rodney King, an actual article about him! I have three note cards and I’m using all my time just trying to find enough sources!”

The teacher sits down at another computer. Knowing the student has been looking through InfoTrac, he begins with SIRS. Three minutes later he walks to the student’s spot and tosses an article onto his keyboard.

“10-year retrospective look at the LA Riots.” He throws a second article on the keyboard: “1992, shortly after it happened.” Then a third: “1992. All from SIRS.”

“Oh. Hm. That was too quick.”

“Yeah. I searched for LA Riots instead of Rodney King.”

“Oh. I guess I have enough on Rodney King anyway.”

“Hey,” pipes in the other student. “I’m still not finding anything.”

“Alright, alright,” mumbles the teacher, wandering back to the computer. He has already spent time with this student looking through sources on Wounded Knee. It is a tricky topic because a movie came out not too long ago and plugs up the searches’ results. After a quick dive into SIRS and InfoTrac, he clarifies a detail with the researcher, “Are you looking for the 1970’s incident or the massacre?”

“Either.”

Two minutes later he dumps three articles on the student’s keyboard. “Argus Leader looking back at the occupation. A memoir of a fella’s trip to Wounded Knee that discusses both, and an excerpt from Russell Means’s book that talks about the occupation.”

“Wow.” The student looks to his classmates next to him. “I just got owned.”

“Me too,” rejoins the first student. “It was way easy, too.”

A third student, witness to the entire scene, pipes in with curiosity, “Could you own me too?”

Laughing, the teacher declines the offer and sinks back into his chair, wrapped in the memory of affable librarians whose fingers were magnets that somehow attracted only the information one needed.

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