After starting my first shift ever at the reference desk at J.W. England Library, University of the Sciences, I got a reference question in the first 5 minutes. That was fast!
Her initial question was about if we had access to an article. After some back and forth, we determined that article wasn’t exactly what her professor was looking for. It was a news article and not a scholarly journal article. So her initial question turned into a different problem that we needed to solve.
Now she needed to go back into the CINAHL and the Cochrane Databases but she had received very little results from her first search or results that weren’t relelvant. Her problem was that she was using very specific keywords, which worked for some databases but not so great for others, and didn’t revise her search strategy when the results were poor.
I showed her several ways she could expand her search–by using synonyms and wildcards, looking at subject headings of relevant articles, and limiting her results by date or subject.
She left the desk satisfied. It was my first official success at the reference desk as a newly-minted librarian!