Tuesday, June 18, 2013

reference maven

For the past five months, I have worked at the Humanities Reference Desk on the fifth floor of the library. I am uniquely qualified to find general reference works, because I am supposed to help other people find them.

From the library home page, I went to the drop-down subject guides, and selected English Literatures.

From there, under References, I selected American Literature. I clicked on Gale's Literature Resource Center for Contemporary Authors. I put in Wallace Stegner (shocking, I know) and got a rather extensive biography of him.

I knew most the biographical stuff, and could find that on Wikipedia, frankly. It was the critical analysis which I found more useful. I searched for "ism"  and got environmentalism and individualism. I was able to organically incorporate this quotation about his overall work:

Although admitting that Stegner's fiction is "almost invariably set in the western United States," Richard H. Simpson of the Dictionary of Literary Biography believed that his "main region is the human spirit... Each [novel] explores a question central in Stegner's life and in American culture: How does one achieve a sense of identity, permanence, and civilization--a sense of home-- in a place where rootlessness and discontinuity dominate?"

I am glad that I can use what I teach others to do. The subject guides are well-designed, and Robert Means, the subject librarian, is an affable fellow.

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