For a variety of reasons searchers looking for help to get started working with databases on the Knowledge Network may not be as prepared when they sit down to begin a session with a librarian as they might be. Here are a few quick fixes to ensure that searchers still get the most out of their session with a librarian.
The commonest problems tend to be no ATHENS password and no formulated question. If someone has yet to acquire an ATHENS password, discovers that their password has expired or has a password from another board this can easily be rectified but save this until the end of the session once the searching has been complete. If the librarian logs in under their own ATHENS ID it will keep things moving forward smoothly. Apart from ensuring that the searcher has access to the databases the main drawback of sitting down to a facilitated session without one is that the searcher cannot save the work they do during the sesion. To get around this it's possible to export the search into .txt and to email a copy to the searcher. The facilitated search should be considered as a template that the searcher can refer to both for that search question and for subsequent searches on other topics. Depending on the topic the search may be a complete piece of work by the end of the session or it is equally likely that after the session, with more time to think about alternative search terms, the searcher may want to make some changes to the search strategy, introducing new search terms or even new concepts.
The searcher will usually have a firm topic in mind but often formulating a question may require some help from the librarian on the day. Usually once you start asking prompt questions then the searcher's question emerges fairly promptly. For example if the topic is rehabilitation of surgical patients is the searcher looking at patients undergoing surgery for a specific condition? Are they looking at a purely adult population? What kind of rehab is involved? Are they making comparisons between interventions? What is it they hope to prove? How would they define whether or not an intervention works? How current do they want the information to be? Is there anything they definitely don't want to include in this search? Usually the searcher knows in depth what it is they want to search for but sometimes they just need a little bit of help in giving it some shape. The strength of having someone to facilitate this for a searcher who finds it difficult is that the facilitator usually knows very little about the topic and so can help the searcher to view it with new eyes and think about it in a more structured way. The searcher has a wealth of knowledge on the topic and the trick is to narrow that wealth to something that is managable to work with and search for. You can only ever find the 'right' answer if you ask the 'right' question.