Research Interview Dialogue

I am sitting at the reference desk of Mullen Library when I am approached by a student who needs help. As she nears the desk, I look up and take notice of her.

Timid Student: (in a low tone)  umm, excuse me but could you help me find a book.

Me: I would be happy to.  What book are you looking for?

Student: It’s for a class project. I believe it’s called Our Bodies. It might be over at the Nursing Library.

Me: (Turns the dual screen monitor on so that she can see what it is that I am doing, and so that she can learn how to search for books using our system in the future.) I can check and see if we have a copy here, if you would like?

Student: That would be great. Thanks.

Me: So, first we are going to go to the libraries home page-  We want to search books, so I’m going to search under the book tab.  Since we know what we are looking for it is easier to use the “classic catalog search” rather than the Summon box; it can get a little messy sometimes.

Student: Ok yea

Me: Now we want to do a title search for Our Bodies.  I’ll type that into the search box and then select title from the dropdown menu; we also want to select Catholic University to narrow down our results since we believe it is in the Nursing Library here on campus. Then we press “search catalog”.

Student: That’s it, Our Bodies Ourselves. (The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, 2005)

Me: Ok, it looks as though there are multiple years.

Student: Probably the newest one would be best?

Me: Probably. Let’s take a look. This last title is an e-resource, so you could look at it from anywhere just by logging in.  It’s from 2010.  Let me compare it to some of the others.  (Looks at the other records.)  All of the other records appear to be by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective.  This last one has a slightly different title and is by Susan Wells, so I don’t think it is what you are looking for.

Student: What about the one from 2005?

Me: Let’s have a look at it.  So, what are you doing your research on? Maybe we can see if this is an appropriate source.

Student: That would be great. I’m doing research on sexuality and um… (quietly) abortion.

Me: (In a lower tone.)  Ok. Uh, yea.  Is there any particular focus in your research, or are you looking for general information?

Student: I’m doing research on how it hurts women in the long run because of how it interrupts the natural biological process. In particular how it can complicate future pregnancies.  I know cases can vary.  My research is already pretty strong here, but my advisor said that I should find other sources that argue the other side of the issue and compare my research against theirs to make a stronger case.

Me: Yea.  There is definitely a lot of information out there. I can see that this book talks about abortion.  Let’s see if we can find anything about the book online. (Searches Google) It looks like there is a website spinning off of this book: (Boston Women’s Health Book Collective)  Well this book’s website appears to be arguing about how to go about deciding on if it is right for you.  So it is from the “pro-choice” viewpoint.  It could be helpful.

Student: Yea, I was looking for books online and this is one of the ones that came up. I asked my teacher about it and he said he thought the nursing library might have a copy. Since I didn’t know where that was I thought I would come here for help. It’s a pretty important topic.

Me: Well we are always happy to help people find information, and this does appear to be in the nursing library.  Part of the reason this is such a big issue is because of the ethical dilemma involved.  “Ethical dilemmas occur when values are in conflict.” (American Library Association, 2008)  So you picked a topic that is going to have a lot of opinions out there each vying that theirs is the correct one.

Student: I know, that’s why I thought it such a good topic to speak on for my project.

Me:  As you may know the mission of the University states: “The Catholic University of America is … dedicated to advancing the dialogue between faith and reason, … [and] seeks to discover and impart the truth through excellence in teaching and research, all in service to the Church, the nation and the world.” (Board of Trustees, 2006) From when other people have come here searching on this topic I know we have a lot on the right to life, counseling, and legal stances and implications.   Since the library is “committed to providing a balanced collection which represents a diversity of perspectives” (“The catholic university,” 2012) I’m sure we have plenty of material on the opposing side of your research.  If not, I know we can access material from one of our partner libraries.

Student: Wow. That would be great. Thanks.  I think I’ll just look at this book for now and get some ideas on how they approach the issue.  I’ll definitely keep that in mind though.  I had never read the University Mission so thanks for sharing that.

Me: My pleasure. By the way, the nursing library is in Gowan Hall. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Student: No, that has been super-helpful.  I think I can remember how we searched for those books, so maybe I can find stuff on my own next time.  Thanks for all your help. Have a good day!

Me:  You too. (The student exits.)


1.       The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. (2005). Our bodies, ourselves: A new edition for a new era . Retrieved from

2.       American Library Association. (2008, January 22). Code of ethics of the american library association. Retrieved from

3.       Board of Trustees. (2006, December 12). Mission statement. Retrieved from

4.       The catholic university of america libraries collection development policy . (2012, August 06). Retrieved from

5.       Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. (n.d.). Our bodies ourselves. Retrieved from


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