National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, Volume 6. Copyright 2010 National Collegiate Honors Council


There’s an old library story about oranges and peaches that goes like this: a guy bellies up to the reference desk looking for the book, The Oranges and Peaches. He’s in a hurry. The librarian searches the catalog—fruitlessly—for the title. The man is incredulous. “I have to read it by Monday! It’s a classic!” The librarian asks if he knows the author. He’s indignant. “Charles-something-orother!” With that, she goes to the shelves and plucks off Darwin’s On the Origins of Species. “Yep, that’s it,” he says, “now, do you have the movie?”

It is the happy job of the reference librarian to assist researchers in making reference to the whole of recorded knowledge, in the myriad formats by which it is presented. In the library, communication accidents of the oranges and peaches variety happen all the time; but in the digital domain, the human ability to repair such accidents by means of adaptation is supplanted by prescriptive language and pre-programmed approximations.

In innumerable ways, the Internet environment is a major evolutionary development. The World Wide Web, in branching patterns of common descent, has given way to a kind of mechanical consciousness to which researchers—of all ages, abilities, and proclivities—are apt to become either unwittingly submissive or utterly defiant.

This essay will provide a framework for effective research in honors in and out of the library, with tips and tricks along the way. It will introduce the common characteristics of knowledge organization systems; highlight the library resources that feature honors scholarship and open-source repositories that aggregate scholarly material; introduce a toolbox for accessing the NCHC e-sources that allow for collaboration and exchange; and briefly discuss changes in the fair use covenant for teaching and scholarship that the millennial age brings.