Pathfinder (library science)

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A pathfinder is a bibliography created to help research a particular topic or subject area. (Pathfinders are also referred to as subject guides, topic guides, research guides, information portals, resource lists or study guides.)

According to the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science, a pathfinder is "designed to lead the user through the process of researching a specific topic, or any topic in a given field or discipline, usually in a systematic, step-by-step way, making use of the best finding tools the library has to offer. Pathfinders may be printed or available online."[1]

The goal of a pathfinder is to gather all of the most useful, relevant, reliable and authoritative resources on a variety of academic, work-related or general-interest topics.[2] Originally provided in print format in the 20th century in large academic libraries,[3][4] pathfinders have evolved with the emergence of the World Wide Web and may now act as portals to information about resources in a variety of formats, including books, encyclopedias, bibliographic databases, almanacs, documentaries, websites, search engines and journals.

Often used as curriculum tools for bibliographic instruction, the guides help library users find materials or help those unfamiliar with a discipline understand the key sources."[4]

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  1. ^ Reitz, Joan. "Pathfinder (definition)". Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. ABC-CLIO. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Farkas, Meredith (October 2009). "Pathfinder in a Box: Crafting your own authoritative metasearch engine". American Librarians: 45. 
  3. ^ Morris, Sara; Bosque, Darcy Del (15 March 2010). "Forgotten Resources: Subject Guides in the era of Web 2.0". Technical Services Quarterly 27 (2): 178–193. 
  4. ^ a b Reeb, Brenda; Susan Gibbons (January 2004). "Students, Librarians, and Subject Guides: Improving a Poor Rate of Return". Portal: Libraries and the Academy 4 (1): 123. 

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