The above social media post – recently republished in my university’s student magazine – made me consider how academic research has changed since my undergraduate days in the 1980s. Back then, we didn’t have any tabs open when working on assignments because the Internet and web browsers didn’t exist.

When you wanted to know something, you went to the library and used an OPAC or – if you were daring – the card catalogue. This search method would generate at least one relevant book and into the stacks you went.

As (most) libraries house media topically, this approach inevitably unearthed similar literature in the immediate vicinity of your searched book. This, in turn, opened additional exploration avenues – frequently in exciting uncharted waters outside the scope of class lectures.

While an Internet search efficiently returns specific information, I wonder if it limits the acquisition of serendipitous knowledge. Leave a comment, fellow scholars.

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