This week, my students are discussing what might constitute reference in a school library and, indeed, whether we should still be using the term reference. In pre-web days, reference works were easily identifiable in the library. They were large books, kept on separate shelves, and could not be borrowed. Today, fewer and fewer reference works are visible, mainly because of free online sources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories etc. So, should we urge our students to use a reference source for initial information on a topic, or a brief explanation of a term? Or should we just drop reference and refer to sources. There is no definitive answer here. It could be argued that keeping the word reference might encourage students to see the value of sources which they use briefly, and to distinguish these from more detailed sources. On the other hand, it could be confusing to use the term reference, given its previous definition.
Another July, another Tour de France and just when you think that it couldn’t be as good as last year’s, it is. If you are not interested in cycling or sport in general, stop reading now. For us afficianodas, it’s compulsive. We’re not looking for the crashes which the TV news stations tend to gruesomely highlight, and while we really enjoy the close finishes and the electric finishing of Mark Cavendish, or the gritty determination of the winner, Australia’s Cadell Evans , Le Tour for us is the grandeur of the French countryside, and in particular, the mountain stages. Just watching the riders go up the winding roads of the Cols makes your own legs feel sore. It’s also inspiring of course and when you get on your bike the next day, you always feel that bit more motivated, as if you are sharing in the pain and the glory of Le Tour.