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The rest of my generation is doing it, so I guess I’ll make a Nirvana post too.

I often use Kurt Cobain as an example when I’m teaching library research methods. Many of my students have an assignment that requires them to use primary sources to talk about an historical event, but are only allowed to use sources within 24 hours of the incident.

Cobain is a great example of how problematic this can be because 1) the Wikipedia article says he died on the 5th, but really that’s approximate because 2) he wasn’t found until the 8th. So if my students go by the Wikipedia date and use that to search in ProQuest Newspapers, they find articles about Nirvana possibly breaking up and pulling out of talks with Lollapalooza, when really Cobain was likely already dead. This is a great teaching moment for me because I can poke holes into their allegiance to Wikipedia. Please don’t misunderstand. I love Wikipedia, but the students aren’t allowed to use it. I don’t have control over that, so I want to show them reasons why their instructor doesn’t want them to use it. I also discourage blind allegiance to any particular source.

This is also a great opportunity for me to talk about modern news culture and the 24-hour news cycle. Most of their topics are pre-1950, so this gives us a chance to talk about what kinds of news sources were available then and how that affects the type and timeline of information presented.

In 1994, when I was in junior high and settling into my life-long love of “alternative” music, I never thought that I would be using Kurt Cobain’s death – an incident that rocked my young world and kept me glued to MTV for days – as an example when teaching library research seventeen years later. What is most striking, is how many students are familiar with Nirvana and Cobain, even though he died when they were two. I especially love using this example at my conservative institution because it’s unexpected and the indie/alternative kids really get a kick out of it.

Oh, Kurt. I can’t help but wonder what you would be doing today. My dream is that you would have continued to make awesome music and evolve with trends but never give up who you are. I wish you’d given yourself the chance.

At the bottom of the post are two of the citation examples I use.

This is one of my favorite Nirvana moments. Please note, it’s not censored, and the first twelve seconds are probably NSFW.

Hochman, Steve. (1994, April 6). Nirvana Pulls Out of Tour Plan Pop music: Amid reports of a breakup, the band withdraws from talks about headlining this summer’s `Lollapalooza ’94,’ citing singer Kurt Cobain’s health problems :[Home Edition]. Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext),p. 1. Retrieved April 5, 2011, from Los Angeles Times. (Document ID: 59343304).

Saiz Holguin, Robert. (1994, April 8). Nirvana Singer Kurt Cobain Found Dead :[FINAL MARKETS Edition]. Chicago Sun – Times,p. 3. Retrieved April 5, 2011, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 117631952).

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