Once upon a time, a student would ask for help researching articles for a paper in-person at the reference desk. In 2005, this is what I did at my undergrad library. Text messaging wasn’t too popular, and I still prefered person-to-person contact.
After sitting at LeMoyne’s reference desk for three weeks, I noticed students asked technical or directional questions:
“Where is the bathroom?”
“How does the printer work?”
“Can I use the stapler?”
Text-messaging, IM and email are ways to answer reference questions today. Because many are attached to mobile devices or social networks, these methods fit well with those styles.
Some librarians wonder if the reference desk should be eliminated if in-person, directional questions are asked. I don’t think the reference desk should be eliminated because it is the focal point of the library. If students need help with research, reference desks provide that service.
Instead, librarians should attempt to find different ways to reach students who need academic assistance. Some librarians are “roving” stacks and other buildings on campus, ready to answer questions with assistance from a laptop. Having a discussion board or Twitter reference site also help. People need information and have questions, but the way information is received and questions asked is different.
The last day of training was this week, and it involved reference role-playing. Another intern and myself took turns portraying the librarian and patron. We were given science reference questions on slips of paper. This was difficult at first because I do not have a strong science background, and I am not familiar with science journals or databases. After two hours of this, I felt more comfortable navigating LeMoyne’s databases and journals.
I also learned about assessment for the library. Each semester, my supervisor visits science classrooms and shows them how to use the library science databases and search tools, such as Boolean. Students were given a survey before and after the lesson to see what information they did and did not know about library tools and resources. Based upon these results, my supervisor knows how to tailor and enhance the lesson each semester.
In early May, I began my internship at LeMoyne Library. Compared to SU, the campus is small. It takes about two minutes to walk from the parking lot to the library. People say “hello” to you on the sidewalk, even if you do not know them. The library is a welcoming, two-story building, bustling with people coming and going, talking and socializing. It’s not a “shuuuushhh!” library.
I wasn’t sure what to expect my first two training days, but I’m pleased with everything so far. My supervisor is energetic, and she loves the profession. Because of training, I haven’t been able to dig into my projects yet. I’ve sat at the reference desk and explored databases and search tools. I’ve met and talked with other librarians and students.
One of the most valuable things I’ve liked so far is talking to people about the profession and where it’s going. The librarians at LeMoyne are knowledgable and eager to help me learn. From ebooks to learning commons, they have an opinion about everything.
I always here why it’s great to be a librarian, but why is it great to be a library student? After a year of studying the profession at SU, here are 10 reasons I came up with:
- Helps Me Become a Librarian-this is the most obvious reason since I’m learning skills and gaining experience that will help me succeed in the profession.
- Cool peers-my classmates come from different backgrounds. Some are into aerospace engineering, humanities, art history and the ever-popular English majors. They spit out out-of-the-blue facts and information that make my jaw drop.
- Social media-I was never into social networks, but now its become one of my main interests. It keeps me up-to-date with trends and news in the profession.
- Reference-I love answering questions, and I have learned not to use Google. Sure, Google is acceptable at times, but there are databases, books and websites that provide accurate and interesting information. If a friend or family member has a question, it’s fun to point them in the direction of a neat website or book.
- New Skills-Librarians need to know a little bit about everything, or at least know how to find the answer. I’ve learned the tricks and secrets to navigating websites and knowing what keywords or phrases to work for. I’ve learned about HTML and Prezi (an awesome presentation site).
- Book recommendations-My peers have provided countless titles and series I didn’t know about. From Ender’s Game to Anne Rice, my bookshelves are again too full.
- Conversation Starter-If I’m at the bar or waiting in line at the grocery store, people sometimes ask what I do. I mention I am a library student, and their responses and faces are priceless at times!
- Professors-I have met some awesome instructors at the iSchool. They have provided knowledge and advice on how to be a librarian.
- Internships-these have helped me figure out what type of librarian I want to be. I’ve cultivated interests in academic libraries and instructional design.
- Library Databases-in undergrad, I had no idea how to use my library’s databases. Conducting research and searching for articles helped me learn these great tools and resources.