ANXIETY OVER THE
Casey Moreland Brozovsky
LIS 6120 Access to Information
December 2, 2013
MY OBSERVATION SITE
Large, industrial, multi-floor academic library.
Supports undergraduate, graduate and online students and
faculty research and curriculum.
There are two reference desks: one on the 2nd (business and
humanities) and one on the 4th (science and technology) floors.
Most of the patron activity occurs on the 2nd floor (main floor) and
that reference desk stays the busiest.
There is a head reference librarian, but all of the librarians share
reference service responsibilities and each of them work at the
main desk at different times throughout the day.
Graduate students work at the second desk.
THE FIRST-YEAR PROGRAM
In 2009, the university realized that many new, undergraduate
students struggled with transitioning from high school life to college
life and the new workload. The first-year program was created to help
students with the transition.
Specifically, they noticed very few first-year students were coming to
the library to complete papers and research projects, and if they did
they would only use Google or Wikipedia or come straight to the
reference desk not knowing how to start a research paper or project.
Also, many professors noticed that first-year work lacked quality
The library partnered with the office of first-year programs and faculty
to create library curriculum that would introduce students with the
academic library setting, how to use the library’s resources and how
to conduct research effectively.
WHAT ROLE DOES THE LIBRARY AND
REFERENCE SERVICES PLAY IN THE
Throughout the first half of the semester, the librarians lead
information sessions in the classrooms for hands-on learning of
the research cycle, the information timeline, basic Boolean
searching of the university’s databases, citation styles, library
services and how to thoughtfully evaluate sources.
The library also offers “IPad Tours.” These are tours of the library
building and the different floors involving checkpoints using an
IPad that all students are required to complete (typically in
groups) before the end of the semester.
The library creates a yearly "research guide” that gives an
overview of the topics examined during the information sessions
and includes the guide in the orientation packet.
WHAT OTHER SERVICES DO THEY
The library has their own webpage on the university’s website
highlighting services for undergraduates, graduates, faculty members
and distance learners. Specifically, there are links for detailed
information and additional help on conducting research, using the
university’s main database, reading/writing citations, finding books, ebooks and articles, ILL requests and using technology equipment
(computers and printers, etc.).
In addition, the library recently purchased a $25,000 Gale Reference
package geared for undergraduate research, leases a long list of
books (changing every three months) for special displays covering a
variety of topics, offers a special collection filled with archival and
government documents, heavily promotes the use of ILL requests
with several other nearby universities and provides access to the
local public library.
THE LIBRARY’S GOALS AND
OBJECTIVES IN THE PROGRAM
The library not only wants to help students succeed in their courses
by helping to improve research skills, but more importantly they want
students to become information literate for the real-word. The
information sessions are designed to equip students with the basic
skills to research information effectively and evaluate sources
carefully and thoughtfully whether academic or non-academic in
HOW IS THE LIBRARY PROGRAM
Assessments for effectiveness are completed in part by using
student and faculty surveys. Students are required to complete
short surveys at the beginning and end of the information
sessions in an effort to gauge what students knew before the
session and what they learned from the session. Faculty
members are asked to complete a short survey near the end of
the academic year to assess whether or not they thought the
library’s resources and information sessions improved the quality
In addition, the librarians are required to track and record the
types of questions they receive (in person, virtual chat, email and
phone) while working at the reference desk using customdesigned software to gauge what areas are improving and which
areas need improvement.
THOUGHTS FROM THE HEAD
“No such thing as a quiet library here.”
“These information sessions and our involvement in the first year
program have not only improved the quality of research, but resulted
in students coming to us for help with more sophisticated searches
and topics. Most first-year students have no problem getting started
on a project by the end of the semester.”
“We not only want our students to succeed while they are here, but
in their professional lives as well. What a disservice it would be to the
students if we couldn’t prepare them for tomorrow.”