Discovering Natural Resources: College Librarians

By Kim Jones

Most students on campus are familiar with the UW Bothell/Cascadia Community College campus library. We’ve all studied, worked on group presentations, and perhaps snuck in the occasional power nap on one of the over-sized reading chairs in the library. While students may be familiar with many of the library’s resources (napping chairs included), how many of us have utilized one of the most valuable aspects of our campus library: the librarians?

Leslie Bussert, Head of Instruction Services and the Literature and Humanities Librarian, offers reasons why students should use the librarians as a resource during any stage of the research process and explains how the library helps students become self-directed lifelong learners.

Why did you decide to enter the field of library and information science?

What really sold me was that it required a graduate degree – I love learning, so the thought of more school actually sounded attractive to me. This idea also made me reflect back on my undergraduate experience, and suddenly it all made sense why I was always poking around the library and its various collections – not even for an assignment!  It was amazing to me all the information available on such specific subjects, and the idea of helping people navigate that, and enhance their learning in the process excited me (and in turn, I would get to learn about new things through the topics I was helping library users’ research). So basically it was my constant curiosity, love of learning, and love of libraries as places and resources, that got me into the profession, with a little nudge from my cousin.

What advice do you have for students in using the library and librarians as resources?

Ask us! Anything!  We are here to help you first and foremost, and we want to help you navigate your research process so it’s a positive experience for you. We can help with many stages of that process: topic/question development and revision, identifying appropriate search tools and keywords, constructing database-friendly searches, accessing print or online materials, evaluating sources, determining when and how to cite sources, and more.

The amount of information we all have access to is increasing at an extremely rapid rate so we can help you get a sense of what’s out there, what’s not, and generally help you navigate to resources that should be most relevant to your needs.  We also want to hear from you if you have feedback for us about anything regarding the library and how we might be better able to serve you and contribute to your success:

https://catalysttools.washington.edu/umail/form/uwblibt/3499

What do you see as the role of the librarian in the school setting and what do you hope to bring to the library?

Librarians are educators, whether it means being in the classroom teaching or working with students one-on-one to teach them tools, processes, and skills, especially around the information they consume and utilize.

The concepts we teach students are those they can transfer into their personal and professional lives which will help them be good problem solvers who can engage in evidence-based decision making as well as in the free exchange of ideas in service of the growth and creation of new knowledge.  These concepts include critical inquiry, information literacy, and research skills, all which require accessing, analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing, and producing knowledge.

How do you connect what you do in the library with the classroom curriculum?

We consider our library to be a “teaching library” so we are very focused on helping students gain the necessary skills to be self-directed lifelong learners.  One strategy which helps us reach a greater number of students, and which makes library research instruction more relevant to students, is to integrate Information Literacy instruction directly into the curriculum of each school/program on campus.

The librarian liaisons to the schools/programs on campus become very familiar with their respective curricula and have identified specific courses where it makes sense for us to offer classroom instruction.  These courses typically include a research component and may also be “core” classes required for the major, the latter of which also helps is reach the greatest number of students in that major.

We are also gaining ground offering instruction or other support to students through other modes of instruction, such as online video tutorials.  These can be intentionally integrated into a course or simply are available to students who’d like to review certain concepts or tools they may need to brush up on.

In terms of our library collections, we tie our selection of materials directly to the curriculum content (versus our UW Seattle colleagues, for example, who are tasked more with developing comprehensive collections around all areas of study).

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