Students encouraged to use librarians, library resources

By Claire Busby

November 7, 2012

Junior Alyssa Steele carried her assignment sheet into the library with a standout element. “Twenty peer reviewed sources” were the directions highlighted in bright pink. They were to be incorporated into her midterm research paper for her Education Psychology class paper about merit pay with lower income students. She set aside her entire evening to complete the task. After compiling 10 sources with less than half the evening remaining, frustration had taken over. What Steele did not know was how to book a librarian. According to Jackie Burns, distance education and interlibrary loan librarian, the “Book a Librarian” service is one of the most overlooked resources by students. Students have the opportunity to have a librarian set aside a chunk of time to assist them personally in finding sources in the library’s online databases. Films on demand, laptop rentals, pleasure reading and films, earbuds and copy cards for purchase, an upstairs computer lab, Interlibrary Loan service, study rooms, eBooks, and a music streaming service are also resources Burns said are forgotten by students. “Word of mouth is what works,” she said. “It’s best when you hear students saying ‘Did you hear? Did you hear?’” The library receives plenty of positive feedback from students who are informed and take advantage of the resources available. However, students  -- including Steele -- find the word-of-mouth promotion by the library disconcerting. “Word of mouth is rarely a primary marketing strategy,” Steele said. “It works better as a complement to other marketing techniques.” Burns believes the more money allotted to the library, the more promotion the library would be able to execute. Social media accounts are currently managed by library staff including Facebook and Twitter and an open house is also held in the early weeks of each semester. The main word-of-mouth strategy, however, makes Steele uneasy. “There are things that I hear people promoting by mouth and I never know if they are true or not,” Steele said. In the past 10 years, the definition of a library has changed and Burns said that many students have “preconceived notions” of what a library is. In the case of Steele and her research paper, she said that the Book a Librarian service would have helped, but she didn’t know about it. “Although some of these services may be useful to students, I don’t imagine that many students know about the library’s array of services."