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Librarians offer insight, knowledge, resources

Story by Emily Hecker
Photo by Luke Nankivell

library3-w2000-h2000Librarians at Cowles Library offer a wealth of resources to students beyond the realm of books.

They specialize in fields of study, teach classes and even write their own books.

Priya Shenoy, pharmacy and science librarian, works with the pharmacy skills and applications group. During the “How to find drug information” unit, Shenoy helps faculty come up with drug-related questions for students to answer. Shenoy then teaches students how to navigate drug information databases to answer those questions.

“I think the best thing is when you’re done and everyone goes, ‘Ah is that how you do it?’” Shenoy said. “It’s just nice to be helpful and see people using research skills and information literacy skills and being able to find what they were originally looking for.”

Reference librarians like Karl Schaefer, guide students through the research process. Schaefer said some students need help narrowing their topics. The librarians then lead students to sources, in what Schaefer refers to as a “matchmaking process.”

“One of the rules of librarianship is to save the time of the reader,” said Schaefer. “Our primary function is to get people together with the kind of information they need to do the work they’re being asked to do.”

Schaefer and his Digital Initiatives librarian Marcia Keyser teach information literacy courses. The main goal of these courses is to get students to understand the structure of information.

“Students need an awareness of how to search for information and a recognition that it’s an intellectual search and not just knowing the mechanics of the database,” Keyser said. “Many young people are fluent with Facebook and Sim 5, but transferring some of those skills over isn’t, sometimes, as easy as you’d think.”

Keyser also teaches a class on copyright issues. By the semester’s end, Keyser hopes her students understand what copyright law is and its basic policies. The required text is Keyser’s own book, “Copyright For The Rest Of Us.”

Senior Emily Johansen gained a new appreciation for the librarians by working at Cowles. She admires their adept research skills.

“If you don’t know where to start on a research project, definitely ask the librarians,” Johansen said. “They’re really good at it.”


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