Interview with a Librarian: Liz Gruchala-Gilbert on USEM and Information Literacy

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What is the Library’s role in the USEM classes?

In the USEM classes, we aim to address the concept of information literacy. Graduates need to be information literate, have critical thinking skills, and be lifelong learners – and the Library works with faculty to make that happen.

USEM is our opportunity to meet all the new students – we probably have interaction with 90% of the first year students through USEM. When they come here we have the opportunity to take them on a tour – it’s a good time for us to introduce the Library to students in a fun way. I like to find out more about their experience with libraries – how they used libraries in high school, or how they use the public library – and then kind of bridge that to how they’re going to use this Library.

That also makes our interaction with new students an introduction to academic culture. They’re spending their first few weeks getting used to being at SPU…but there’s also an academic culture that they’re entering into. When they come here we show them how they’re going to be using more scholarly resources then they ever did before, and some of the nuts and bolts of using the catalog, getting things that are on reserve, and we talk about study habits. We try not to overload them because they’re learning so much in their first few weeks.

What is Information Literacy?

That’s a good question – I don’t know that there’s an agreed upon definition by everybody. First of all, there are different facets to Information Literacy. There’s the technology part where they have to know how to use technology, there’s the tool part where they have to know how to use the catalog, the data bases, and the books. There’s the evaluative part in which students have to know what makes a good source, and why they would be using it. They learn how to make judgments as to when to use the catalog, the databases, google, etc.

Then there’s applying that…how do you take all this data, all this information that you found and actually synthesize it into your paper and then how do you share that. It’s a big process.

Why would you say that Information Literacy is important?

Well on the most fundamental basic level it helps students do their projects and papers better. There are certain requirements that they’re going to have for papers. For example, a student might need five academic journals – so our job is to help the student find those academic journals. Our hope then is that those skills are transferable so that the next assignment the student gets, the student knows where to go and how to get help.

Do you help students figure out which sources are credible and which are not?

Yes. Credibility is incredibly important – sources need to be as credible as possible. Sometimes what I do is I’ll do a google search for a topic and take the first ten results. I divide my class into groups, each group will take one result, look at it, and then report back as to whether they would use it as a source for their paper. Who wrote something, what was their motive for writing it, who published it, is it on the web published by an individual or is it in a book published by a university press, how old is it, does it matter how old it is, who are they citing, are they citing reliable sources, are they citing anyone at all – these questions are all part of the discerning process.

What is your biggest piece of advice from a librarian’s standpoint to freshmen starting classes at college?

It’s so hard, but don’t procrastinate. We all procrastinate, but even little steps of starting early really help. The earlier students start gathering those the better, because it gives them more time to read and understand sources. If someone’s having trouble finding things then, it also gives them time to ask for help.

Books and Crannies: Floor with a View

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The third floor is usually the most lively – and for good reason. Big desks and beautiful views make for lovely study spaces that allow one to settle in for the long haul. The far corners of the floor give you windows and light from two sides, sweeping views of Fremont, the canal, the mountains, and campus, and some indoor foliage to break up the walls and carpet.The far right corner lands you right by the P section – all our literature, poetry, and novels.

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Books and Crannies: The Juvenile Section

The Juvenile section of the library, with its broad tables and big windows, feels like a well kept secret. Study areas are tucked away on the third floor between stacks of childrens books and green filled windows that allow enough natural light in to make the space feel warm, but block enough of campus below to make the space feel private.

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What’s more, the Library heating system decrees that the Juvenile section shall be warmer than all others. With gray, rainy days around the corner, this is always a plus. And, of course, if a study break is called for, titles from The Hobbit to Goodnight Moon and everything in between, are just an arm reach away.

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Any study areas you are excited about?

Extended Hours and Library Blog Hiatus

The Library Extended Hours ends tomorrow night, June 5, at Midnight. The Library will close at 6 p.m. on the last day of final exams, Thursday, June 6. On Friday, June 7, the Library will be open from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m with a closure during the day for the campus Ivy Cutting ceremony. Saturday and Sunday, June 8 – 9, the Library will be closed.

The Library congratulates all our students for another successful academic year and wishes our graduating seniors well as they move forward into a new stage of life.

The Library blog will be on hiatus during summer break, to resume during autumn quarter, 2013. Enjoy the nice weather, and we hope to see you soon!

Is it time for a study break or a cram session?

Ready for a break from all of the intensive studying? Why not stretch those legs by walking to the SPU Library to take a look at our latest book display, peruse our Popular Fiction book collection, or tour the quarterly finals week 3-D artwork? And in spite of the mayhem that may overtake the rest of the campus during the finals week frenzy, the Library Reading Room offers a quiet place to kick back, relax, and read a magazine, newspaper, or book. Need to stock your bookshelves with summer reading? Our book sale cart, located by the Circulation Desk, has a variety of used books selling for 25 cents each.

Or, if instead of a break you need a cram session, come to the Library prepared for study and research by bringing your Sea Pac Card pre-loaded with Debit Dollars for printing and scanning, your group study room reservation in order, and the call numbers in hand for any library Course Reserve item you may need to check out. Take a look at our study tips for more ideas on how to study effectively at the Library. The Everyday Writer is a wonderful citation resource, call number PE1408 .L86 2009, and our librarians are trained to provide citation guidance as well. Also, don’t forget that the Library is on an extended hours schedule this week and next, so come and stay awhile anytime between 7:30 a.m. to Midnight now through June 5, 2013.