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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Looking for Library Course Reserves?

The library caters to many different patron needs, from research assistance, to reference sources, to inspiration for projects, to quiet study and reading spaces. One such need is for students to be able to access books that a professor has set aside for their course, often for library-use only. Our Course Reserves section is a way for more patrons to be able to access an item in high demand that is usually required reading or viewing material for their class.

So, how can you access a Reserve?

First, your professor must have placed the item on Course Reserve. He or she will let you know once the item is processed and available at the library. If you feel that there is a reason a book should be on Reserve for your class, discuss the possibility with your professor.

To find the call number for an item on Library Course Reserves, click on the Course Reserve link on the right side of the library’s homepage (click on images to expand them).

Select either “Instructor” or “Course” from the dropdown menu and type in the last name of the professor or the course number of the class with no spaces (i.e. UCOR1000).

Write down the call number for the item you would like to check out and bring it to the Circulation Desk. We can then pull the item for you and check it out for the limited check out period your professor has requested!

A few tips:

  • Do check the status of the item on the catalog (should say CHECK SHELF) to make sure that the item is not already checked out to another patron.
  • Do bring the call number with you to the Circulation Desk—the books are in order by their call numbers, so without this information we are unable to pull the item for you.
  • Do bring the book back in a timely manner and respect any library-use-only rules.

These last two weeks should fly by fast, and now you are equipped with knowledge on how to check out Library Course Reserves! Drop by this week to grab your resources and, while you are at it, take advantage of our later hours (we close at midnight from Sunday through Thursday) and make use of our designated Quiet Zone space in the Library Seminar Room.

-Melody Steiner, Access Services Technician/Reserves Specialist

Collection Development 101

Ever wonder why the SPU Library does not have that expensive textbook that you need or the latest John Grisham novel, but you do find books with dull brown covers, unexciting titles, and maybe even a speck of dust? Well, the content of those books may not be quite as unappealing as they seem, so what follows is a little Collection Development 101.

The mission of the SPU Library is to support the teaching, learning and research goals of the University. We do this by collecting materials – books, journals, electronic resources, DVDs, CDs, and even a puppet or two! – that support courses in the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, materials expected in a library of a university of our size, and materials that reflect SPU’s mission, history, and signature statements.

The primary responsibility for this work lies with the subject liaison librarians, and they use a variety of resources to help them in this endeavor. The liaisons receive recommendations from faculty (and others), they consult the professional literature for resource reviews, and they also use special library tools that provide guidance.

Besides deciding what to add to the collection, the liaisons must also decide the best format to acquire. For example, CDs are procured for the music department and the aforementioned puppets for the education department. Lately, the library has also been collecting more and more eBooks.

Collection Development is not just about selecting new materials though. The library often receives book donations, and the liaisons must decide how to best handle these items. It also stands to reason that if new items are continually being added to the collection, other items may be deselected, or “weeded” as we like to say using library lingo. Weeded items are materials that no longer meet the library’s mission. (One indication may be that speck of dust noted earlier.) These items are handled in a variety of ways, but one place you may find them is on the Book Sale cart on the main level.

Still wondering why the library does not have that expensive textbook? The reason is that one criterion we use when making collection development decisions is to purchase items with lasting value and because many textbooks are continually being updated they do not meet this criterion. And although we may not have that John Grisham novel either, should you need a break from your studies, please do check out the Popular Fiction Collection on the library’s main level. And in the meantime, enjoy our collection!

-Becky Paulson, Acquisitions Librarian

Presidents Day booklist

The SPU Library hopes you enjoyed yesterday’s break from classes in honor of Presidents Day. While the rest of the campus was closed, the Library remained open from 3 – 11 p.m. to assist with your studying and research needs. Take a look at the booklist we compiled yesterday of items on our shelves that relate to United States presidents across the centuries:

Interested in learning more about the enigmatic William Henry Harrison, the only president to die after one short month in office? Try this book with library call number E392 .C65 2012.

 

In the wake of a series of movies featuring Abraham Lincoln, you might want to read more about his legacy before and after the Civil War. The call number for this book, written by Pulitzer Prize-winner James McPherson, is E457 .M46 2009.

 

Swartzenagger is not the first actor-turned-politician. Ever wonder how Ronald Reagan went from Hollywood actor to the presidency? This book, call number E877 .D54 2007, reviews the transition and explores the policies of our fortieth president.

 

Though this era had its controversies, Nixon is also known for ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam in 1973, launching the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, and initiating a missile treaty with the Soviet Union. Read this biography with call number E855 .S63 1999.

 

The HBO miniseries highlights the tension between John Adams and his contemporaries as the country forged a path to independence, but it also allows us a glimpse into the affectionate relationship between the former president and the love of his life. This book, call number E322 .A4 2007, provides a deeper look into the world of John and Abigail Adams through their letters.

Born wealthy, Franklin D. Roosevelt may never have depended on a paycheck, but his charisma and determination in the wake of illness and subsequent lower body paralysis made him a man of the people during the Great Depression. Take a close look at his presidency in this biography, call number E807 .S58 2007.