Cairn University in Langhorne, PA, is a Films On Demand subscriber. We recently talked with Stephanie S. Kaceli, assistant director of technical services/systems librarian at Cairn’s Masland Library, about her favorite part of being a librarian as well as how her library alerts faculty about new resources and encourages usage among researchers and faculty.
What have you done that has most impacted usage at your college?
Simply put: engage the Cairn community. For faculty, not just asking for a syllabus when preparing to go into a classroom, but asking the faculty, “What do you want the students to walk away with after the class is over?” This is how I came up with the idea of making it possible for students to limit the “A-to-Z Databases” page by typing in their course number.
Having the faculty know we want to work with them, rather than impose our ways on them, has made it possible to go beyond the visit to the classroom. We are a small staff, and it is easy to visit a class, record the statistics, and move on. But, we are learning it is the one-on-one, life-on-life interactions making a difference for papers and assignments—which is why we want higher usage. Our goal has been to work more with the faculty to get the students to meet with a librarian to walk through the topic, search strategies, and locating solid resources. One of our professors calls it the “push-effect,” where part of the assignment is to meet with a librarian. I do think this process, though a small tweak in our approach, has made a huge impact on our students.
How do you alert faculty to the new resources your library acquires?
The University has a weekly newsletter, and the library tries to highlight new resources or underutilized resources throughout the year. In advertising, we try to quantify what something would cost the Cairn community if they tried to purchase their own access.
In recent acquisitions, we started to hand out, personally, the “swag” from a vendor to the appropriate faculty. Once a year, the library attempts to host training over lunch to get the faculty in and show them what is new. In this case, we try to focus on one or two databases.
Training student workers on the latest databases has proven helpful, too. Not only can they share their experiences with faculty but they are our ambassadors, not just in the library, but in classrooms, dorm rooms, dining halls, and everywhere in between.
Finally, good old-fashioned personal emails to either the dean or specific faculty still work well for us.
For fall 2018, Cairn added a set of databases for a newly added program. We have saved the “swag” so that we can place it and a brief note introducing the resources in mailboxes of the students taking courses in that subject area. I think we need to introduce resources to all members of the Cairn community and not just faculty. Sometime it is the student who introduces a resource to the faculty.
What role does social media play in your relationship with your patrons?
The biggest part is to keep a presence on the platforms used by our community. It is tough to keep up, but utilizing services like Hootsuite—where all platforms can be updated at once—is helpful. We use it for announcements, contests, and introducing new services/products. The library also has Facebook and Twitter streaming from our library app.
What is your favorite part of being a librarian?
The “aha!” moment and knowing all the work on the library side that went in to get to that point. Our public-facing interface is the end product of work well done. If we did not have an acquisitions librarian selecting the right material, or a cataloger ensuring clean data, or a systems person ensuring the system is doing what it needs to be doing, or a librarian ensuring knowledge bases are maintained, the reference and instruction librarian may not be able to assist our patrons in finding the best resources for an assignment. All that we do is so our patrons (customers) have aha moments resulting in success here and, with the ability to apply the skills learned, in their future endeavors.
Tell us about your favorite YouTube video/LibGuide, etc., your library has created to promote a resource.
Not so much a specific LibGuide or video . . . we have one librarian for all instruction and, when that position was vacated at the end of 2017, I had to fill the gap for the spring semester. During an intro English class, I was asked several times to remind them of the best three databases to use. I decided to take advantage of the keyword search and subject limiter in LibGuides to make it super easy for the students to get to the databases demonstrated. After not teaching a first-year course for many years, I saw firsthand how so little is retained by the majority of the students. I think one piece of this is we throw a lot of data at students in one class period and, by giving them an easy way to locate three to five databases, we can help them learn to navigate the library resources one small bite at a time.