Libraries Lead

Posted: April 10, 2018 1:42:00 PM CDT

Calvin T. Ryan LibraryThe American Library Association (ALA) has sponsored a nationwide observance, since 1958, to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries. Tuesday, April 10, 2018, marks National Library Workers Day, which recognizes the librarians responsible for these contributions.

On behalf of the Staff Senate and Recognition Committee, the University of Nebraska at Kearney has awarded the April 2018 Teamwork Excellence Award to UNK’s Calvin T. Ryan Librarians: Ron Wirtz, Rochelle Krueger, Laurinda Weisse, and Bobbi-Jean Ludwig.

I sat down with Dr. Ron Wirtz, Coordinator of User Services, to discuss the services and resources the Calvin T. Ryan Library offers online students.

Q: What is your role with online students?

A: Our role is to help online students find what they need. The questions we receive run the board from how do I log in, to complex research questions. We know that the majority of our students are non-traditional students who are working on their master’s degree. For them, they may not know how to use the online resources, and that can be stressful for them. Our focus is to walk them through exactly what they need, to ensure they reach the result they are looking for. Sometimes that process takes an hour, other times it takes an entire day. However long it takes, it doesn't matter because that’s the only reason we are here—to help our students succeed.

Q: What are some ways an online student can contact the library with a question?

A: There are a lot of ways a student can ask a question. On our library website, we have an “Ask a librarian” function, which a lot of people use. They can also reach us by chat, in real time, SMS text, email, or call us. Distance students typically contact the library either by calling us or email. Their questions tend to be more complex, requiring more research on our end, so we ask for their email in those situations. We have someone monitoring online questions Sunday through Thursday, which is when we see the most activity from users. Response time for questions vary based on how a question is asked, but you can usually expect a quick response.

Q: What resources does UNK’s library have that online students should take advantage of?

A: Right now, we have 237 different databases and we have ways to divide them up based on areas of study, which can be filtered on our website. Those databases include about 106,000 full text journals, and those numbers continue to grow. The number of eBooks that we have has surpassed the number of physical books that we have. We have around 260,000 plus full text eBooks. The advantage of eBooks is if we find we are lacking in a certain area, we can acquire an eBook package, and it is up on the system within a few days. We benefit from those interactions we have with students—in finding what they need, we may also find material that will strengthen our databases.

If we don’t have what the student is looking for, we can probably get it. Our interlibrary loan service (ILL) is very efficient. We have access to hundreds of thousands of documents, but we can’t have everything. That is what the ILL is used for. If somebody finds a citation to something that we don’t have, we use the ILL to find what the student needs. It allows our library to borrow documents held at another library. These documents are usually delivered in electronic form.

Q: What is the most gratifying part of your job?

A: When somebody says “Thanks.” This past weekend, I got an SMS text from a student who was having trouble with a search, so I gave him an exact search sequence he could use. At the end of our conversation, I got a thumbs up emoji, and that was the first time I have ever gotten one of those. It’s interactions like that which are the most gratifying.

View a complete list of library resources and services for online students, or explore UNK’s online programs related to school librarians.

On behalf of all of us, thank you to the librarians of UNK and across the nation.

By: Dylan Munson

Category: General, eCampus

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