Library Wants to Redefine Perception of its Servicescsudhbulletin October 11, 2021 0 COMMENTS
The Campus Library is currently open both online and in person, Monday-Fridays and a “Librarian Chat” available 24/7.
By Alex Avila, Staff Reporter
The ways the Leo F. Cain Library at CSUDH has been utilized by students before and after the pandemic lockdown are evident and are very distinct. This has led library staff to join efforts in trying to shift the perceptions students have of it and its resources.
Before the pandemic, the majority of questions the library received were about directions and other simple inquiries rather than the services it provides. In a push to educate students on all the resources available, in the last month the library staff has been hosting a couple of workshops titled, “Library Resources for Student Researchers”,“Managing & Citing Sources with Zotero” and “Getting Started in Undergraduate Research.”
The library’s mission is to ”foster student success, scholarly research, and academic excellence through the provision of information resources; user-centered services and learning experiences,” as stated in its mission statement. The library also has a range of services from assisting with citations, renting books and research. However, it has not been used to its full capacity, a reality that is aligned and more vivid as students return to campus this fall. While the library is well equipped for academic purposes even before the pandemic many students would ask questions unrelated to the library’s true purpose.
According to Magaret Clarke, the Reference Services Coordinator at the CSUDH library, in fall 2019, the library recorded 5,023 questions, most of them dealing with giving students directions to a particular classroom or to the closest bathroom.
“Where is X and where is the bathroom, which is one of the more common questions in libraries,” said Hannah Lee, the Discovery & Systems Librarian at CSUDH. “The majority of pre-pandemic, directional questions were asked in person. I think that people asking where to find a classroom or a specific location is more than fine in the library…but there are also other services we can provide. Libraries provide answers to the “why” and “how” of people’s questions.”
Out of the questions asked and recorded, plenty of students would use the library as a help box more than its intended use. Making the library’s resources primarily unused by the general public of students. “I always feel that the library is underutilized.” said Lee.
Lee also believes funding plays a factor in how they can reach students and how students are aware of their resources. “In order to best serve a library we need to have enough funding and space and a shift in how people understand the library,” said Lee.
She notes that the resources that the library provides students may not be known to everyone, but wants students to take advantage of them.
“The information is there, accessing good information is hard and costs money, ” she said.
As the majority of students remain in an online setting this semester, there are many more questions that are academically related that are referred to the library and its staff .
After the pandemic, students and faculty were instructed to stay home and quarantine. However, the library was still open online and available for assistance. With fewer students on campus this resulted in a significant decrease in directional questions.
During spring 2020, questions dropped to 2,924, and 66% of the chats at the Digital Research Help Desk were reference related, more than half of an increase over the fall semester of 2019.
“Overall we have seen trends of increasing usage of our chat services during COVID as in-person services were not available,” said Clarke. The chat service is the way to connect with students and help them with finding the resources they need and their research. With more people being present on campus in spring 2021, the library staff expect an increase in the ways students will begin re-utilizing them.