“When you absolutely positively have to know, ask a librarian.” – American Library Association
Have you ever wondered what librarians do? Many students picture librarians sitting behind a desk all day with their head stuck in a book. This is unfortunate because it is far from the truth. Librarians are innovative and dedicated professionals who perform a variety of services each day, all of which are geared towards making your library experience as positive as possible.
Let’s start at the Reference Desk. This is where you are most likely to encounter your campus librarians. Librarians are available during library hours to help students find sources for their papers, speeches, or other assignments. Librarians can show you how to find balanced sources by teaching you how to use GIL-Find, our online catalog, GALILEO for finding articles, and how to evaluate web sites. You can also ask questions through instant message, chat, or email through GPC’s Ask a Librarian service.
While some librarians are helping students at the Reference Desk, others are busy behind the scenes. Collection development is what we call the process of selecting materials for our libraries. We read reviews in professional journals, look through publisher catalogs, and look at best-seller lists. We try to select materials that support the GPC curriculum as well as some fun materials like popular fiction, graphic novels, and DVDs. Serials Librarians specialize in selecting newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. So, when you are relaxing at the library reading People or Sports Illustrated, you have your Serials Librarian to thank! Similarly, if you enjoy watching popular films or listening to books on CD, you are enjoying the work of Non-Print Librarians.
If you’ve ever borrowed a book, placed an inter-campus request, or checked out a textbook on reserve for two hours, you are benefitting from the work of Circulation Librarians. They set library policies and procedures related to checking in and out materials. If you bring in a book that your puppy chewed or you spilled coffee on, you will need to talk to a Circulation Librarian.
Librarians also teach classes. Instructors bring their classes to the library for bibliographic instruction. This is just a fancy way of saying that we will teach you how to use the library catalog and databases. These sessions always go fast so if you feel you need more help, stop by the Reference Desk.
The librarians I have mentioned above are Public Services Librarians, but not all librarians work in public services. Ever wondered how the library materials make it on to our shelves? What happens if one of our databases stops working? The librarians and staff in our Technical Services Department handle these duties and so much more. Catalog Librarians are responsible for the records you see in the catalog. They load records for new materials, enhancing them with call numbers, subject headings and other useful edits to make it easier for you to discover the sources you need. The Systems & Electronic Content Librarian is responsible for the cataloging and management of our e-resources collection (the many databases and e-books that you can access at any time, from anywhere). She also manages and supports the Integrated Library System (ILS), which is the software that powers internal library functions like circulation, cataloging, and acquisitions.
GPC Librarians have faculty status so we serve on college-wide committees, such as Faculty Senate and Promotion and Tenure Panels, in addition to library committees. Working on college-wide committees gives librarians many opportunities to interact with instructors and administrators to promote library services.
Librarians often have a powerful impact on those they serve. Author Barbara Kingsolver said, “I’m of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved.”
The hope of the GPC librarians is that we can make a difference in your life. Please visit your campus library if you haven’t already and meet your librarians!
For information on how to become a librarian, visit ALA’s Becoming a Librarian.