Saturday, June 18, 2011

Librarians Empowering Young Researchers

Institute Fellows looking over materials from the Sterling Houston Papers at UTSA Special Collections Libraries
Last year when we visited the library, I focused primarily on the content of what was covered. This year, however, given my developing interest in the subject of expertise, I was more observant about the knowledge and know-how of our two hosts, reference librarian Tara Schmidt and rare books librarian Juli McLoone.

Schmidt and McLoone clearly have a deep passion for the work that they do in the library, and that passion serves as a driving force behind their commitments to finding answers to questions from students and faculty and to becoming multifaceted resources.
Institute Fellows studying materials from the Sterling Houston Papers

McLoone led the way on a discussion of archival materials and created an exercise that allowed us to explore primary documents from the Sterling Houston Collection. Schmidt provided guidance for our crew on how to pursue leads and locate useful information using the library web-site and various other online databases.

Toward the end of our session, we really received an opportunity to see McLoone's and Schmidt's expertise in action, so to speak. The two librarians listened to our Fellows talk through their planned research projects and offered followup questions that served to help our crew narrow their focus. Most notably for me was observing the processes of Schmidt and McLoone listening and then offering multiple responses based on their experiences fielding all kinds of questions over the years.

Institute Fellow discussing materials with AALCI director Joycelyn Moody

Last week, I captured an image of our Fellows, or more precisely, an image of our Fellows' avatars exploring the virtual worlds of Second Life. This week, I snapped photographs of our Fellows actively looking through and discussing archival materials. In many divergent and overlapping ways, I viewed their time on Second Life and their time working with materials from special collections as distinctly futuristic.

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