The Reference Desk
posted October 23, 2013 11:50 AM by Julie Steenson
My professor in Literature for the Humanities also happens to be a reference librarian at a large university. He offered each of the students in my class an opportunity to shadow him for a day. I never pass up such great learning opportunities.
My "typical" day had varied experiences, including a Library Instruction class and a meeting with a new faculty member to discuss how the library could support his research and students, but my favorite part of the day was our shift on the reference desk. It was an exceptionally busy day at the reference desk, with both walk-ups and email chat questions, and so my professor just looked at me and told me to go to it. Huh? Me? I appreciated the vote of confidence so without a missing a beat, I jumped right in to be a reference librarian, alongside my professor. Here I was in an unfamiliar library, suddenly helping a student with an obscure search related to the reproductive systems of pigs and cows. Yep, former history major turned librarian was helping with pre-veterinary reference questions! The amazing piece of this experience was how transferrable our librarian powers can be, from one discipline to another. (Okay, they aren't "powers" exactly but it felt that way at the time...) That afternoon, I delved into RefWorks, MLA citations, bovine uteri, sports-enhancing drugs, and Japanese literature. All these walk-up students were on last-minute deadlines, and they needed librarians to connect them with the right resources. I quickly navigated my way around a university catalog I had never used before, and uttered silent prayers of thanks to the wonderful specialist librarians who had created useful LibGuides for these unfamiliar subjects. The sweetest piece of the day was when our pre-vet student gave us both a hug - she was that grateful for our help!