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Student engagement librarians offer resources, guidance for Westminster community

two librarians sit at a table and discuss the importance of research help
Katherine Tucker Paterson, student engagement librarian, discusses the importance of helping students with research papers with Zayden Tethong, student engagement librarian, on Feb. 20 at Giovale Library. “It’s nice to go out and talk to students and you always have very interesting thoughts or research projects or ideas; and so it’s kind of refreshing for us,” Tethong said. Photo courtesy of Rylee Brown. Image description: two librarians sit at a table and discuss the importance of research help.

Katherine Tucker Paterson, a student engagement librarian at Giovale Library, said she encourages students to utilize the librarians’ guidance and assistance in addition to the resources offered at Giovale.

The librarians offer assistance with research, coursework and using the databases and technology at Giovale, according to Spencer DeVilbiss, systems librarian. 

DeVilbiss said a systems librarian helps streamline technology services and maintain and use the information systems at Giovale. 

Giovale has five subject librarians who each cover six to nine liaison areas, or different disciplines, at Westminster College, according to the Academic Subject Library Liaisons webpage.

“We all have our different subjects that we can help with,” DeVilbiss said. “I’m a liaison for the political science majors, so if anybody has any questions about that, they get directed to me and I can help with the research paper they are working on.”

DeVilbiss’s nine liaison areas of expertise are: 

  • Anthropology
  • Art
  • Athletics
  • Computer Science
  • Data Science
  • Human Performance and Wellness
  • Math
  • Music
  • Political Science

Lily Doyle, a first-year custom psychology and art therapy major, said she has only spoken with the librarians once, at the beginning of the year, to ask for help with the printer. 

Doyle said she remembers hearing about the librarians as a resource at First-Year Orientation, and one time when a librarian spoke in her psychology class. 

“I’m sure in the future I will [reach out], when I am in more difficult classes,” Doyle said. 

Zayden Tethong, student engagement librarian, said she knows it can be intimidating to stop by and ask for help, “but we’re a friendly bunch.”

“We love chatting with students,” Tethong said. “I think sometimes, maybe as a student, you think that you’re bothering us, but it is our job to talk to you and we really like it.”

Tethong said navigating research can be confusing or challenging — even for the librarians themselves. 

“We’re here to help you figure it out as you go and support your academic goals,” Tethong said. 

Tethong said any mode of contact such as an email, walk-in appointment or phone call is encouraged for reaching out to a librarian. 

“Whatever [form of communication] works for you is fine with us, as long as you’re using us as a resource. That’s what makes us happy,” Tethong said. 

Tethong’s eight liaison areas of expertise are: 

  • Counseling
  • Environmental Studies
  • Film Studies
  • Honors College
  • Justice Studies
  • McNair Scholars Program
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology

Sydni Hayes, a junior nursing major, said if there’s an article or book the library doesn’t have, the librarians will take the time to find and provide it for free. 

“I’ve had so many interactions with the librarians,” Hayes said. “One of my favorite things about the librarians is that they always go above and beyond to make sure you have all the access you need to books, articles and data.”

Hayes said seeing how passionate the librarians are for providing this type of access “makes me feel truly supported in my education.” 

Katherine Tucker Paterson, a student engagement librarian, said one of the reasons she wanted to work at Westminster was because she loves working with students, Westminster students in particular. 

“[Students] here at Westminster are really just, like, passionate about what they’re doing,” Paterson said. “I think one of the reasons why I really wanted to come here is because the students seem so engaged, not just, like, academically but with our community.”

Paterson said working as a student engagement librarian “combines all the things I love about academic libraries.” 

Paterson’s eight liaison areas of expertise are: 

  • Communication
  • First Scholars
  • Gender Studies
  • Languages
  • Literature, Media and Writing (formerly English)
  • Public Health
  • School of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Sociology
A woman stands and stacks books in a hallway of shelved books
Katherine Tucker Paterson, student engagement librarian, stands between long narrow bookshelves on the top floor of Giovale Library, February 20. “I think one of the stereotypes about librarians is that we get to read all day. We don’t, so my least favorite part [about this job] is that that’s not true,” according to Paterson. Photo courtesy of Rylee Brown. Image description: A woman stands and stacks books in a hallway of shelved books.

Q&A:

The following interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity

How long have you been working at Westminster?

“So I’m actually pretty new to Westminster. I started here last May. So I’m almost a year, which is really exciting. But I’ve worked in libraries since I was an undergraduate.” 

“I went to the University of Utah and I worked in their rare books library. That kind of led me to eventually moving to Chicago, going to graduate school for library science, working in a couple of different libraries and then coming here to Westminster which brought me back to Utah. 

So I’m very happy to be here.”

What do you do here at Giovale library? 

“[Besides] assisting students in their research papers, I’m also in charge of instruction for the writing emphasis classes. So every writing emphasis class has an information literacy portion, and I’m in charge of coordinating that and kind of helping with the curriculum there.”

“I cover any information literacy instruction for those kinds of classes. I come in for usually one or two classes sessions” 

“I am also in charge of just making sure we have a schedule. I also do the library social media and kind of help coordinate events here.”

How do you decide which academic areas you are in charge of as a librarian? 

“It’s a mix of having librarians with a background in that information, and most of the subjects that I [am a liaison for] are things that I’m really interested in.”

“As far as nursing, I’ve never, you know, been in health sciences before, but I do know how to find things for nurses. A lot of what we do is we learn more about the resources available for the discipline, and then learning about the discipline comes next.” 

“I would say, for all of us who aren’t familiar with a subject that we are assigned, it’s part of the job to kind of learn about that discipline.”

What do you wish students knew about coming to see a librarian? 

“As librarians we just wish students know how available we are. I think there’s so many resources on campus and it’s hard to know, like, which ones to take advantage of and when.”

“But I think if I could tell students anything, it’s that if you do have questions about anything, we really don’t want you to struggle in silence. We’re here for you.”

What is your favorite part of your job? 

“I love working with students. It’s really refreshing to be able to talk to young people, who have a lot of great ideas and are just kind of starting off in their careers.”

What is your least favorite part of your job? 

“I think one of the stereotypes about librarians is that we get to read all day. We don’t, so my least favorite part is that that’s not true.”

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Rylee Brown(she/hers) is a senior Communication major with a minor in Spanish. She is a reporter and the Business and Advertising Manger for the Forum. In her free time she also works as a social media manager for local business, loves to spend time with her siblings, playing board games with her fiancee, and traveling whenever she can.

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