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Your ODU Library: What We Do

So, What does an Academic Library Staff do All Day?

No two days are alike in an academic library! On any given day, we may have a librarian teaching Information Literacy in a classroom, someone working one-on-one with a student on an in-depth research project, people checking out OhioLINK items and helping students obtain course materials, a librarian collaborating with a faculty member on a new course guide or a staff member in another department or institution,  and a librarian working in interlibrary loan systems, as just one example.

Public Services

Library staff work in the following areas collaboratively with others:

The library is working to do our part to make higher education as affordable as possible for our students. In 2018, we formed Ohio Dominican’s Affordable Learning Team, a group of interested librarians, faculty, and staff who share information and ideas about low or no-cost course materials. Together with other members of the team, the library has sponsored workshops, provided informational materials, and promoted the work of faculty who have adopted such materials. Our own contributions include promoting and increasing library Course Reserves, emphasizing the development of our e-book collections in our databases and catalog, helping to start the Inclusive Access program on campus, and appointing an Affordable Learning Librarian who curates collections of Open Educational Resources (OER’s) for specific courses here at ODU.

An academic library is all about teaching and learning. Information Literacy Instruction is a movement to help students build research skills throughout the curriculum, starting with foundational instruction in an entry level class and ending with in-depth, independent research in a seminar level class. Information Literacy prepares students for life outside the university in training them to know how to identify information needs, how to choose the best resources to consult, how to structure search queries, how to evaluate search results, identify biases, as well as the most reputable sources, how to adapt and change one’s search based on needs, and how to communicate one's findings and use information responsibly in arenas such as evidence-based decision making in a career, in writing news, or in social media. Students who graduate fully information literate have a leg up on others in their field and in society. They are also particularly prepared for graduate school and life in general.

Instruction is one of the main methods reference librarians use to provide information literacy to students. Reference librarians at ODU visit a variety of classes (in person, hybrid, and online) each semester, from entry level to graduate. Based on requests from faculty and specific assignment requirements, these instructional sessions are tailored to meet the needs of each individual course. The librarians are trained to go into the classroom and teach research skills, which is most useful when tied to specific assignments.

ODU library has 4 librarians who provide reference assistance in person, by phone, via e-mail, via chat, and through virtual appointments. We help students with everything from deciding on a topic to choosing appropriate guides and databases, and creating effective search strategies, to evaluating search results. Tutorials are available to use online at all times, on or off campus. We follow the standard academic library philosophy that we teach as we assist so that each time a student works with us that person further develops research skills and is that much further along the next time that student conducts research.

The ODU Library is very committed to helping students achieve success, especially in their first year of college when there are so many adjustments. It has been proven in academic literature that the university library has a positive effect on retention of first-year college students. Therefore, we are involved in Freshman Orientation, we provide research instruction in as many 100 and 200 level courses as possible, and we strive to connect with students on many levels through assisting them and empowering them to conduct their own research.

Research Articles for Further Reading:

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Internal Services and Partnerships

Library staff work in the following areas behind the scenes in order to make the publicservices happen:

Although many library resources are online, they are not free. In fact, the library pays numerous consortium membership fees and subscription fees for online databases, books, and periodicals every year. Another portion of our budget goes to annual service fees for the systems and tools used “behind the scenes” to both create our web pages, tutorials, and guides and also to maintain our library, Interlibrary Loan, Cataloging, Acquisitions, and Remote Access systems. Small portions of our budget annually support print periodicals and reference standing orders. The library budget allows for a small amount of print book purchases each year and sometimes provides for small professional development for the library team who has to keep up with the latest technology and resources in our ever-changing field.

The ability for academic libraries to provide quality resources relies on memberships in quality consortiums and partnerships with organizations that provide professional development and have negotiation leverage with vendors. It is through these memberships that the ODU library is able to subscribe to and afford most of our electronic resources. Without the reasonable pricing acquired through these memberships, we would only be able to provide less than a quarter of what we offer today.

CB recommendation: Name consortia and partners? And link to them?

Various staff members work to maintain our online presence, working in & managing:

  • LibGudes Content Management System
  • Library Databases Management Systems
  • Library Ebooks & Ejournals platforms
  • Library Catalog 
  • Library's Bookings account
  • Library's Chat Reference platform
  • Library's Social Media channels
  • Library's YouTube channel for video hosting

And working in:

  • University's Content Management System 
  • PantherLearn
  • Graphics software
  • Video software
  • HTML and source code editor software

Academic Librarians must be committed to lifelong learning. The resources, tools, and search techniques that we use change frequently and we are forever learning about new databases and search interfaces, as well as the technology and systems required to provide and use them. Quality professional development on a regular basis is a necessity.

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Decisions in an academic library are data driven, so we keep and track a lot of statistics, usually on a monthly basis. We track the number of times a database is used, the number of people we help with in-depth research, the number of people using each floor of our building by hour (and a daily total), how many OhioLINK items are provided versus borrowed by our institution, and more. It is our goal to make decisions that make sense and benefit our campus community, so we look at our statistics on a regular basis to get a clear picture of what is happening in our building and with our resources and services.