Story by Audrey Callaway Scherer, senior reporter
CNM’s libraries are trying to get the word out about how many ways instructors and students can learn about and use their resources, including topic-specific trainings that can be brought to the classroom, said Mike Germroth, a reference librarian at CNM.
One problem he said libraries have is that many students don’t have a good idea of what a library offers because some schools, especially in Albuquerque, don’t have librarians and many students don’t visit public libraries. Another issue is that returning students who have been out of school for awhile may not have experience with accessing information online.
“The library mantra is that we connect people to information. That’s what we’re trying to do,” he said.
He always tells his classes that when he was a student, he had to go to the library to do research, but now the library can come to you. Students may access almost all of the library’s material off campus now, except for the print books.
His advice would be to get familiar with the databases, research guides, and trainings, and feel free to contact the library, especially when stuck on something.
It is important to learn how the databases work and get familiar with specific ones because compared to the roughly 20,000 print books, CNM’s libraries have access to about 200,000 eBooks, he said. The databases also include many academic journals.
The search box on the library’s main webpage was a good idea that is not fully developed yet, he said – it accesses the book catalog but only some databases since certain vendors prefer students to use their databases directly.
When it comes to physical books, students can request to have them brought to any campus within a couple business days and return them to any campus that is convenient. Some campuses even have book drops in case they finish outside of business hours.
He suggests that both students and instructors get familiar with the online research guides, which are like mini-websites that librarians create to help people do their research, he said.
They are mostly broken down into subjects – which resemble classes that can be taken, and topics – things for which there are no classes but may be of interest, like navigating fake news.
“The nice thing is if people were falling asleep or they weren’t paying attention when I did my presentation, it’s always here,” he said. “It’s kind of like a permanent PowerPoint.”
There is also a research guide for faculty that outlines trainings and additional resources such as the Library Research Course, which students may take through BlackBoard, he said.
The library team invites instructors to use training for their classes, including the ‘One-Shot’ Library Instruction course (a one-hour course introducing library services and research tools) and Embedded Library Instruction (customizable trainings broken up into shorter presentations).
The Embedded course is new as of Fall 2018 and is based off the idea that students may pick up more and be able to focus better in shorter sessions. These courses are done by a librarian who works closely with the teacher and comes to the classroom over two or more short sessions to speak with students about topics the instructor specifically wants them to learn, such as literacy or fake news.
Teachers may find more good information in each semester’s Conference for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the library’s presentation about more ways instructors can use their tools.
He knows people get value from their trainings because of the feedback he has gotten – many will share that they had no idea the tools and resources that were available, whether they are students fresh from high school or returning students unfamiliar with library tools.
In one training, he said, as a teacher spoke about how eye-opening the presentations were and shared that the librarians were great, he saw a lot of heads in the room nodding and knew that many of the instructors there had the same idea.
“We know that we’re doing something right, because somebody’s appreciating and benefiting from what we’re doing,” he said.
He also recognizes instructors’ names who return for the same class trainings each term. He said some tell him that even though they bring in their classes every semester, they learn something new each time.
That’s really what the library team is trying to achieve, he said, and for this reason they are trying to do more presentations.
“We are hoping that if we can get a few instructors interested, then they can talk to other instructors with the idea that it’s one less thing for them to teach and focus on,” he said.
The library team tries to be as flexible as possible in the methods it allows people to reach out, he said, and they have availability by phone, in person, or online through email or a chat service that they are working toward having active during all hours the Main library is open.
Each campus’s library hours are slightly different, but the one on Main Campus is open the longest and the only one open on Saturdays.
A new addition to their services is the option for students to set up a consultation at any campus when they would like one-on-one instruction in researching for a project or finding specific information, although they can still ask these questions by any method, he said.
“I say in my classes that we may be the last degreed profession where you don’t need an appointment to meet with us,” he said. “Librarians…we’re still trying to keep it informal if we can.”
In New Mexico, a lot of students are working their way through school and he thinks the secret to being a good student is knowing how to manage time, he said.
Also, since burnout can be a problem, it is important is to make sure to have downtime and to maybe set one day a week aside during which students don’t do any school work or think about anything – just relax, he said.
His third general tip would be to just pay attention and go to class.
“You know, the old joke is that you’re never too poor to not pay attention,” he said.
People may access the library’s home webpage at cnm.edu/depts/libraries, or by clicking “Libraries” under the Resources & Services tab on CNM’s home webpage, cnm.edu.