We caught up with Jane Magee, of Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library, to learn more about her role as subject librarian for the College of Health and Human Services.
What do you do as the CHHS librarian?
Jane: Every department on campus has a librarian assigned to them. We realize that we would be doing a much better job if we focused in on areas of expertise and interests. When an instructor or faculty member has recommendations for the library or has questions about the library, they contact the subject librarian because that’s the person that works most closely with those students.
Part of what the subject librarians do is instruction. I sometimes visit classrooms and demonstrate the library homepage, I show them how to find books, journal articles, and I show them specific research guides that I’ve put together for that particular course or subject area.
How often do CHHS students seek library resources?
Jane: The students will follow up very often with me after an instruction session with questions or about writing a paper and finding information or resources. They often contact me because I went to their class and introduced myself.
I also do personal consultations with graduate students who are working on their thesis or project. I give them real in-depth help and resources and help them through the process of doing the research and pulling it all together. I’ll see somebody many times throughout their course. Sometimes it’s a real relationship.
Where can CHHS students go when they need help with research?
Jane: There’s different ways to get help. They can come in person or call or make an appointment. We have all kinds of self-help research guides and tutorials and a librarian who is available 24/7 through our website.
Does the Madden Library offer other resources besides research and books?
Jane: Faculty, staff and students can check out laptops, tablets, video cameras, GoPro’s, projectors, scanners, camcorders with microphones, green screens and more. This way, they don’t have to buy the expensive equipment on their own.
How current are the information and resources you provide?
Jane: We have almost 300 databases that we subscribe to and probably close to 100,000 journal titles. We do a really good job of making sure that we’re reflecting what’s available and what students need so that we can have it.
How do students react to all the information the Henry Madden Library has to offer?
Jane: A lot of times [with research] you get so many results that students then get overwhelmed. A student will be working with us and they’ll say, “I never knew I could do this or I never knew that I could come in and show you the prompt that I have for my assignment and that you’d be able to help me with it!”
What are some interesting aspects of the job?
Jane: There is never a dull moment. You’re constantly learning new things because the library is always getting new, cutting-edge technology.
I also really, really like working with students and faculty and walking them through the steps needed to help them. Having the resources they need makes them feel better and more confident. It’s a win-win for us.
Everybody here is doing all this for the benefit of the students and the education that’s being provided here. You feel like you’re accomplishing something and making a contribution and it is helping people learn what they need to be successful.
Is that part of the mission for the subject librarians?
Jane: Yes. The more people know how to find information, then the better informed they’ll be forever. Even when they’re away from the University and out there professionally as a nurse or a social worker or a physical therapist, they have a better understanding of what information is comprised of and how to find it and what to do with it. That’s part of our goal – information literacy.
What do you enjoy about working as a librarian at the Henry Madden Library?
Jane: It’s just a privilege. I’ve always enjoyed it and I’ve always taken the responsibility seriously because there is a lot that I can contribute to the University. The beautiful building certainly makes it nice to work here, but I’m more proud of the work we do. We’re very focused on what is it that students need and not just what we think they need. We listen to them and their feedback. It’s all part of trying to get the word out about all the amazing things that we do here at the library.
–Written by CHHS Communications Student Assistant Rebeca Flores