Hello! I've never blogged before, so I hope you'll bear with me over the next month as I fill in for Shannon.
Today, I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. I am Melissa Ravely, the Evening Research and Instruction Librarian at Towson University. While that is where I truly got to know Shannon, we actually attended Kent State University at the same time and even took one class together!
Now what is a "Research and Instruction Librarian", you might ask? While it is traditionally known as "Reference", Towson has put a more practical spin on the department with its name change, since research and instruction are the two facets of our jobs that take up most of our time! The "Evening" part of my title is self-explanatory I am sure, but it means that I man the Reference Desk solo from 6-10 pm Sunday through Thursday nights whenever classes are in session. I field questions from mostly students, some faculty, the the occassional non-affiliate. I like working the same hours every day, as I really get to know some of the regulars (and I'm sure they appreciate knowing that my smiling face will always be there to assist them!). I did an analysis of the type of questions I most commonly received during that time slot of Fall Semester, and found that simple catalog searches and computer issues were the most popular. (I'd be interested to follow this analysis through the rest of the year and see what changes - I was surprised that APA citation questions were not as common, and am sure they became more popular as the year went on). I created the following pie chart to show my findings for Fall Semester 2010:
But manning the desk isn't all I do. Don't forget about that "instruction" part of my title! Since I am not a subject liaison, the opportunities to teach library instruction classes are fewer, but every once in a while the subject librarian can't schedule a session and I get to cover it. Usually it's a more entry-level class such as COSCI111, and I just cover the basics of finding books and articles with our resources. I also got the opportunity to co-teach database searching strategies to Towson High School students for one of their AP English courses.
Outside of the classroom, instruction doesn't stop, especially for a library - we want to reach and teach people whenever and where ever they may be! One way to do that is through online tutorials and help guides. These are a mixture of PDFs and videos. I was initially tasked with updating all of the existing video tutorials to reflect the changes that were made last summer to Cook Library's homepage. In so doing I became extremely well-versed in Captivate, the program used to create the videos, so I began making new videos as well. But I think I'll leave that to another blog post later this month (so tune in then for the details!)
I think I've covered the basics of my job and adequately set the stage for future blogs while Shannon is out. Hope you're all staying cool from all this summer heat!