Photo by Berkeley Elias, Lead Photographer

By Alyson Peabody, News Editor

Glickman Library is hiring 25 students to become the new faces of their reference department.

Starting in the fall, the newly hired Peer Navigators will assume the role of the reference librarian at the front desk, turning more complex questions to the librarian on-call.

Peer Navigators will receive training on how to use over 200 databases available to USM students. Additionally, they will be at the reference desk helping schedule tutoring appointments Monday through Friday, according Bill Grubb, Coordinator of Reference and Instructional Services.

“We really wanted to put a more welcoming face on reference,” said Grubb.

Peer Navigators will offer a more student-centric focus to the current model made up of a Learning Commons representative and reference librarian on the second floor of Glickman.

“As librarians, of course, we do other things,” said Grubb. “We teach by going into classrooms to provide instructions on how to do research for a project they’re working on. We try to work a lot with students away from the desk and with faculty, but it is hard to cover all of the basis when we spend so much time at the desk.”

This shift will allow librarians to work on external projects with professors while offering support to Peer Navigators for difficult research questions.

Learning basic research skills will help Peer Navigators in their own research, said Library Specialist, Elizabeth Bull.

Grubb said the department researched models that other universities, like Orono and Augusta, are using. The department drew the most inspiration from Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

“They have started using students almost exclusively for this kind of work,” he said. “They have adopted an almost business model to the whole thing where when someone walks in there is a student to greet them and to ask a few questions. They walk you over to a highly trained student that can provide the assistance that you need.”

“The main point is to give students more practice and access to research,” said Bull.


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