Mabee helps student research skills

Travis Perry

Heads up Washburn, Mabee Library is having a RAP session and everyone is encouraged to stop in.

The new Research Assistance Program at Mabee Library is targeted at educating students how to utilize library resources to enhance their academic careers.

The project was the brainchild of Judy Druse, acting assistant director of public services for Mabee, and juniors Allie Gardner, Jess Rezac and Tim Leffert. The idea was originally presented as part of a leadership class under Gary Forbach in the Leadership Institute. While orientation sessions for Mabee have been done before, this is intended to be an ongoing series to help students become better acquainted with the library.

The first sessions were Monday through Thursday last week, and they covered the basic layout of the library, where materials were located and how to look up a text. The second RAP session series begins today at 8:30-9:30 p.m. in Mabee, and it will cover the basics of researching a topic in the library, using the correct keywords to find the right electronic article and how to decide if it’s a reputable source. The sessions will continue through Thursday of this week.

“If you haven’t used a university library before, it can be confusing,” said Druse.

She attributed much of the initial confusion and intimidation many students feel towards Mabee with their familiarity to smaller libraries and the organization of their information by the Dewey Decimal system. While Mabee can seem daunting, she wanted to let students know these RAP sessions are designed to help alleviate just that.

Druse said the library has recognized the ways in which it had failed to help students in the past, and has started to correct their mistakes to assist the student body.

“I think that the technology we had in the library was a big detriment,” said Druse. “It seemed to me that a lot of the time we were sending students away. They finally come in our front door, and we weren’t doing a really good job of keeping them here.”

To help rectify the situation, Mabee has worked toward bringing newer technology, a friendlier environment and, with the help of WSGA, free printing. Druse said the printing in particular has been a big hit with the students. While being user-centered has been a part of the library’s mission over the last five years, under the leadership of interim-dean Gary Schmidt, the phrase has taken on new life. Now, they are really working toward being user centered, said Druse.

“Personnel-wise, we’re trying to be a lot more approachable,” said Druse. “One thing we can do a lot better is letting students know we’re here to serve them.”