Helping students is not something new to Trish O’Flaherty or any of her colleagues in Reference Services. On any given day, they will lend their individual research experience to a number of students. Often these teaching moments are through booked appointments where they can schedule, plan, and deliver a specific lesson.
Other times though, the opportunity to help someone presents itself unexpectedly. These instances can have unexpected outcomes on the students who turn to the Library looking for help.
Projects conducted in different programs require the use of various research methods. Some of these can be fairly general, while others get more specific. As our students move through the years of their program, the research requirements become more rigorous. These students look to Reference Services and people like Trish, as deadlines approach.
“We don’t always see just how much pressure students might be under as deadlines for projects approach,” says Trish. “But we do what we can when they show up with questions for us so we can help them manage their stress levels and find the information to help them finish their project.”
Trish recently won a Raving Raven award after being nominated by a student who walked in early one afternoon looking for help with her final project. Trish gave what help she could in between appointments that afternoon, pointing the student to some resources that would get her started. At 9 p.m. that same night following a teaching session, the student was waiting for a little more help, which Trish provided.
By the next day, the student, who had come to Reference Services slightly panicked about completing the assignment, had found what she was looking for and left with confidence to complete the project.
“I had decided to drop the class, but just because she took the time to sit and encourage me I now have a B+ in the course and am on the right path to graduate,” the student mentioned in her nomination form of Trish.
It’s this ability to have an immediate impact on a student that makes the work extra rewarding even though the needs for each student varies. “I could spend an hour with a student looking for one number that takes up an inch in a 200 page report,” says Trish. “But when we find the number, there is a pretty great sense of relief. It’s being able to help students make these discoveries that we love so much.”
Trish is quick to point out though that this level of personal interaction with students is regular for all the people in Reference Services. And that the students who have been helped by the group often come back in to share the results of their research help.
“We have students who regularly come in to tell us the grades they received on the assignments we have helped out with,” adds Trish. “It is always rewarding to know that something you did was able to get them through a project, and that the help has been appreciated.”
The message for students is if you need research help, schedule an appointment with Reference Services. It is people like Trish and her colleagues who have the expertise in tracking down that last piece of information you don’t think you will ever find.
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