By Emma Carlsen
Reading and writing are skills most have learned in part because of libraries. As college graduates move on to harder tasks, library faculty are stepping in to help.
One faculty member particularly dedicated to helping students is Public Services Librarian Jacqueline Lesch.
Providing resources for students is a top priority to Lesch. She works to coordinate teaching sessions, oversees checking out books and assists students at the reference desk of the library.
“I find the two year community college environment to be so rewarding in the aspect of the students that I’m working with,” said Lesch. “Often times (there) are students that walk in and they haven’t had a library at their high school. You don’t know what their experience has been before they walk in the door … so this is their very first encounter with an academic library.”
If students are searching for sources to cite or instruction on how to use the library catalog system, they’re able to come to the reference desk for answers.
Important resources such as library instruction and orientation, reference assistance and research database access are all offered at RCC’s Digital Library Auditorium. Reference librarians are available every hour the library is open.
Classes and instructional sessions with students are one of the ways library staff reach out to students. Librarians have teaching sessions to explain how to use the resources that are available to every student such as how to use school databases and find meaningful information from these sources.
RCC student Kiara Oregon said she believes the library staff and the resources they help to offer are useful.
“The library staff as a whole is helpful,” Oregon said. “If we go and ask for something, they will help you.”
At the reference desk, students can ask questions for class projects and other subjects.
“If a student has any question navigating through the use of information or anything about just the college in general, we’re here to help,” Lesch said.
“We teach at the reference desk, like a one on one tutorial session with the students,” said Steve Brewster, Distance Electronic Learning Librarian. “(Lesch) is good at teaching. We would regard her as particularly notable with helping students.”
“I had a couple of internships at academic libraries and just fell in love with working with students,” Lesch said on earning her master’s degree. “The original intent was to go back into business, but then I just shifted 180 and turned to academic libraries.”
“Personally I have seen her donate quite a few off-duty hours to help struggling students, those who are mystified by the research process and those who are just having a bad day and need a shoulder to cry on,” Periodicals Librarian Linda Braiman said about Lesch.
Teaching is a large part of the role librarians play on RCC’s campus.
“Different instructors will schedule a one hour orientation overview of using the library for their students when they’re doing their research project,” Lesch said. “I like the classes to be hands on, where students have their own computers and everything. We have over 60 databases, so depending on the class that’s coming in, that helps us to customize what we’re going to show the students.”
“Trying to explain to students that information is power is rewarding,” Lesch said. “We’re actually here to make the students look good. That’s my job, to make you look good to your professors.”
Students can distinguish Lesh’s particular impact on the library.
“She helped me last week to use sources. (Lesch) told us how to use keywords when I’m using the databases,” Oregon said.
Guidance in judging the quality of information is an important service that librarians also offer.
“It’s easy to do a search, it’s harder to think,” Brewster said. “(Lesch) helps people to think critically.”
These teaching sessions can have a big impact on students, as they learn how to use databases to help with their assignments.
“(Students) get particular sources,” Oregon said. “We find these sources helpful. When I do research papers for English class, I use them.”
Working both with the students in the library and administrative faculty behind the scenes as the department chair of the librarian faculty, Lesch is responsible for many methods of spreading information to students.
“As the years go by, the cycle of information and what students are used to when they’re doing their research changes, it evolves,” Lesch said. “Who had Twitter 10 years ago, you know? We’re trying to meet the needs of the students that walk in the door.”
Looking into the future of the library, as funding for academic programs is constantly threatened, is vital for staff.
“We just hired an outreach librarian, and (are) specifically trying to make sure that we’re forward thinking and communicating with the college about what the library does,” Lesch said. “If we’re not letting individuals know why we’re here and what we do, then we’re not really helping.”
“She is an amazing person,” Braiman said. “How truly blessed I am to have her as my department chair. The library wouldn’t be the same without her.”