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A Personal Librarian For Every Drexel Freshman

September 3, 2010

While the role of libraries on college campuses continues to change with the plethora of online sources available to students, Drexel University is aiming to personalize the experience by establishing the “Personal Librarian Program.” Through this program, each of the 2750 entering freshmen is assigned to a librarian. “The program is a natural extension of what libraries have done for a long time, but now we are adding a more personal element,” said Dean of Libraries at Drexel Danuta A. Nitecki.

Students can go to their personal librarian to learn about the information resources and people they need to succeed not just during their freshman year, but also throughout their college career at Drexel. More than 20 librarians, trained in understanding the curriculum as well as the resources of information in specific disciplines taught at Drexel, are each responsible for looking out for a group of at least 100 students. Personal librarians will maintain the relationship until students become more involved with their academic research. At this point, their primary contact at the library will become the subject specialist or a librarian with added expertise in specific disciplines that serve also as liaisons to Drexel’s colleges and schools.

“This initiative complements librarians traditional role as subject liaisons to Drexel’s schools and colleges, where they partner with faculty in designing assignments and preparing students to learn information literacy,” said Nitecki. “Through these partnerships every Drexel student masters how to identify, locate and evaluate resources for information needed to understand new concepts, explore diverse ideas and gain new knowledge.”

Students are encouraged to contact their personal librarian so that the librarians can guide the students on how to go about searching for available useful information. Throughout the term the personal librarians remind students of the library’s personal support for undertaking research assignments or learning how to wisely leverage Google as a starting point, but not as the only place to identify sources of information. Personal librarians keep their students informed through email messages about new resources and programs, and are available to answer questions about library policies and resources.

Nitecki envisions the library as a learning enterprise, where librarians are deeply integrated as educators in the academic life of the campus, embracing Drexel’s mission of educating the leaders of the future. Drexel’s library will continue to serve students and faculty by offering reliable and convenient access to information, through services at its three campus libraries, and virtually through websites and other Internet “locations.” But it will also build partnerships with faculty and other experts in technology and pedagogies to develop tools, assess learning, and create new knowledge.

A space planning review is underway to identify learning environments the Drexel library needs to enable the above activities, including places to quietly study or build and practice presentations in groups, to build tools to teach classes with new technologies and consult with individuals, to discover electronic resources via the Internet and build visual information-rich websites on a topic of inquiry.

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News media contact: Niki Gianakaris, director, Drexel News Bureau 215-895-6741, 215-778-7752 (cell) or ngianakaris@drexel.edu

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