When families picture students on campus, one image that comes to mind is that student working at a table in a well-lit reading room, perhaps one of the grand, multi-story reading rooms in Dimond Library. Indeed, all day and evening, hundreds of students can be found doing just that — taking advantage of the place on campus that they associate with focused study. What many families don’t think about is how much of the university curriculum now depends on team projects, for which students need not just group study rooms, but also huddle spaces with technology to support collaboration at every phase of their endeavor. Yes, today’s academic library is a place buzzing with excited conversation, the filling of whiteboards and the practicing of presentations. Every year, thanks to generous donations to the library, we are able to update and enhance spaces within both Dimond Library and the three branch science libraries on the Durham campus to meet students’ changing needs.
You may remember coming to the library to look for books and journal articles for a research paper. Today, students often start their search for information in the comfort of their residence hall or apartment. Part of what they learn their first year on campus is how to use discipline-specific databases and the library’s search box to find research studies, statistics, maps, educational media and other materials to extend far beyond what they learn from textbooks and course reserve readings. The library carefully selects and buys books, journals and other materials that are directly relevant to the fields of study at UNH. If students turn up materials that we don’t own here at UNH, we use our vast network of libraries around the world to borrow those specialized materials for them. Graduate students, in particular, are heavy users of this interlibrary loan service.
To educate students about all that the library has to offer, we host orientation sessions and publicize our services and expertise around campus and via social media at the beginning of each semester. As the semester goes on, we offer workshops on subjects ranging from narrowing your research topic to finding information about possible internship sites or employers. Our librarians are members of the UNH faculty, and they are regularly invited to teach components of classes and assist in the design of assignments that can help students develop the skills and the ways of thinking that are essential for success in a given field of study. What librarians call “information literacy” takes different forms depending on the discipline, and each of the librarians at UNH has developed expertise and knowledge to partner with faculty in specific colleges. Students are invited to make appointments with these subject- expert librarians when they have a unique research need, chat with them when they have specific reference questions and take advantage of the online research guides these librarians have created. We even have a First Year Experience and Student Success Librarian who designs specialized programs to supports students who are new to campus and students who have specialized needs.
If you are interested in learning more about the UNH library, we encourage you to visit us in person or through our website; you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@unhlibrary). Our new strategic plan will give you a glimpse into the kinds of new services we hope to provide over the next five years. We welcome stories about the ways we have supported your students and ideas about how we might continue to evolve our services and collections to meet the changing needs of Wildcats.
Tara Lynn Fulton
Dean of the University Library