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Librarians placed in each of Tech's colleges

By Melissa Emick,

University Relations intern

Spectrum Volume 21 Issue 15 - December 10, 1998

The days of having one librarian who knows the basics of the library system are long over. Today, Virginia Tech has over 30 librarians; 11 are housed in the eight colleges and the others work in different areas.
Why does Tech need so many librarians? Linda Richardson, interim head of User Services, said that most colleges and universities the size of Virginia Tech have many librarians and many branches that provide services and resources for different subject areas. Before 1994, the Virginia Tech library only had liaisons who worked with all of the colleges. When the College Librarian Program started, three or four librarians were placed in larger colleges. Today, 11 college librarians, including two branch librarians, work in the colleges: two in the College of Arts and Sciences, two in the College of Engineering, two in the College of Human Resources and Education, and one in each of the remaining five colleges.
According to Susan Ariew, the librarian for the College of Human Resources and Education, "Having a librarian in each college allows the librarian to become part of the life of the college."
The librarians perform different tasks to suit their respective colleges, but they all teach workshops to students and faculty members on how to use the library's resources, and several have become involved in college committees and projects. According to the 1997-1998 College Librarian Program Annual Report, college librarians taught 343 class sessions to 6,544 students during the 1997-98 academic year.
The college librarians also order such resources as textbooks and computer programs and develop software programs for use in the colleges. Additionally, the librarians help the colleges develop and maintain web pages, and they collaborate with professors to provide resources for students.
Virginia Tech's library system differs from that of other colleges and universities. Ariew said universities the size of Virginia Tech generally have branch libraries serving their colleges and departments. However, Virginia Tech has a fairly centralized system with only three branches: Geology, Art and Architecture, and Veterinary Medicine. Most of Virginia Tech's system is located in Newman Library. Because Virginia Tech does not have the resources to provide a complete branch system, the College Librarian Program offers customized services to the colleges.
According to Richardson, a survey done after the librarians were placed in the colleges showed that faculty members were pleased with the services the librarians brought to the colleges. These librarians have proven to be an invaluable resource, and the program, Richardson said, has become a model for other universities.
Additional information about the College Librarian Program and information on contacting librarians is available on the Virginia Tech library homepage located at www.lib.vt.edu.