On the third floor of the Ingram Library, just to the right of the elevators are the offices of the university’s subject librarians. Well-versed in their assigned subjects, these individuals help students at any step during the research process on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Most people are familiar with the job description of a librarian. They are professionals in libraries that collect, research and keep track of various types of content. Libraries can be found in numerous places like museums and communities, with some housing librarians with exclusive knowledge about a topic. Academic libraries are no different.
“In academic libraries, you will find librarians with specific specializations in training and different disciplines across campus,” said Subject Librarian CJ Ivory.
With the primary goal of student success, subject librarians aid in any capacity of research. Finding a research topic, getting access to materials and informing students on proper research methods are just some of the tasks these professionals do daily.
“One of the things that we want to make sure our students are prepared for is to be lifelong learners, that’s information literacy,” said Ivory. “We are focused on making sure that students are information literate within the discipline… so that you understand what resources are appropriate for your field.”
To hold this title, a degree in information science must be obtained. Many of the specializations the subject librarians possess result from their involvement in that subject, whether for research purposes or professionally. Being the liaison for multiple subjects can be possible as interests change over time. CJ Ivory is the subject librarian for the School of Communication, Film and Media and the Richards College of Business.
“Most of us started our career interested in some other avenue or some other vein,” said Ivory. “I was a business major before I was a public relations major.”
When not directly working with students, subject librarians remain busy with administrative work. This includes ensuring resources are still relevant, providing faculty with instructional material and tracking changes within degree programs to ensure resources reflect the coursework students must endure.
“A lot of our work is evaluating collections and adding to our collection or deselecting,” said Ivory. “Sometimes information becomes outdated, and so we need to make sure that our students are only accessing the most reliable and current information or credible information.”
Because they are faculty, subject librarians must also be active in research. The research they are involved in can differ from the subjects they cover, allowing them to develop and grow their expertise. They can also teach classes, however, their workload differs from a typical professor’s.
“We generally teach once a semester or once a year,” said Ivory. “Librarians here teach a course called LIBR 2100.”
“Sometimes we also teach an XIDS course depending on university needs,” continued Ivory.
Students can call the library and request contact information or visit the subject librarian page found on the university’s website. Subject librarians and their online resources are available year-round.
Research can be overwhelming for many, but luckily, there is an easier route.
“There are people who are thinking about your success and are working on your behalf,” said Ivory. “We are happy to help.”