home Ellis Library, Resources and Services Meet the Graduate Reference Assistants

Meet the Graduate Reference Assistants

This year, the Research, Access, and Instructional Services Division of Ellis Library is fortunate to have seven graduate assistants providing research assistance at the Reference Desk, leading workshops, and helping with behind-the-scenes projects. Meet a few of them below and find out some of their insider research tips.

Haley Gillilan, originally from Kansas City, studied English and film studies at Ball State University as an undergraduate. Her parents took her the library from a young age, helping instill “a lifelong love for reading, pop culture, and the library.”

Haley Gillilan

She says, “I started looking into library careers around the time there was a lot of racial unrest and community upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri, and I saw the way that the library took care of people in that community seeking refuge. After that event, I was inspired to look into library school and realized that the profession exemplified a lot of the values that I personally hold.”

Haley enjoys helping people find what they need and is “always happy to make the library a hospitable place.” When anyone isn’t sure where something is located in the library, she recommends using the How do I find? link under Looking For? on the library’s homepage.

Victoria Knight

Victoria Knight studied English here at Mizzou, graduating with her bachelor’s in the spring of 2016. What made her want to become a librarian? “The most stereotypical answer, I love to read! I have always been interested in reading and writing, and even in high school I knew I wanted to go into librarianship. However, as I got older and started my career in higher education, I saw the value of information literacy and the importance of our freedom to gather and read whatever we wanted. I thought librarianship would be a great way to combine my interest in literature and my love for freedom of speech and information access.”

She says finding “the exact right source” is most rewarding aspect of working at the reference desk. “It doesn’t matter if it is a book, article, or even the perfect database. When the student starts to realize that we have exactly what they need, that is what makes the job fun! We never know what we are going to be asked, and when we find the perfect source it just makes everyone happy.”

Victoria knows that library research can be intimidating but tells students “they should never spend hours struggling with library sources.” She emphasizes the library’s abundant resources and the reference department that helps students “research smarter, not harder.” She advises, “Don’t stress or be afraid to ask us for help! It’s literally why we are here.”

Erin Niederberger

Erin Niederberger majored in English and minored in history and anthropology right here at Mizzou. Her undergraduate internship at Ellis Library led to her current path. She says, “I hadn’t even thought about librarianship as a career before, but the internship prompted me to find out more.”

Erin appreciates a good challenge, like “when someone has a complicated question, and we’re able to find exactly what they need. Hunting for good books and journal articles can be a fun treasure-hunting experience, but the best part is when you get them what they’re looking for.”

Her favorite piece of library history to share is that “if you stand on the second floor landing and look up the stairs, you can faintly see the outlines of windows that were filled in when additions were built onto the library. This building comes with a lot of history.” Erin’s practical advice is to take a look at the subject guides linked to as Research by subject under Quick Links on the library homepage. These guides “give you a lot of places to start with research.”

Dylan Thomas Martin

Dylan Thomas Martin studied English literature, pursuing secondary education for a few years before deciding on librarianship, which offers him a “unique mix of teaching, public service, projects, and research.” In addition to his work at Ellis Library, he is “currently working with the Daniel Boone Regional Library to host digitally a collection of a local zine published since 1992.”

As far as his work here at Ellis, Dylan most enjoys “working with diverse students from across the disciplines and helping users arrive at the ‘a-ha!’ moment, so they can walk away from the reference desk a more independent researcher.”

Dylan advises students, “Consider using citation management software like EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley. It will save you time and help organize your research for posterity.”

Michelle Zigler

Michelle Zigler majored in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, plus a minor in women’s and gender studies. What made her want to become a librarian? She says her internship with The State Historical Society of Missouri prompted her interest in the profession. She also worked in her high school library.

Michelle likes helping people and finds plenty of opportunity for that at the Reference Desk. “It makes me feel so good inside knowing that I helped give someone else the answer that they needed.”

“I love referring students to Special Collections and Rare Books,” she says of her favorite library tip. Although many students are unaware of what is in their collections, Michelle hooks them with tidbits such as “Their oldest material is around 4,000 years old!”


home Ellis Library, Staff news Meet Joseph Askins, Head of Instructional Services

Meet Joseph Askins, Head of Instructional Services

The University of Missouri Libraries recently welcomed Joseph Askins as Head of Instructional Services. We are excited to have him on board. Get to know a little more about him in this quick interview.

Please tell us a little about your background and experience. What led you to the University of Missouri Libraries?

I grew up in Northwest Arkansas, not too far from the University of Arkansas and Walmart’s world headquarters, and moved to Columbia in 1999 to study Journalism. After graduating from the J-School in 2003, I spent a few years working for newspapers, magazines, and websites in Arkansas and Chicago. As I neared the end of my twenties, I decided to get a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, even though I had never worked in a library at any point in my life. In 2011 I left Chicago and my job as an editor, moved back to Arkansas once again, and looked for any and every opportunity to work with libraries, archives, and museums around my hometown. In 2012 I took a job as a Reference and Instruction Librarian at NorthWest Arkansas Community College, in 2015 I moved to Columbia, SC, to become an Information Literacy Programs Librarian at the University of South Carolina, and this summer I traded in one Columbia for another and returned to Mizzou.

How did you come to be a librarian, and what do you find most interesting about library instruction?

By 2008 I was working as the managing editor of a small magazine and website that covered new residential construction in and around Chicago. The market collapsed that year, developers stopped placing ads in our publication (or, in one memorable instance, fled the country entirely), and construction in many neighborhoods ground to a halt. I realized at some point that tracking price cuts for imaginary condos in unbuilt high-rises was not my idea of a good time, and by early 2009 I was thinking a lot about what I did and didn’t enjoy about my career up to that point. What I realized was that I loved chasing facts, pulling files, sifting through records—I liked the research part of my job so much more than the storytelling part. So I started to brainstorm ways in which I could spend more time searching for information and solving mysteries about where a particular piece of data might be located, and I quickly latched onto librarianship as a career where I could do just that.

The very first LIS course I ever took, a full year before I entered school as a full-time grad student, was called Instruction & Assistance Systems. It was all about teaching in a library environment, and it was there where I first encountered terms like “information literacy” and “one-shots” and “flipped classrooms.” One of the things I realized as I went through that course was that I never really experienced that kind of instruction as a student; I tested out of my freshman composition class and didn’t recall any other instances in which I visited Ellis or the J-School library for formal instruction, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much better I would have performed as an undergraduate if I had felt more at ease with the library and its resources. So through the rest of library school and on into my career, I thought of my role as that of someone who could encourage and empower users, and help them develop the strategies and confidence necessary to use our collection to meet their needs.

What was your favorite book you were assigned to read in college, and what are you reading now?

I really enjoyed In Dubious Battle, which I read for an American Protest Lit class. It covers a lot of the same territory as The Grapes of Wrath, with its depiction of migrant workers and labor strikes, but it’s also a study of mob mentality—the way that humans, like other animals, behaved differently when grouped together than they would individually—which was a topic that interested Steinbeck greatly.

Right now I’m reading The Republic for Which It Stands, Richard White’s new book about the Reconstruction era and the Gilded Age. I’m also working my way through A New Literary History of America, an anthology of essays about works of American literature, co-edited by Greil Marcus, who’s always been good at relating rock music to seemingly unrelated works of art and folklore.

home Databases & Electronic Resources Database Trial: POLITICO Pro

Database Trial: POLITICO Pro

Looking for real-time interdisciplinary news? Consider taking a look at the University of Missouri Libraries’ trial of POLITICO Pro for broad and granular coverage in 16 industry areas: agriculture, healthcare, cybersecurity, employment and immigration, education, energy, environment, tax, technology, financial services, etc. Information is provided in various ways, including industry-specific morning briefings, ready-made infographics and PowerPoint presentations, Twitter-style policy-specific newsfeeds, archived primary source documents, legislative forecasting, and in-depth analysis.

Trial ends October 23, 2017. Take a look and let us know what you think.


Jennifer Gravley

I am a Research and Instruction Librarian with a background in creative writing.

home Workshops Celebrate Ability Week

Celebrate Ability Week

Celebrate Ability Week, which celebrates disability awareness and culture at the University of Missouri, is October 2nd – 6th this year.
For the second year in a row, Ellis Library has partnered with the Disability Center to purchase a video and screening rights. The documentary Notes on Blindness will be screened on Thursday, October 5th, from 8 – 10 pm in the MU Student Center at The Shack. The film explores how theologian John Hull adjusted to losing his sight as an adult. Watch the trailer, or check the DVD out after Celebrate Ability Week at Ellis Library.
For more information on events during Celebrate Ability Week, visit the Disability Center’s calendar.

Jennifer Gravley

I am a Research and Instruction Librarian with a background in creative writing.

home Cycle of Success Cycle of Success: Multidisciplinary Research Leads to Publication in Agricultural Journalism Text

Cycle of Success: Multidisciplinary Research Leads to Publication in Agricultural Journalism Text

The Routledge Handbook of Landscape and Food, to be published in 2018, features the chapter “Using the Senses to Write Food Culture and Landscape” by MU’s own Nina Mukerjee Furstenau. As Director of Food Systems Communication and Instructor in Science and Agricultural Journalism, Nina has relied on Noel Kopriva, whom she calls “a jewel in the crown of subject librarians,” for research help many times.

When Nina found herself in need of “research materials on using sensory writing in food and landscape storytelling and how that type of writing effects communication across cultural borders,” she searched on her own but found that her searches were not producing results relating to her particular angle on the topics. That’s when she asked Noel to step in.

Noel Kopriva

Nina admits that she, of course, needed the information “pronto” and was out of the state at the time. She says Noel “not only had good ideas on how to approach the topic, she pointed out specific references and was able to walk me through how to get far-flung sources winging their way to Columbia. She made the entire experience manageable, accessible, and pleasant. Tip of the hat to Noel!”

Noel says, “It was a delight working with someone like Nina, who combines so many disciplines in her writing—makes it really fun to help her do research. She is an amazing patron and person, and I am grateful to have been able to help!”

“Make use of all the offerings at the library—databases, journals, statistics, and more,” Nina advises, but especially “the people there—the librarians—devoted to the exploration of knowledge and how to access it.” She says of Noel, “My personal opinion is that she performs magic.”

Cycle of Success is the idea that libraries, faculty, and students are linked; for one to truly succeed, we must all succeed. The path to success is formed by the connections between University of Missouri Libraries and faculty members, between faculty members and students, and between students and the libraries that serve them. More than just success, this is also a connection of mutual respect, support, and commitment to forward-thinking research.

If you would like to submit your own success story about how the libraries have helped your research and/or work, please use the Cycle of Success form.





Jennifer Gravley

I am a Research and Instruction Librarian with a background in creative writing.

home Resources and Services Need One-on-One Research Help?

Need One-on-One Research Help?

Having a hard time finding resources for a tough paper or big project? Struggling with a literature review? Use Canvas to schedule an appointment via MU Connect and meet with the librarian assigned to your class.

What even is MU Connect, and how do you use it? Watch this short video to find out and make an appointment today.


Jennifer Gravley

I am a Research and Instruction Librarian with a background in creative writing.

home Events and Exhibits Presentation by Baher Azmy: One Read Program Event

Presentation by Baher Azmy: One Read Program Event

Join us on October 6th at 12:30-2 pm in Hulston Hall 7 for the next event in our series about this year’s One Read Program pick, Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II by Richard Reeves. Baher Azmy, the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, will present. He is known for his litigation and advocacy for civil and human rights, specifically the rights of Guantanamo detainees. He has additionally litigated cases challenging police misconduct and the violation of immigrant and prisoner rights.

Snacks will be provided thanks to the Friends of the University of Missouri Libraries.

The One Read Program, which promotes conversations regarding diversity, inclusion, and social justice through students, faculty, and staff reading a particular book together, is sponsored by Mizzou Law and Mizzou Libraries. For more information, see this guide or visit the exhibit through September 29. Copies of the book are available for checkout.

home Resources and Services Research Computing Training

Research Computing Training

New at the Libraries:  Research Computing Support

Do you need help with analyzing, managing, storing, and archiving your data? Do you need to make your data accessible to others? Research Computing Support Services and the Libraries are working together this semester to provide information and training to support researchers.

Research Computing Training on Wednesdays in Ellis 4F51A (11/8 in Ellis 4D11)

New User Training – 10 am – 11 am – Susie Meloro, Business Technology Analyst, will help you access cyberinfrastructure assets and services, including high-speed research networks and high-performance computing clusters. She’ll also help you learn the basics of getting an account and running simple jobs on the Lewis Cluster.

Research Computing Open Consultation Hour – 11 am – noon – Jacob Gotberg, Cyberinfrastructure Engineer, will consult with you on how to best utilize the campus-supported computational, networking, and storage resources for your project and help with troubleshooting and optimizing your computational and data workflows.

Check the calendar for the latest training locations, times, and cancellations.

Do need a plan to share your data? Talk to your subject librarian about ways to make your data usefully accessible for the long term.

The Libraries also maintain helpful guides about data management plans, including submitting data to MOspace, and how to maximize your researcher identity and impact.

home Ellis Library, Workshops LibWIS Wednesdays: Library Workshops for International Students

LibWIS Wednesdays: Library Workshops for International Students

What is LibWIS?

LibWIS means Library Workshops for International Students. These no-registration sessions are open to anyone, but international students are particularly encouraged to attend. Here are the dates for the remaining workshops this semester. Come to one or all of the workshops! You may bring your own laptop or use the desktops located in the classroom, Ellis Library, Room 4D11.

Introduction to Research
Wednesday, September 27
3:15-4:15 pm, Ellis Library Room 4D11

Learn how to find books in our library and how to request books from other libraries. Learn how to do basic research to find peer-reviewed journal articles.

Advanced Research
Wednesday, October 11
3:15-4:15 pm, Ellis Library Room 4D11

Discover which library resources are best for YOUR specific research. Learn time-saving tips for effective searching to find the research articles, reports, and other materials you need.

Plagiarism: What Is It & How to Avoid It
Wednesday, October 25
3:15-4:15 pm, Ellis Library Room 4D11

Your class syllabus has a statement about “academic dishonesty” and “academic integrity.” What does this mean at MU? Plagiarism is an important—but sometimes confusing—issue for domestic and international students alike. Many people unknowingly commit plagiarism when writing their papers. Join us to learn how to identify and avoid plagiarism in your academic writing. We will look at common errors in citing resources, paraphrasing, and summarizing research as well as how to correct those errors and prevent plagiarism in your academic work.

Zotero  (New in the LibWIS series this semester!)
Wednesday, November 8
3:15-4:15 pm, Ellis Library Room 4D11

Zotero is a free, open source computer program that provides space to store your citations and then formats them in hundreds of different citation styles as you write your paper, article, or dissertation. Join us as we discuss how to use Zotero in your writing.
We encourage you to bring your own laptop to this session and have Zotero downloaded on your laptop before coming. (Get assistance downloading Zotero at the Ellis Library Reference Desk.)

Topic to Be Announced
Wednesday, November 29
3:15-4:15 pm, Ellis Library Room 4D11




home Databases & Electronic Resources Database Trial: ProQuest Historical Newspapers: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Database Trial: ProQuest Historical Newspapers: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

If you are interested in regional news coverage, consider taking a look at the University of Missouri Libraries’ trial of ProQuest Historical Newspapers: St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Search the contents of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1874-2003, including news articles, photos, advertisements, classified ads, obituaries, cartoons, and more. The easily searchable interface will lead you to first-hand accounts from the time, reporting on politics and other events, and tales of local society.

Trial ends October 15, 2017. Take a look and let us know what you think.


Jennifer Gravley

I am a Research and Instruction Librarian with a background in creative writing.