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.”
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 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 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 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.”
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!”