[Fresh] Interview with Louise Green

Kelly Eastland (kelly.eastland@villanova.edu)
Thu, 01 Nov 2001 11:22:05 -0500

Interview with Louise Green, Interim Director of Falvey Memorial

Fresh@News: How do first year students feel about the library?

Ms. Green: In my 35 years working with our students I have observed that
many first-year students experience some anxiety about using the library
and asking for assistance. Most students want to get do well and are
eager to start on their assignments. However they may feel overwhelmed
by the size and complexity of the university library.

Fresh@News: What can we do to help relieve some of these anxieties?

Ms. Green: The most important thing we can do is making the library a
very inviting place with a welcoming staff. The social interaction and
sharing of opinions and experiences is an important part of the
educational process. To facilitate this interaction and collaborative
learning we've installed some group study rooms, comfortable seating
areas and our coffee shop --Holy Grounds at Falvey-- where students can
relax and socialize during their study breaks. We also created the
Falvey Mug, a closed, spill-proof mug that allows students to take
beverages anywhere in the building.

Fresh@News: What are freshman students coming to the library for?

Ms. Green: During the first semester, most freshman students are not
doing in depth research, but they are using the library. They come in
for a number of reasons. They use our computers to check email, study
between classes or to just read the paper. While most first-year
students are not fully utilizing our vast resources and services many
come for a book or articles for a class assignment.

Fresh@News: Now that we have them in the door, how do we help them
understand how to use the library?

Ms. Green: In order to help students, we have someone available to
answer questions at the reference desk on the first floor. But what we
found is that while many students came in for a specific reason and
received assistance from the reference librarians, they were not taking
full advantage of our many resources and services until they were
juniors or even seniors. To remedy this situation the librarians, in
collaboration with the Core Humanities Seminar faculty, developed an
information-literacy program that reaches every first-year student.

Fresh@News: How does it work?

Ms.Green: Quest is a web-based tutorial through which the students
learn to use our online catalog, to locate a journal article using an
electronic database and to evaluate web sites. Most members of the class
of 2005 have already started and all should complete Quest by November
30th. Although it is web-based, the program includes sections that
require the students to come into the library to use print subject
encyclopedias to find background information and to make a copy of a
journal article on a topic assigned by their Core Humanities
professors. Next semester each Core Humanities Seminar will meet for
one class hour in the library in our electronic classroom for a hands-on
experience. That session is called Quest Strategies. A librarian
demonstrates how to effectively search a subject specific electronic
database. Then students are given an opportunity to use the database to
locate information on a research topic selected by their professor. The
students are exposed to our print collection, but also to the web and to
many subscription databases accessible through the web which are not
available to the general public. The professor may require a paper or
class presentation on the research conducted at or after the information
literacy session.

Fresh@News: Aren't many of our students already familiar with the web?

Ms. Green: Most of our students have used the web already, but we find
that often times they either get an overwhelming number of hits or they
do not locate the information needed. The most critical skills they need
are how to evaluate what they find on the web and to cite it properly.
Anyone can put up a web site and the information may be misleading and
inaccurate. Students need to pay more attention to the sources they
find on the web. Just because it's on the web, doesn't mean it's the
best source for their paper. All information (wherever it is found)
needs to be evaluated for authority, accuracy, bias, purpose and
documentation. We introduce the students to the traditional subject
specific abstracting and indexing services as well.

Fresh@News: How is the program working?

Ms. Green: The program has been effective. The reference staff has seen
a decrease in the number of very basic questions (How do I find a book
on...) and now get more in depth questions. As more and more information
is available on the web, we were concerned that there would be a drop in
the amount of traffic in the library. This has not proved to be the
case. We still have a significant number of students who come in for
help and these students are glad to have someone to assist them if they
have problems. From 1999 to 2000 physical attendance had increased by
4%. We also track usage of library resources available through the
library homepage. The hits on the Falvey web site had increased by 23%
from 1999 to 2000. In September and October of this semester there have
been 850,000 hits to our website.

Fresh@News: What advice would you give to parents?

Ms. Green: If the information our students need is not in our large
print or electronic book and journal collections, we can obtain almost
anything they need, all they have to do is ask! Encourage them to
utilize all the services available to them. They can contact reference
librarians in person, by voice or email or by using the electronic
request forms on our homepage. The ability to determine just what is
needed for an assignment or to solve a particular problem, to know where
and how to locate the information and then to evaluate and analyze the
information are skills that will serve them well in their coursework at
Villanova, in graduate school and in their careers. Please visit the
Falvey Library web site at www.library.villanova.edu. On the Falvey
Homepage is information about the many services and resources that we
provide. Unfortunately, the subscription databases are only available
to our students, staff, and faculty, not to the wider community, but we
have links to many other powerful information sources selected by our

Fresh@News: Is there anything new happening at the library?

Ms. Green: This year, we have a new direct borrowing option with the
local area libraries. Previously, students would have to come in and
request materials that we didn't have here. This year, students can go
on-line and request materials from other libraries directly rather than
having us do it for them. Also, we've extended our hours until 2:00
a.m. on Mondays (our busiest night). We're open until midnight Tuesday
through Thursday. During exams the hours are extended until 3:00 a.m.

Fresh@News: How do you like being the interim Director of the Library?

Ms. Green: Overall I enjoy being the interim director while the
university is searching for a permanent one. These past ten months have
been very interesting and challenging! However, I miss the student
contact that I had as a reference librarian. Our students are great and
reference work with its information literacy instruction component is
very stimulating and satisfying. I look forward to returning to it.

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