Maggie Reid, Features Editor
If students are having trouble writing a research paper, finding an article or any other information, plenty of Utica College librarians are ready to help.
Janis Winn, coordinator of Reference Services, has been working in Gannett Library for 14 years and has since been promoted to Librarian III from Librarian I.
“I’m responsible for making sure we have the appropriate resources to support our curriculum and that we staff the information desk so that students always have someone to ask questions to,” Winn said. “I also provide library instruction for classes in science, psychology and health studies.”
Winn demonstrates various databases and online resources available to students during library instruction. She also does one-on-one instruction with students.
Winn is an alumna of UC and graduated with a major in biology.
“I really enjoyed science, but after I graduated, I ended up working in corporate jobs and not science jobs,” she said. “It wasn’t until much later in my life that I decided to pursue my master’s, and I chose library science because I enjoy research.”
Winn enjoys being a librarian and the variety of tasks and experiences that come with it, such as working with students and books.
If Winn had to pick a least-favorite part, it would be having to tell students to quiet down.
“I don’t like having to tell students to be quiet because this is their space and it’s good for them to be having discussions,” she said.
A typical day for Winn involves a shift at the Information Desk, an instruction session and committee meetings. Winn also joins a crafting circle that is held every weekday afternoon on the first floor of the library. Her favorite craft is knitting.
Katie Spires is a reference librarian and a library coordinator for distance education.
Before working at UC, Spires worked at an English language university in Kazakhstan, as well as in a secondary school in Hiroshima, Japan.
Spires’ favorite part about working abroad was “getting to participate in culture and seeing things that are touristy, but also things that not everyone gets to experience.”
As a reference librarian, Spires spends her time at the library’s main desk helping students with questions. She also helps out with the online programs by letting professors know when she thinks library resources are appropriate.
Like Winn, Spires did not always know that she wanted to be a librarian.
“The idea to become a librarian took shape as I graduated from college and I spent a year working in Japan as an assistant language teacher,” Spires said. “I realized I liked teaching but not always being in front of a class. I liked the one-on-one teaching that I saw librarians doing. I always liked being in the library, and I am a curious critter. If I am helping a student research it helps if I am interested, too, so I feel like I can help and that I am teaching them things as well.”
Her favorite part about being a librarian is helping patrons with research.
“Getting to work with and help the patrons, whether they are starting their research and they are trying to figure out where to start, or they started and hit a bump in the road and need redirecting, or maybe something they haven’t thought of beforehand, or a question I had,” Spires said.
Research can be daunting but UC’s librarians are there to help.
“I like helping students feel more confident in their abilities to do research and help students feel more confident with what they can do and letting them know that they have a friendly face in the library they can come to with questions later,” Spires said.
Another service that can make research easier for students is inter-library loans.
“Not all students know about interlibrary loans or how to use it, and I think it is a service many can benefit from because if we don’t have something we will work with another library to get it to you,” Spires said.
Kanopy is an online movie service through the UC library that most students are not aware exists.
“We have a database called Kanopy that lets you watch movies online,” Winn said. “They’re not all blockbuster hits but some of them are very interesting and it is all free.”
Students can also book a session with a librarian for research help.
“You can write to us or ask us, and we will set aside an hour to help you with your research; if you want to meet with a specific librarian, we are happy to help you,” Spires said.