The Roaming Librarian, a new feature of the UW Tacoma library, has become the go-to resource for students to seek out research tips for classwork. The program was started by Erich Dewald, a graduate student from Voldosta State University. He graduated from the Master of Library and Information Science program at VSU as well as the Bachelor of Urban Studies from UWT, and has been working in libraries for over 10 years.
Currently working in an internship at the UWT library, Dewald started this project for his graduate study. He aims to provide an extra service for students who need help with using the library for research.
“The project is about being bold and strategic and putting oneself in nontraditional situations. I leave the reference desk, go outside the library’s walls and try to converse with students and others in the campus community,” said Dewald.
Dewald approached the Center for Equity and Inclusion for a partnership in order to reach out to more students. Shaquita Humphrey-Pressley, Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion explained how the Roaming Library came to their attention.
“Erich approached me and asked if he could use our office for the Roaming Librarian,” Humphrey-Pressley said. “He was already doing it around campus and asked how we can partner.”
Roaming Librarian takes place from 12:30–1:30 p.m. on Mondays in the Center for Equity and Inclusion.
When asked why the Roaming Librarian is important, Humphrey-Pressley explained the following:
“The purpose of this partnership is to bring services to students where they are. Instead of expecting students to seek out those resources, meeting students where they are can really help make them more knowledgeable about resources on campus.”
Even though the UWT librarians reach out to students and faculty through workshops, research guides, and one-on-one help, the Roaming Librarian is available for students as another tool that can be easily accessed.
“I’m an alumni [sic] from UWT, so when I was a student, I didn’t really know all the resources that our library system had,” Humphrey-Pressley said. “I didn’t know about things we had access to like online journals and video databases.”
Nov. 12, Dewald used the seating area next to West Coast Grocery for his Roaming Librarian session. Whenever students came up to him, Dewald explained who he is and what the program does.
“I’ve tried to put myself in major entrances or hall areas during high traffic times, in student service offices like the Center for Equity & Inclusion, or on places that are popular for work, meeting and leisure,” said Dewald.
To spread his knowledge on research and library resources, Dewald usually comes prepared with a different research tip that will be the main focus for every session.
“Usually about half a dozen or a dozen people talk with me. Those conversations are often me introducing a research tip to them or maybe I’m able to find out what research paper they’re working. I direct them to new directions or tools to help them.”
When asked on the progress and future plans for the Roaming Librarian, Dewald said, “It’s been going rather well in my opinion. I’m now putting together recommendations for a long-term plan to implement roaming as a regular library service.”