Linfield Library: by Derek Severson, 2010. Shared under a Creative Commons attribution-non-commercial-no-derivatives license.

From February through May of 2012, I completed a practicum at the Nicholson Library at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. This was a valuable opportunity for me to experience and participate in the workings of an academic library at a small college. While at Linfield, I engaged in four main activities and projects:

1. Active work time on the reference desk
I provided both face-to-face and virtual reference service to Linfield library users. I worked closely with student lead reference workers to first orient myself to, then to take the lead on, the reference desk during my work times at the Nicholson. I both taught, and learned from, those lead workers. The Nicholson Library’s mission follows an instructional focus. Good reference service at the Nicholson shows students how to find a source instead of merely retrieving it. In this way, it supports information literacy instruction in the classroom and maintains relationships with Linfield students.

2. Renovation and rebuilding of a class research page
Using CSS and HTML, and evaluating and repackaging existing sources from the previous research page, I created an online resource for students taking Mass Communications that will aid them in learning how to read for political bias in news sources. I used this project to demonstrate my mastery of SLIM’s MLS Program Outcome 4.

3. Review of the student lead worker reference training materials
The Nicholson employs student workers on the reference desk in a tiered reference system. To be eligible, students must have worked at the circulation desk for a year. Once hired, they must also complete a course of training that includes basic ideas of giving reference service, more tools and practices for navigating the library catalogs, collections, and digital offerings, and information on the different types of service they might be asked to offer. One of my jobs while I was at Linfield was to go through the training materials and make recommendations as to how to make them stronger. In doing so, I both solidified my own understanding of the different skills that go into running a good reference desk, and I helped the reference librarians understand better how to teach those skills to student workers.

4. Interviewing library staff and reporting back on the present workings of the library
This project helped me to see how the staff of this library work together to provide services and collections to the Linfield community. It also gave staff members a point of assessment to analyse their own dynamic as a team – both charts are currently hanging in prominent spaces in library employee meeting areas. After interviewing the library staff, I created two visual models of what I perceived to be the major themes of how this staff worked together:
Model One: Staff Map
Model Two: Seasonal Rhythm Chart

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