Library Resource Center Brings Big Benefits to Online Students

By University of Arkansas Grantham September 21, 2017

Linda Catlin has been the Librarian and Resource Specialist at Grantham University for about nine years now. In that time, she has seen GU’s Library Resource Center change and grow — within the past couple years perhaps more than ever.

So, we figured it was the perfect time to catch up with Linda to chat about Grantham’s newer library offerings, as well as to highlight some of the overall benefits of these resources for students who have yet to discover them.

But first, for our online library “newbies,” a brief overview …

The Library Resource Center is available at no additional cost to all Grantham students. In the University’s 100% online world, it is a “virtual library” containing a wide range of searchable databases and other resources for students in every discipline. Thousands of academic journals, case studies and industry reports covering business, multidisciplinary themes, health professions, information technology and other topics are all just a few clicks away, accessible from GLife and Blackboard.

And now back to our librarian …

Grantham University: What brought you to Grantham, and what do you enjoy most about your role as Grantham’s Librarian and Resource Specialist?

Linda Catlin: Grantham was recommended to me as a great place to work by a former colleague. Her husband worked for GU and said the atmosphere was friendly and fast paced, always on the cutting edge of what is happening in the academic world. I have found this to be true.

My favorite part of the job is working with our students, helping them discover library resources and learning how to research. It is the most fulfilling part of my job. Every day is a new and interesting challenge with different questions and research needs.

GU: How has the Library Resource Center changed most since you first started at Grantham compared to now?

LC: When I started, the University used Questia, which had its benefits, but was geared toward liberal arts topics and contained much older references than is required for our coursework. The resource was also very hands off in terms of being able to help students use the materials. I could offer suggestions on searches but could not interact much. In 2011, we switched to EBSCOhost because of its up-to-date resources and broad base of subject matter for all programs.

GU: In recent years, Grantham has seen quite a few upgrades and additions to the library resources, with improved search functions, new databases and such. Can you elaborate on this?

LC: We added Gale’s Criminal Justice Collection in 2015 for our criminal justice students and anyone interested in law enforcement topics. In 2016, we acquired IEEE STEM 10 Plus with engineering and computer science resources. These new databases better support those programs and give students a more well-rounded research experience. For 2017, we added an Academic ebook collection to EBSCOhost with thousands of books students can use.

GU: You mentioned “a more well-rounded research experience” as a goal. This reminds us of something you’ve told us before, that there were some Grantham alumni in the past who said they wish they’d taken advice from others and used the library more when they were students here. Is this well-rounded experience the type of benefit those alums missed?

LC: Absolutely. Whether a student is doing a discussion board post, writing a paper, studying for an exam or working on a capstone project, there really is something for everyone in the library. [It provides] students a broader knowledge of their topics, not just the views of their textbooks and instructors.

These different perspectives and validated research gives their assignments and papers more depth and can result in better grades. Resources found in our carefully selected library databases are not available for free online, and students and instructors can trust in the research provided.

GU: So it seems like we’re talking about benefits that go way beyond what someone would get from say, a Google search?

LC: Many students are nervous about using the library for doing their research as opposed to using a Google search. I admit it is not as easy using a library database [compared to Google], but it is a skill that can be learned fairly quickly and then used forever for lifelong learning opportunities and career advancement.

GU: One thing students may not know is that you provide guidance to faculty on developing coursework to keep it in line with official industry and library standards. How does this work?

LC: I provide assistance to faculty, subject matter experts and instructional designers on appropriate library assignments for courses. I offer feedback on what is and is not working for increasing students’ use of the library resources. This year we purchased a backend software option that allows us to put articles from EBSCOhost directly into Blackboard so students can go from their courses directly to the resources that will help them best.

GU: Do you have any advice or important tips for first-time users of the Library Resource Center?

LC: The most important tip is to get in there and start using it. As students become more familiar with the features and how to search [for] relevant results, the process becomes easier and more beneficial. Tutorials are available in Blackboard on each database, and on specific tools like citation formatting and saving articles.

Also, every student should sign up for the free, available MyEBSCOhost account, [since they can] save articles and searches to folders that will be available each time they login.

GU: Can students contact you if they have questions or need assistance with the library resources?

LC: Yes, they sure can. The best way to reach me is through the Ask a Librarian link in EBSCO, I can answer questions by email or schedule time for a phone call. We can even walk through the databases. Google Hangouts is generally preferred for one on one instruction.

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University of Arkansas Grantham
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