The CSU Library, launched in June 2003, strives to support the information and research needs of students (CSU and Waldorf online) , faculty, and staff, particularly in response to student requests for the materials necessary to complete course assignments, according to Marsha Hinnen, director of learning resources/librarian.
“When the CSU Online Library was first launched, all of the available resources were provided through a single source, the E-Global Library. In addition to several links for research support, E-Global offered a single online database of journal articles,” explained Hinnen.
“Today, we provide access to multiple online databases including materials for all CSU programs of study; some are extensive collections covering a broad scope of topics, while others are smaller resources and subject-specific.”
The CSU library staff can assist students and faculty with:
- learning how to search the library databases;
- identifying the best resources and search strategy for a specific topic;
- locating research materials, either in the library resources or online via the Internet, for use in a particular course;
- And creating accurate APA citations for an individual’s chosen research materials and answering questions regarding specific APA rules of style. (For more extensive APA guidance, students should contact the Student Success Center.)
The staff is composed of Hinnen and library assistants Leslie Lomers and Marit Rheinheimer, who is based at Waldorf College. “With so much information out there, it is difficult many times for us, especially our students, to pinpoint materials that they really need,” said Hinnen, so the trio works to assist students requesting help with research. They ask that students give them advanced notice if possible, two to three days is optimal, so they can help fully.
Of aforementioned services, the various databases are the heart of the CSU Library. “We have databases that cover just about everything that is covered by our programs of study,” explained Hinnen.
And indeed, the library offers many resources for students and faculty. The webpage is divided into sections, similar to brick-and-mortar libraries, including research databases, research support, online books and e-journals. The research databases section features several links to document sites such as Academic OneFile, GreenFILE, Dissertations and Theses Database, the Wall Street Journal and Business Source Complete.
Business Source Complete databases range from general reference collections to subject-specific databases for public, academic, medical, corporate and school libraries. And this link is the most popular with students, said Hinnen.
“Not only is Business Source Complete our most extensive resource, which contains hundreds of thousands of full-text articles, it also is the information source most closely aligned to the research needs of the greatest number of our students, those in business-related programs of study,” said Hinnen. “In addition, it is also highly useful for our students in occupational safety and health.”
The research support section features reference type materials such as Ask a CSU Librarian, Using Wikipedia, APA Resources and Government Resources. Guidelines are available on the use of the reference sources.
The online books section features the ebrary site which accesses Academic Complete, a growing e-book collection that covers a plethora of academic areas. From education to life sciences to technology, the collection features thousands of books for research purposes.
“Between the databases and the ebrary, we are able to answer the bulk our students’ requests for information,” said Hinnen.
The last section is e-journals which address highly specialized areas and are the most recent resource at the CSU Online Library. They include Fire Technology, Journal of Emergency Management, Journal of Fire Science and the NFPA Journal.
And who uses resources the most?
According to Lomers and Hinnen, the most frequent user of CSU’s library services is generally a student pursuing an occupational safety and health program. “The specialized research topics they request can be quite challenging,” explained Hinnen. “Fire science students have challenging research needs, as well, and we also assist them on a frequent basis…”
Hinnen and her staff are quite happy to take on challenges and have met many.
“There have been times where we pasted a 15-page article in an email because that was the only way the student could receive it,” recalled Hinnen. “I have even faxed articles to students because that was the only way at the time that they were able to obtain the information. We work very hard to make sure whatever the mode of transmission has to be that we get the information to the student.”
She added, “I believe that I most enjoy working with our students to help locate the research information that they need in order to be successful in their studies. I also like collaborating with so many others at CSU to fulfill our institutional mission and vision.”
Lomers also enjoys the thrill of the hunt for resources and helping students succeed.
“I love the quirky research topics that fall out of the norm,” she said. “You never know what the next request might be.”
In fact, the research can have affect on the staffers. After helping a student with his research on the colony collapse disorder that is affecting honey bees in the U.S., Lomers said she became a beekeeper.
Hinnen pointed out that the library also has physical books to aid students and faculty. These are hard copies of textbooks for classes for librarian and faculty use. “A lot of times it helps us to be able to go back to the textbook of that course and to get a better understanding of the topic,” she said.
As for the future of the CSU Library, Hinnen would like to incorporate more resources for students and access larger online libraries.
“There are certain areas of information and programs of study that I know we could support better with additional materials. We don’t have specific databases for some of our programs of study,” she explained. Some areas she would like to improve include fire science, OSH and psychology.
“That’s part of an ongoing process. As the school adds courses, the library needs to be prepared to acquire materials for students,” Hinnen said.