Writing papers, turning in a multitude of problem sets and studying for science exams are all common and undoubtedly overwhelming for UR students. It is hard not to find your back and stomach in knots while mercilessly scrambling to complete all your work in the library late at night. Trying to procrastinate by typing on AIM, calling everyone in your phonebook and obsessively checking your email can now be reverted to your work efforts and actually alleviate much of your stress. Impossible? Nope, thanks to the librarians of Carlson Science and Engineering Library and Rush Rhees Library who are piloting the “Night Owl Librarians.” Through this program, students will be able to get help with their homework at night from on-duty librarians. Students can get in touch with the “night owl” librarians by consulting them in person at the reference desk or through the convenient use of instant messaging, email or phone.This new program, created by the Undergraduate Research Project and headed by Nancy Foster, Judi Briden and Ann Marshall, has been in the making for almost a year. Why the sudden acquisition of added help? “We know as we head into paper-writing time it might be helpful if we were available at some times, and in some ways, that are more helpful [and] convenient for the students,” economics and data librarian Suzanne Bell said. How did they decide to use to use AIM as one of the ways to provide help? “I told them that everybody uses AIM and it would be an easy way for students to contact librarians from their rooms,” reference desk student assistant and junior Kurt Shwitters said. “Basically, the whole point is facilitating research help through a mode of communication that most students use,” he added.Although there are other means by which students can receive help from qualified individuals, such as the Writing Fellows, their hours are limited. Through the use of this pilot – which will take place on Sunday, March 26 through Wednesday, March 29 and from Sunday, April 2 to Wednesday, April 5 – librarians are making an effort to be as accessible and student-oriented as possible. Hopefully students will take advantage of these opportunities. “If it’s advertised enough, I’d use it” junior Tom Felio said “It sounds like a great idea. I’m very positive about the Night Owl Program.”This raises concern about the extent to which the librarians are trained in various subjects. I found it hard to believe that my questions, ranging in many different subjects, would be able to be answered, but I was wrong. Bell reassured me that, “all of our reference librarians hold master’s degrees in library science and many have an additional subject master’s in English, say, or history or biology as well.” Since each librarian has an MLS degree, they are able to easily find out answers to any of our pending questions and solve any problems which may seem unworkable. Many of us also forget that, “each librarian has his or her own departments that she or he supports, for example, there is a librarian for brain and cognitive science, a librarian for modern languages and culture, two for history, etc.,” Bell added.The Night Owl program appears to be a gift of which I urge students to take advantage. The AIM screenname to use for help is “askURlibrary,” the phone number for Rush Rhees Library is 275-4478 and 275-4465 for the Carlson Science and Engineering Library. Rather than IMing your friends in a panic and complaining that your work is too difficult and is never going to be completed, IM a trained librarian instead. This way you can feel as though you are taking a break from work, but in reality you’re getting the answers to help you achieve that much desired “A.”Permutt can be reached atspermutt@campustimes.org.



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