College students spend a considerable amount of time studying in the campus libraries—Rush Rhees, Gleason, Carlson, and more. But most of the time, they are unaware of the keepers of the knowledge hidden in those stacks: the librarians.

Most students at UR go on a library tour with a librarian through their WRT 105 classes freshmen year. But they likely don’t know anything beyond that surface-level introduction. Here’s a deeper dive into what our librarians do.

Librarians help students and faculty members to find the resources they need on a regular basis.

Librarians are good resources for students who wish to find a particular book in the library, to search scholastic materials online, or to access a specific database. Each professional reference librarian at the University oversees several academic majors and, therefore, knows of special tools that might help students find the materials they need more quickly and accurately.

Librarians also interact with the faculty members to help them locate textbook articles, protect copyrights for their research, and access journals for a new research area of their interests. In general, librarians help faculty and students on campus to find the academic materials they need in a much quicker and more efficient way, as well as provide additional academic perspective and support.


Librarians teach classes upon invitation.

Sometimes, upon a faculty member’s invitation, librarians will help plan curricula for the class, and later teach students how to cite references properly, how to communicate with the audience scholastically while writing an academic paper, and how to explore the database in order to extract specific information. Additionally, librarians work closely with the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Center and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (commonly known as CETL) as student support.


Librarians are in charge of library collection development.

Every librarian has a certain budget to purchase books for library collections. For example, Moriana Garcia, the outreach librarian of the Department of Computer Science, often needs to select virtual databases for the library.

Of course, buying books and databases for the whole school is different than buying books for an individual. Garcia needs to take several factors into consideration when making a purchase: Does the database platform have multi-user access? How many different formats of the same book are available? Is the platform compatible with the school system?

Librarians also read book reviews from different sources and give reviews for reputable publishers; therefore, they are able to establish professional relationships with book vendors and publishing houses.

In addition to the main tasks mentioned above, librarians can be involved with special tasks. Garcia is currently designing a support system for undergraduate biology students to search for sequence data. She is working with librarians from the Medical Center to learn bioinformatics. Librarians are also involved in planning for new library spaces, including the new Evans Lam Square in Rush Rhees Library.

Despite all the hard work and behind-the-scenes effort librarians put in to ensure functionality of the library system, most students on campus are still unaware of the volume of resources and amount of support the University has to offer.

To improve on that front, the University created the personal librarian program, which works with Freshmen Fellows and outreach librarian positions to help students become more aware of the library resources.

When asked about the reason behind choosing a career as a librarian, both Garcia and Kathy McGowan, the outreach librarian of the Department of Women’s Studies, mentioned how much they love interacting with students and working in an academic environment.

“It’s satisfying to help someone,” Garcia said. “Also, a librarian needs to learn new things and evolve all the time because modern technology advances every day. And the learning isn’t restricted to just one field—librarians are always learning new tools and different things from the job.”

“[The] University provides a stimulating environment,” McGowan noted. “It is definitely a privilege to work on a beautiful campus like the University of Rochester.”

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