Library Liaison Program still offering personalized service to Elon community

Searching for a chapter in a book or help with an upcoming research paper? The Belk Library Liaison Program is still available to help Elon students, faculty and staff with all their library needs.

While social distancing and the transition to online learning have forced many things to change, an important resource at Elon is doing its best to stay the same – at least virtually.

Librarians at Carol Grotnes Belk Library have continued to provide a variety of services to the campus community, including the Belk Library Liaison Program. Through the program, campus librarians are assigned to specific departments and interdisciplinary programs – from accounting to world languages and culture – and provide personalized services to students and faculty. Library liaisons facilitate collection building, collaborate with students and faculty on research, promote library resources and offer library instruction.

“We’re trying to make that same personal connection that we had before,” said Teresa LePors, coordinator of library research and scholarly services and assistant librarian, who oversees the liaison program.

LePors and other librarians have already begun contacting students and faculty via email to offer their virtual services as the semester continues online. And since the online learning transition, library liaisons have already taught lessons about library resources to individual classes and offered virtual office hours for students, faculty or staff in need of assistance. As an example of some of their work, LePors recently created a “how-to” video for the Psychology Department about searching library databases for pertinent research articles.

“These are unusual times for all of us, it’s something that none of us have ever gone through ever before,” LePors said. “And I think maintaining that personal contact as much as we can, even though it’s through these technological means that we’re not used to using, is so important.”

The Liaison program is part of a continued effort to give students, faculty and staff personalized assistance as they navigate the Elon library system virtually. The service is meant to present the community with “friendly experts” to help with all library resource needs, says Joan Ruelle, dean of the Carol Grotnes Belk Library and associate professor.

“In the last few years, we’ve really spent a lot of time and energy deepening those relationships,” Ruelle said. “One thing we know about human beings is that we’re all more likely to ask a friend for advice than an ‘expert.'”

Ruelle says Belk Library was already prepared for a situation such as this because of the robust electronic collection the library houses. Belk Library holds nearly 2 million titles with only about 336,000 of those housed in physical format. Last year, the library’s e-resources were used 705,679 times, compared to its physical items, which were used 47,436 times. With that in mind, Ruelle is confident in the library’s ability to continue to assist students, faculty and staff in search of library resources.

“We talk about Belk Library as the academic heart of the residential campus, so I think our challenge now is how, when we’re all away from the physical campus, do we maintain that presence,” Ruelle said. “We’re trying to figure out what are the needs that our community has in this new space that we’re occupying?”

Belk Library is maintaining its presence by offering even more resources to the Elon community. Since the beginning of the online instruction period, Belk Library has purchased 74 titles electronically to support instruction and also worked closely with students and faculty to discover online versions of texts, like the National Emergency Library, that have been made available for free by publishers.

Students or faculty who need chapters from physical books can contact library staff, who will scan and deliver those contents via email. Those in need of physical materials can place requests through the website and items will be pulled and placed on a cart for self-serve pick-up outside of the Mail Services counter in Moseley Center.

For more information about library services, including the work of the university’s Archives and Special Collections, visit the Carol Grotnes Belk Library website here.