On the Process of Becoming a Librarian

Hello and welcome back to the Wells Reference Blog! For those of you just tuning in, this is where the public service assistants of Herman B Wells Library reflect on librarianship and librarian-related topics. In the past, this has often taken the form of highlighting services and resources in the Wells Library. Last year we took a different approach and we reflected on what it means to be a librarian. This semester we’ll be focusing on the process of becoming a librarian and what that means.

How does one become a librarian? What sort of education and training are required? What aspects of the education we receive seem necessary and useful? What are we putting into practice now as we work at Wells Library and what will we put into practice in the future? How does this vary based on the type of library and area of interest? Who are the people instructing and mentoring us? What are some things we wish we could learn more about? These are the type of questions we’ll be asking ourselves this semester.

Having recently started my second year in the library and information science program at Indiana University, when I think about the education I’ve received and am receiving, I think back to where I was when I started the program and started working at the reference desk at Wells Library.

I had a class and a shift on the reference desk on my first day, which also happened to be the first day of classes for the semester. Returning to school after several (and several more) years away, having no previous experience working in a library, I was excited and terrified. Most of my peers were younger than me, seemed sure of their areas of interest in librarianship, and seemed to know exactly what they wanted to get out of the program and their time at Indiana University. I had an idea that librarianship would be a good fit for me based on my strengths and interests, but no concrete proof, and an interest in youth services in public libraries that I was reluctant to admit to anyone, including myself. I was terrified that I didn’t belong and that I was going to be told I was all wrong for librarianship.

My first shift at the reference desk, I kept hearing a dinging noise and finally asked the librarian I was working with what it was, only to be told it was the chat. Then I couldn’t figure out how to get to the window for the chat application. Not a promising start. But I was also excited to learn and work toward a goal that I had enthusiasm for and believed in.

Since that time, the most important thing I’ve learned in the program is that I can be a librarian. Actually, that may be the second most important thing. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I can be myself, as cheesy as that may sound. Last year, I was overwhelmed and terrified working my first shift at the reference desk. This year, I proudly wore a shirt with a detachable cape to my first shift at the reference desk, to the astonishment of several patrons. And while my education isn’t complete yet, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more in that time, whatever happens, I know that at the end of this process, I can become a librarian. And I’m hoping I’ll get to become a librarian who wears a cape at least every once in a while.

-Kristin McWilliams

Having Trouble Accessing Articles? Read This!

Scholarly journal articles are some of the most-used resources students seek when conducting research and writing papers. With more than 60,000 electronic journals and nearly 12,000 print serials subscriptions across campus, these resources are abundant, current, reliable sources that are easy to access – most of the time. What happens when you can’t find a link to an electronic journal that we should have access to? What does it mean when something is in the ALF? What do all these dates, links, and database names mean? Sometimes figuring out what kind of access and holdings the library has for certain journal titles can be a tricky business. This blog post should help make finding that one perfect article a little easier.

Let’s say you’ve found a citation for an article from 1995 in the journal Leisure Studies, but aren’t able to access the article through IUCat or OneSearch. One way to find this article is to search for it by name. The Libraries provide a page where you can search for specific journals by title. A search for Leisure Studies gives you these results:

According to this information, the library only has this title available online full-text from 1997 to present. If you want an article between these dates, all you have to do is click on the “Taylor & Francis Online” link and you’ll have instant access to all issues of this title the library currently subscribes to.

Your citation, however, is for an article from 1995, so your online access is denied. Never fear, all hope is not lost!

Your next step is to check IUCat for print holdings. On the IUCat search screen, click “Begins With (Browse)” on the right-hand column. You can then search Leisure Studies as a periodical title.

Leisure Studies will be your second search result. If you click on this title, then click on the entry for “Leisure studies : the journal of the Leisure Studies Association,” you will see the catalog record. This catalog entry tells you which years and volumes the library owns in print, as well as where they are located on campus. If you scroll down, you will find that you can access your article from 1995 by going to the HPER library where it is currently available in print.

Great news! If you’re interested in older issues from 1982-1994, you can request to have the issue sent to Wells Library from the Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF). More information about this process can be found at the “Request from ALF page.”

What happens if you can’t find the article full-text online or in print through IUCat? There’s always the option of an Interlibrary Loan! If you request an ILL, a library that owns the item will send it to IU, where you can access it digitally or print it at your convenience. The length of time required for this service varies, but generally, articles are accessible within 3-5 business days. How do you request an ILL? It’s simple. First, find the link that says “IU Link – Check for Availability,” like this.

You will see this screen, where you can click “Request the item via IU-Bloomington Document Delivery Service (ILL).

From there, just login with your IU username and passphrase, fill out the request form, and voila! The article will soon be yours!

Hopefully these tips will make it a little easier to find the perfect article for that research paper or project. If you get stuck, please don’t hesitate to Ask a Librarian. Happy researching!


Relatively Unknown Resources

I have received questions at the reference desk from people asking about resources for specific types of resources.. The ones that come in mind the most are those for pictures, new broadcasts, and plays online. The library has databases for all three of these.

For pictures, go to the AP Photo Archive. The AP Photo Archive has millions of high-quality photos from history and today. The archive also includes many free photos that can be used for assignments.

News broadcasts, from today and in history, can be found at the Television News Archive Indexes. The coverage includes ABC, CNN, NBC, PBS, and CBS from 1968 to the present. You can request the video for anything found in the index. You can also look at online video from 1999 to the present for CNN.

Plays can be found online in the Theatre and Drama Resources Page . You will need to go to the Theatre and Drama tab. The databases cover everything from American Drama to North American Indian Drama. You can find plays from about the 1800s to the present (depending on the database).

If you are working on an assignment for a class that calls for some resources that are not among the norm (articles and books) and do not include these three, then one page to go to is the Class Web Pages. The page has resources for most classes at IU. The pages have resources that librarians have put together and possibly told you about if you had a class session at the library.

Good luck with your searching, and don’t forget: There are other resources besides article databases.


Don’t know much about biology?

Sam Cooke once crooned that he didn’t know much about biology. If you find yourself in the same situation, the IU Libraries are here to help.

Getting Started:

  • The Life Sciences Library page has links to encyclopedias and handbooks that can provide helpful definitions toward understanding more complex articles–or maybe give you just enough information for now.
  • Want a general or introductory book on a science-related topic? Try IUCat, using the advanced search (link is in the box on the right) and limiting to Wells Library-Undergraduate Services–Core Collection. Books from here can be kept for two weeks.

Feeling Advanced and Getting Specific:

  • Web of Knowledge is a powerful database that covers many areas of science.
  • PubMed can be particularly helpful for medical queries. To narrow your searches (cancer will return 2 million hits…you may not want to look at all of them, try using MeSH within PubMed to find the exact words you want.


  • The Life Science Library has a series of guides and handouts with specific information on what to find where and how
  • The Ask a Librarian service is an easy way to ask questions–and your question could make a librarian’s day

As a side note, if you’d rather hear the Cooke song than learn about biology, use IUCat to find a recording. Limit to sound recording from the box on the right, then try “Sam Cooke” and “wonderful world” as keywords.


Vandals in the Stacks?

We just found out about Eng L470: “Vandals in the Stacks” Archives &Frontiering Women. This course sounds like a great opportunity to delve into the primary resources, the nitty gritty, the real stuff of what makes research research while also exploring the intellectual controversies of the collection & preservation of, and access to  this same “stuff.” Here’s the course description:  http://www.indiana.edu/~deanfac/blfal09/eng/eng_l470_29683.html 


If you want to read the book “Vandals in the Stacks?” by Richard Cox, according to IUCat there are two copies held in the Wells Library Research Collections.   Call number is Z687 .C75 2002, which means it’s shelved on the 11th floor.   Cox’s book was a response to Nicholson Baker’s book “Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper.”   There are two copies of this title also held in the Research Collections; call number Z695.655 .B35 2001.  Can you guess on which floor the Baker book is shelved?


And if you are interested in exploring the Wells Library, take the short trip up to the East Tower, 4th floor to visit the IU Archives where some of the “action” for L470 will take place!