using the library is a daunting task for many
first-year students. That’s why University of
Toronto has established Personal Librarian, a
program that pairs first-years with their very
own library staffer.
“As a personal librarian, I think of myself as
U of T’s Personal Librarian program
a facilitator between the student and the libra-
ry, and library resources,” says communications
librarian Jesse Carliner. He compares the volun-
teer role to that of an adviser: he answers ques-
tions, helps with citations and works through
additional issues either by email or one-on-one.
Building off of similar programs like those
at Yale and Drexel universities, U of T launched
a pilot in 2012. According to student engagement
librarian Heather Buchansky, that year 1,000
students were connected with 10 librarians. As
of 2015, all first-years in the faculties of arts and
science, and of applied science and engineering
– more than 6,200 students – were contacted
eases the university transition
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by one of 49 personal librarians. About 8 to 10
percent of those students will take up the offer, says Ms. Buchansky. “Some students know
what they want. They have a book or an article
in mind and they can’t access it,” she says. Others might need help discovering appropriate
sources for an assignment.
“The ones who do follow up, they all love
the program,” says Mr. Carliner. Personal librarians help to ease new students into unfamiliar
territory by putting a face to the library. “Some
of them keep coming back. I still meet with
them, they still send me questions,” he says.
The program has caught on elsewhere in
Canada. University of Victoria, for one, launched its program in 2014 for 4,500 first-years.
– ryley white
Outreach program offers personalized help navigating the library to more than 6,200 first-year students
Students are hard at work at
the Robarts Library at U of T.