Librarians hold informative seminars

Sean Sauro, Managing Editor

Pitt-Johnstown Owen librarians have defied notions of the quiet-study area normally associated with libraries by holding instructional seminars geared to improve student performance.

Library Instruction Coordinator Paul Bond said the library plays a significant role in the campus community as staff offer seminars.

“Many people see (the library) only as a book warehouse, but that’s not true,” Bond said. “The academic library has a teaching function. A lot of what I do is reaching out to faculty to see how we can help.”

Librarians offer this help through 50-minute seminars, held each semester, to provide students with information they wouldn’t typically receive, he said.

“We try to offer things that wouldn’t fit into classrooms,” Bond said. “It shows faculty we can present additional resources to their classes.”

Bond said the seminars, which have had favorable turnouts thus far, are held in the Owen Library’s upstairs computer lab with an 18-student seating capacity.

“About 12 or 15 students attend each seminar,” he said. “Once we had 20 students attend. Some of them had to double up on computers.”

Sophomore premedical careers student Joseph Rizkalla said he attended a seminar Feb. 5 because of an extra-credit incentive offered by one of his instructors.

He said the seminar— set up to improve students’ citation skills— was beneficial, and he would consider attending another.

“I learned the right way to write a works-cited page,” he said. “I didn’t know the differences between (different academic formats).”

Similarly, junior biology student Giovanni Ramires, who also attended the event, said the citation seminar provided him with useful information.

“I’ve been having to write more papers,” Ramires said. “Usually, when I’m looking for sources, I’m kind of scatterbrained. I don’t know where to look.

“We learned the difference between journal titles and article titles, and now I know where to look.”

Assistant business professor Kimberly Lee-Asonevich said she plans to take a class to a Feb. 19 business seminar.

Bond said the seminar is to showcase the library’s business-research resources. Lee-Asonevich said the topic fits well with her class.

“It’s an entrepreneurship class, and the students have to generate their own ideas for a business,” she said. “In order to explain feasibility, they have to back their ideas with research data.”

She said this will be the second semester her class has attended the seminar and explained that students have previously had positive experiences.

“They didn’t realize there was that much data at their fingertips,” Lee-Asonevich said.

In addition to the business seminars, Bond said librarians are to hold seminars to instruct improved oral-presentation skills and utilization of online reference programs.

Additional seminars are to be held throughout the remainder of February. Seminars are listed in an events calendar on Pitt-Johnstown’s website and on the Owen Library’s website. Bond said those planning to attend are to reserve their spot in advance.