Wednesday, July 29, 2020

UW Libraries Reopening Plans

Vice Provost for Digital Initiatives and Dean of University Libraries Betsy Wilson released this statement today about our current plans for reopening library facilities and in-person services. Please take a look at the full letter here:

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Newsletter Interview #1: Interview with Public Services Librarian, Mary Whisner

This is our first interview in a series of UW Law School faculty and staff interviews. Each interview will be highlighted in the Gallagher Law Library's *new* Newsletter. Our Summer 2020 edition will be coming out soon!

Interview #1 Mary Whisner, Public Services Librarian
Photo of Mary Whisner

Can you introduce yourself and your role at Gallagher Law Library?

Since 1988, I’ve been helping students, faculty, staff, and the public find information. The tools have changed, but the mission is the same. We help you find individual items and we teach you research skills you can use on your own.

Current book of choice, or book you would like to recommend?

Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race -- a very accessible book addressing many important issues.

Abdi Nor Iftin, Call Me American -- a memoir by a Somali refugee

What is your favorite recreational activity or hobby during this time?

Practicing the trumpet, which I started learning several years ago. It is very humbling to take up a difficult instrument at my age--but it’s too late for me to have learned it in middle school (when I was playing the clarinet).

How have you adjusted to working as a librarian during Covid-19?

I’m used to a good bit of interaction with people, from talking to students at the Information Desk to sticking my head into a colleague’s office doorway. I miss that, but at least Zoom has enabled me to see my coworkers’ faces.

What are some ways that you stay connected with students/patrons?

I wish I had more opportunity to interact with students--answering occasional email messages isn’t the same as saying hi as they come into the library. I feel pretty well connected with faculty through email and Zoom.

Wouldn’t it be nice to share coffee at the Supreme Cup?

Can you describe Libguides and your work producing LibGuides? Specific recommendations? 

LibGuides is a platform used by all of the UW libraries (and thousands of other libraries around the world) that makes it easy to post text, links, videos, information about books, and more, in a consistent, attractive layout. Some of our LibGuides grew out of presentations for specific classes. Others help with common research tasks (like looking up the legislative history of a Washington statute). I’m proud of my Staying Current guide, because we all need to figure out efficient ways to keep up with our fields, and I think the guide can be very helpful.

One challenge with LibGuides is making sure they are up to date enough to be useful, so we have to go in to check links, look for new publications, and so on.

What are some of the more recent tutorial videos you have been working on? Are there more coming soon?

My latest video shows how to find magazine articles in University Libraries databases. I’d like to make some more to help journal students. We’re happy to take suggestions, too--readers, are there any topics you’d like to see explained?

Are there any upcoming collections/titles you would like to highlight to patrons? Or updates to collection development policies and purchases?

I’ve been working with Peggy Jarrett and Maya Swanes to select new ebooks. This is part of what libraries call “collection development” -- figuring out what should be in the library’s collection. Up until COVID, our library tended to buy books in print (in addition to our big databases, like Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law, and HeinOnline). Now that the library is closed and people can’t check out print books, we’ve been expanding our ebook collection. Ebooks are challenging, for a lot of reasons--including that they’re usually a lot more expensive than print books! This is a little surprising if you’re used to shopping as an individual when a Kindle book is cheaper than a hardback. But publishers charge a premium to license ebooks to libraries.

Do you have any remarks for law students/patrons during this time or in anticipation of the next year? 

Please remember that we’re still here for you. You can ask us questions by telephone or email. And if you’d like to talk through a problem, we can Zoom with you and share our screen so you see how we’re searching.