Between the Bookends

by Alexander Bigelow

Horizon Reporter

There are too many students at Whatcom Community College who don’t use the library to its fullest extent, says library staff member Linda Compton-Smith. “We want to stress to students that the library is so much more than books and computers. We want to help students become less library-phobic.”

Upon entrance to the library, much of what you see can be overwhelming. To your left is the help desk and staff members who can help with all your needs. “We want to help students use all these wonderful and free resources,” said Compton-Smith.

The lower level of the library has nearly 30 computer stations, five DVD players with TV monitors and personal booths, a lounge area underneath the stairs, two copy machines, magazine racks stocked with recent issues of Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Harvard Business Review and many more.

There are also racks of newspapers such as the Bellingham Herald, Seattle Times, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Beneath the stairs on the lower level is a map cabinet with full maps of Whatcom County, the Pacific Northwest, United States, North America, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, the world and the universe. There are also six desks stationed around the room.

On the upper level of the library, stacks of books lie neatly sectioned with subjects ranging from economics to sociology, poetry to British literature. If the library at Whatcom doesn’t have what you want, the library staff will help you locate and inevitably retrieve what you’re looking for,  since Whatcom’s library works in conjunction with the Bellingham Public Library, Western Washington University library and the library at Bellingham Technical College.

Also located on the upper level are 20 study huts, 11 desks, classrooms and the technology room located in the back right corner.

At the tech center, students can rent out camcorders, digital cameras and tripods, digital audio recorders, TVs and VCRs and stereo systems. A computer on wheels is also available for students to practice presentations in the classrooms located just outside the tech room. Scanners, CD and DVD production equipment, and video and audio editing are also available.

“ We are more than willing to help students with whatever questions they have about any of the equipment we check out,” said Jim Dodd, technology manager at Whatcom’s library.

For students, the most underused asset is the online resources, says Sally Sheedy, instructional librarian in Whatcom’s library. “One thing students need to know is that we build a collection around the curriculum here at Whatcom,” she said. In most cases, when students are looking for something, the library is going to have what they need because the collection is based around the courses offered at Whatcom, Sheedy added.

Sheedy spends much of her time at the reference desk. “We try to teach students how to think critically and try to explain how we construct searches so students know how to help themselves,” she said. “I wouldn’t expect students to know as much as I do so it’s my job to help them.”

With such an abundance of resources, especially the online resources such as the databases Whatcom offers, it’s understandable for students to be overwhelmed explained Sheedy. When students come to the reference desk for help from the librarians, it’s a common theme to teach and instill the ability to think critically and able to use all the resources the library has to offer said Sheedy.

Sheedy follows the old mantra: Teach a man to fish and he will feed himself forever, teach a student how to search and they will be able to find good research on their own.

***Late Nights at the Library***

Associated Students (financial support) and the Library Staff (baking skills and time) have joined together to ease end-of-the quarter student stress. The WCC Library will be open an extra hour, 8AM – 10 PM, on  Wednesday and Thursday, June 8th and June 9th,  as well as Monday, June 13th and Tuesday June 14th.  Saturday hours on June 11th will be the same (Noon–4 p.m.), but muffins and coffee will be available. Please tell your students about our extended hours, and invite them to join us for coffee, cookies and librarians!

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