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Staff Spotlight – Ann Blakely

Ann Blakely

Head of Reference Services, McFarlin Library

Q: Tell me about your role at McFarlin Library.

A: Currently, I am serving as head of research and access services, since we have merged two departments.

I supervise and coordinate all activities related to these areas, such as making sure public service points are staffed properly and that both the public and the staff are tended, that Interlibrary Loan operates well, that circulation policies make sense, that the OPAC is up to date, that the webpages are current, and that all staff are trained. It also includes making sure we are meeting the research needs of our patrons and that our circulation services are functioning smoothly.

Q: What research assistance do you provide to students?

A: The research staff provide classes for students at all levels, from the beginning orientation to advanced research for graduate students. In the classes, we teach them about our databases, how to conduct thoughtful research and how to actually access the material.

Q: What is the best kept secret about McFarlin Library’s services?

A: I would say our best kept “secret” is our research service for individuals. If patrons fill out a form ahead of time and set up an appointment, they can have individual research help from experienced librarians who work on the topics beforehand and help find the best paths for the research. We have our most experienced research librarian, Andy Lupardus, coordinating this and anyone working with her is lucky indeed.

Q: How are libraries changing?

A: Libraries are rapidly adapting to a changing information world. In truth, librarians are usually familiar with trends early, and given the opportunity, can help their patrons navigate the information jungle. Although libraries are still providing the resources for research, most of the information is online and can be accessed remotely. That means, libraries must provide smooth access to the databases and research assistance and even go to their patrons instead of expecting them to come to the library. Actual library buildings are becoming not only gathering places for individual research and exploration, but also places for group research and even venues for speakers and performers. The old model of the building being a place for quiet contemplation is still valid, but the buildings now have to meet many more needs.