by Meredith Dault
June 27, 2011
If there’s one thing librarian Nathalie Soini wants to be sure graduate students know, it’s that they’ve got access to academic journals: and lots of ‘em. “We’ve got 53,639 electronic journals,” she says with a smile. “In fact, there might even be more than that now - because that figure is from July 2009!” In addition, Soini, the university’s Graduate Studies Specialist, says the library provides students with access to 581 journal databases.
That’s why she says there is no reason to turn to tools like Google Scholar when it comes to pursuing research. “It’s okay, but it’s not the be all and end off for your research - especially not if you want authoritative, scholarly research. You want to be exhaustive. You can’t just get by with the top three titles you found after a quick search.”
Seated behind her desk in a bright office on the ground floor of Stauffer library, Soini says that many graduate students may not know about some of the university’s more specialized resources. But she says that’s how librarians can help. After a recent restructuring of the library staff recently, Soini, who is also the library’s Learning Commons Coordinator, put her name forward to work exclusively with graduate students. “I thought it meshed well with the Learning Commons,” she says, referring to a library initiative geared towards facilitating and advancing the academic experience for students at Queen’s. “It has been primarily focused on undergrads, but we felt grad students needed to be served as well.”
Soini says that although most graduate faculties currently have a designed library liaison person (Soini is the liaison librarian for students studying French, German, Spanish and Italian, as well as Latin American Studies and Linguistics), she is working to develop programs for graduate students at the administrative level. “I am now the liaison between the Society for Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS), the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and the library,” she explains. “I am making connections between the library, the Learning Commons, and graduate students.”
Soini, who has been at Queen’s since 2003, says there are currently eight liaison librarians based at Stauffer Library, five in the Engineering & Science Library (Douglas), three at the Law Library, and two at the Education Library, along with eight at the Bracken Health Sciences Library, not to mention a music and art librarian at the W.D. Jordan Library, and a Government documents/data librarian (also at Stauffer).
She says she wants graduate students to know what they can come to her - or to any liaison librarian - if they feel something is missing from the library’s collection or they need something for their research. “People shouldn’t be afraid to come in,” she says warmly. “Make an appointment with a librarian, come in and sit down, and then we can help you with your research,” she says.
From learning how to use citation management programs like RefWorks, to explaining how to measure how many times a journal has been cited, Soini says librarians are there to help. She says it can be especially important for people pursuing interdisciplinary research who may benefit from outside input.
Soini says the library also runs workshops for graduate students through the Expanding Horizons series. “We have offered workshops in things like ‘what is a literature review’, where we had a panel of faculty presenting. It was very well attended. We had another one on communicating with faculty,” she recalls. “And I’ve been thinking it would be fun to have a workshop on researching across disciplines - for example, someone looking at psychology and languages. I think in order to stay vibrant it is important to go beyond your own silo.”
Soini also points to the library’s website as a resource grad students should be using (http://library.queensu.ca/services/grads), along with the graduate student page of the Learning Commons website (http://www.queensu.ca/qlc/graduate.html) where she says students can access everything from a dissertation calculator and thesis manager, to writing resources.
“If you need help, come talk to us!” Soini says with a smile. “That’s why we’re here!”