Subject librarians help students of all majors achieve academic goals

Moody Library is the center where students study and the librarians are there to help. Photo courtesy of Baylor University.

By Abby Gan | Staff Writer

There is a department of 13 specialists covering 48 topics from biology to museum studies within the library. Each librarian has a story behind their journey to becoming a subject librarian.

Carol Schuetz has been at Baylor for 29 years as the business librarian. Schuetz’s story starts when she was a Baylor student and worked at the library during her final year in the School of Education. After she graduated from Baylor, Schuetz enrolled at the University of North Texas and commuted back and forth to her job at the Baylor library.

STEM librarian Dr. Ken Carriveau has been with Baylor libraries for 26 years in differing roles and responsibilities. Carriveau grew up in academic libraries with his father as a university librarian, but his original plan was to be a research physician.

During a group project in school, Carriveau said he did the literature review and showed his classmates in other groups how to do it.

“[The professor] said that our class had higher quality literature review sections than [usual], and that kind of caught their attention. He said, ‘You know, maybe you should consider becoming a librarian,’” Carriveau said.

Carriveau said a large part of subject librarians is helping students learn how to gauge credibility with resources.

“What we do in the library is, with students in particular, is kind of help them develop those sensibilities and in a controlled way, because we use our library databases as the basis for that kind of information gathering and sorting and sifting,” Carriveau said. “We’ll work with them being able to discern which tools fit the information needs they have, work with them on learning how to synthesize the idea they have into a research problem and question to be answered, through using the library resources that we have. And then how to find the materials they need to make some progress in that.”

Carriveau said research at Baylor has increased over the years in reputation and emphasis, especially with Baylor’s R1 designation.

Amy James, director of instruction and information literacy, has been a librarian for 13 years and currently resides in Michigan, working remotely for Baylor’s libraries. James said it’s very rewarding to play a role in making things easier for students and helping them through challenging projects.

“They usually come to me stressed out and overwhelmed, and then to see them … realizing that they have help, and that they have somebody there on their side to help them get through this challenge, and seeing them come through the other side is very, very rewarding,” James said.

Schuetz said it’s rewarding when she gets to help a student who’s struggling to find what they’re looking for.

“You could do the search and [find the articles]. But, if you can teach them how to do it all, they can apply that the next time they get in that position,” Schuetz said. “It’s kind of like the ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him. But, if you teach him to fish, you’re teaching them a skill for a lifetime.’ … We want to teach them a skill for a lifetime.”

Schuetz said that regardless of major, year or program, there is a point where students will need to come visit the subject librarians.

“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t enjoy helping students,” Schuetz said. “You’re going to reach that point where you’re going to have something that you’re working on where you’re going to need our help, and we’re here. And we’re willing to help.”