Culture of Support

Do libraries confuse you? Brandman-dedicated Leatherby librarians are there to help

April 30, 2018

Lauren Dubell, coordinator of library services for Brandman, and Cotton Coslett, distance librarian, help Brandman students, faculty and staff with questions about the Leatherby Libraries on the Chapman University campus. 

No matter where they are – from the San Diego campus near the southern end of California to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state or, for that matter, anywhere in the world with internet access – Brandman University students can call on the growing resources of the Leatherby Libraries on the campus of Chapman University in Orange.

Brandman students have access to more than 330,000 books and bound volumes and more than 28,000 CDs, DVDs and videos, which can be shipped without charge. There are more than 17,000 e-books, 300 databases and 71,000 full-text journals, each with hundreds of articles, all available for downloading. An additional 163,000 e-books are available through Leatherby Libraries subscription services.

Brandman students even have their own librarians. Cotton Coslett is the distance education librarian, and Lauren Dubell is an assistant librarian and the coordinator of Brandman University library services. The university also has its own homepage, the perfect place for contacting the librarians or for finding the guides that can help streamline the search for a reference.

Coslett and Dubell spend much of their time answering emails from students. “We can make things easier but not easy. We can’t do people’s work for them,” said Coslett. 

Dubell, who earned her master’s in library science from San Jose State’s online program, understands the challenges students face while working in the digital world. She sees her role as part teacher, guiding Brandman’s adult learners, who may not have used a library in several years and possibly never one as sophisticated or full resources as the nine libraries included in the Chapman system.

Questions welcomed

“Our most common question is ‘I know there’s a way to do this, I just don’t know how,’” said Coslett. That request arrives with varying degrees of panic on the part of the student. 

“I enjoy the open-ended questions the most,” said Coslett. One recent request was for information on open heart surgery. Another person was seeking the percentage of people using smokeless tobacco in Eastern Europe. He was able to point both students in the right direction.

The best part of his job, he said, is being able to show students some of the fantastic features that the libraries offer. “We have these incredible research databases.”

Not just for students

Dubell and Coslett also work with faculty members to find appropriate resources to be included in class shells.

They do have a few things on their own wish lists. One would be for faculty members to schedule them into a classroom session, particularly for courses new students are likely to take. Those sessions can be done in person at campuses near Orange or via Adobe Connect. 

They also wish students would reach out to them sooner rather than later. Each recalled a student who said, “I wish I had known about (some library service) in my first class rather than my last.”

Students can also schedule appointments for more general consultations that go beyond a simple email question.

“Not everybody has been keeping abreast of the latest in educational technology,” said Coslett. Students also have different learning styles. “Some are more elastic and just start clicking. Adult learners are usually more deliberate.”

Brandman students, faculty and staff also have access to the physical library. “We’ve had students come quite a distance,” said Coslett. Besides sharing in the joy of discovery by exploring what’s on the shelves, students can book study rooms for up to six hours – the perfect escape for harried parents needing a quiet place to finish a paper. Faculty members can book a study room for up to four hours.

Most of all, they wish students and faculty would take advantage of the many library services. A recent survey showed that those who never use the service tend to think the library isn’t very useful. “But if they do use us, they say ‘this is so useful and why didn’t I think to do this earlier?’”

Their final bit of advice: “Go ahead and ask that weird question.” 

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