Jennifer Chaput and Renee Walsh are the University of Connecticut’s STEM and Data Management librarians, a unique role which promotes research for students.
Walsh explained the role of STEM librarian exists to help students filter through all the library’s research-related resources.
“We do outreach to a lot of different levels and areas,” Walsh said.
Part of what Walsh and Chaput do is make and update resource guides to each subject, specifically for the areas they are liaisons to. Walsh’s areas of expertise include several different disciplines of engineering as well as physics, math and computer science; for Chaput, it’s chemistry, molecular and cell biology, physiology and neurobiology and a few sects of engineering.
“We’ve made guides to the resources that are available. It references the databases available, the books, questions students may have about how they can get certain types of data. And we have these for all of our areas that we’re liaisons to,” Walsh said.
The two also run workshops throughout the year on a variety of subjects relating to research, hold consultations on research for individual students and visit classes to discuss their work.
“In the fall, we teach workshops to freshman in ENGR 1000 on how to use library resources in engineering,” Walsh said.
All this work begs the question: What’s so difficult about finding resources?
“It’s not like Google. There’s not like a search engine optimization that someone’s paying for. It depends on the metadata that’s been assigned to all the resources, so that makes the search process different,” Walsh explained.
Metadata, or data about data, is what helps categorize all the research the library can access. Searching a term like ‘reverse osmosis’ brings up tens of thousands of results — metadata is what helps people sort through that.
Chaput said, “One of the ways to think about the data is it’s all the little bits of data about your research. So your title, what journal it was in, whether it’s an article or a book chapter or a book itself, what kind of information you’re looking at. All these little pieces are considered part of the metadata.”
Both Walsh and Chaput have master’s degrees in library science, which means both have taken classes on subjects like metadata, as well as cataloging, archiving and web design.
Walsh and Chaput finished by reminding students that there are library resources still available, even if classes are not in session.
“We’re here to help students find the resources that they need. We are still available via our emails and online chat,” Walsh said.
Grace McFadden is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.