By Katelyn Angell and Raymond Pun
In this week’s interview, FYE correspondent Raymond Pun speaks with first year success librarian Katelyn (Kate) Angell from Long Island University’s (LIU) Brooklyn Campus Library. She shares her experiences in designing collaborative programs including contests, common reads, and public programs.
Ray: Thanks for speaking with us, Kate! We’ve collaborated before by co-presenting in webinars and co-publishing blog posts on the FYE. Can you tell us about your role and briefly describe your library’s recent FYE activities?
Kate: I am the First Year Success Librarian at Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus (LIU Brooklyn)! I’m the first person to hold this position at the university, and am embedded in the Reference and Instruction Department. I am responsible for coordinating information literacy instruction for first year students, and also serve on multiple campus committees geared to supporting first year students. I’m currently partnering with the campus Honors College to create a collaborative website and thematic agenda for the 2018-2019 first year common read, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Our plans for the upcoming academic year include film screenings and faculty panels for first year students related to the book and its themes.
Ray: Supporting the first year common read program sounds great! I would certainly agree that the library plays an important role in co-organizing these events. Why do you think it is important for libraries to be involved with the FYE?
Kate: I actually have an article in press with the open access journal Collaborative Librarianship answering this question in great detail. The article is titled “An Exploration of Academic Librarian Positions Dedicated to Serving First Year College Students” and will be published this spring. Libraries play a critical role in helping first year students adjust to and thrive in a higher education environment. In addition to teaching first years key information literacy skills, the library—as a heart of the campus—can make it a point to provide new students with myriad social support and connections. For example, libraries can create a comfortable space dedicated to first year students and organize themed events such as de-stressing zones or makerspaces where new students can come meet their peers. I recently learned that librarians at Walsh University invited students to paint a temporary construction wall at the library, an opportunity for students to demonstrate their creativity and hopefully to help lessen library anxiety. I’d love to replicate something like that myself if I’m ever in a similar situation regarding temporary walls!
Ray: Congrats on your recent publication! I look forward to reading it. I also like the idea of getting students involved in redesigning library spaces. What's next for FYE support in your library?
Kate: I hope to organize an essay contest with my colleagues for first year students sponsored by my campus library. The inspiration behind this future initiative is a first year seminar research prize established by the Xavier University Library. Xavier faculty members can nominate first year students whose papers exhibit evidence of strong research skills and skillful incorporation of library sources. Three cash prizes totaling $1000 are awarded to first year students. This contest is an excellent opportunity to forge connections between both librarians and teaching faculty and librarians and new students. Offering the prize to first years is a creative means of getting them excited about college level research, and encouraging them to utilize the library both in person and electronically. I am particularly interested in pairing this type of initiative with the first year common read, the book that all LIU Brooklyn students read and reflect on in their First Year Seminar courses.
Katelyn (Kate) Angell is Assistant Professor/First Year Success Librarian at LIU Brooklyn in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a BA from Wesleyan University, an MLIS from St. John's University, and an MA in Psychology from LIU Brooklyn. Her research interests include information literacy instruction and assessment, gender and feminist studies, and the organization of information.