Spotlight Remote: Librarians provide virtual support for final research papers

crumpled paper and pen

Spotlight Remote is a feature series highlighting the new ways in which Princeton University Library staff are working with our patrons and community in a remote environment. 

As Princeton University undergraduates near the end of spring semester 2020 and write final research papers from across the country and around the world, librarians are providing virtual consultations, workshops, and online support. 

While the off-campus learning environment presents obvious challenges, Audrey Welber, Librarian for Teaching and Research Services, has continued to meet with students at the same rate as previous semesters, expanding her consultation hours for students living in different time zones. 

“From a librarian’s perspective, this remote learning environment has not been problematic for diving intensively into the research process with students,” said Welber. Virtual appointments allow flexibility with scheduling, and screen sharing offers unique teaching benefits.  

Students can schedule an appointment with Welber for help with research, writing, Zotero (citation management software), and general questions about the library. Additionally, students can meet with a subject specialist or reach out to their Personal Librarian for help. 

The Personal Librarian Program, co-led by Welber and Sara Howard, Librarian for Gender & Sexuality Studies and Student Engagement, pairs each undergraduate student with a friendly library expert.

This semester, junior Luke Keenan met with Welber, his Personal Librarian, who showed him several effective strategies for finding sources. “Something that used to take me half an hour now takes me a few minutes," said Keenan. “I now realize how much time and effort I wasted in the past...all Princeton students should take full advantage of this resource.”

Personal Librarians email undergraduates two to three times each semester with offers to help navigate the library system, support research, or refer students to appropriate subject specialists. 

“Some students proactively go onto the Library website to find a subject specialist, but some are hesitant, thinking they are bothering us, which of course they aren’t. We love to hear from students," said Welber. 

Now when Welber meets with students, she tells them "we’re all navigating this new virtual learning terrain together, and the Library is always here to support you."

Find your Personal Librarian, learn more about using Zotero for bibliographies, or register for a virtual Zotero workshop on Friday, April 24 at 1 p.m. 

Students in a Freshman Writing Seminar can also receive one-on-one support from a subject specialist during a Virtual Research Clinic offered on April 23 and 24.

Written by Emily Judd, Communications Coordinator

Media contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications