Alissa Droog to ease ‘library anxiety’ with Ed News ‘tips and tricks’ feature

Alissa Droog
Alissa Droog

Alissa Droog wants students, faculty and staff of the NIU College of Education to feel comfortable when they come to her for assistance.

Yet it’s often the opposite that’s true, Droog says, thanks to something called “library anxiety.”

“People are often nervous to tell me that they don’t know how to do something,” says Droog, an assistant professor and Education and Social Science librarian who joined NIU last April.

“They say, ‘Oh, I should already know how to do this’ or ‘I’m embarrassed to tell you that I need help.’ I reply, ‘I don’t expect anybody to know these things. They’re things that I’ve been trained to know.’ ”

Droog worries that some of her potential patrons allow that unnecessary feeling of shame to stop them from making contact.

She’s also acutely aware that much of her consultation with faculty and students is specific to one assignment or a topic du jour, preventing her from sharing everything she knows about the power of the library.

“Often, there’s a lot of what I would hope somebody would learn and be able to use at the library that’s just missed because of the targeted nature of the interactions I’m having,” she says. “There are certain tips and tricks that I would love people to know but I’m not getting those out.”

Until now, that is.

Founders Memorial Library
Founders Memorial Library

Beginning this fall, Droog, along with Dee Anna Phares and Meredith Ayers, other subject specialist librarians who serve in the College of Education, are launching “Go Beyond the Stacks: Library Tips and Tricks,” a regular feature in the Ed News with “short and actionable” pieces of relevant and useful information to maximize teaching, learning and research.

  • What is ORCID, and why might you use it?
  • How do you connect Google Scholar to the library to receive the full text of an article?
  • Which databases does Droog recommend, and how do you tap into those?
  • How do you find a journal impact factor – and what does that mean?
  • What are citation counts, and why do they matter?

Readers will find Droog’s advice aligned to the lifecycle of the semester, starting with how to access services, continuing with how to use the great resources available and moving on to a focus on publishing (and measuring the impact of) research.

Her tips and tricks could come in the form of a brief paragraph of explanation, or in a set of instructions, or in a link to a video. Each installment will include her contact information, and she is eager to receive feedback and even questions that would inform future articles.

Droog hopes this project puts people at ease while also boosting her impact.

In the 15 months since her virtual arrival – Droog is still working remotely from Alberta, Canada, because of a border closure caused by COVID-19 – she has engaged with many of the faculty and staff in the college.

She’s also reached more than 300 students through teaching classes and has worked individually with more than 100 students, most of them at the graduate level.

“This is just another way for me to get people information about how they can use the library, research skills and publication ideas, and I want this to be actionable,” Droog says. “My goal is that someone will do something differently after having read the piece, and that it will make it easier for them.”

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