Student to student: New library service brings peers to the research process

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The flyer for Peer Research Consultations. Image courtesy of K-State Libraries

The Kansas State Student Union can get loud, and in the midst of it all is the Library Help Desk. The help desk offers resources to students and faculty in an atmosphere that is anything but the silence typically expected of a library. Such is life after the Hale Library fire.

But there is still a chance to find a quiet space for discussion and productivity through K-State Libraries with Peer Research Consultations. This new service pairs experienced student researchers with students who aren’t quite ready to make the leap and ask an academic librarian for help.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, students can walk in or make an appointment for a 30-minute session with a library student employee to discuss any part of the research process.

The idea for Peer Research Consultations was based on a writing center model, which Allyssa Bruce, instructor at K-State Libraries, said can fit really well with the goal of libraries. Similar programs have been implemented at other libraries.

“We modeled it off of the writing center model at K-State,” Bruce said. “So, it’s very similar. You can schedule an appointment and you can come in and talk with another student about the research you’re working on. It’s meant to meet students where they’re at.”

Peer Research Consultations is currently a pilot program, but Bruce and the student employees who work as consultants believe there will be a benefit to bringing students together.

“I think it’s really important to note that when it’s peer-to-peer, there’s no authoritative being in the process,” said Tiffany Bowers, senior in cultural anthropology and library consultant.

Bowers said because students have gone through the research process themselves, they can lend valuable insight and can empathize with the patrons they’re helping.

During the first week of the program, Bowers worked with a student and saw the value of the consultations firsthand.

“I had my first appointment and it was really just that the patron had many different ideas and many different awesome topics,” Bowers said. “We spent half an hour discussing why they had chosen them and what kind of research process we could formulate just from that interest they already had.”

Peer Research Consultations may also help fill a need for library services from students in the absence of Hale Library.

“With the Hale fire, something like this has become really important,” said Savannah Winkler, senior in English and student library consultant. “We want to make sure people are getting their research needs met and that they know there are still library workers here even though the library is closed.”

The peer consultants have all had additional training and learned how to help students with research. Then, they can refer students to academic librarians as needed.

Peer Research Consultations is only in its second week, so the service has not had a lot of traffic yet.

“We’re still getting the word out right now,” Winkler said.

Moving forward, the program aims to reach more students and work with them on their research and to build beneficial relationships with other students.

“I’d like it to be making an impact on students across campus,” Bruce said, “and just being another resource across campus that can help students succeed.”

“It’s exciting that the libraries get to interact with students in very new ways,” Bowers said. “The impact goes beyond words. It’s that ability to form relationships that students are able to have with other students.”

Research can be a dreaded process for students, but scheduling a Peer Research Consultation can be a place to start.

Winkler said her best research tip is to “start out broad, then narrow yourself down to a topic.”

For more research tips, visit the Library Help Desk in the Union from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday or schedule a Peer Research Consultation online at cal.lib.k-state.edu/appointments/prc.

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Macy Davis
I'm Macy Davis, culture editor. I'm a senior studying English with a minor in mass communications and journalism. When I'm not reading and writing (both for class and for fun), I'm a member of the nationally ranked K-State speech team. After I graduate I plan on pursuing a graduate degree in library science.