The room is buzzing. A wide-eyed incoming freshman talks to a financial aid representative about his aid award. A few feet away, while two friends stand beside her for encouragement, a senior speaks to an advisor about what classes she needs to graduate on time. In between them in the center of the room, a chemical engineering student gets help from a fellow sophomore for a 10-page political science research paper.
This is the Knowledge Center at the University Library, and that fellow sophomore is a trained knowledge consultant. The center, which opened in February — the only one of its kind in the 23-campus CSU — is a resource for information well beyond the academic, and it is helping to ensure that students have the resources they need to complete their degree and successfully launch a career.
“Once our students graduate, the confidence to go out there and find resources and tools is crucial for continuous self-growth and lifelong learning,” University Library Dean Ray Wang says.
For many students, taking that first step is challenging.
“Many students have library anxiety because they come in and are intimidated or feel ashamed to ask for help,” says Paul Hottinger, the engineering librarian. “Once they’re here, what we want to instill in them is that ability to research on their own, obtain credible resources and use those analytical skills for the long haul.”
And yet, just a few years ago a growing opinion was that libraries were losing their relevance. A Forbes article in 2012 posed the question, “Will Public Libraries Become Extinct?”
Reports of the death of public libraries are greatly exaggerated. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials, 15 to 35, are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries. Survey data from fall 2016 found that 53 percent of Millennials say they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months.
“Many of our students will have a career that changes dramatically in their lifetime because of technology and market factors,” Wang says. “What the Knowledge Center provides for students is the foundation for that confidence to adapt to these changes. We are with them every step on that journey of discovery so that in the future they approach that journey with excitement and assurance.”