SRU librarians play critical role in students’ research process


Librarian helping a student search for materials

From left, Autumn Mohler, a Slippery Rock University senior dual geology and interdisciplinary programs major from Marysville, Ohio, meets with Rocco Cremonese, business, user experience and outreach librarian at SRU’s Bailey Library. SRU has eight librarians who help students conduct research.

Sept. 6, 2019

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Quick. When you hear the word "librarian," what's the first thing you think about? Is it a scowl-faced individual with their index finger placed firmly against their pursed lips calling for your silence?

If it is, Rocco Cremonese would like to quickly dispel that stereotype.

"Librarians are not people who just maintain books and go around shushing people," said Cremonese, business, user experience and outreach librarian at Slippery Rock University's Bailey Library. "We are here to help and we deal much more with information literacy, proper citation and helping people find the information they need."

In fact, Cremonese suggests that the titles "information specialists" or "research coaches," especially in today's information age where students must sharpen their research skills and evaluate more sources than ever before, are better descriptors of the job.

"Information literacy is at the core of what we do and it's especially important in today's (world)," Cremonese said. "We teach people to be lifelong learners and how to find information and sources that are trustworthy and right for them. If you just Google something, you don't always know (the source of) where it came from and if it is reliable."

College students are certainly not afraid of walking into a library, as the steady traffic entering Bailey Library each day would indicate, but Cremonese said a relatively underused resource is students meeting with one of SRU's eight librarians.

"At our University, students have an opportunity to get a personal experience with a librarian," Cremonese said. "We are their baked-in experts and academic partners who they can feel comfortable working with all the years that they are here."

Although librarians had more than 1,400 recorded interactions with students during the spring 2019 semester, Cremonese said that college students sometimes suffer from "library anxiety," which is a feeling that one's research skills are inadequate, resulting in a fear of meeting with librarians.

"Students have nothing to be afraid of," Cremonese said. "I always say there are no stupid questions, but people get intimidated and think, 'Ah, I should know how to do this.' Research is not surfing the internet; we provide very powerful search engines, catalogs and resources and everyone needs help using them."

Tabea Ohle, a graduate student majoring in business administration from Berlin, Germany, needed help finding journal articles when she began research for her master's thesis. As an international student, she admitted she was unfamiliar with what was available in an American library system, but Cremonese was able to assist her.

"I hear that a lot of students feel lost in a library and they don't want to sound stupid, but the only way to get to the result is to ask for help," said Ohle, who noticed students feeling library anxiety both in the U.S. and Germany. "I'm a very direct and open person, so I want to get to the person who can help. Rocco took time to explain to me how deep I can search various databases. Later on I emailed him for more assistance and he helped me find an article within 10 minutes of my emailing him."

The eight librarians at Bailey Library each have subject areas of expertise that allow them to help students find everything from a journal article for a class assignment or assist with larger projects, like a literature review or capstone research. While Cremonese meets primarily with majors from the College of Business, SRU's librarians are not specifically assigned to each of the University's four colleges. Subjects, like those within the humanities, are divided among multiple librarians.

"The research methods and materials are different across disciplines, but there is some crossover," said Cremonese, citing health care administration and management as an example. "Our main role as librarians is being the gateway or purveyors of information. The information gathering procedures and needs can be very different. A history major might need artifacts and journal articles interpreting historical events as primary sources where those studying the sciences use a lot of statistical data."

Despite the specialization, Cremonese said that everyone at the library, from student workers and staff, to the library faculty, is available to help. There is a reference librarian available to meet with students from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday. Virtual reference services, in the form of email support, are offered on Sundays.

Students can also schedule appointments with librarians who are research experts from their corresponding major by visiting the library website, using the Ask A Librarian Portal or by visiting the Research Guides and searching by subject or librarian. From the profile of each librarian, students can access the contact information or an online scheduling link to make an appointment.

SRU's eight librarians are:

Cremonese for College of Business.

Jessica Jordan for College of Education.

Allison Brungard, instructor of library, for biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, geography, geology, mathematics, parks and recreation, physics and engineering.

Aiping Chen-Gaffey, associate professor of library, bibliographic services, for teaching English to speakers of other languages.

Cassie Frank, instructor of library, reference, for English, history and philosophy.

Heather Getsay, assistant professor of library, resource acquisitions, for criminology, homeland and corporate security, political science, public health, social work.

Cynthia Harrison, instructor of library, for Asian studies, interdisciplinary programs and modern languages. Harrison is substituting for Aiping Chen-Gaffey, associate professor of library, who is on sabbatical this semester.

Judy Silva, associate professor of library, for archives and special collections, art, dance, music and theatre.

Alessia Zanin-Yost, instructor of library, for exercise science, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, recreational therapy, rehabilitative science

For more information about the Bailey Library, including a link to search the catalog, click here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |