Getting an education in educating

For most people, the last time they set foot in an academic library is while they’re still receiving an education. For Rachel Elrod, these academic power houses are her career.

While spending her days surrounded by books sounded idyllic at first, Elrod soon discovered that the life of an academic librarian is so much more.

“We’re required to meet three columns,” Elrod said.

Librarianship, research and service. The three basic pillars of librarianship at an institution like the University of Florida, Elrod said.

Librarian’s are responsible for all of the book buying done in campus libraries, determining what is necessary to stock physically and electronically for students to access, Elrod said. On top of stocking books, they are responsible for providing aid and teaching classes to students on how to do research, Elrod said.

“We share the best ways to get the resources students might be looking for,” Elrod said.

While providing all the help she possibly can to the student body, Elrod is also working on three grants she has, as a part of her research requirement. One of these grants is the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, which is almost $500,000 dollars for three years of research.

“We’re looking to see what choices students as young as the 4th grade all the way through graduate school make regarding selecting information sources,” Elrod said.

Elrod, along with six others, three from UF, are one year into their research and are looking forward to being able to apply what they learn to the types of resources they provide for students, both at the University and in surrounding areas, Elrod said.

Another of the grants being worked on involves the use of 3D printing as a part of the curriculum for certain courses, Elrod says. However, Elrod said, this grant is still under review and nothing has been set in stone yet.

One of the perks of the job is traveling, Elrod said. As a part of the service pillar, she is a member of several national librarian committees that meet once or twice every year, Elrod said.

While most of these trips are spent at meetings, she also gets to see the latest in books, technology and even library furniture, Elrod said.

“It’s just kind of fun to walk through all that,” Elrod said.

While Elrod has many responsibilities to both the students at the university and the members of the committee she serves on, she also enjoys working on more fun events for the Baby Gators. On March 2nd, Elrod is hosting a birthday party for Dr. Seuss, which will include live readings of some of his stories by education majors for the children, Elrod said.

“It’s going to be a really great time, for the kids and for us.”

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