Corliss Lee: Teaching undergrads how to unearth academic resources

A former English major and a “perpetual grad student,” Corliss Lee says she “fell into becoming a librarian.” Lee has worked at Moffitt Library for nearly 20 years, beginning as an intern while she was earning a master’s of library science at Berkeley. “They never managed to get rid of me,” Lee says.

Corliss Lee

Corliss Lee (Wendy Edelstein/NewsCenter photo)

Q. What does your job involve?

A. I spend most of my time doing instruction-related tasks — teaching, or providing research assistance to faculty and students, and creating instructional material.

Recently, I was involved in revising the help screens for OskiCat, the library’s catalog. I also provide research assistance on a drop-in basis — what’s known as reference assistance — either at physical reference desks or via our 24/7 chat service.

Q. What kind of teaching do you do?

A. Like a lot of the librarians here, one of the things I do is teach course-integrated library workshops, which involves working with instructors to introduce undergraduate students to doing research in the library.

Q. What do you tell them?

A. Good academic research requires more than using Google. We have more than 200 databases available through the library website that give researchers access to resources not available via Google. Also, students are shocked to discover they have to go physically to a library to find things. We have to disabuse them of the notion that everything is going to be online. Someday, maybe, but not right now. Also, the librarian is your friend. Ask us — we’ll save you time!

Q. What’s a misconception that people have about your job?

A. I have never shushed anybody. I’ve been shushed when I’m talking in one of our classrooms. Another misconception: Some people think librarians get to sit around reading War and Peace on the job. I wish.

Q. What do you like best about your work?

A. I like helping people. My mom and aunts are all social workers, so my job is kind of like being an academic library social worker. I enjoy demystifying research to help people connect with the amazing resources on this campus.

Also, I like working with undergraduates and seeing them learn and grow; they make the astonishing transition from being advanced high-school students to becoming real researchers.