Point person: A Q&A with graduate student librarian Dr. Natalia Barykina

May 21st, 2021

By Kristine Power

Point person: A Q&A with graduate student librarian Dr. Natalia Barykina

A graduate studies librarian, the first position of its kind at Memorial, started in the role last month.

Dr. Natalia Barykina, whose position is co-funded by Memorial University Libraries and the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), will work closely with a team of Memorial University librarians and colleagues in the School of Graduate Studies to support the unique research intensive needs of Memorial’s approximately 4,000 graduate students.

In the following Q&A, Dr. Barykina discusses what she has been up to since starting the job and how she hopes to collaborate with Memorial’s graduate students.

KP: Can you tell me what interested you in the position of Graduate Studies Librarian?

NB:  As a graduate studies librarian, I will be developing and co-ordinating advanced research support and inclusive library services for graduate students.

So, in collaboration with my librarian and SGS colleagues, I will also participate in graduate student-focused outreach, instruction, reference services and collection development.

I bring to this position a graduate studies academic background in cultural and communication studies and cultural geography, along with professional library and archival experience.

KP: You will be working closely with the School of Graduate Studies. Can you talk a little about this partnership and how it can benefit Memorial’s graduate students?

NB: I will be able to connect graduate students and act as a bridge between them and subject librarians who have advanced disciplinary knowledge, as well as functional area specialists who oversee different function areas of the libraries, such as scholarly communications, research visibility and open access.

“Sometimes graduate students are not aware of the supports, services and collections that the library offers.”

My role provides graduate students with a kind of point person whom they can contact, at any stage of their research, and find out about library services and supports.

KP: How do you plan on supporting Memorial’s graduate students?

NB: The services and supports I will offer include collaboration in testing of the newly developed academic integrity online learning module. This is a new venture specifically designed for graduate students.

Another important initiative I will be participating in is a needs assessment to identify unmet learning needs of graduate students and evaluate their knowledge and perceptions about library services and resources.

So, for example, sometimes graduate students are not aware of the supports, services and collections that the library offers or aren’t aware of them until later in their research careers. This needs assessment will help us understand how we can better meet their needs.

“It is necessary to remain considerate and strategic about what we put out there.”

In collaboration with a research data management librarian, I will be developing workshops, assisting with data management plans and providing guidance to researchers about the new Tri Agency research data management policy.

I will also be assisting in systematic reviews in social science and humanities, and I hope to develop some instructional content in information literacy and archival research methods. I will be working on increasing library presence and visibility in the virtual space of the Graduate Commons and through EDGE workshop programming.

KP: You will be working with graduate students from a distance. Are there specific approaches you will be addressing that are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

NB: I see that there is an opportunity here to become more adept at providing information skills training to students, as well as to keep cultivating a welcoming and equitable online community.

I also see this as an opportunity to claim librarians’ important role in the research life cycle. As students navigate the digital infrastructure, we help provide access to resources and services in all sorts of ways: through synchronous and asynchronous instruction, through consultations, through being embedded in more courses, through office hours and so on.

At the same time, when designing and delivering workshops and instruction online, it is necessary to remain considerate and strategic about what we put out there because of the amount of information that students have to process.

KP: What are the major challenges right now for graduate students in terms of research?

NB: Many students face an incredible amount of challenges: from not being able to access print resources to not being able to complete their research, if their research involved travel to cultural institutions or to archives and museums or to field work elsewhere.

Research infrastructure has also been affected – students have limited access to library study spaces and to the library as a whole. Whether they need reference help from librarians or to browse the stacks, or study quietly on their own, or work collaboratively in a group environment, students must miss those different energies. I definitely miss those energies.

Kristine Power is a senior communications advisor with Memorial University Libraries. She can be reached at kristinep@mun.ca.