Published: Dec. 16, 2019

Like many students this fall, Aspen Pasikov met with one of the University Libraries’ subject specialists for help with a project. The first-year integrative physiology major worked with Adam Lisbon, Japanese & Korean Studies Librarian with the Libraries, on a midterm paper for the seminar “Headwaters: Going Upriver.”

“The session helped me find secondary sources for my midterm paper that supported my argument,” Pasikov said. “Without the help from Adam Lisbon, I would not have known where to start looking for a secondary source.”

Aspen Pasikov and Adam Lisbon pose for a selfieBut she couldn’t leave without taking a selfie with Lisbon. In fact, Lisbon said that he’s posed for a lot of selfies with students this semester. Course instructor Levi Thompson, Assistant Professor of Arabic in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, said that this wasn’t coincidental.

“Throughout my teaching career, I’ve been amazed at the number of students who have never used library resources a single time while getting their undergraduate degree,” Thompson said. “The idea is to get students to not just go to the library, but to actually use the resources there.”

Students in his first-year seminar could earn 10 percent of their midterm grade just by visiting Lisbon at the Libraries and documenting their time with him to prove it. For his upper-level course “The Arabic Novel,” Thompson gives students the option to visit Lisbon at Norlin Library at any point for any assignment for extra points added to their final grade.

“The students who took advantage of this opportunity had a good experience,” said Thompson. “Some of the freshman told me that they had no idea about the amount and variety of resources available to them at the library. The upperclassmen in the other course reported that the experience helped them figure out how to narrow their search for relevant resources.”

Samantha Millison, a first-year mathematics major, said this part of the assignment influenced her willingness to go to the Libraries. 

“Adam introduced me to multiple advantages of the Libraries that can really aid me in my studies moving forward,” Millison said. 

Lisbon said that many of the students who visited him from the “Headwaters” course were new to navigating the Libraries’ collection. 

“I always enjoy the moment when they first look down the aisle of Norlin Stacks and see how far back it goes,” Lisbon said. “Then we navigate the shelves and talk about the meaning behind the call numbers. My favorite experience with one student was finding one book in the catalog and then finding a better book next to it when we actually visited the shelves. Those moments feel like going off on a successful treasure hunt.” 

This fall, Lisbon has taken over a dozen selfies with students from Thompson’s classes and has plenty of stories as a result.

“I met two different students over one day who also happened to be friends,” he said. “When I met the second one, they explained we needed a ‘cooler’ selfie to best their friend. That kind of enthusiasm is fun to be around.” 

With the enthusiasm expressed by students and the percentage of students taking him up on his offer, this extra push is helping students realize the possibilities of a university education. There are over 30 subject specialists like Lisbon able to help students with over 50 subject areas. Both Pasikov and Millison said they would visit Lisbon and other subject specialists in the Libraries again soon. 

“Next time I need help finding sources for a paper I would definitely work with a subject specialist at the Libraries,” Pasikov said.