Library at Wycliffe College. Yassine ElBaradie/THE VARSITY

This year, 5,000 first-year arts and science students participated in the Personal Librarian project, an initiative designed to encourage students to ask questions, offer book consultations for difficult research questions, and provide a tour of the library and its resources.

“Students involved in the program receive advice and feedback from their personal librarian throughout their first year, and are encouraged to contact their librarian whenever they have questions about library resources, services, and research,” reads the University of Toronto Library website.

Originating in 2012, the project initially paired a group of 1,000 arts and science students with one of 10 librarians. In a year, the librarians are each responsible for 100 to 200 students.

When asked how the program has changed, Buchansky said: “It’s grown since then and in the last two years we’ve managed to reach out to all first-year Arts & Science students on St. George campus. For the 2015-16 academic year, there are 45 librarians… involved.”

In 2013, the Engineering & Computer Science Library (ECSL) joined the program, which  consisted of 300 students. The success led to the inclusion of more than 1,200 first year undergraduates. The ECSL is committed to “first year experience, developing outreach opportunities and ensuring that the student body develops important information literacy skills during their scholastic endeavours.”

The ECSL held a meet-and-greet for 100 first-year engineering students in October 2014 to provide tours of the library and a chance to speak one-on-one with their personal librarian.

The program does not extend to second-year students; however, they are able to contact their librarian for assistance, if needed.

According to the survey conducted at the end of the year, “[students] find the program beneficial and appreciate the support. And those that don’t contact their librarian still find the information they receive useful,” said Buchansky.

Buchansky stated that they are reaching out to other programs, but it isn’t possible to provide all first-year undergraduate students with a personal librarian.

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