By Avery Klauke, Undergraduate Library Fellow (2022-23)
One of the first activities we did when I first began as an Undergraduate Library Fellow back in August was to brainstorm ways of getting students more involved with the library. I remember listening to what my peers had come up with, everything from week-long events to posting on social media, and thinking about how creative all the suggestions were.
Looking back on that exercise, I realize that the idea of using different perspectives to get more creative solutions was a theme that remained constant throughout the entire semester. Remembering this mindset also helped me as a Research Fellow in some of my favorite projects.
Perhaps the most memorable project for me this semester was the launch of peer research consultations. This was a program in which students could make in-person appointments with the Fellows to help guide them through the beginning of their research project or essay. I remember the first appointment another Research Fellow, Sofia, and I had to lead and we were extremely anxious. All of the worst-case scenarios came to our head. “What if the student asks something we don’t know?” “What if we both just go blank?” “What if the fire alarm goes off in the middle of our consultation?” (This did happen once, but it was a false alarm and the disruption wasn’t as bad as we thought.) Luckily as we got our rhythm, tying in our training with personal experiences to better help answer the student’s questions, our fears disappeared. Thankfully the lack of more fire drills made each consultation run much smoother.
Reflecting on this experience afterward, leading peer research consultations became my favorite part of being a fellow for two reasons. First, it was rewarding knowing that I was making a positive impact on the Berkeley community. I remember what it was like being a freshman at Berkeley, intimidated by such a new environment and not knowing where to ask for help. Understanding this, we all wanted to make sure the peer research appointments helped to make the library’s resources less overwhelming and gave students a safe space to talk with peers instead of librarians. Secondly, working with Sofia, the other research fellows, and our mentors taught me so much more about both researching and working together to accomplish a goal (the feeling is similar to having a great group project experience). All of the fellows this year have such different backgrounds, and none of the consultations could have been possible without the commitment and expertise that everyone contributed.
This semester has been filled with new changes, new people, and new projects. I’m excited to see how the peer research consultations program develops and what the spring semester has in store for us!