Kent Library Offering Virtual Reference Librarian Via Skype to Malden, Kennett, Sikeston Campuses

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

March 9, 2011 – Students at Southeast Missouri State University’s regional campuses in Malden, Kennett and Sikeston, Mo., now have access to assistance from librarians at Kent Library on the main Cape Girardeau campus without having to leave their regional campus.   This new service, made possible via Skype, lets students speak face-to-face with librarians at Kent Library for help with finding online resources for papers and other research.  The systems features video chat, which allows the student and librarian to see and hear each other in real-time; video sharing, which shows the librarian and the student each other’s screens, making instruction easier to follow; and text chat, which enables the librarian and student to send instant messages in real-time.

“Some databases and search engines can be difficult to use if it’s your first time using them.  The librarians will be able to guide you through the process, making it much easier and beneficial for the student,” said senior administrative assistant at Southeast Missouri State University-Sikeston Rhonda Clark. 

“Sometimes people need visual assistance to understand.  By being able to see each other face-to-face and sharing screens, we can help them,” added Vicki Gruzynski, Information Services Librarian at Kent Library. “We wanted to do more outreach for the satellite campuses and be more available to the students there.”

The new service is made possible by a $330,000 Congressionally-directed grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase access to the library’s services for students in the Bootheel, specifically at Southeast’s Kennett, Malden and Sikeston campuses.  

The virtual reference librarian is available to students four days a week.  Hours for the spring semester are 2-4 p.m. on Mondays, 8-10 a.m. on Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-noon on Wednesdays and 4-6 p.m. on Thursdays.

For more information on the virtual reference librarian, contact the Kent Library reference desk at (573) 651-2230 or e-mail kentreference@semo.edu.