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"Hey, very cool," commented undergraduate students as they entered Loker Commons midday and saw Jeff Kosokoff, head of reference services at Lamont, sitting right inside the door. Kosokoff may claim these greetings were provoked by his winsome smile, but it may have had more to do with the sign on the table in front of him announcing, "Roving Librarian, Research Assistance for the Undergraduate Student on the Run."

Harvard College Library's "Roving Librarian" is a pilot project that brings library services into the areas of students' everyday lives. Using a wireless laptop, reference librarians take HOLLIS, the "Harvard Libraries" portal, HCL's Research Guides, and a variety of finding aids—many of the primary undergraduate research tools—out of the library and into non-academic spaces where students spend time. The reference librarian is available to answer questions, assist in research, help locate material, and encourage the students to keep the library and librarians at the forefront of their research.

"We've had a great response from the students and a warm reception from the building administrators at the Loker Commons," said Kosokoff. "We decided to initiate the Roving Librarian in Loker Commons because it is a high-traffic area for undergraduate students, many of whom stop to pick up sack lunches rather than travel back to their houses over the lunch hour. And as you can see by the smiles and nods, we are getting their attention." For the Roving Librarian pilot project, librarians were on duty in Loker Commons until May 8. Participating HCL reference librarians include Kosokoff and Sue Gilroy from Lamont; Chao Chen from Hilles; and Elaine Clement, Ann Robinson, and Dana Mastroianni from Cabot.

According to Heather Cole, the librarian of both Hilles and Lamont libraries, "The commitment of the three undergraduate libraries—Lamont, Hilles, and Cabot Science—to better serve the undergraduate population, as well as the support of HCL for the purchase of high-quality portable hardware and the widening availability of wireless connectivity across the College, facilitated the advent of the Roving Librarian. We are now ready to pilot outreach actions that follow students into their residential and other non-academic haunts. The next step for the library," Cole continued, "is to create partnerships with the dorms and houses to create Roving Librarian hours in these spaces."

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Last modified on Wednesday, May 14, 2003.