Spartans of UD: Becky Canovan

Sep 6, 2017 | Stacey Ortman, director of public information

Spartans of UD is a new feature that will highlight what makes University of Dubuque special – the people who live, work, and study on campus. Becky Canovan is our first feature. She is one of three reference and instruction librarians at the Charles C. Myers Library. This academic year, Becky celebrates her 10th year working at the library and being a UD Spartan.

Becky Canovan - Spartans of UD - No.1
Reference and Instruction Librarian

1. What does the job of a reference and instruction librarian entail? Do you have other roles on the UD campus?

“A big part of my job is right there in the title. I spend about 10 hours a week staffing the reference desk answering questions that range from "How do I print from my laptop?" to "Can you help me find precedent court cases for my sports law scenario?" A lot of the rest of my week is spent in classes teaching students how to find and evaluate information, think about the research process, and explore resources to help answer their research questions. Last year I taught about 130 of these sessions in core classes and the liaison departments I work with like Sociology and Health, Wellness, and Sport. I've also co-taught a J-Term class about sociological themes in Doctor Who and Star Trek, and I've co-run the Young Adult Book Club since 2010.”

2. What do you enjoy most about working in the Charles C. Myers Library?

“It's going to sound a bit cheesy, but I love that every day is different, whether I'm learning something unique or meeting someone new or solving a problem I haven't seen before. It's never the same. Even teaching the same class in back-to-back hours can be a completely different experience. Plus I love the people I work with, from the library staff to faculty and our students!”

3. Is there an aspect to your job that some people don’t know about?

“I love to be creative, and my job at the library has given me lots of outlets for that creativity. I chair the displays committee on staff, so I get to help design all the displays, signs, and interactive displays you see in the library. Plus I get to read a story to 20ish toddlers after they do a fun craft project for a toddler story time once a semester we host. And I also get to feed my love of cooking and baking each year during the annual Celebration of Faculty & Staff Scholarship & Creativity when I help make the food for the event.”

4. What are some the more unusual or unique student requests that you’ve had over the years?

“A few years ago a student came in and asked for help finding a book he saw a girl he liked reading on the Quad. I thought it was pretty sweet that he wanted to read it to impress her. And then he saw the cover. It wasn't something he was ready to be seen reading in public, so we covered the book with a random gift book cover we found so he could read it in public! I've also answered reference questions from UD students in some pretty interesting locations like the organic section of the grocery store, a faculty friend's dinner party (the babysitter was a UD student), and between rounds of pub trivia.”

5. What is your advice to students who are new to campus?

“Don't be afraid to ask for help; it's part of the college experience. Everyone here wants to see you succeed: library staff, professors, coaches, Residence Life staff, food service staff, everyone! So don't be afraid to introduce yourself, say hi, ask that question you wonder about, or get that help you might need.”

6. What is the one book you couldn’t live without? Why?

“I couldn't live without my copy of Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. I really love the story, but what makes this copy special is the fact that seven of my friends and I have written and doodled in it. We basically did sort of a traveling book club where I made comments and asked questions and starred all the songs on the playlists I owned, and then I mailed it to my friends that live all over the country to do the same in different colored pens. Then for my birthday one of my friends contacted the author and sent her my copy so she could sign it too. She signed it, took some pictures to share on social media, and wrote us a letter that she shipped back with a bunch of free books and swag. It was one of the best birthday gifts ever!”