Need help at Briggs?

Adam Junker

The library assistants at the Hilton M. Briggs Library make it their business to help students in their research. The library research assistants are also known as librarians at the Briggs Library.

If there is anything a student needs to find for research, a research assistant can check online databases or files of documentation to aid a student in his or her quest for information.

The assistants will then help locate the indicated information. If the information is not in the library, then they can get the resource from another library. Research assistants find out first what it is that a student needs and then what level of information the student needs.

Library administration is a complex system. The chief university librarian – the director of Briggs Library – oversees everything. There are a total of 12 faculty members. Their educational background must include two Master’s degrees in library science or associated programs.

The faculty is split into three units of service. These units are Public Services, Technical Services and the University Archives. A department head oversees each service unit. In each service department, research assistants are tasked with making documents available to the public, as well aiding students in locating government documents and microfilm, documents, or journals for students’ research.

The Briggs Library is also a federal depository library, an institution made by the Federal Depository Library Program. This means that the library receives federal documents from the government printing office for free, with the stipulation that those documents are checked out and used without restriction.

‘Trying to educate students’

Vickie Mix, assistant professor and government documents librarian, oversees the library’s adherence to the federal depository guidelines under Title XLIV of the United States Library Code. These guidelines include making documents public and reporting library conditions.

Mix said the Briggs Library receives about 76 percent of federally distributed documents. This makes the Briggs Library the largest depository library in South Dakota.

“We’re trying to educate students into becoming more information literate,” said Mix. “They must not only learn how to find information, but they must also learn to accomplish specific research purposes in an academic, ethical and decipherable way.”

One online resource used is the InterLibrary Loan, or ILLiad, which can be found on Desire2Learn. With this system, students can get items from other libraries on loan, sometimes costing up to $20; however, journal articles are free.

According to Mix, along with the ILLiad, the library has started to produce more video tutorials and software. Podcasts and other web-based technologies are new ways to deliver services to students.

“Today, we have such marvelous tools,” said Mix. “We now have online chat and real-time virtual reference. Currently, it’s called Meebo. We’ve been engaged with that for about a decade now.”

Service points students in right direction

The Technical Services branch includes acquisitions, cataloging and serials, which all point students in the direction of the right sources they need to find. Librarians in cataloging create catalog records, organize information by labeling those records and make bar codes for each record. Those in the Acquisitions Department are the ones who buy the books that are not government documents or serials.

The Serials Department purchases the serial numbers, which help identify resources appropriate for information services to have. The Public Services Department then makes those resources available.

Material accessible anywhere

The University Archives Department processes and preserves documents important to a student’s historical research. Objects like staples, clips and newspaper clippings are removed from documents because of their acidic components that might damage the documents.

Stephen Van Bruen, Archives Department head, and Ruby Wilson, a Daschle Project associate, make sure every document in the archives collection is in PDF documents on the library website. Students can check those PDF files out and print them anytime off campus, so they do not have to go to the library.