Meeting a Reference Librarian at UVa-Wise

A Reflection on Research and Resources

UVa-Wise Library Books 6th Floor Inside (Turner, 2019)

When I enrolled as a freshman at UVa-Wise in 2016, the college had just opened its brand-new library, a beautiful six floor building that has many different resources on each floor. However, while I learned to spend time using the study spaces and printers from the beginning of my first year, I never took the opportunity to reach out to the librarians in the library and learn about all the different resources available to me as a student collectively. For this reason, I was particularly excited for this exercise because I anticipated that I would discover many resources I didn’t know existed and that I would be able to get answers to questions that I have about research and the library in general.

I met with UVa-Wise reference librarian Shannon Steffey on Wednesday, January 6th during convocation hour at one p.m., and in fifty short minutes, she changed my life and greatly informed my research process—That is no exaggeration either!

As soon as I traveled to her office and knocked on the door, she greeted me warmly and immediately pulled up the chair behind her desk so that I could sit and see her computer screen, which she had readied to teach me everything I needed to know.

First, she showed me the online library portal available to UVa-Wise students, a place where students can access different databases and digital collections. In the portal, Shannon walked me through a database called Access World News. The database was filled with many different periodicals and news media sources, especially local papers that I hadn’t been able to find online or on any other sources. After inputting some keywords from my chosen censorship case, a local challenge of Clyde Edgerton’s The Floatplane Notebooks, the database found several articles (around seven) all related to my topic, which solved one early concern I had about a lack of news material on my case!

Between Aisles of Books in the UVa-Wise Library (Turner, 2019)

Another important resource Shannon explained to me was Wiley Online Library, which has a feature where articles that appear in the ending citations of other articles are sometimes hot linked in the reference list, making finding and exploring sources easier. Generally, the database offers me an additional outlet for research by making scholarly sources that may not be on other databases available for me to study. 

During the last quarter of our meeting, I took the opportunity to ask Shannon questions that I had about different offices and processes in the library. For example, I asked Shannon about the process for interlibrary loans. I had heard about interlibrary loans in several different courses, but I never had a reason or opportunity to look in to how the process worked and how it could help me as a student. Shannon was able to show me how to access all the necessary forms and gave me an understanding of the timeframe of interlibrary loans for different types of materials. The second major resource I took the opportunity to ask about was special collections. Shannon walked me through the process of requesting permission to visit special collections, taught me about different resources in the collections, and showed me who to contact if I needed to access that feature of the library. Beyond those major questions, I also took the time to ask about finding images on databases in the library or in other sources and learned about several different types of technology, such as tablets and laptops, that the library has available for UVa-Wise students.

I left the library and logged in to class at two p.m. brimming with new resources, new project ideas, and a heightened understanding and appreciation of a library that I already loved to spend time in!


Turner, T. (Photographer). (2019, February 11). Between Aisles of Books in the UVa-Wise Library [Personal photograph taken in UVa-Wise].

Turner, T. (Photographer). (2019, February 11). UVa-Wise Library Books 6th Floor Inside [Personal photograph taken in UVa-Wise].

Access World News. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2019, from

Wiley Online Library. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2019, from

*Note on blog post references: In an attempt to challenge and grow my skills in navigating WordPress, I have hot linked the database sources in the blog post. However, in case the links do not work or convey the proper citation, I have also re-listed the linked pages in my reference list.