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Peer Information Counseling Program

Nichol Perez
Nichol Perez.

Wagner Alcivar
Wagner Alcivar.

Michael Jen
Michael Jen.

Dana Library is proud to introduce a new program aimed at helping to support student research and access to information, through individuals very familiar to students - their peers. The Peer Information Counseling Program (PIC) chooses undergraduate students typically in their sophomore or junior year and trains them in basic reference work. Such training includes database searching, the use of the library catalog, an introduction to RefWorks, print and book searches, among other things. The student counselors can then use this knowledge to assist students with basic reference questions, as well as freeing librarians to address the more specific and discipline-oriented research questions students may have. Using the PIC program at the University of Michigan ("http://www.lib.umich.edu/shapiro-undergraduate-library/undergraduate-library-about-peer-information-counseling-program) as a model, Dana Library hopes that the Peer Information Counselors will be able to facilitate student learning and academic achievement.

PIC at Dana Library began this summer with three undergraduate students, all currently in their junior year.

  • Nichol Perez is an English major who works in the circulation department of the library.
  • Wagner Alcivar is a biology major as well as an employee in the circulation department.
  • Michael Jen is an economics and history double major, recently elected as student government Senator and research assistant to Assistant Chancellor and Director of Dana Library Mark Winston.

Reference librarian Roberta Tipton trained the three undergraduate counselors in basic reference skills, and hopes to help initiate their proposals for interaction with students through technology. The counselors will serve in an assistantship role to librarians who do instruction on library research for Rutgers-Newark courses, as well as enhancing the library's use of technology.

The Peer Information Counseling Program is supported by the Diversity Research Center, which was launched in Spring 2010 to conduct research, both academic and institutional, on diversity issues and to support diversity work related to library science. The center sponsors a visiting scholar on diversity each year, and the 2010-2011 scholar, Dr. Karen Downing included the development of a PIC program as part of her recommendations.

"The Dana library is to be applauded for its decision to institute a Peer Information Counseling Program! There is solid research that points to the efficacy of peer teaching and learning, and research that shows the many positive outcomes specifically associated with PIC programs for library users, the PIC students, and library staff -- it is a win/win decision to implement PIC," said Dr. Downing.

Written by Merve Fejzula, Program Coordinator for the Diversity Research Center and the Peer Information Counseling Program. You can reach her at fejzula@andromeda.rutgers.edu. Photographs were taken by Robert Nahory.

Posted August 2011