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Helping Students Puzzle Through Research Problems

Reference Librarian Claire stands with part of Grafton Library’s collection.

Olivia Samerdyke, Editor in Chief

Students at MBC often find themselves in need of research assistance, particularly at this time of year with “Hell Week” and Finals Week not so far off in the future.   Grafton Library provides such assistance with its Reference Staff year-round, and with the Eleventh Hour Paper Power events in both the Fall and Spring.  Claire Ruswick is part of that team.

Originally from another college-town, Ithaca NY, she earned her undergraduate degree at SUNY Geneseo, a state university of New York.  She had a double major in History and Music.  Her interest in History, as well as her job as a Reference Desk Assistant sparked her interest in Library Science.

“I liked doing research for my History major,” Claire said.

And she liked her job.  Library School became the next step for her education after graduation from Geneseo.

“I didn’t have too much indecision,” she recalled when asked about her career path.

But before attending graduate school, Claire first did a volunteer year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. They placed her at the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless.  She worked with people about to lose their homes, FEMA, and Social Services to strategize ways to find housing for the soon-to-be homeless.

After her volunteer year ended, she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and worked in their library while studying to earn her Master’s Degree in Library Science.

After she finished with school and was applying for jobs, Claire came across Mary Baldwin College.  She thought that Staunton would be a nice place to work and started here at MBC in 2010.  In addition to working at the Reference Desk, she also teaches Information Literacy— a course that teaches students how to research effectively.

Although she welcomes all research questions from students, she especially fond of those relating to Civil Rights History because of her background studying that topic as an undergrad.  Questions about citations and styles are also something she enjoys helping students sort through.

“They’re like puzzles,” she explained.  “It’s about practice and knowing where to find the answer.”

Claire also likes the fact that MBC is a small college, which makes it easier to get to know people.  The Baldwin community is more welcoming than the larger universities where one might not just run into the same person twice on campus.

Off campus, Claire continues to use her background in Music by singing.  She is a member of two different singing groups. The first is Zephyrus, Central Virginia’s Early Music Vocal Ensemble.  They sing medieval-style music a capella.  She also belongs to Virginia Consort, a chamber chorus based in Charlottesville, VA.

After December 14th, all students will be off campus for the holiday, probably quite relieved after turning in papers and their exams.  Before that happens, they should take advantage of the Eleventh Hour Paper Power opportunity to help them study or tweak those last research papers.  And they should look for Claire Ruswick then and anytime at the reference desk in Grafton Library.


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