Balaraba Sule, Federal university of Technology, Minna/Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida University Lapai and MSU NAPP Scholar (2019)
Coming to Michigan State University (MSU) for the first time as a Visiting Scholar of the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project, one of the induction programs laid out was a visit to the main library at MSU. Friday, 11th January 2019 was scheduled for the exciting experience. Suzanne Teghtmeyer a librarian in the Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics discipline was the tour instructor. The first thing that struck me on entering the library was the large spacious entrance and the enveloping warmth more so as it affords me the opportunity to escape the cold weather! On arrival, we met with Suzanne who subsequently introduced us to Erik Ponder and Jessica Achberger, both librarians under the Africa Studies section of the Library.
The enthusiasm of our instructor, Suzanne, coupled with the available resources at the Library changed my perspective of a library from that of a reading area to a research resource center for that is a phrase that best describes the MSU library. In addition to the basic resources of a library which include books, periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, films, maps, prints, documents, microform, CDs, cassettes, videotapes, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, e-books, audiobooks, databases, and other formats, MSU has much more in terms of resources and physical structures. Reading in the MSU library is a stimulating experience. The comfort of the user is the keyword in all areas and sections of the library. Automated book shelves give way at the press of a button to make you reach out to that particular book you need to borrow. Where you cannot get what you need, you can put an Inter Library Loan (ILL) request for it to be sourced from other Libraries in Michigan through the Inter Library Services (ILS). The smooth relationship between all libraries is enhanced through their membership of the Michigan Electronic Library Consortium. For students that prefer reading in the comfort of their homes, they can log in to the library website and get access to all the materials they need for their research. In case difficulties are encountered, the 24/7 chat service is available for the students to contact a reference librarian that could help out. All that is needed is Spartan Identity Card! Are you tired of reading on your own or desire explanation from a friend? The west wing of the MSU Library offers several rooms and halls strewn with comfortable seats and tables for group discussions. Perhaps you are hungry after a long period of reading, you could easily stroll to the cafeteria for a snack and a drink. If you prefer carrying your own lunch, microwave ovens are accessible for you to warm up your lunch. Or are you simply bored? You are also covered! It was interesting to learn that MSU Library has the largest movie/DVD collections in the United States. You can actually take a break to play video games or watch that movie you have been longing to watch!
Suzanne is a “pro”, as they say, in the field of Agricultural Economics. She is highly knowledgeable and efficient. I could not resist asking if there was a scholarly condition to be fulfilled before one could be employed in the MSU library. Her answer gave me hope for I believe this is at least an area where Nigeria can start to make a difference in the way we operate our libraries. We were made to understand that most of the librarians in MSU have a Master’s degree in Library Science and the area covered in one’s undergraduate study has a bearing on the discipline one may work under in any given library. It was fascinating to learn that quite a number of MSU librarians have multiple Master’s degrees and even PhDs. in some cases. I believe this qualification sustains the enthusiasm and vast knowledge of discipline desirable in librarians. Back home in Nigeria, the emphasis for a prerequisite for employment as a Librarian could be made more on a Master’s degree in Library Science while the first degree could be in any chosen field of interest. I believe Nigeria can get there for the MSU library’s first location was a single room on the third floor of College Hall.
In conclusion, it was a relief to learn that training on the use of the library resources is a prerequisite for both undergraduate and graduate students of the University. This implies other students are just as lost as we were and needed to be introduced to a whole new world of research resources at MSU Library.