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Q&A with Shin Amano, Access Services Specialist

September 12, 2016

When library seating fills up and students double-down to study, filled with the best intentions for the new school year, Shin Amano sees it all. As the Libraries' Access Services Specialist, Shin comes in close contact with clients, answering their questions and helping them find what they need.

Shin Amano stands in the W. W. Hagerty Library

Shin started working at the Drexel Libraries in 2005 as the evening/weekend supervisor and was gradually promoted; he has been in his current position since 2012. Since Shin sees so much of the day-to-day library activity, he was able to shed some light on how students use the library and how library staff keep up with them at such a busy time of year.

Q: What is your role at the Libraries?

My job title is Access Services Specialist II. My responsibilities include coordinating staff coverage at the Library Assistance desks, covering Instant Message chat and monitoring emails. I manage a team of five staff members who are responsible for student worker hiring, training, supervising and time-reporting for all departments. My team also handles daily accounting, including fining and billing patrons for lost or overdue library material.

Q: How did you end up working in a library?

I started working at a library as a work-study student during my undergraduate studies at Temple University between 1997 and 2001. I began studying for my MLIS in 2008 at Drexel's iSchool (now the College of Computing and Informatics) and completed the program in 2012.

Q: What is your favorite part about working in a library?

I enjoy the interaction with our clients and student workers the most. I have always worked in a customer service position and feel most comfortable helping people in person. The students, staff and faculty at Drexel are diverse and I enjoy learning about their cultures, studies and general interests. It is especially fulfilling to see our student workers evolve from first years to seniors; many of them work at the library throughout their entire time at Drexel.

Q: What does Services do to accommodate a large volume of library use?

The beginning of fall term is the busiest with new and returning students. Most of our student worker hiring occurs in September and October. Staffing the Library Assistance desk based on the busiest times of the day allows us to accommodate the high numbers of people we serve.

Q: How many student workers do you hire?

On average we employ around 100 students per year to work in various departments. In the beginning of the academic year (summer/fall) we hire around 50-60 new students and tend to have about 40-50 returning students.

Q: Who are these student workers?

Our student workers come from all backgrounds and areas of study. Graduate and medical students are employed primarily at Hahnemann and Queen Lane Libraries and undergraduates make up most of the students at the Hagerty Library. Students are eligible for the job if they have a Federal work-study grant included with their financial aid packages. A few of our students have gone into librarianship after graduating from Drexel.

Q: When people come to the front desk with questions, what are some of the most common questions you get?

Besides the most common questions about lending of library materials and assisting with printing, we answer a variety of questions. Most are general informational questions regarding the library and university, but we also direct people to the right resources for their questions, whether that is a liaison librarian or someone who can help them set up a DragonFly3 wireless account. I like to compare our library assistance services to a 'concierge' not only for the Libraries, but for the University as a whole.

Q: What would you say is one of the best library resources for students?

Other than the usual services and information resources (reference consultation, course reserves, databases and printing), the best resource is the building itself. The Libraries is centrally located across campus in four locations and is the best place to collaborate with other students. Our group study rooms are used by a diverse group of students and reservations tend to fill up days in advance. A lot of group studying happens, but most importantly the Libraries offers a safe environment conducive to learning.

Q: Do you see certain visitors regularly?

We have many students, staff and faculty utilizing the Libraries regularly. I enjoy engaging in conversations with them and I feel it adds to the quality of our service.

Q: Do you ever use the Libraries for your personal use?

I am a person who likes to know a little bit about everything, especially history and urban planning. I use our electronic resources frequently to find information on a specific topic that I find interesting.

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