Library Student Employee Innovator

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Nick Benningfield develops an interactive map of library technology

The University of Washington Tacoma Library has excellent student employees. Our student employees often serve as the face of the library, helping to staff the Circulation, Library Technology, Reference, and Service desks during the 82.5 hours the library is open each week. Without student employees our library could not provide the same level of service to UW Tacoma and the community at large.

Student employees are also able to work on special projects under the supervision of library staff. Library staff take the role of mentoring student employees seriously, helping them to develop valuable academic and career skills for life after college. An example of one such project, is an interactive map* that was created by Nick Benningfield. Nick has been working at our library over three years and will graduate this spring with a bachelor of science in Computer and Science Systems.  

Describe what you created.

“I created two web pages with interactive maps that allow visitors to mouse over portions of the map to find out what services are offered and where. If you mouse over a computer on the map, it will highlight text that is listed below the map and highlight all other computer locations. Or, if a patron wants a printer but doesn't know where it is, they can mouse over the printer text below the map to highlight printer positions. Need an ADA station but do not want to ask where it is? Highlight the ADA text to find it on the map. I also hope that it will eventually evolve to display more information such as programs installed on computers or other items that are available for checkout from the Circulation and Service desks.”

Why did you create this product? How do you think it will help UW Tacoma students?

“I created the website to help new or returning students locate stations that they might not have known about. For instance, the mac is in a far corner of the library and most people don't know it is there. I want patrons to be able to go to our site and be able to find the two macs we have in the building, the projector room, and the scanner locations. I hope it allows people to more readily use the UW Tacoma Library’s resources.”

How has the UW Tacoma Library helped you as a student?

“I have been working for the library for over 3 years now as a Circulation and an IT Assistant. I have always used libraries to help with reading for personal use, but before this job I rarely used them for research. Working at the library has introduced me to the kinds of technology and help the library has to offer, including reference assistance and even just study areas. Working here has even helped me develop socially. Before, I was a very shy person that never liked to start conversations. Telling that to most of my coworkers now would bring shocked looks.”

Will the skills you have learned working here help you in your anticipated career? If yes, how?

“As a soon to be CSS graduate, I have a pretty good idea how to develop and implement programs. However, my actually computer knowledge (editing the Register, accessing administrative controls, writing scripts, etc.) was very rudimentary. Working as an IT Assistant has helped round off my skills to better function as a developer and increased my background knowledge in day-to-day problems that can occur in large computer networks. Working on the map in particular has helped me develop my skills with web-coding languages, such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.”

*Note: This map is still in development and is not yet mobile-friendly.

Written by: 
Kathleen Monks / May 13, 2015
Media contact: 

Kathleen Monks