University Library, Cal State L.A. | Spotlight

Haras, Portilla Omidsalar garner national librarianship award

PAIR program at CSULA recognized for innovative peer mentoring assistance

Research writing tips
for students:

1. Make sure you have read and understand your assignment.

2. Time manage your project—start with the due date and work backwards. If you run into problems, then you still have time to find sources elsewhere.

3. ASK for help at the beginning—not at the end—of your project. Save time: Contact the CSULA Reference Desk, Peer-Aided Information Research program, your professor during office hours, the University Writing Center, or the University Tutorial Center.

4. Have a research topic that you can play with.

5. Deal with one piece of your project at a time.

6. Get to know your sources: Figure out which will serve your project best (See #3), especially if the project is for a class in your major.

7. In Google, you are only as good as your keywords; use search engines last, not first.

8. Learn how information is organized. Become a better consumer of information by taking a library class or workshop.

For their leadership in a peer mentor program, Catherine Haras and Teresa Portilla Omidsalar of Cal State L.A.’s University Library have been named the 2011 recipients of the ProQuest Innovation in College Librarianship Award.

Picture of Catherine Haras and Teresa Portillo Omidsalar.
Pictured: (l-r) Catherine Haras and Teresa Portilla Omidsalar, who are named the recipients of the 2011 ProQuest Innovation in College Librarianship Award.

The ProQuest award honors American Library Association (ALA) members who have demonstrated a capacity for innovation in their work with undergraduates, instructors and/or the library community.

Spearheaded by both Haras and Portilla Omidsalar, the PAIR (Peer-Aided Information Research) program is focused on promoting academic production and performance through improved papers and other work products; establishing service points outside the Library to reach students with a point of need; developing superior information and leadership skills in Library student assistants; and promoting the academic mission of the University Library. It is funded through the University’s Instructionally-Related Activities (IRA) grant.

“Haras and Portilla Omidsalar were chosen for the award because the PAIR program has proven to be a sustainable and adaptable program, which has empowered students to be mentors to their peers and assist them with their research,” said award committee Chair Stacy L. Voeller, an electronic resources librarian at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. “This creative use of students allows them to develop their own educational skills while assisting others, and also provides experiences which encourage them to enter the library profession.”

“The PAIR service reaches students at their point of need. It is a reminder that research, like writing, is an iterative skill and takes a lot of practice,” said Haras, who serves as the University Library’s information literacy coordinator. “We are very grateful to the University Writing Center for coordinating with us to deliver this service in tandem with its own writing services.”

Portilla Omidsalar, who serves as the University Library’s education liaison and reference services coordinator, said, “Credit for the award should also go to the dedicated PAIR students who provide mentoring on a daily basis.”

The annual award will be presented to Haras and Portillo Omidsalar by the Association of College and Research Libraries at the College Libraries Section program of the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA, on Saturday, June 25.

For more about the PAIR program:

PAIR, formally called the Peer-Aided Information Research program, is an expanded research assistance service program that trains peers as mentors to help other students with basic research needs outside the Library. The select group of student mentors from the Library’s Reference Desk and Rover (document delivery service) programs take ownership of this program by advertising the service, delivering it and assisting in quarterly data analysis.

PAIR services are currently offered in the context of one-on-one clinics at the University Writing Center (UWC) Monday through Thursday, from noon to 6 p.m. The UWC is located in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, Palmer Wing, Room 2097. For details, call (323) 343-5350.

Find out more at the following links: