by Alex Pijanowski and Bill Gardner
Students may use the job database Symplicity to help map out their future careers, but the number of links on Kenyon students’ Personal Access Pages is anything but simple.
Ron Griggs, vice president for Library and Information Services (LBIS), and President Sean Decatur are working on an easier way for students to approach their lives after graduation with Kenyon Compass, a web-based program that will give Kenyon students their own personalized search engine. The unveiling of Compass comes at a time when LBIS is also offering its first research-skills course to strengthen the link between the library’s research resources and the work Kenyon students do in the classroom.
“There are connections with faculty, there are connections with alumni, who can mentor people who are interested in a career,” Griggs said. “All of these things are part of what Kenyon has today, but they are not easily findable.”
Kenyon Compass will bring the different functions of Kenyon’s various web services together, making it easier for students to access the programs that the College has to offer, such as Switchboard, which is designed to connect alumni and students, and Symplicity, which helps students find jobs during and after college, according to Decatur.
After the website is fully developed, students will be able to search for a subject and pull up not only courses on campus, articles or faculty members who are experts in that particular field, but also alumni who have experience with that subject. Decatur said students will also be able to contact these alumni, see internships and job opportunities in areas relating to that subject and how they are best connected to study-abroad experiences all on one web-based service.
“The vision of Kenyon Compass is to help us connect our course catalog and our curriculum to databases on internships and opportunities off campus,” Decatur said.
Griggs, who is working on the project along with startup tech company Pragya Systems, based in Massachusetts, said he hopes to have a version available to students by the fall.
LBIS is also expanding its academic reach, building connections is the offering a special topic course, “Beyond Google: Introduction to Library Research Skills” (INDS 191.00). The course covers the first eight weeks of the semester and is worth 0.25 credit.
Director for Research and Instruction Julia Warga, who runs the course, said the idea came from her personal reflections on semesterly meetings between LBIS’s research librarians and students in the College’s courses that involve a research component, through which the librarians instruct students in basic research practices.
“I’ve always in the back of my mind thought, Wouldn’t it be great if we had a library research skills class where we could actually expand students’ skill sets?” Warga said.
Warga approached Library Director Amy Badertscher last year with the idea to bring a proposal for the course before the Curricular Policy Committee (CPC), which is responsible for adding and removing classes from the College’s course catalogue. The CPC approved Warga’s proposal.
Channa Childs ’19 spoke highly of the interaction the class facilitates between her and the library staff.
“[Warga] is a really great teacher, she’s very sweet and very knowledgeable,” Childs said.
Though at present the course is scheduled to be taught only this year, Warga said she would consider advancing a proposal to make it a regular class.
“It’s a special topic, so this is a test,” Warga said. “If this is a success, I’m actually going to submit a proposal that it become a regular class.”
Warga said she would consider the course a success if it improved the research skill set of its members.
“My hope is that any student who takes this class will be able to come in and be able to be very comfortable navigating the library,” she said.
Christian Solorio ’18, a physics major enrolled in the research skills class, said he was interested in taking it because he wanted to improve his research abilities for courses within his major.
“It deals with stuff that everyone is assumed to have skills in,” Solorio said. “Having a class where you learn proper techniques is really helpful.”
Mara Bower-Leo ’18, a prospective English major also taking the course, has already noticed an improvement in her research abilities.
“For any academic discipline, you need to have a good understanding of how to do effective research,” Bower-Leo said. “This course essentially covers that.”