Auburn Family

An Auburn Librarian Who is Just a Click Away

Ms. Marilyn Christianson has been an Auburn University librarian since 2003 but her experience goes back to 1976. Before Auburn, she worked at Louisiana State University and works with the popular Ask A Librarian function for Auburn University Libraries.


1. How long have you been helping Auburn students through the Ask a Librarian Chat function?
I’ve been helping Auburn students with our chat service since 2003, when I came from LSU.  I worked at the chat service there too, from about 2001, I think, if memory serves me, which it often doesn’t.  Dr. Tim Dodge, our history librarian, says we have had a chat service here at Auburn since 1999.  He’s good with that kind of knowledge.

2. What is your primary goal when working with a student?
Our best hope is to show students how to do things such as find relevant and high-quality material in a way that they can learn to independently find material on their own.  Sometimes, however, students just need a quick answer, such as to what years of a journal they have access, or what the library hours are.

3. What is your librarian history? How long have you been doing it, how did you get into the profession, etc
I’ve been a librarian since 1976, ‘way back when chatting with a patron meant not working on what he/she needed. I first thought I wanted to be a music librarian, but over time I moved over to being a science librarian.  Science librarians had better job prospects and more interesting databases, at least at that time. About mid-career, I started to see email reference questions come in and they continue to do so today. Instant Messaging and iPhone communication with libraries are happening, but still aren’t the best media for this kind communication. We also can answer reference questions via if our chat service is unavailable or if it is easier to ask that way.

4. How many students do you chat with on an average day? Any interesting stories that you can recall?
Our chat service volume varies widely with the time of the academic year. I looked at last week’s chat sessions, and we had 66 real chat sessions that week.
My best stories are about helping discover scholars who, uh, were exceptionally creative, shall we call it, in their bibliographies and vita credits, and also those who helped themselves to others’ research and republished it, sometimes in another language.  Fortunately, not here at Auburn!  As with the other reference questions we work on, I wouldn’t be able to tell you about them.

5. What is your most rewarding thing you get out of being a librarian here at Auburn University?
I’ve always loved to work with members of the academic community to find what others are reporting in the area of interest.  The mystery citation they desperately need, the earlier articles to support their current work. Auburn University is also a welcoming community. Nobody needs to be a stranger. I love it here, except for missing Baton Rouge food!

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