We recently had a chat with Sarah, a new Academic Support Librarian at Warwick. They spoke about 19th century icons, education systems and much more. Here are the highlights!
By Matt Munnelly
Sarah Akhtaruzzaman joined the Library Team as an Academic Support Librarian in January of this year. Sarah is ASL for; Chinese, Creative Writing, English, French, German, Hispanic, Italian and Translation Studies; the Language Centre; and my subject, Philosophy. Before coming to Warwick, she worked at Aston University doing a similar role. She studied in the UK and Germany on a range of subjects. I also found out she’s currently reading the (by the sounds of it) entertaining and iconic Diaries of Anne Lister. Beyond work, she’s interested in education systems and rides a motorcycle.
How have you found working at the Library so far?
Sarah’s role is different from her previous one at Aston, in that she gets to work in specific subjects – her work previously had a broader scope. She’s blown away by the other ASLs, who have ‘encyclopaedic knowledge’ of the subjects. Sarah worked at the Warwick Library briefly 10 years ago, and was shocked when some members of staff remembered her! She’s happy to now be a part of that team.
Do you prefer hard copies of books, or digital?
As a student, Sarah preferred print copies. That is, until she got to her Masters dissertation – she had to start using digital because she lived quite a while away from her library. This came as an opportunity for learning, however. There’s a different way to study with E-Books, and grasping that method makes using them a lot more rewarding. eBooks are good for acting as quick-use resources that help you find specific pieces of information you need (especially using the search function!) But for in-depth reading, hard copies are the way to go. When it comes to novels and pleasure reading, hard copies are always better. Sarah notes that this is all dependent on your accessibility needs, so might not stand for everyone. There are plenty of resources to help with accessing resources if you need it. Visit this link for assistive software, or read this previous blog post about the library’s accessibility support.
How do you feel about the subjects you support? Are there particular topics in those subjects that you’re particularly interested in?
Since her first degree involved a lot of English and Comparative Studies, Sarah has an affinity with this subject. She seems to have a passion for all kinds of language studies, so it makes sense that she likes her job assisting students studying various languages.Sarah also tells me that she thinks philosophy is particularly valuable for its impact on the plasticity of someone’s thought process.
What resources would you recommend most highly to students?
There are plenty of areas, particularly digital, that are underused. The databases, when sorted by subject are a really good way of finding a wealth of papers relevant to some topic or other you’re looking in to. Sarah points out that, if you don’t have access to a streaming service but would like to watch something, you might want to have a look at Box of Broadcasts ;).
She’d like to encourage students just to have a look at the online database about anything that interests them – whether you’re interested in Tolkien or Local History, you can find some fascinating stuff via the library website. In doing so, you might pick up some research skills that you can transfer to your studies!
Finally, the most important question: what’s your karaoke piece?
Sarah’s first though is Bohemian Rhapsody: it’s entertaining, and you’re guaranteed to be only one of many voices singing along by the end of the song! If not that song, then she’d probably do an Abba song, since she knows their whole discography!
If you’d like to find out who your ASL is, visit https://warwick.ac.uk/services/library/subjects/, where their information and email addresses can be found.
What tips from Sarah did you find helpful? Would you like your Academic Support Librarian to be interviewed in the next issue? Tweet us @warwicklibrary, message us on Instagram @warwicklibrary, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org