Crash Course in Using the George A. Smathers Libraries

4 Get to Know the Library Experts

Libraries work because of library workers! There are so many folks who work in the libraries at UF who all play an important part — about three hundred full time faculty and staff, as well as another three hundred student assistants.

Service Desk Workers: The Friendliest Faces

The heart of the library is the service desk. When you visit each of the Libraries’ branches, the library experts at the service desks are here to welcome you into the building, assist with checking out items, and help with whatever you need.

At the desk, you can ask questions about everything library related! Whether that’s finding the call number for a book, using course reserves, learning how to print and scan, getting access to spaces like study rooms, checking your account for overdue items, and lots more.

Library workers at the service desk can also get you started with basic research questions for your classes. For in-depth research help, they might refer you to your subject librarian for an appointment.

Subject Librarians: Your Personal Research Helper

Two people doing a the Gator Chomp standing behind a table. On the table is a 3D printer, laptop, and small 3D printed items
There’s a subject librarian for every major: Michelle and Jean are both engineering librarians. (Photograph by S. Moxy Moczygemba.)

If you’re looking for a specialist for more specific guidance on resources for your classes, contact your subject librarian! They are experts in their field and can help you find information pertaining to your subject area.

In addition to pointing you toward relevant scholarly resources, subject librarians can also help with every part of your research process, from picking databases to clarifying citation styles for different disciplines to helping you brainstorm a topic for your paper.

Talking to your subject librarian is a great place to start your project or research. The best way to reach your subject librarian and set an appointment is through email.

When in doubt, contact your subject specialist librarian!

Subject/Area Specialists


To learn more about what subject librarians can do for you and how to contact them, check out this tutorial video from the Libraries:

(Video above was created by the Libraries Information Literacy Committee. To see more, check out the Libraries Tutorials page.)

Behind-the-Scenes Workers: Keeping the Library Running

You will probably meet library staff at a service desk when you visit the building. You will (hopefully!) meet a librarian for research help. But you might not meet the all people working behind the scenes. Here is a little more information about what else is going on to keep the Libraries running.


Access and Resource Sharing: If you ever request an inter-library loan, these are the people who work with other libraries to get you what you need. This department also coordinates course reserves.

Access and Support Services: They make the library usable. At each branch, these library workers have duties such as working at the service desks, reshelving books, checking items in and out, operating reading rooms, opening/closing the building, and more. These workers are referred to as “Access Services,” “User Services,” “Public Services,” or “Academic Support Services” depending on the library branch.

Acquisitions and Collections Services: This department works with publishers and librarians to negotiate, purchase, and ensure access to all the stuff in the Libraries, both electronic and physical.

Administration: Departments like human resources, grants management, and payroll services work internally in the Libraries. Communications and Exhibits share information and cool materials with the public.

Assessment: They collect and analyze data about the Libraries’ services, collections, and physical spaces. They make recommendations about how to improve what the Libraries offer students.

Conservation and Preservation: This group has experts in maintaining and repairing rare materials to keep them intact. They also work on conditions like temperature and humidity in the storage buildings themselves to keep items safe.

Digital Partnerships and Strategies: This department works on initiatives like improving textbook affordability, promoting open access, and publishing books (like this one!). They also work with international partners on large projects.

Digital Support Services: Workers in this department add new materials to the digital collection and digitize existing print ones. If you write an undergraduate thesis, you can send it to them to save permanently!

Facilities: Facilities workers keep the building clean and functional. Say thank you when you see these vital employees!

Library Technology Services: These are the IT workers who maintain the websites, software, and all tech aspects of using the Libraries, both for the library workers’ computers and the public facing ones.

Resource Description Services: What good is having a library if you can’t find anything in it? This group catalogs items in the Libraries and adds metadata so that we can search for what we want.


Library workers at Library West wearing red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple clothes to form a rainbow.
Library West workers are excited to help you throughout your time at UF! (Photograph courtesy of Library West.)


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Undergraduate Guide to the George A. Smathers Libraries Copyright © 2022 by Nabil M. Chowdhury; Ava K. Kaplan; Cassidy Smith; Omolola Suleiman; Alexandrea Glenn; and Michelle M. Nolan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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