Students helping students: Libraries' Search Bar reimagines drop-in services

November 07, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The University Libraries’ new first floor space in Pattee Library, called the Search Bar, offers Penn State students a progressive approach to one-stop, peer-to-peer services for students’ technology, writing and library assistance at the University Park campus.

“We believe this new approach will not only empower students to receive assistance in one centralized location with extended hours of service, but also will offer student consultants valuable experience in a collaborative service environment where they can better understand each other’s expertise and also redirect students to additional services at the Search Bar to support their academic success,” Joe Salem, the Libraries’ associate dean for Learning, Undergraduate Services and Commonwealth Campuses, said.

two students sitting and talking in peer consultation space

The Search Bar's hours when Penn State classes are in session are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays — closed Saturdays — in Sidewater Commons, first floor central Pattee Library. 

IMAGE: Public Relations and Marketing, Penn State University Libraries

The Search Bar is a glass-walled, one-on-one service point in Sidewater Commons, first floor central Pattee Library, that features a suite of peer-to-peer services for students, by students. Named with a nod to Apple Stores Genius’ Bar service point, the Search Bar was developed based on observational and data-driven research by faculty librarians and graduate students and created in collaboration with Penn State Learning’s Undergraduate Writing Center and Penn State Information Technology’s Tech Tutors service.

Pattee Library previously hosted peer writing tutors and tech tutors in distinct locations. In the Search Bar, they are now available in a single location alongside trained student workers from Pattee Library and Paterno Library titled peer research consultants. Those consultants are Libraries student employees who have been trained under the leadership of faculty librarians Hailley Fargo, Paula Contreras, Glenn Masuchika and Joe Fennewald, who is head of Pattee Library’s Knowledge Commons and is overseeing the Search Bar.

The Search Bar began offering services during a soft rollout period at the start of the Fall 2017 semester. Following its successful launch, students from all three units are now providing a combination of technology, writing, library reference and related research consultation services on a drop-in basis and through referrals from Pattee Library and Paterno Library’s welcome desks.

The Search Bar is a glass-walled, one-on-one service point in Sidewater Commons, first floor central Pattee Library, that features a suite of technology, writing and library services where students are helping students.

The students working in the Search Bar will offer important, ongoing input toward its future steps, including updates to the physical space to optimize the consultation environment. Similarly, students who receive assistance at the Search Bar will be asked to complete a two-minute survey to provide their input, which will be helpful for ongoing service improvement and assessment.

The Search Bar’s hours when Penn State classes are in session are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays (closed Saturdays), in Sidewater Commons, first floor central Pattee Library. In addition, peer financial educators will be available to offer budget advice in a nearby, private consultation room, W102B Sidewater Commons, during the following fall semester drop-in hours: 1-4 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Tuesdays, 4-5 p.m. Wednesdays and 11 a.m.-noon Fridays.

For more information about the Search Bar, call Fennewald at 814-865-066 or send an email to ul-kc-search-bar@lists.psu.edu.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 08, 2017