Student Profile on Roxanne Kalenborn

UBC Library offers work experiences to undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of roles, from book shelving to assisting with reference questions, conducting assessments of library web resources, and helping with collection development projects.

Roxanne Kalenborn, a current graduate student in the UBC Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) degree program, has held many positions at the Vancouver campus of UBC Library since 2015 including:

Roxanne also has the distinction of being an inaugural winner of the 2016 Tremaine Arkley Croquet Collection Prize.

We spoke to Roxanne about her experiences working with various library departments and her advice for students interested in roles with UBC Library.


What was the most interesting part of your roles with UBC Library?

Coming from an undergraduate background in History and now as a graduate student in Library and Information Studies, my experience with academic research thus far had been mostly limited to those subjects. During my work as a Student Reference Librarian, I gained exposure to other academic disciplines through the questions patrons would ask. I particularly liked the questions I got at the David Lam Library concerning marketing trends and product research.

What has surprised you most about the Library?

Before I worked for the Library, I had no idea just how many services and resources are available beyond books, movies, and electronic resources. I think it is really neat that students can check out everything from headphones to Arduino boards and even iPhone chargers. It shows that libraries can provide so much more to patrons than traditional materials, in a way that serves modern students’ needs.

Of the Library’s six aspirational values, which one most describes your experiences as a student employee and why?

One of the best parts of having a variety of roles within the UBC Library system was gaining experience in many different departments. This was great because these roles suited both parts of my personality and work style. Being an extroverted introvert, I’ve enjoyed positions like providing reference, where I get to interact with students and know that I helped someone that day.

On the other hand, in the positions where I digitize materials and write online content, I love getting to dig into a project and feel ownership over it. In all of these positions I have felt supported by my supervisors and coworkers, which I think speaks to the library’s aspirational value of community.

How will your work experiences help your career? Has it influenced the direction of your career or specialization of your work?

I came to graduate school from a background working in history museums. My goal in earning a MLIS degree was to gain skills and experience in the digitization of special collections. Working at the Digitization Centre has only affirmed that I made the right choice to come to UBC for my career path. However, as I got my positions with the Small Business Accelerator Program and the David Lam Library, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much I enjoy business librarianship and providing reference, and I like the thought of helping someone start their own business. It has inspired me to think about possibly launching my own business where I can work with institutions like libraries or museums to provide historical research content to their exhibits or publications.

What advice would you give to other UBC students interested in working for the Library?

I would tell other UBC students interested in working for the Library to be open to trying jobs in a variety of departments. I came into graduate school completely focused on a digitization path, but based on my positive experiences with reference and business librarianship, I now feel that I would be really happy working in one of these capacities after I graduate, which I would not have discovered if I hadn’t branched out.

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Not your typical day to day

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Library student workerUBC Library often has cause to celebrate the success of student employees who are emerging leaders in their areas of study, as was recently the case with Tracey Vantyghem. A MLIS co-op student in the Scholarly Communications & Copyright Office, Vantyghem was awarded the Open Access Ambassador Travel Scholarship to attend the Berlin 11 Student and Early Stage Researcher Satellite Conference in Berlin, Germany. The conference brought together students and early stage researchers to work with leading figures in the open access movement, including researchers, publishers, policymakers and advocates.

“Many students and researchers are becoming aware of the rising costs of academic serials, and how this means that more and more people can’t afford access to the information they need,” says Vantyghem. “This includes everyone from academics and students at smaller universities that lack a large serials budget, to doctors and health workers at hospitals that are not supported by a research library, to researchers in developing countries whose institutions simply can’t afford the cost of many important journals.” 

Open access materials, available online to the public and provided by scholars for free, benefit such groups and provide opportunities for multi-disciplinary research breakthroughs.

Vantyghem notes that UBC Library is well placed to act as a hub for open access advocacy, mentorship and education. “I meet with many researchers who are interested in publishing their work as open access, but feel that they are beholden to a tenure and promotion system that discourages involvement in open access or straying from the status quo and, as a result, that their hands are tied,” she says. “However, young researchers are the ones who will inherit the current scholarly communications system, and so I think that engaging them now and making the Library a hub for open access support and education are the most promising ways to encourage change.”

Image of studentUBC Library provides student employees with unique work experiences and support for skill development. While attending UBC’s School of Library, Archival & Information Studies, Heather Gring had the opportunity to work as a student curator in the Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections division.

Her work on an expansion to the Chung Collection Exhibition, part of an extraordinary collection focusing on early B.C. history, began with research on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the history of Chinese immigration into British Columbia. Gring then selected primary source materials, exploring a range of fascinating material including Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada from the 1860s; receipts from the construction of the CPR; ledgers from 1900 of funds aiding Chinese immigrants with the heavy costs of coming to Canada; and photographs of the lives of Chinese Canadians in British Columbia.

“It is incredibly gratifying to have contributed to how UBC staff, students and patrons will explore and utilize the Chung Collection for years to come,” reflects Gring. “In my life, I have been impacted greatly by opportunities to learn from historic primary sources, and I am so happy to have the opportunity to contribute to others’ active learning experiences.”

Her experience was also enriched by the support of Dr. Chung, who was accessible to Gring throughout the project and provided valuable insights into his collection. The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection contains more than 25,000 rare and unique items (documents, books, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, silver, glass, ceramic ware and other artifacts). It is free to visit and open to the public.

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