While The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is expanding its distance education programs, a new generation of librarians is being installed to better serve all students, near and far.
Michael C. Alewine has accepted the newly created job of Outreach/Distance Education Librarian at the Sampson-Livermore Library. Alewine said he does the same things all librarians do, but his customer base may never set foot in the building.
"Whatever our students need for their assignments, papers and projects, I am going to make sure that they get it," Alewine said.
His customers may be in Richmond County taking online classes after work or on the other side of the globe, seeking a Master's of Public Administration degree, which is now offered completely online and in special exchange programs at several Chinese universities.
Alewine will provide both online and in-person services to the students at UNCP's distance education program sites, including Richmond Community College, Sandhills Community College, Fayetteville Technical Community College, and to students enrolled in online courses.
"I will be going out to the colleges involved in our distance education programs and letting students know that they have access to the same high quality library services as students on campus," Alewine said.
Alewine will also help faculty with designing research assignments that are effective and viable, especially when considering time constraints and access to resources.
University Librarian Dr. Elinor Foster said Alewine's position reflects the changing nature of libraries.
"The number of UNC Pembroke's distance education students is growing, and we felt it was time to hire someone qualified to work with those students who are not on campus," Dr. Foster said. "Mr. Alewine has experience and interest in working with distance education students so he will do an excellent job serving students."
Students taking online courses, no matter where they live, will receive help with their course research, including reference assistance, document delivery, and these students can also contact Alewine, and he will guide them to the nearest academic library if they need access to additional resources.
"If I can make students in distance education feel as good as students on campus about research resources and services being provided to them, then I feel like I'm accomplishing what I'm supposed to be doing," Alewine said.
Alewine has a B.A. in English from UNC Wilmington and a Master's of Library Science from N.C. Central. He comes to UNCP from North Carolina Wesleyan College, where he was the reference and electronic resources librarian.
"Wesleyan's library was small with only six staff, so I had many responsibilities including reference, instruction and I was the library's webmaster," Alewine said. "I particularly enjoyed working with the distance education students and providing them with library and research services."
At UNCP, Alewine will be able to focus on online services. He is also a self-taught web page designer.
"I want to use the library's web pages to make the library more accessible to students, and to faculty also," he said. "I will work with faculty to help them design better research assignment and to make sure students know where to find sources."
Libraries have been transformed during the information age with on-line references and catalogs, and universities migration to online courses.
"The library is committed to making sure all of our students, no matter where they are, get the most out of the technology and resources that are available to them," Alewine said. "Sampson-Livermore Library is constantly adding electronic databases and we offer a virtual reference desk where students can get help from the reference desk through email. I hope one day we can include a live chat room as part of our reference services.
Sheri Sides is a senior Mass Communications major from Laurinburg.