I Love My Librarian Award Winner Tabatha “Tabby” Farney: Linking Students to Resources

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by Steve Zalusky

Tabatha “Tabby” Farney, director of web services and emerging technologies and associate professor, is a treasured resource at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

She so impressed one colleague that when he nominated her for a 2016 I Love My Librarian Award, Donald Klingner called her “the best librarian I’ve worked with in my 42 years as a tenured or tenure-earning professor of public administration at public universities in Indiana, Florida and Colorado since 1974.”  High praise, but definitely earned, as her record as research librarian to the UCCS School of Public Affairs over a six-year period attests.

During that time, she expanded access of scholarly information for faculty, students and staff. Her impact on the MPA (Master of Public Administration) helped it achieve a full seven-year accreditation from an international accrediting body, NASPAA (the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration).  “I know that her support services have contributed directly and in measurable ways to transforming lives – our own, our students, and in the communities we serve,” Klingner said.

The School of Public Affairs offers undergraduate programs in criminal justice, graduate programs in criminal justice/criminology, and public administration and a Center for Human Security.  Although she is the director of web services and emerging technologies for the library, her work transcends her role as designer and manager of the library’s web site. She acts as the library liaison to the School of Public Affairs and the departments of political science and sociology, working closely with faculty and students to meet their research needs, whether that means serving them from the collection or providing instruction.

Farney’s valuable work includes guiding students through a virtual library orientation that schools them on using scholarly databases so they can find current, relevant and authoritative sources in their papers. This is especially useful to students completing their final projects.  Klingner said, “In every class, she ensures my students she is there to help them succeed,” he said. Face-to-face contact is encouraged.

“Tabby understands that many of our students are busy working, raising families and attending school at the same time and we appreciate her flexibility and willingness to meet students when it is convenient for their schedule. Overall, Tabby helps make the library an inviting resource for students.”

Teachers also rely on Farney to assist them in leading to students to valuable library resources. Dr. Ana Kosloski connects her criminal justice students with Farney, who walks them through journal databases and assesses the credibility of sources.  Farney also assists Regina Winters’s students with their assignment of creating a legislative history on local and national policy areas.

A champion for online learning, she has helped prepare video and web-based content for individual School of Public Affairs courses on information technology advances, literature development and data analytics. In addition, her work on the campus online task force has helped create policies that break barriers between online and traditional student engagement.

Her work with faculty includes assistance in accessing resources for faculty research projects, as well as offering tutorials on how to convert a research project into a professional paper and running workshops on library resources and seminars related on new technologies.

Farney is an important cog in the overall life of the university. She has participated as a member of several committees, including the Information Technology Exchange Committee and the Council of Undergraduate Education. She is also the faculty advisor to the Undergraduate Research Journal. In 2015, the campus selected her as one of six university representatives in the University of Colorado Excellence in Leadership Program.

In an interview conducted after she had received her I Love My Librarian Award, she said, “I actually love almost every part of my job. I love the fact that I can code, because I am a technology person. I enjoy coding websites. However, probably the best thing that keeps me coming back is my students. Working with my students every day. Watching them from when they enter the program to when they graduate. When I see them walk down the aisle for graduation, it is one of the biggest things I enjoy about my job.”

Of her library, she said, “It’s not just a building. It’s a place for people to come. And being the technology person, we build our online presence just the same way.”

On winning the award, she said, “This actually means so much to me. The fact that it comes from my people, the students, staff and faculty (from the university). It means the most to me. It validates everything that I have done and it actually motivates me to be even better.”

Klingner summed up her contributions by saying, “Professor Tabatha Farney epitomizes what it means to be a member of a university, working together across units and disciplines, helping students to learn the skills and earn the credentials they need to make a difference in their own lives, and to give back to the communities from whence they have come.”

The I Love My Librarian Award is sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Times, and the New York Public Library. The award is administered by the American Library Association.

Read more about the award and other 2016 winners at www.ilovelibraries.org/lovemylibrarian.

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