Outstanding Teacher — Linda Goff

Linda Goff
Linda Goff

Linda Goff is pleased to be the first Library faculty member to receive an Outstanding Teaching Award—but not for the reasons you might think.

“The University Library needs this exposure,” Goff explains. “People tend to think of a library as simply a place to find books and do research, but instruction is such a key part of what we do.”

Indeed, many may wonder what kind of instruction goes on in a library. And Goff’s goal is to get the word out so students may utilize the Library’s services the best way possible. Goff downplays her many personal accomplishments in her field, focusing instead on the Library’s services to the university community.

“There are no credit courses that we teach, but in the past five years, the Library faculty has spent more than 2,000 hours teaching classes,” says Goff. “Keep in mind, that number doesn’t reflect the hundreds of hours involved in preparation for the classes.”

Faculty bring classes in with the hope their students will learn to conduct research as efficiently as possible. They work in close conjunction with specific librarians in order to customize the lesson for their particular area of study. “The librarians teach the students to make sense of the vast array of information that’s available,” Goff explains. “The librarians are dedicated to teaching the students the skills sets they need to find the best information in a timely manner.”

Goff worries that students may end up spinning their wheels and wasting precious research time simply trying to find research materials in the first place. “A grad student came to me once because she had reached the end of her rope,” Goff recalls. “She had spent 20 hours trying to find the information she needed for a research project and was still unsuccessful. I told her something I would tell every student at the university—don’t spend more than 20 minutes trying to find something in the Library. If you’re still stuck after 20 minutes, get the help of a reference librarian.”

The Library works with several academic departments in getting freshmen students to the Library for a Library Lecture. “Sometimes, I can tell that a particular student feels the class session is a waste of his or her time,” says Goff, smiling. “I make a deal with them: I tell them I’ll pay them a nickel at the end of the class if they haven’t learned something new. I haven’t had to pay up yet.”

Other duties in Goff’s wide scope of instruction include teaching Internet search engine strategies (with several tutorials available at http://library.csus.edu/services/inst/indiv/) and administering the Information Competence Assignment, a required assignment for Communication Studies 4 and 5 courses. She also serves on the Library MetaLib Implementation Team, helping to make the upcoming MetaLib program implementation useful and intuitive for students, faculty and staff.

Goff always knew what she wanted to do. “I decided I wanted to be a librarian when I was 15,” she says. An avid reader from an early age, she remembers the reason for her calling to be a librarian. “I thought librarians got to read all the books first.”

In spite of her childhood misperception, Goff pursued library science and, while trying to make sense of a mundane assignment, found that teaching was her true calling. “I discovered the best way to learn something for myself was to figure out how to teach it to someone else. My favorite interactions are when you can see the ‘Ah ha’ go off in someone’s brain, and you know you’ve connected and made a difference.”