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Liberty University librarian wins state award

Josh Waltman

Josh Waltman, a librarian at Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Library, recently received the 2020 Up and Comer Award from the Virginia Library Association, a state affiliate of the American Library Association.

According to the VLA, the award “recognizes an energetic librarian, with less than five years of professional experience, who pushes the boundaries of originality and creativity and expands the role of librarian with forward-thinking efforts that help move libraries into the future.”

As coordinator of the Learning Commons, Waltman oversees the borrowing and customer service staff and student workers of the library. In this role, he has initiated many innovative approaches to mentorship and training in order to implement the library’s WIFI customer service philosophy, which involves being Welcoming, Informative, Fast, and Impressive. He also strives to develop professional skills among the student workers in order to better prepare them for their future careers. He has presented professionally on the use of relationship marketing techniques in libraries and on the creation of podcasts as a means of professional development for library staff. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion, Master of Arts in Religion, and Master of Divinity from Liberty, as well as a Master of Science in Library Science from the University of Kentucky.

Through dedicated library faculty like Waltman, the Jerry Falwell Library promotes learning, discovery, and research by providing robust resources, engaging instruction, flexible spaces, and outstanding services to the Liberty University community. The four-story library opened in 2014 and offers over 170,000 square feet of specially designed spaces for students and faculty to study, research, and collaborate, including over 30 group study rooms with writable walls, a classroom equipped with telepresence technologies, and three levels of quiet zones. It also features a café.

The library collections consist of over 1.5 million items in electronic and print formats as well as a Curriculum Library, Archives and Special Collections Department, and the Scholars Crossing, an institutional repository of scholarly works produced by students and faculty. In an effort to meet the needs of students beyond their academic pursuits, the library collections also include non-traditional items such as umbrellas, jumper cables, tools, games, baking supplies, and a sewing machine. While approximately 66,000 of the newest and most frequently used materials are housed on browsable shelving, the majority of the collections is accessed through a robotic book retrieval system.

The library also provides research instruction to help students efficiently find the information they need, evaluate it for credibility, and cite it responsibly. The Research and Instruction Department offers physical and online class presentations, tutorials, research guides; assistance is available in person or via phone, text, email, and chat. Last spring, the library also began offering virtual research appointments for those needing more in-depth assistance from a distance.