Southern’s Unsung Hero: Librarian, Wendy Hardenberg
Monica Zielinski – Managing Editor
As students drudgingly return to school and hit the books, Buley Library is abuzz once again. A place where time stood still during the summer is filled with pupils meeting in study rooms or wandering the halls of the newly renovated building. For librarian Wendy Hardenberg, the start of the new semester means getting back to her favorite part of the job: interacting with students.
“The summer was draggy and weird and I felt like nothing was happening. The first week I was just like, ‘Ahh, everything’s great!’ because I was working with the students again,” said Hardenberg.
The instruction coordinator just started her fifth year at Southern and was promoted to associate librarian. The now tenured faculty member runs the library instruction program.
“We have been largely working in, what in library lingo is called, the ‘one-shot library session’ where hopefully a faculty member has a research assignment that they want their students to do and they bring their students to the library or have the librarian come to them to basically learn how to do research for that assignment,” said Hardenberg.
The New Hampshire native is the First-Year Experience librarian, music librarian and works with Information and Library Science Department and does instruction for philosophy and the Honors College.
When students step into the library, Hardenberg said sometimes students don’t “totally know” what they want. Other times, students know they need information on a particular topic and a librarian will guide them to the right section, or give directions on where to go.
She said she instructed one student last week to go into the stacks and when the student located the book on her own, instead of heading straight for check-out, she walked to Hardenberg’s desk and said that her “instructions were so perfect,” according to Hardenberg.
“It’s very nice to hear that the directions you gave someone were exactly what they needed to find what they needed to find, on their own,” said Hardenberg. “I’m happy to go into the stacks to help people but it’s better if they can find it on their own because in some ways you’re trying to make people not need you. If you can give directions that allow people to work completely on their own, that’s ideal; that’s the goal.”
Hardenberg said she advises students to keep asking librarians for help until they don’t need it, even if it takes three or four years.
“There are some people who really want to struggle and figure it out on their own but there’s a certain point where trying to figure it out on your own is going to be really slow and inefficient and you could just ask for help and it would be a lot easier,” she said.
When she’s not hunting down books for students or collaborating with professors for the library instruction program, she’s teaching new students in Inquiry 101.
“I like [teaching INQ] because I actually get to know the students: I know their names, I know their stories, I know what they’re doing,” said Hardenberg. “I can actually try to help them be successful in college, beyond just the library area. I just really love working with students.”
Fellow SCSU librarian Lisa Bier said, “Wendy’s awesome. She is so energetic and dedicated. She did a great job getting all the first-year students to get library instruction and she’s really organized. She’s also really impressive in other ways because she does music and dance. She speaks different languages so she’s brilliant but also really good at her job.”
Hardenberg said she plays the flute in the university band and dances with the New Haven Ballet. “I’m not very good, but it’s fun,” she said with a laugh.
As for different languages, Hardenberg just published her first book in translation. Heart Collector is a French thriller written by Jacques Vandroux which she translated into English. She said French is her best foreign language and Amazon has a translation publishing division so they find books and have people translate them. She said she has two more translated books coming out next year.
“I feel like translation uses all of the skills I’ve cultivated because you can’t be a translator without being a writer because even though you’re not coming up with the ideas, it’s still all your words but you’re trying to channel this other person,” said Hardenberg. “It’s using my writing skills and it’s using my language skills and I feel like it’s a full use of my talents, which I’m really happy with.”
Photo Credit: Monica Zielinski – Managing Editor