Behind the scenes look at Course reserves: written by Maryam Shaker-Azab

person looking at book cover on shelf

Hey guys! My name is Maryam Shaker-Azab, I am a third year Kinesiology student. This is my 3rd term being a Library Ambassador and I am totally loving” it! We are switching things up this semester and writing about the awesome Library staff who provide services across the library.  I got to learn more about one of our staff that work in Reserves, Caitlyn Sageman!

I sat down to interview Caitlyn, and here is what I found out:

woman standing in front of books

What is your job title?

Library Clerk, Reserves and Training

What is your degree in?

Honours Bachelor of Arts in Religion & Culture from Wilfrid Laurier University

How long have you worked at the Library?

I have been active in this position since October 2018, but my contract started at the end of June 2018. I will have been working here for a year next term!  

Why do you like working at UWaterloo?

I love how busy the campus is even though it is the Spring term. I love going on walks during my break and seeing all the cool student run events going on. One thing that I found interesting is that when I switch between Porter and Davis, the whole vibe changes. The students, their needs, and the atmosphere is completely different!

What is your favorite thing about working in the Library?

I love getting to speak and help students, and I really like to share my knowledge about the Library. I love working in Reserves because I love being exposed to resources from different subject, I find myself wanting to read some of the course materials, when I find an interesting subject matter.  

What does your job entail?

My day is split in ½. 50% of the time I am at the Circulation Desk - helping people with books on hold, answering general campus questions, and directing and connecting people with other people in the Library.

The rest of my time is spent working in Reserves, I work with both electronic and physical material, that instructors make accessible to their students. I also help guide instructors on how to make resources available, and what resources or links can actually be shared based on copy right rules. Lastly, I am also starting to become involved more with training new library staff, as my job tenure increases, I will be more an more involved in this responsibility.   

What hard and soft skills do you use in your job?

Hard skills: understanding software for reserves, Ares – backend and processing. Voyager (the circulation system) used on the desk for checking out items, reserves and call numbers, typing and how to use email.  

Soft skills: communication is key!! When I am communicating with patrons, I try to avoid using library jargon. However, it is just as important to understand what students are asking me about. An example of this is when, sometimes students use the words reserve and “on hold” interchangeably, and I have to try to figure out what they mean based on the context of the conversation! I need to use my time management skills- I am currently on a campus committee, working full time and I am going to school part time. If I don’t have solid time management skills, I will probably risk slacking and not giving it 100% in one or all of my responsibilities. Lastly, I need to be flexible, I meet new people during my desk shifts, and the time I spend on the desk changes from day to day. Also, when I am doing my reserve duties, the team and myself encounter new material that cause new challenges, we need to be creative in the way we solve them.

How does your job affect students?

I work with professors to put their course material and resources on Reserve so that they are accessible to their students. During my time at the desk, being knowledgeable, flexible and helpful affects how students perceive the library as a resource. I try my best to be as supportive to students who approach me and I always try to point them to the right resource if I know someone could help the out better! 

What advice would you give students about your area of interest and how it might help with their studies?

Course Reserves are such a great resource if you don't purchase your own copy of a textbook or if you would like to access additional resources! Some people never check course reserves out, because the material might be in high demand, depending on the class size. However, a lot of the time, there will be a lot of copies on reserve. You can also check this website to see if there is a copy available: On the page, it will have a section called “Information for Students”.

Thanks Caitlyn for all the info!


woman standing and smiling