Introducing Illiana Zambrano, candidate for Research and Instruction Librarian
The main entrance of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library. Photo by Naomi Nerlien.

Introducing Illiana Zambrano, candidate for Research and Instruction Librarian

While the Board of Trustees (BOT) was busy choosing a president for New College, there is another candidate search taking place. After Helene Gold’s abrupt termination late last spring, there has been an opening for a Research and Instruction Librarian. A committee was convened to search for and interview candidates. 

The Catalyst spoke with the head of the committee, eResource Management Specialist Dan’o Reid, to discuss the process of hiring someone for this position. “We formed a committee early in the semester and we are now in the final stages of selecting a research and instruction librarian,” Reid explained. “The committee is composed of myself as chair, Library Operations Coordinator Barbara Dubreuil, Digital Imaging Technician Ana McGrath, Interim Dean of the Library Richard Holmgren and Associate Professor of Religion and Buddhist Studies Manu Lopez.”

On Oct. 4, candidate Illiana Zambrano visited New College to give a presentation on her instruction techniques and a research tool called Research Rabbit. Zambrano graduated with a Masters in Management and Library Information Science from the University of Southern California.

Zambrano stated that her teachings are student-centered and culturally relevant, leading to students being active participants. She then reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of Research Rabbit,  free software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to find sources. 

“As a librarian my focus is always supporting students and the approach that I use is very much holistic in nature, so making sure that students are gaining the research skills to complete not only their immediate assignments but that the research skills are building upon one another and they’re able to get to the career that they want,” Zambrano said. “So it’s not just limited to that specific research paper, but it’s basically getting them to higher education and grad school if that’s the trajectory they want—or if it’s a completely different path.”

Zambrano spoke  passionately about supporting first-generation students on campus, a minority at New College. “I understand being a first-gen student coming into a university setting or a transfer student. I was both. I can relate to the anxieties and the differences when it comes to research. So, that becomes how I teach and instruct. I also integrate cultural relevance and resilience teaching and that’s to create an inclusive learning environment,” Zambrano said. 

The Research and Instruction Librarian position includes providing guidance to all those looking for help in research, which is particularly important to thesising and graduate students. Zambrano detailed how she would be of service to these groups. “Each student that is conducting their thesis might be in a different [stage of the] process… They might still be at the start and their question or statement might still be in the very preliminary stages, where undergrads typically start. So just helping them think through it more critically to get to a thesis that is more graduate level.”

Zambrano continued by explaining how she hopes to elevate student theses so they can be of influence. “I want to make sure they are not just publishing works that answer their question, but they’re gonna be competitive within their field and they’re adding more to the literature than what is already perceived. Because there are theses that will stay on the surface and will get published that way and that’s totally okay, but I think for me it’s guiding students to think more critically and thinking about the impact their research can lead to versus just leaving it on the surface.” 

Beyond library research, Zambrano engages in a variety of hobbies. “A fun fact about me is I’m a long distance runner. I like to run a lot, more than a marathon. I’m talking 30 miles. My goal right now is to train for 30 miles and ultimately I’ll do a competition in 50 miles or 100 if I get there! I do also love the outdoors a lot, like kayaking, hiking and just wildlife.” She said she was happily surprised by the number of student initiatives pertaining to environmental sustainability, praising the student-led food garden on campus. 

Zambrano concluded by acknowledging student activism on campus. “Voices are validated and heard within the space that I’m teaching in. New College is unique and it’s empowering to see the younger generation taking that voice and being present.” 

The search committee does not have an exact date for when a final decision will be made. However, Reid stressed the importance of the Research and Instruction Librarian role and confirmed that the committee is doing its best to fill the position in a timely manner.

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