Zach Walton, reference and instruction librarian in the Ohio State Lima Campus Library, has been named a winner of the University Libraries’ Annual Teaching Award. The honor recognizes outstanding teaching achievements that advance the mission of the library over a single calendar year by an individual faculty or staff member employed by the Ohio State libraries, which includes University Libraries, the Health Sciences Library, the law library and the regional campus libraries.
Walton works hard to make sure all the students he teaches come away with the skills to evaluate information they are discovering through their research. He focuses each class visit on topics that the students are exploring in the classroom.
“My approach to teaching is trying to create a fun, engaging and immersive research experience. I know that many of the classes I visit will likely be a student’s first introduction to the library,” Walton said. “I want students to see and follow along with tutorials, and to learn how to best evaluate the information they find so that they are equipped for the assignments they are working on in their classes.”
During the timeframe of the 2023 award cycle, Walton planned 89 visits to Ohio State and Rhodes State classes that were a combination of on campus, off campus and virtual. He has also worked closely with the Ohio State Lima biology department to provide library instruction for several biology classes. Walton blended elements of diversity, equity and inclusion with information literacy concepts to give students a chance to find and evaluate information.
His methods also include making the library and its librarians accessible. He has incorporated online accessible presentations, icebreakers and quiz game elements, and gives students the chance to ask any question they may have. He has fielded questions about everything from the cats that appear in his powerpoint (his), to Boolean operator use and due dates, to his favorite book or movie (too hard to choose) and what it’s like to be a librarian.
“My goal is to show students that it is more than okay to ask a librarian questions, and to help them to see that librarians are human beings with real interests outside of their work, but that they are firmly dedicated to answering anyone’s questions and supporting them in their research,” Walton said.
Walton is the second of the Lima Campus librarians to be recognized for teaching. Lima Campus Library Director Tina Schneider won the award in 2005.