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Lisa Coats

Feb. 20, 2018

Lisa Coats would like people to know that librarians’ abilities extend far beyond exceptional knowledge of what’s in the stacks. In her case, she helps UNCW students navigate Randall Library’s vast resources and find information online that even powerful search engines can’t.

Coats is the humanities librarian, working primarily with students in the departments of creative writing, English, film studies, philosophy and religion, and world languages and cultures, but she is available to anyone who needs her assistance.

At Randall, “We are trying to enlighten people on what librarians do,” said Coats, who has been at UNCW for seven years and in her current position for the past two years. “We are constantly trying to debunk the myth that libraries are just buildings full of outdated print materials. Librarians have always been guardians and supporters of freedom of information. Technology has always been a large part of how we disseminate information, and we work hard to keep up with the ever-changing times.”

She winces when librarians are stereotyped as bookworms, because there is much more to her job, especially in a day when internet searches yield both trustworthy and questionable source material. In addition to her regular duties at Randall, Coats teaches “Introduction to Library Research & Technology,” which helps students learn how to identify credible sources of information. She also gives behind-the-scenes tours of Randall. Students are often amazed at the breadth of resources available to them, she said.

Coats received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in English literature before adding a second master’s degree in library and information science. “I decided to combine my love of writing, reading and literature with my interest in information literacy and research,” she said. She earned all three degrees at public universities – Temple, Virginia Commonwealth and Rutgers, respectively. “I feel strongly about state-supported education,” she said.

That appreciation extends to K-12 education. For the past six years, Coats has volunteered to judge New Hanover High School’s senior project presentations. She also said she supports public radio station WHQR “in any way I can.”

As for UNCW, “I like the size of the student body here because it is still small enough that you can get to know students and watch them go through their whole degree,” Coats said. “I have tried to go to as many commencement ceremonies as I could to see some of my own students – and ones who have frequented the library – graduate.”

-- Tricia Vance