Celebrating Student Re$earch

selective focus photography of multicolored confetti lot

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

I love graduation season. I love seeing pictures of folks in caps and gowns and reading posts about gratitude and accomplishment. (If you or a loved one just graduated, congratulations!) In the spirit of celebration and reflection, I started thinking about the library award committee I have been chairing the last two years and discovered that I never blogged about the first award cycle for the Abresch-Kranich Library Award, and the UC Merced Library just finished awarding the second set of scholarships this spring.

In 2018, we had two winners, Melissa Becerra and Nathan Parmeter. Each student received a $500 scholarship thanks to our donor, Arlene Kranich. You can read more about the award and our student winners in “New Scholarship Pays Homage to Persistence and Research.”

Last spring, my former Central Valley colleague Ray Pun also interviewed me about the award for the Credo Reference blog for the HIP (high-impact practices) in Action series. You can read the interview in “HIP in Action: Undergraduate Research & Awards.” It was great exposure for our library and UC Merced, and I hope the interview helped inspire other libraries.

In 2019, we also had two student winners, Marisela Padilla Alcalá and Sarah Lee. You can read more about our student winners in “Two Students Honored for Excellence in Use of Library Resources.”

After the second award cycle, I have a better idea of when and in what specific areas I need to ask for help. I also have ideas for changes to the workflow. I’m currently on vacation, but before I left, I started drafting my process with changes I might want to make regarding the timeline. The review and reception happens during the busiest time in the instruction season, and the process will go much more smoothly if we can open and close the application earlier. Currently, it opens Nov. 1 and closes Feb. 1, but opening it on Oct. 1 and closing it in mid-January will help me get the applications out to the five-member review committee more quickly. After a quick chat with the university librarian, he agreed with the earlier deadline, and we also determined that we should hold the reception before spring break, which is always in March. There are also some other changes I want to make, and I’m very thankful that two of my colleagues who have helped with reviewing student applications are interested in helping me streamline this process, which may also involve changing the award rubric. We’ll be doing this work in June.

Does your college or university library have a research award of some kind?

Thankful

Thankful

“Thankful note on tree” by Jessica Castro on Unsplash

The day before Thanksgiving, I got an email from the Chancellor’s Office letting me know that a student who graduated in the spring (AKA my worst semester) indicated in an exit survey that I was one of three staff or faculty members who made a memorable impact during their time at UC Merced.

This recognition means a great deal to me.

As a non-faculty librarian (we’re academic appointees at the University of California) who teaches one-shot research lessons, the only student feedback I receive, besides formative assessment, is through post-lesson satisfaction surveys. While the librarians have been involved with projects to assess student learning, I, personally, haven’t yet had opportunities to see the impact of my and my colleagues’ work over time. (I am hopeful through liaison work and some other contacts I’ve made this fall that this can change somewhat, and we might be in a good position due to campus growth, a new general education curriculum, and a new department structure.) Outside of classes and workshops, my other source of student engagement is through research consultations.

I sometimes feel disconnected from my purpose in this kind of library environment. In my previous position, if I wasn’t teaching, I was at the desk, which proved to have its own challenges, but I really enjoyed knowing students’ names and about their lives. I may not feel as connected to students as I did before, but I’m very thankful to know that I really am helping students on their path to earn a degree and accomplish their life goals.

This is something I needed to hear. I go back to work tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to the two research consultations I have scheduled in the afternoon.

Library Instruction West 2018

Library Instruction West 2018 was held at Colorado Mesa University (CMU), in Grand Junction, Colorado in July. (I’ve been working on this post since early August, and it’s now almost mid-September!). The campus is absolutely beautiful.

My colleague and friend Laureen Cantwell also did a tremendous job organizing the conference at CMU.

This was my second time attending LIW, and its become one of my favorite conferences, and not just because Christal and I had a successful presentation. I like its smaller size, and its focus is specific to the work I do. I met some wonderful folks (I need to contact them as a follow-up!), and all of the talks and workshops I attended were useful and interesting.

Here’s a round-up of what I attended, along with some notes.

Pre-Conference Workshop with Maria Konnikova

Psychologist, science writer, and professional poker player, Konnikova is the author of  Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes (2013), emphasizes the importance of slowing down, especially when it comes to solving problems, which is the tactic that Sherlock Holmes uses to solve crimes. In this workshop, she walked us through breathing and visualization exercises and then we played a game of Mafia. (I don’t really enjoy playing games, especially in front of people I don’t know, so when it came for my turn to be accused, I just wasn’t into making my plea and said I was okay with the group just voting me out. LOL! This is a true story. I felt incredible relief leaving the circle.) The point I took was that slowing down really is helpful for creativity.

She also shared two mindfulness apps that she uses, Primed Mind and Headspace.

Embracing the Mystery: Mindfulness, Creativity, and Critical Thinking Techniques from Sherlock Holmes

In this keynote, Konnikova continued her mindfulness theme. Mindfulness helps unclutter your mind, or better organize your mind attic, as Sherlock Holmes calls it. It helps train attention muscles as our brains can’t actually multitask (our brains just switch rapidly through something called rapid task-switching).

If you read the Konnikova piece I linked re: the mind attic, she references a really interesting study that was done about the effect of technology on our mind attics. In our networked world, we are able deploy memory but in a different way.

In a recent study in Science, Betsy Sparrow and a team of researchers from Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found two important effects: first, when people are primed to think about computers, or when they expect to have access to information in the future, they are far less able to recall the information. However—and this is the second effect—they are far better able to remember where (and how) to find the information. (Konnikova, n.d.)

In the piece, she asks us to consider going through our mind attics on occasion, as the information we’re storing helps us with making decisions. While the post doesn’t necessarily say how, if you consider her book, mindfulness can help.

Just 5-10 minutes of mindfulness a day has many benefits, including clarity of thought, emotional stability, and better problem-solving skills (the Bill and Linda problem). For an example of how mindfulness can help in education, Dr. Amishi Jha‘s research has been very influential.

Mindfulness helps broaden your visual field. I wrote a big fat YES!!! in my notes when she mentioned that folks who are depressed aren’t able to pay attention to as many details. When I was 21, I went through something that really put me in a fog, so I started seeing a counselor. Almost a year later, I walked into his office and asked about the new painting behind his couch. It had actually been there the entire time! I was absolutely shocked. That’s when I knew I was feeling better. I had more clarity.) This keynote also encouraged me to get back into my yoga practice. It’s difficult, but slowing down is something I need to do to help me reset, allowing me to look at things more clearly.

Discovering Student-Centered Instruction: Applying the Framework Using Backward Design

I attended this mostly as a refresher. It reminded me a lot about a planning session my colleagues and I had to begin drafting some digital learning objects for a new GE course. I had also just finished the Thing 22 module of the 23 Framework Things.

I had just given my presentation before this one, so I wasn’t quite in the right mindset to fully engage with the task. I was still trying to tackle one section of the worksheet by the end, but the worksheet is a really helpful planning tool. I’m having trouble locating it and will need to reach out to Cordova and Wanucha to post it here, but it is adapted from the Information Literacy by Design template at ulinstructors.web.unc.edu.

Checklists Are Not Enough: Exploring Emotional Intelligence as Information Literacy

For some students, the issues they are choosing to investigate are highly personal. As a librarian who teaches in a one-shot environment, one of the greatest challenges is rapport. We don’t know the students, and the students don’t know us. I really care about students’ feelings, and I could be inadvertently causing some kind of internal crisis when I’m asking students to consider other factors when developing research questions and finding information.

So often, students are creating questions for which they have already decided what the answer should be, even if its not supported by the literature, but how we approach this issue needs to be done sensitively. Because humans have the tendency to reject information that doesn’t line up with our preexisting beliefs [an interesting study that was referenced is Kahan (2011)], it can be challenging for students to accept reliable sources of information that contradict their experiences and values. Passing the CRAAP test or other checklists isn’t enough (I think most of us agree that these are too simplistic; in the library literature, Meola began discussing this in 2004). How can we help students work through this? How can we help students cultivate awareness of their values? This is an important part of information literacy but one that isn’t addressed specifically in our practice, but there are elements of it in the Framework, and several librarians have done some writing on the role of emotional intelligence in library instruction.

In “Indigenous Information Literacy: Nêhiyaw Kinship Enabling Self-Care in Research,” a chapter in The Politics of Theory and the Practice of Critical Librarianship, Loyer (2018) explains that “[l]ibrarians need to address the student’s whole self..in IL instruction.” In Critten’s (2016) “Death of the Author (ity): Repositioning Students as Constructors of Meaning in Information Literacy Instruction,” which can be found in Critical Literacy for Information Professionals, argues that “[t]he library classroom should be a place where students confront their prejudices.” In a blog post title “Wiretaps and CRAAP,” Kevin Seeber (2017) writes:

“Our ability to evaluate information, and explain that process to others, has to involve recognizing that we, and the people with whom we interact, are whole human beings, each of us bringing a set of lived experiences that are unique. And those experiences, as much as anything, are going to drive what we accept as ‘real.”

And in “Motivated Reasoning, Political Information, and Information Literacy Education,” Lenker (2016) writes, “Information literacy education should broaden its scope to include more than just knowledge of information and its sources; it should also include knowledge of how people interact with information.”

Heinbach offers some practical ways that we can help students better interact with information. For example, we can ask students to think about questions they should always ask themselves when evaluating information, such as, “What are my existing biases?”  We can also have students reflect on any previous life experiences that may have influenced the selection of their research topics. Another method she mentioned that I think would work to help students think a bit more deeply about sources they are evaluating and reading is to have them reflect on how much a particular source helps them learn. Another activity is to have students come up with their own evaluative criteria (I have done this latter activity in an upper division writing class). Heinback also referenced a crowdsourced list of activities and strategies to help counter cognitive dissonance from Kirker and Stonebreaker’s LOEX 2018 presentation.

Check out the presentation at bit.ly/liwfeelingsIL. It was very thought-provoking, and I am looking forward to doing some more reading and work on this topic. I think it has the potential to really help students developing their critical thinking skills in ways that can help shape their responses to information well after college.

Activities for Evolving Student Needs: Teaching Discovery and Citation through Competitive Play 

I know what I said earlier about not really liking games (LOL!), but this was a fun session, and it provided me with ideas to bring back to one of the Spanish instructors I have been working with who isn’t thrilled with the citations students have been producing in their composition papers. (Part of that has to do with just not spending any time outside of sending them to Purdue OWL; one three-month freshmen writing course is not enough.) At the end of the spring semester, she and I got together to discuss activities to help her students with MLA, and I had mentioned that an adaptation of Citation Relay might be helpful and fun. I was so pleased to see that Citation Bowl is another version of the Relay, and it’s a better fit since it’s based off of citations created by citation tools, which is what I had suggested since that’s how students are using to cite (I encourage these tools, but students need to know they aren’t perfect).

What I really liked about the Discovery Puzzle is that students have to both use a search tool and focus on the information available at the item record level. In a webinar I recently attended about critical reading, one of the librarians noted that students also need to learn how to read results lists, and this exercise is one way to encourage a closer examination and help students identify the information they need to create citations. Very clever.

Also, for sources that show that play is a helpful way for adults to learn (child development scholars and practitioners already know that children learn through play), check out:

Teaching the Craft of Writing an Effective Research Question

Although these lessons are used in a for-credit information literacy course, I think they can work in a one-shot environment if instructors would be willing to have students do some pre-work. I’m going to share these lessons with my colleagues because our hope with the new GE curriculum is that we can spend time on research as inquiry for the in-person lesson. We have developed some digital learning objects to help tackle other things students need to know but that can be more readily done online. Note that these lessons are not necessarily in any order. Also, many of these activities have think-pair-share and group elements, but I’ll leave it up to you to read the full lesson plans.

Lesson: Characteristics of Effective Research Questions

Prior to the first lesson, students have to read a chapter in Turabian’s (2010) Student’s Guide to Writing College Papers, which helps them learn the characteristics of effective research questions. (But I believe Markowski said that even if they don’t read the chapter, it doesn’t break the class activity; for one-shot librarians, I think this is crucial.) In class, the students go over the evaluative criteria again and, working in pairs, are provided with a sample research question to improve upon.

Lesson: Peer Review Research Questions

Markowski noted that while students are able to improve sample research questions, evaluating their own research questions is still challenging, but having students peer review each other’s questions is another way to help them transfer what they have learned about effective research questions.

Lesson: Moving Beyond Scenarios

This lesson can help students narrow down research interests into focused statements about their investigation that can then help them pinpoint a research questions. Students are provided with a real-world research scenario (I believe the examples selected are for a specific course) in which they have to condense the topic into a fill-in-the blank statement (I have used variations of this before):

I am working on the topic of _______________ because I want to find out _______________ so I can suggest to _______________ what to do to improve _______________.

From this statement, they then compose a question. The question must also meet the criteria for an effective research question.

Lesson: Topic Brainstorm

I believe this lesson is taken or adapted from Rebuilding Research Writing: Strategies for Sparking Informational Inquiry (2014), which is aimed at high school instructors (I’m adding this to my Goodreads account!).

This lesson has students think about how their specific interest links to a bigger (societal) issue. I think this could be a really effective way to help students who may be selecting specific topics based on current events be better equipped, at least in mindset, to find scholarly information that connects to, but is not exactly the same as), their chosen topic. For example, a student from a Spanish composition class (think of this as the equivalent of first-year writing but in Spanish) wanted to write about a racially-charged incident involving a Republican student group on campus, but the issue was that she needed to use scholarly sources…in Spanish. It was challenging encouraging her to think about, say, activism on college campuses or how colleges and universities are grappling with free speech, etc.

In the Problems Around the World activity, students draw a series of three concentric circles. In the middle (Me) circle, students list something that effects them. In the next circle (Community), they try to tie the issue to something in the community, and then try to tie that to something happening in the country (Nation). I’m sure that there are other ways to label the circles, but I think this is a clever exercise.

Lesson: Narrowing a Topic Brainstorm

What I like about this is that it really shows students that pre-research is a valuable part of the research process. It’s a step that needs to be more clearly spelled out for students. It’s not enough to say to do it; we need to show them how.

In this lesson, the instructor shows students how to develop a topic based on sources. The instructor comes to class with three peer-reviewed articles related to a topic, such as sustainable agriculture and then produces a topical mindmap. From the results of the mindmap, the instructor then poses who, what, where, when questions to the topics in order to fish out a particular line of inquiry. Students then work with a partner to discuss their interests and pose who, what, where, when questions to each other’s topics.

Socially Responsible Pedagogy: Critical Information Literacy through Social Justice

Ernesto Hernández is a former University of California (UC Irvine) and Instruction for Diverse Populations (IS-IDP) committee colleague, and I was excited to attend his program. Before I left to LIW, I had taught a lesson for CRES 101 Race and the Media, and the instructor invited me back to teach for her class again the spring. I plan to write to her about the assignment shared in this presentation because I think it ties in nicely.

Hernández and his colleague Beatty teach Information Navigator (LIBS 1704), which is a required, lower-division course at Weber State University. General education courses must meet the following outcomes: content knowledge, intellectual tools, responsibility to self and others, and must also emphasize connected and applied learning. Courses also must involve a big question and signature assignment. LIBS 1704 is anchored in critical librarianship and based on the understanding that “librarians have a political responsibility to students to engage in critical inquiry that interrogates information about race, class, dis/ability, sexual orientation or gender.” The big question is “How does information literacy help bring awareness to social justice issues?”

For the signature assignment, students produce a research project based on social justice-oriented imagery. Students have to create a group presentation using sources that tie to their topic and the class’ big question. They can choose from seven different images and can opt to write about the artwork itself, or they can use it to launch an investigation about the themes central to the art. The students actually select the “topic” by selecting an image. For example, students who choose “Sun Mad” might write a paper about how pesticides affect farmworkers. Both Hernandez and Beatty agree that using images in this way is a helpful way for students to learn about social justice topics and also provides librarians opportunities to tie topics like these into courses.

Check out the slides at bit.ly/liw18images for more details.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Bias

In many ways, this was a perfect pairing with Heinbach’s Checklists Are Not Enough: Exploring Emotional Intelligence as Information Literacy presentation. I was really happy I went to both of these.

I realized that my notes at this session were not good, so I reached out to Leuzinger about obtaining a copy of his slides. Here is the PDF version of his presentation: What We Talk About When We Talk About Bias

Research as Inquiry in First-Year Composition

Springmier, a librarian, and Miller, a composition instructor and writing center director, delivered a presentation about how Sonoma State University has been able to re-imagine its first-year composition program. Using Baer’s (2016) Information Literacy and Writing Studies in Conversation: Reenvisioning Library-Writing Program Connections, ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, and the WPA’s Framework for Success in Post-Secondary Writing, they worked to change the conversation about research and move away from one-shot instruction to collaborative work focused on the research as inquiry frame of the ACRL Framework. (It many ways, I feel like this parallels with the work we are trying to do for the new Spark Seminars at UC Merced.)

Springmier and Miller developed a new, accessible language that brings together both librarian and composition pedagogy, which also shows that the library is an equal partner in teaching research and information literacy. The library then re-marketed its library instruction by packaging instructional activities on a library guide that correspond to the new pedagogy. They introduced these activities, which can be taught by either librarians or instructors, in a series of workshops aimed at writing instructors. (We do this with TRAIL at UC Merced, but, with Spark, we are creating learning objects in Canvas.) I’d really love to talk to Springmier about the research as inquiry guidelines that she and Miller created at Sonoma; I think this could potentially help us be better able to communicate with faculty about the ideas behind the Framework.

Check out the slides at schd.ws/hosted_files/liw2018/e5/LIW.pptx for more information.

I have so much reading to do and ideas to try out as a result of LIW 2018. I’m really looking forward to LIW 2020! If you haven’t attended before, I highly recommend it.

Integrating Intersectionality into Library Instruction & Programming

I’ve had a very busy summer in terms of conferences. I came back from ALA Annual 2018, and right as I was finally getting caught up at work, I was off to Library Instruction West 2018 at Colorado Mesa University. To present! I’ve not been very active in terms of presenting, and this has everything to do with imposter syndrome and having difficulty coming up with a topic (the irony considering how much I like teaching about this), but I took the plunge and was so pleased to have been selected as a presenter.

I worked with Christal Young, Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Southern California, to lead a discussion about incorporating intersectional themes in instruction and outreach work. The abstract reads:

Incorporating critical librarianship into daily practice may initially seem daunting due to varying demands and constraints. Given these challenges, how can we help first-year students develop more complex understandings of social issues that they may be researching and writing about in their composition courses? How do we reach first-year students who may have overlapping identities find resources and support during their time at the university? Join two academic librarians who will introduce the efforts they have made to incorporate intersectional themes into instruction and educational programming on their respective campuses. Librarians attending this roundtable discussion will brainstorm and share ideas for engaging in first-year instruction and outreach efforts that promote intersectionality.

We do plan to add on to the initial guide we put together throughout the year.

I was happy to receive nice feedback about our talk while at the conference, and I was also surprised to see it circulate on Twitter a bit via the ACRL Instruction Section and individual librarians. (Thank you!)

I hope our librarian colleagues find our slides and guide helpful.

I will write more about the other presentations and workshops I attended in another post. I really enjoyed this conference, and I learned a lot from my colleagues.

 

23 Framework Things

This summer has been busy, and I’m almost in disbelief that it’s July. Due to our busyness, my colleagues I are splitting up the 23 Framework Things for professional development during the summer and fall. (To earn the certificate, however, I would have to complete all 23 modules by the site deadline, which is August 31. I won’t be able to finish by that time, but I do plan to do them all eventually.) My supervisor graciously put together a schedule for us, and our first assignment is due this Friday.  I’ll be sharing my progress here.

If you’re curious, below is how we’re dividing the Things. I’m including my initials only next to the sections I have been assigned; we’re to complete all the Things in the Assessment track. We’ll be meeting to discuss as a group during our semi-monthly Instruction Brown Bags, which is a working lunch meeting to talk pedagogy and teaching in a more casual setting.

Have you completed the 23 Things Framework? Are you working on it right now? Has your library instruction team done these as a group?

Approach

  • Complete Pedagogy Tracks & @ Your Institutions Tracks this summer
    • see assignments
  • Complete Frame Focus Track this summer
    • see assignments
  • Complete Assessment Track over the fall
    • complete all

Pedagogy Track

Instruction Brown Bag

  • Discuss some aspect of the Pedagogy Track.
  • What was your biggest take-away from these readings/activities?  What could you see applying to your instruction practice?
  • Meet to discuss on Friday, July 13

@ Your Institution Track

Instruction Brown Bag

  • Discuss some aspect of the @Your Intitution Track.
  • What was your biggest take-away from these readings/activities?  What could you see applying to your instruction practice?
  • Meet to discuss on Wednesday, August 8

Frame Focus Track (complete 1 or 2 only)

Instruction Brown Bag

  • Summarize article(s) for colleagues based on the Thing(s) you were assigned.  Share what you found to be of most value.
  • Meet to discuss on Wednesday, August 15

Assessment Track (complete all)

Instruction Brown Bags

  • Meet to discuss Things 4 & 11 in September
  • Meet to discuss Things 12 & 17 in October
  • Meet to discuss Things 20 & 23 in November

Critical Reading for Learning & Social Change

ACRL’s Instruction Section’s Discussion Group Steering Committee held its annual virtual discussion forum on June 6, titled “Critical Reading for Learning and Social Change.” The panelists included Anne Graf (Trinity University), Rosemary Green (Shenandoah University), and Stephanie Otis (University of North Carolina at Charlotte).

While I watched the webinar live, I needed to re-watch the recording. You can find the webinar description, recording, chat transcript, and some accompanying materials, including a reading list and a handout with reading tips, at the IS website: acrl.ala.org/IS/annual-virtual-discussion-forum-recording

Towards the end of the presentation, Graf made a statement that really stood out to me: “Reading is done in private, which is why we don’t pay attention to it.” I think this is a fair assessment. As a librarian who teaches mostly in a one-shot landscape, time is limited. Most of what we offer when we mention how to read scholarly articles is a short game plan. I realize that a lot can be done just by showing what Otis calls the physicality of reading. I have never shown students that reading, for me, looks like a marked up print-out with underlines and notes. Graf also notes that she will ask professors how they read, which I think is great. Again and again, I am reminded that modeling helps show students skills that we take for granted. Graf also mentions that one assumption she had been making as a librarian is that teachers teach reading and librarians teach evaluation, but these are not separate acts, and perhaps we do need to do more to close this gap, especially as reading takes a lot more time than students think. (The handout that Otis offers shows that shows that students should read three times…)

This webinar provided some strategies that can help students become aware of their own reading practice. One exercise is to have students reflect on what it means to read academically in a journal prompt. Green, who works mostly with graduate students, says that responses typically range from “reading with purpose, connecting to what one already knows, and reading to reflect.” She also has students complete the Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory (MARSI), which is about 30 questions. The inventory helps students realize what they are already doing while also cluing them into other strategies. Similarly, Graf has first-year students simply make a list of what they do as readers.

UC Merced’s Bright Success Center (BSC) typically offers a “How to Read Your Textbook” workshop every semester. I do wonder if there is metacognitive component to the workshop. Last year, I had thought to reach out to my contact in the BSC about offering workshops beyond reading for textbooks, which is important, but there are other kinds of materials students have to read while in college. I am feeling much more motivated to reach out since I have something more concrete. If they already do something similar, I would like to observe the workshop to learn what students already know, what they do, etc. It may be able to help inform some of my own teaching in the research classroom.

I seem to have paid the most attention to Graf’s strategies since she teaches in the environment that most closely resembles my own. She also shared an exercise that I think many of us have probably done in some variation. Rather than telling students what to look for, she has students make those connections on their own first. I have done an exercise where students make their own criteria and then apply it to an article, but this is a little different. First, she has all the students find the full-text of an article based on a citation (to get some searching out of the way) and then quickly decide on the source’s quality and appropriateness for their class assignment via a vote on a 1-5 scale. She doesn’t use any polling software for this, but I would be inclined to use it so that students would feel more comfortable sharing what they think. She then engages the class in a Q&A session about things they notice about the article and what else they may need to look at or consider. The conversation generally turns into a realization that students need to spend more time reading the article to determine its relevancy.  The total exercise takes about 10 minutes. She sometimes then has students vote again.

While I didn’t look through the chat transcript, resources that folks shared in the chat include:

 

UC Librarian Review Process

On June 1st, I celebrated my two-year anniversary at UC Merced. Almost a week later, I also received the final packet for my first review.

While librarians in the California State University and California Community College systems are faculty, librarians in the University of California system are not faculty but are academic personnel. Our review process and criteria for advancement do highlight the academic nature of our positions. You can read more about UC librarians’ performance criteria and the review and appraisal process in the Academic Personnel Manual (APM), sections 360-10 and 210-4e.

We are evaluated in a peer review process every two years for those who are in the assistant and associate range or every three years for those who are full librarians. I was hired as an associate librarian with potential for career status. Because I started on June 1, 2016, it meant that I could have a review at 1.5 or 2.5 years as the process is based on calendar years (January-December). I was really worried about my output with the shortened time frame, but I was able to add a note that my review reflected 18 months of work. My supervisor also encouraged me to go through with the earlier review, so that’s, ultimately, why I decided to go ahead. But I was really nervous when I received my review notice at the end of November.

I was asked to provide the contact information of three people who could write letters of evaluation based on some aspect of my work in the last 18 months. For the letters, I asked the chair of a committee I served on from the Librarians Association of the University of California (LAUC); a colleague from an Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) committee I serve on; and a writing faculty member at UC Merced whose classes I have taught for a few times. While I didn’t see these letters until the very end of the review process, it helped to know I picked folks I trust.

In early February, I also submitted my current curriculum vitae, current and former job descriptions (an adjustment was made from Instruction Librarian to Instruction and Outreach Librarian in March 2017), goal statements, organizational chart, and my self-review. The self-review:

…consist[s] of a concise, vita-style enumeration of accomplishments keyed to the criteria […] specified by APM 360-10, followed by a narrative discussion of three of the most significant items within APM 360-10 b. (1) and three of the most significant items within APM 360-10 b. (2), (3), and (4).

I listed key accomplishments related to my professional competence and service within the library (A), professional growth and continuing professional education (B), university and library-related public service (C), and research/creative works (D). In the narrative, I also had to discuss three major items related to A, which signals my main job duties. I also had to discuss three other major items related to any combination of B, C, or D.

I was really pleased and a bit taken aback by my supervisor’s response to the documentation I turned in. It wasn’t so much her recommendation that I receive a merit increase and career status but what she wrote about my work. I and so many others in the library and on campus deeply respect her, and a colleague and I half-joke that we feel like we constantly fail her. She wrote five single-sided pages and included this:

It is already evident, from her liaison and outreach work, that Lindsay has made the library, its people, services, and resources more visible to some of our campus constituents. She has successfully started some collaborations and set the groundwork for future partnerships. Overall, I have been impressed with Lindsay’s initiative in reaching out to a variety of campus individuals and believe her endeavors directly support the library’s strategic focus (2017-2020) to engage the community.

[She and I both discovered that I’m not actually eligible for career status because my review came before I was employed for 24 months. Our Associate University Librarian (AUL) pulled me into a quick meeting to explain the error, but all it means is that I will receive career status during my review in 2020. (I still got the merit increase, though. Huzzah!)]

After signing off the initial recommendation, my supervisor submitted all of my documentation, including her narrative and my letters of evaluation, to the Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Advancement (CAPA). The CAPA consists of my librarian colleagues at UC Merced, minus my supervisor, AUL, Deputy University Librarian (DUL), and University Librarian (UL). The CAPA then looks over all of the documentation and decides whether to agree or disagree with the recommendation, and the chair writes a letter to the UL with the committee’s decision. The UL then writes a letter with his recommendation to the Provost. The Provost then writes a letter back to me with the final decision. I received my letter in the final packet, which the UL went over with me.

This was also the first time I read the letters of evaluation, CAPA letter, and the UL’s letter. I have so much self-doubt, especially since I started my career in an isolated branch campus of a community college, but reading their feedback has made me feel really good and inspired me to continue to do good work for our students, campus, and profession.

I also learned something new about myself from the review: I’m quite relational. The CAPA letter specifically notes, “…[These activities] all speak to her collegiality, collaboration, and support for the success of others that characterize her professional endeavors.” I don’t think I had ever realized this, at least to this degree. Just like I do with thank you cards, I’ll be keeping this review packet near when I need a boost.

I also learned that I am pretty old-school when it comes to keeping track of my work. I have tried a variety of apps and online programs, and, ultimately, what works for me is to look at my color-coded Outlook calendar at the end of every month for classes and workshops I’ve given and webinars I have attended and note them down in Word / Google Docs. I also keep track of major projects in a planner, so I can see what I worked on every week, though I am not always good about filling it out. Last month, I realized that I could just simply start the document that I will be turning in for my review in 2020. I set it up with the headings I will eventually need, and it’s been going well so far, especially for the sections related to professional development and research/creative works. If you’re a UC librarian, here’s the basic template I am using, which can be downloaded and adjusted to fit your needs: bit.ly/uclib_review_template

If you are new to the UC librarian review process, don’t panic. Your colleagues who have been through the process will be happy to share tips. And when you get back your successful review, please celebrate and take joy in what your colleagues within and outside the library and your campus had to say about your work.