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?

Predictable Misunderstandings in Information Literacy: Anticipating Student Misconceptions to Improve Instruction

I finally was able to watch the recording of Lisa Hinchliffe’s Credo webinar, “Predictable Misunderstandings in Information Literacy: Anticipating Student Misconceptions to Improve Instruction,” in which she provides an overview of the preliminary results of a qualitative study she conducted to determine what librarians believe are first-year students’ misconceptions related to information literacy.

In 2017, Library Journal and Credo Reference conducted a survey to learn how two- and four-year institutions tie information literacy to the first year experience. The survey results, “The First-Year Experience Instruction Survey: Information Literacy in Higher Education,” indicate that students are not well-prepared to conduct academic research, lack experience using libraries, don’t understand that they need to learn research skills, and are overconfident in their abilities. Librarians’ challenges in teaching information literacy include limited contact time with students, having too many outcomes, not having specific assignments to contextualize lessons, and not sharing the same expectations as course instructors. There were over 400 comments related to the findings.

Hinchliffe and her research assistants were curious to know if there are student misconceptions that drive errors in information literacy practice. These misconceptions are plausible inferences based on previous experience. Once we can identify these misconceptions, we can help students unlearn habits and strategies that worked for them in high school but may not serve them as well in college [see Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design (2008)]. Hinchliffe and her assistants coded responses to the report that seemed to answer “What is challenging about teaching first-year students?”, removed duplicates, and then synthesized the responses into nine summary misconceptions to form an initial inventory.

Students:

  1. think that they shouldn’t ask for help
  2. don’t see themselves as “scholarly apprentices” (view themselves outside the community of practice)
  3. think of research as a linear process
  4. think of the library as the place to find books
  5. equate relevancy search rankings as a measure of quality vs. relevance to the search statement they enter
  6. conflate achieving access and information quality (don’t understand that finding information isn’t the same as finding “good” information)
  7. believe that free online resources are sufficient
  8. believe that Google is a sufficient search tool
  9. believe they are information literate (Hincliffe later explains that students interpret information literacy as a cross between computer and digital literacy)

In the second phase of this project, Hinchliffe and the research assistants held librarian focus groups online to discuss the misconceptions. The librarians noted other student misconceptions, including:

  • all library resources are credible
  • every question has one right answer (rather than seeing research as an opportunity to explore possible answers)
  • the library is the place to study or work with fellow students (no mention of collections or resources)

As a practicing librarian with a limited five years of full-time experience, I have an anecdote for each of these. While further research needs to be conducted, what strikes me about this is that we can redirect some things we do in the classroom to help dispel some of these misconceptions. Hinchcliffe also reminds us that the best way to do this is to provide students with the opportunity to encounter these misconceptions so they can self-correct their assumptions.

I am very much looking forward to seeing how this research continues to take off and what it might mean for those of us in the front lines. I also think having a discussion around these misconceptions might be particularly good to have with librarian colleagues who teach, as well as course instructors.

Combating One-Shot Fatigue

This semester, we geared up to teach quite a few mini workshops. Previously, most of our workshops focused on RefWorks, and attendance has always been low (it’s hard for students to come to something that is voluntary when their schedules are jam-packed!), but we decided to try something new. While most of the workshops were 20-minutes each, a few were 50 minutes.

The 20-minute workshops were my boss’ brainchild. Last fall, we tried to do a Research Starters series, and while we didn’t an uptick right before finals, we opted to try them again in the spring but throughout the term, both before and after spring recess. While I’m not saying we had sky-high attendance this semester, it did help that a few writing professors gave students some extra credit for attending up to three workshops.

In addition to teaching a few of the Research Starter workshops, I had planned to teach a whole slew of other workshops. I was very excited at the beginning of the semester, but after some mental health issues, I had to take a step back and reduce my load. I am going to try to teach the LGBTQ+, women’s, and race/ethnicity research workshops I had wanted to teach in the coming fall (I plan to team up with the apropos Student Services programs for these.) I did, however, teach two additional workshops, including one on Google Scholar and online consumer health information (the latter one needs a little more work; I did run out of time when planning for it).

When I worked at a community college library, I read Green’s “Library Instruction for First-Year Students: Following the Students’ Path” in C&RL News, and it really stuck with me. I know that not everyone loves GS, but, let’s face it, we all use it. Like Wikipedia, I use it before almost every research consultation. I also like to help students understand a tool that they will encounter if they haven’t already. The Google Scholar workshop I designed was 50 minutes, but I plan to adapt it to a 20-minute workshop in the fall. The students who came to the workshop had never used it before but the name recognition made them curious! I loved that. One of the students who attended had actually emailed me a few minutes before asking me if there was still room–of course!–and she literally threw on her shoes and walked over from the dorms. *praise hands*

I know it can be frustrating to create workshops that are not highly attended, but I love working with undergraduate students and getting more face-to-face time with them. And, sometimes, one-shot instruction can get old and feel limiting when working within predominantly faculty-led outcomes. I felt so much freedom when reading Nicholson’s “‘Taking Back’ Information Literacy: Time and the One-Shot in the Neoliberal University” in volume 1 of Pegowsky and McElroy’s The Critical Library Pedagogy (2016):

Information literacy allows the library to demonstrate return on investment to stakeholders in the form of outputs and impacts; the one-shot is important because numbers on spreadsheets make our work visible. Information literacy is, in no small part, a matter of fiscal survival. [Johnson cites Drabinski’s “Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction,” which I have read; read it for an overview of how info lit fits into the curricular changes in the 1980s. It is behind a paywall.] Nevertheless, moving away from an exclusive or predominant focus on teaching within the curriculum to explore ways to engage students and faculty outside of it–even when these activities aren’t seen to count as much as minutes in the classroom–would alleviate frustrations and stress.

I’m not saying I’m engaging in #critlib with Google Scholar, but I am definitely addressing the limitations I feel with my teaching by planning and giving workshops on a variety of topics.

Abrescy-Kranich Library Award for Student Research Excellence

Over the summer, I was part of a team that helped develop a new undergraduate student research award, the Carter Joseph Abrescy and Larry Kranich Award for Student Research Excellence. The award recognizes an undergraduate student research paper or project that was completed within the last 12 months for a credit-bearing course that demonstrates effective use of library resources and services. We will either award one winner with $1,000 or two winners with $500 each. We researched several library research awards from different institutions to create the criteria. Students will need to submit an abstract, their paper or project, bibliography, and a reflective essay about their research process. We also developed a rubric for reviewers to use when scoring the applications.

We hit a bit of a snag when it came to the money side of the initial set-up, so we got behind schedule for the launch. We were able to work with Financial Aid and Scholarships to use their undergraduate scholarship system to house the award application materials. Working with Financial Aid and Scholarships has been a great experience! The Scholarship Coordinator is very patient, and she does prompt work.

In s surprising turn events, I’m now chairing the committee. My colleague has several big projects, so she and I switched reins about three or so weeks ago. I’m a bit nervous chairing something like this, but it’s the next logical move for me in terms of committee work and event planning. My supervisor, who was also on the planning group, has been very helpful with my questions and in offering feedback.

Originally, we were going to begin advertising the award in October, but since the financial side wasn’t ready, it’s going to be a very tight turnaround during this initial year. I’m pleased to report that we were able to launch the award the Friday before finals. Whew! Applications are due Monday, Feb. 12, and the winner(s) will be announced by March 15. The award ceremony will take some time in mid-April. Our communications coordinator put out a quick email message to the campus community about the award, and she’ll be working on a larger campaign when students return from winter break. We are very fortunate that the scholarship system alerts students who have previously applied for scholarships about new scholarship opportunities, so over 1200 students received an alert. I’ve also made some other strategic contacts about the award.  Now that the award is live, we can be begin advertising earlier in subsequent years.

Right now, I’m working on recruiting members for the selection committee. The selection committee is a team of five: three librarians (as chair, I’m not one of the reviewers) and two faculty members. The faculty members, we hope, will be representatives from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) and Undergraduate Council. The chair of UGC has been in contact with me and has some good ideas.

I’m looking forward to seeing our submissions and awarding a student (or two!) with a prize for their research. I’m also curious about working with Development for the awards ceremony.

5 Immersive Things

Hello. It’s been a while. If you recall, in the spring, I found out that I was accepted into ACRL’s Immersion program, which was held at the end of July at Champlain College in beautiful Burlington, Vermont.

The bad: traveling.

I hadn’t ever been to New England before, so I wasn’t quite prepared for traveling here. I had an absolutely crazy experience traveling both to and from VT. It involved switching airports (Dulles to Reagan) and airlines on the way there after a flight cancellation. I ended up sharing a hotel room with a librarian from Oregon State University who happened to be on the same cancelled flight. If I remember correctly, the new flight was also delayed. On the way home, the flight was delayed, which meant I wasn’t going to make my connection. I ended up staying overnight but had some treats with a new librarian friend from American University to help cure my travel woes. I was down to wearing exercise pants and a t-shirt. (I also broke a pair of sandals during my week, too!) With all my extra time, I ended up reading three books. I was so happy when my husband picked me up at the airport in Sacramento.

The good: friends and learning.

I met some new librarian friends, learned new theories and teaching ideas, and then I learned that I know more than I thought, too. I have more to learn from the resources mentioned throughout the program. I haven’t cracked open that binder in a while.

Below are five things Immersion helped cement in my mind, though they aren’t necessarily earth-shattering.

  • We have assumptions about teaching and learning that are counter-productive.
    • Ex: Curricular integration of IL is the gold standard—> we tend to view one-shot workshops as sub-par learning experiences.
      • I never thought about this before. I personally view one-shots as sub-par, but learning can and does happen in single lessons. I’m not sure if this helps, though. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I think of the teaching I do as the one and only opportunity I have to show the value of librarians to students.
      • Pick one place to be “transformational” in.
        • This has to do with the GeST windows model. During Immersion, we were taught not to think of any window as better than another, but my colleagues didn’t necessarily read it that way. I need to do some re-reading.
    • Ex: Teaching is a calling—> we become overly critical.
      • Teaching is hard. Teaching is even harder when you’re a guest teacher. As a librarian, I don’t have the same rapport with students the way the classroom instructor does, and I don’t have the benefit of knowing what has really been done in or out of class to prepare for research instruction.
  • Discussion is not always discussion.
    • Is it really “serial questioning”?
      • Social constructivism: discovery-based, student-focused, authentic, collaborative, cooperation in small groups, etc.
      • This explains why I didn’t enjoy “class discussions” in college. They were never really discussions.
  • Assessment helps you design your class.
    • What do you want students to be able to do? How will they show you?
      • Plan activities accordingly.
  • Activity does not equal active learning.
    • Active learning requires that students apply/reflect.
  • Negotiate for 2-3 measurable learning outcomes.
    • Sometimes faculty can make decisions if you provide a list of suggestions/possibilities.
      • I like this strategy because it shows faculty how much variety exists and that not everything can be accomplished in one session.
      • It really makes me think that instruction menus are more useful as negotiation tools for librarians than as a guide for instructors. I like having a menu as a reference for myself.

I wasn’t quite willing to put this in my list above because I have a lot to mull over about it, but a question I wrote down in my notes is, “What are we asking students to give up?” This hit home to me even more when one of the Immersion instructors asked me why the pre-assignment I was working on for a potential class needed to be in Credo Reference. “If you really want them to do it, why not Wikipedia?” I mean, really, why not? It was pretty liberating. I also brought up this question to my colleagues post-Immersion, and it reminded them of the C&RL News article “Library Instruction for First-Year Students: Following the Students’ Path,” in which the author shares that she started using Google Scholar in instruction sessions. The author uses the term “desire lines”; library folks will quickly see the UX practice here. I really think this is something to think about a little more, and I’d love to do something related to this question of what we’re asking students to give up when we teach research skills and concepts. (If you’re reading this, and you’d like to partner on something, shoot me a message!)

Instruction Brown Bag Sessions

One neat thing we do at the UC Merced Library is meet during a lunch hour to discuss information literacy and research instruction. We have an internal LibGuide for these sessions. Over the summer, we met after the Library Instruction West 2016 conference to share about sessions we attended as my colleagues and I tried to attend different sessions from each other. I shared two sessions I attended at LIW 2016 during the first brown bag (you can read about everything I attended at LIW 2016 here). We had our second instruction brown bag lunch in mid-August. Here is a summary of the sessions my colleagues attended at LIW 2016.

Foothills to Fourteeners: Preparing Students for Research in the Real World

This session referred to Problem Based Learning (PBL) and the ARCS Model of Motivational Design.

The ARCS Model can help encourage student motivation. A refers to attention, stimulating and sustaining learners’ interests. R refers to relevance, meeting the needs and goals of learners to effect a positive change. C refers to confidence, helping learners believe they will succeed and can control their success. S refers to satisfaction, reinforcing the accomplishment with internal or external awards. Chapter 3 of John Keller’s (2010) Motivational Design for Learning and Performance: The Arcs Model Approach provides strategies for how to approach each area.

It can be challenging to stimulate students’ interest in learning, and I think it’s perhaps more challenge for research instruction because students tend to be over-confident in their research abilities when arriving to a session. I found the ARCS model really useful to pinpoint the areas where I can focus my efforts to increase motivation in my teaching. In our discussion about how to apply ARCS, we all agreed that getting and sustaining students’ attention is the hardest part. I struggle with this, too, because, usually, I am really focused on getting the housekeeping bits out of the way, including objectives for the lesson. One of my colleagues shared that one “hook” she uses is a cute video about how picking a topic is research (I have used the video before, but not, specifically, as a hook). Generally, our instruction is tied to specific course assignments and requirements, so it’s pretty targeted, though I do try to  indicate that what they are learning is relevant for research in and out of school. Confidence is a little more challenging because, generally, we are only seeing students one time, but we do reinforce during hands-on practice and iterate that research takes practice for everyone. during A strategy to help measure satisfaction might be to use Padlet to ask students what they are hoping to learn at the beginning of a session and then going back to see if the things students listed were met.

As a result of this discussion, we will be using an exit slip for our instruction this semester that seeks to gain feedback about attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. We will have the option to use our other exit slip for those who wish to measure some other things. After this term, we’re going to analyze the results. I’m really looking forward to seeing how focusing on these areas can improve my teaching.

Digital Research Notebook: A Simple Tool for Reflective Learning at Scale

The UCLA Library developed the Digital Research Notebook as a way to move beyond one-shot instruction (the one-shot plus language by Char Booth). The Google Doc is a “combination of video tutorials and reflective writing prompts, [which] guides student[s] through the research process. The notebook can be assigned on its own, as a pre-assignment for a one-shot session, or as the backbone of a credit course or research consultation.” The notebooks are useful for librarians to actually be able to see student work.

Outside of the Academic Garden: Lifelong Learning for Engineers

Mary DeJong and Wendy Holliday reported their findings from surveys and interviews conducted with graduates of Northern Arizona University who had majored in engineering. Those surveyed discussed what tools they use to find information, what information needs they have, and how they approach various research projects. Check out the link to the presentation slides to learn more about their findings. I think the results hold lots of implications for librarians who teach information literacy for engineering students. There may be something you can create with engineering faculty that would be helpful for students.

From ‘Design Thinking’ to ‘Design Knowing’: Re-conceptualizing Librarianship as a Design Discipline Webinar

My interest in design thinking began when I took the Hyperlinked Library MOOC in Fall 2013, although I only completed half the modules. The following summer, I took User Experience as an independent course through San José State’s iSchool Open Classes. If you’ve happened to poke around in my blog (it’s really to a means to keep track of what I read, conferences, projects, etc.), you’ll find that I’ve written about my interest in learning and instructional design.  I’m still contemplating a second Masters or certificate. My current job is focused on instruction, which includes the design of learning objects to aid the research and instruction process. I’d like some more formal learning and training.

I finally had the opportunity to watch the May 12, 2016, recording of the Blended Librarians Online Community webinar “From ‘Design Thinking’ to ‘Design Knowing’: Re-conceptualizing Librarianship as a Design Discipline.” Rachel Ivy Clarke recently earned a Ph.D. at the University of Washington Information School; her research centers on this topic, and you can follow her @archivy, contact her at raclarke@uw.edu, or visit her website at archivy.net. The webinar stems from a letter Steven Bell wrote in response to an August 2015 report called “Re-envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations.” Clarke reached out to Bell after reading his letter, which sparked her interest in the subject of approaching librarianship from a design perspective. Steven Bell has also previously written on this topic in his November 2014 Library Journal post “MLD: Masters in Library Design, Not Science.”

Here is the webinar description:

Although librarianship is often traditionally framed as a science, librarians have always been designers: creators of tools and services ( everything from indexes to curricula to  ) that connect people with information. Librarians have never really explicitly conceptualized their work as design work or viewed themselves as designers. Recent years have seen an upsurge of interest in applying “design thinking” to library work, but librarianship also aligns with “design knowing”—foundations of knowledge in design that differentiate it from science.  (2016)

This was a really great webinar to explore both how design is a form of knowledge different from the sciences and humanities and the ways in which librarianship is a design discipline. It’s a compelling argument, and I am impressed with Clarke’s work.

Here are my notes with the examples Clarke used in the webinar.

“Designerly Ways of Knowing”

Design is concerned with the artificial world–making things in order to solve problems. Nigel Cross, a design scholar, developed “designerly ways of knowing” that span across different design fields. Clarke argues that these also span librarianship. She has pinpointed three “designerly ways of knowing,” which include creation of problem solutions, generation of knowledge through making, and design evaluation methods.

1. Creation of Wicked Problem Solutions

Designerly ways of knowing include the of creation artifacts, or things, to solve “wicked” problems; the way we frame these kinds of problems makes a significant impact on how the problems are solved. In librarianship, we create artifacts to solve information problems, including tangible items, such as indexes and pathfinders, or digital items, such as an online catalog or LibGuides; conceptual systems, such as the Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal Classification systems; and events, such as story times, or services, such as instructional curriculum.

Wicked problems are unique problems in that whatever context they are in, they can’t be solved the same way in a different context. They are interconnected, challenging problems without a single answer and aren’t solved through a traditional scientific approach; solutions, instead, are ranked as either better or worse and will vary depending on what aspect of the problem is being addressed. For example, solutions like a library catalog will vary depending on what is seen as the main problem–is it more to help people access materials, for inventory control, or to introduce people to diverse materials? Wicked problems also have many stakeholders with different perspectives, like librarians, administrators, and patrons. Are classification systems designed to help librarians, patrons, or both librarians and patrons?

2. Generation of Knowledge through Making: Iteration, Reflection, and Repertoire

We generate knowledge through the making processes, which include iteration, reflection, and  drawing on a repertoire of knowledge. The process of creating artifacts is as important as the results; the design cycle supports the idea of iteration. Clarke indicates that the design process is gaining traction in librarianship, and I find that she is correct. Check out Design Thinking for Educators and Design Thinking for Libraries. Clarke remarks, however, that reflection does not seem to be as strongly represented in design thinking as it relates to librarianship. She suggest that we are reflecting all the time without actually talking about it and that we might not recognize this as a legitimate form of knowledge in our profession. We typically might think of reflection as occurring in the test part of the design process, but reflection is intrinsic in the process–it is ongoing, or “in action,” as explains Clarke. (I really think she is onto something; I also see this in the research process. Reflection is not strongly emphasized in information literacy, either, but it is essential throughout the process. I know that professors sometimes have students write a reflection at the end of a research assignment, but some have students write in journals about the research process while students are working on a research assignment. Interestingly, at the end of the webinar when Clarke was taking questions, she commented that many people were mentioning that information literacy is a wicked problem.) Design also relies on repertoire; Clarke argues that librarians are often drawing upon past knowledge, experiences, and ideas they see to make decisions for their libraries.

3. Design Evaluation

Evaluation methods in design are also different than in science. Scientific evaluation methods like replication don’t work well for design work. Design is meant to come up with different solutions, not repetition. One method for evaluation in design is rationale–the justification and reason for design choices, which is based on how the problem has been framed. For example, if the purpose in keeping the Dewey Decimal Classification system is for a school library to be able to work more closely with the public library, that’s a better classification design for the school library to use than an author and genre classification system. Another method involves constructive critique–what works and doesn’t work in this particular design? The feedback furthers the artifact and furthers knowledge.

Implications: Research, Education, Practice

Librarians do all of these things. Clarke is arguing that we make design more explicit in research, education, and practice.

She and I also agree on a lot of things regarding current LIS research. I was tickled that she touched on the complaints that library research is not research-y enough; it’s more “this is what we did and how we did it.” I know I have been critical of that in the past myself, but that’s because I wasn’t thinking about our discipline as being a design discipline. Librarianship isn’t a hard science, and it isn’t a humanities discipline. I always tried to explain it as an applied field, but what does that really mean. Is it education? Clarke argues that these traditional measurements aren’t appropriate; she explains that research through design is emerging in user experience and interaction design fields, which may use some traditional evaluation methods but is not necessary for the research to be valid. How a library reports that they did something, which includes the rationale behind it, is valid research. We do need increased avenues for critique, and Clarke mentions that there does seem to be a growing interest with the rise of the critical librarianship movement. For example, critical librarianship critiques that the Dewey Decimal System, which comes from the Victorian era, emphasizes knowledge categories in white, Christian terms. However, the movement is still not grounded specifically in design. Perhaps our profession could arrange spaces where people could bring in their designs for critique as another mode of research; the Museums and the Web conference does this.

Clarke argues that Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) programs in North America offer no design courses. Students are introduced to design through MOOCs and workshops, or they become introduced to design while on the job. Taking the Hyperlinked Library MOOC and User Experience a few years after I graduated with my degree is what really got me thinking more about design. Clarke notes that the University of Washington is launching a new (online) course for its MLIS program in Fall 2016, Design Approaches to Librarianship. Clarke also says that MLIS programs lack the “studio environment” with ongoing feedback, a safe pace to practice and fail, how to reflect, and how to give and receive critique. Given that one of librarianship’s core values in lifelong learning, she argues that MLIS programs should encourage students to be proactive in increasing their skill sets. Not everything is going to be taught or learned in library school. I could not agree more!

Clarke believes that if we re-frame librarianship as a design discipline, we will create better designs. These better tools and services will help libraries be better at advocating about the library’s values, which may lead to more funding. Clarke claims, “Embracing design offers potential for empowerment.” Clarke shares a study she read about user experience librarians that showed that even these librarians do not see themselves as designers. It could be because the actual design work is being carried out by other departments, such as the IT Department. Since these librarians aren’t designing the tool, they feel like they have no power over how it will look or work. Many librarians also buy tool and products from vendors. Some of these perspectives could be changed with increased education, but workplaces could also build design tasks into job descriptions or offer support for design projects. As many libraries are beginning to have makerspaces and other kinds of innovation labs in their spaces, Clarke believes it is imperative that we consider thinking about librarianship from a design perspective. She asks, “How can we empower others to be makers if we don’t fully understand making ourselves?”

Thinking about librarianship as design also offers some broader considerations. Clarke sees that the values of librarianship–privacy, democracy, intellectual freedom, diversity–is what separates us from other information professions. She says, “Values are always embedded in design artifacts.” She explains that if we aren’t designing our systems, software, furniture, buildings, etc., our values are not carried out into the design.

I deeply enjoyed this webinar, and I watched it pretty closely, stopping the recording often to take notes and jot down the examples Clarke gave in showing the audience how the work of librarianship is entrenched in the discipline of design. I’m very interested in reading more of her work and more about design.

 

Research Design in Librarianship Sage Webinar

So back in September, I registered for Sage’s Research Design and Librarianship webinar because I wanted to learn more about the experience of librarians who went through Loyola Marymount University William H. Hannon Library’s Institute for Research Design in Librarianship. (Sage is the sponsor for the Institute in 2015 and 2016.)  I finally got the chance to watch the recording from Sept. 29th. I know it’s May. Can you tell I’m going through the last of my work files?

IRDL is an intensive two-week course in research methods and design to help librarians conduct original research. The IRDL is grant-funded for three years. I missed the deadline to apply for 2016 (a good thing since I didn’t know I’d be starting a new job during the Institute’s time frame), and the first year the IRDL was offered was in 2013, so I may not ever get the chance to apply, but I have always wanted to conduct my own research. As a community college faculty member, research is not required for tenure, and in my new job, research is also not required but it is highly valued, so I think this is  a great place for me to be. Unfortunately, with this change, it also means that the idea I had for a project needs to be tabled, but I just need another idea!

If you’re in the place where you have an idea but need some motivation to get yourself writing, check out this handy little guide, “Get Writing! Overcome Procrastination, Remove Roadblocks, and Create a Map for Success.” You might need to adapt some of it since this exercise works best with a partner. I attended the corresponding workshop, led by Jerilyn Veldof and Jon Jeffryes from the University of Minnesota Libraries, at the American Library Association Annual Conference in June 2014 in Las Vegas. It was very helpful, even though I didn’t have a strong idea of a topic to write on back then.

IRDL is definitely a need. Many librarians didn’t have to take a research methods course in graduate school. In college, I started off as a sociology major and took a research methods class, and in graduate school I took a research methods class in how to evaluate programs and services, but I am not confident in thinking I can devise a whole study. The poll at the beginning of the webinar showed that 41 percent of attendees were involved in research, but that 58 were not! 7.5 percent indicated they were not confident in their abilities to conduct research. Here is a citation to an article about this topic by one of the IRDL’s directors: Kennedy, M. R. & Brancolini, K. R. (2012). Academic librarian research: A survey of attitudes, involvement, and perceived capabilities. College & Research Libraries, 73(5): 431-448. doi:10.5860/crl-276

It was really interesting to hear about the research being done by three IRDL “graduates,” and it was also good to hear about how they have fostered a community to help support one another as they work on projects. I think that’s really part of the issue—not having colleagues engaged in original research studies.

These research summaries are taken directly from the webinar email reminder.

Frans Albarillo is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. His research focuses on how immigrant students use academic libraries. Frans has finished his first IRDL project on foreign-born students, and is writing up the results. He is preparing to start a second project with an IRDL fellow in the second year cohort that focuses on how graduate students and faculty use mobile devices for teaching and research.

He focused on this topic because he found that there was a lot of literature on international students but not on foreign-born/immigrant students. His works will begin to help fill a gap. He chose to do a survey and got 93 of his targeted 100 students to participate in the survey.

Frans

At the time of the webinar, John Jackson was the Reference & Instruction Librarian for Wardman Library at Whittier College; he is now Outreach Librarian at Loyola Marymount University. His current research examines the values that undergraduates place on the knowledge practices outlined in the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

What was really interesting about the research design in this work is that rather than have students tell the librarian what he or she would do in a given situation, Jackson instead read vignettes of a student named Jenny and then asked the students he was interviewing to offer advice about how she should proceed in the research process. Very neat!

John

Lisa Zilinski is the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Research Data Specialist. As part of the Scholarly Publishing, Archives, and Data Services Division, Lisa consults with faculty to identify data literacy opportunities, develops learning plans and tools for data education, and investigates and develops programmatic and sustainable data services for the Libraries. Her research experience focuses on research data management education and literacy principles; integration of data services into the research process; and assessment and impact of data services and activities.

Zilinski was re-recruiting faculty for her focus group. She was six months into her research project and changed institutions, which was a huge challenge. As a community college librarian, data services is something that is run by our Office of Grants and Institutional Research people for the institution, not really individual researchers, although we do have an IRB, which is quite rare. I think there is only one other CA community college with one.

Lisa

The IRDL representative, Marie Kennedy, shared the following four texts used in the IRDL.

Bernard, H.R. (2013). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fink, A. (2013). How to conduct surveys: A step-by-step guide (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Guest, G., MacQueen, K., & Namey, E. (2012). Applied thematic analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Guest, G., Namey, E., & Mitchell, M. (2013). Collecting qualitative data: A field manual for applied research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Some webinar participants and the researchers also offered (I revised some of these to be the current edition):

Robson, C. (2016). Real world research (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ:Wiley.

Salkind, N. J. (2014). Statistics for people who (think) they hate statistics (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Wildemuth, B. (2009). Applications of social research methods to questions in information and library science. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

The open-access, peer-reviewed journal Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP).