As academic libraries increasingly serve as hubs for digital learning and scholarship, librarians are expected to become expert information professionals who are capable of demonstrating the impact and value of the library as community anchor contributing to the overall learning, teaching, research, and service missions of their university. Therefore, current and future librarians alike need to develop their research skills including systematic collection of evidence, data analysis, and interpretation. The research is then used as evidence when arguing for new programs or making changes in current services and collections.

The Library as Research Lab Project contains three core components:

1. Creation of a library as research lab model: We establish a new educational model for student-librarian-faculty teams to learn, practice, and engage in evidence-based approaches to research problems in academic library. This innovative model offers master’s students in iSchool co-curricular experience, going beyond engaging in library functions. Other iSchool-academic library pairs could adopt our model, focusing on specific research themes tailored to their own campus.

2. Building research skills and professional capabilities in the academic library workforce: This project educates future librarians and provides continuing education to current practitioners so that they could lead the research projects and apply evidence-based approaches to practice. This project intends to strengthen students’ and librarians’ abilities to investigate an existing context systematically and improve their problem-solving skills.

3. Fostering and enhancing mentoring capabilities in the profession: By learning and practicing mentoring in research lab settings, librarians will have the opportunity to foster and enhance mentoring capabilities that could help them become an educator for their peer librarians.

All participants engage in the following activities:

  • In each academic year, 6-12 student fellows are selected and assigned to one of the three labs based on their knowledge and skills, preference, and fit with the research area
  • Student fellows are required to take at least three research methods courses in their first year. Fellows could earn course credits by registering an independent study course, internship, or master’s thesis
  • Librarian mentors participate in a mentoring workshop to exchange ideas about expectations, responsibilities, and best practices for mentoring
  • Lab members meet weekly or bi-weekly to share research ideas, work on research design, discuss research findings
  • Lab members collaborate to present their project at professional conferences or publish in peer-reviewed journals
  • The entire cohort of student fellows, librarian mentors, and lab directors have monthly research seminars
  • At the end of each academic year, student fellows present their research project in the annual research symposium, which is open to the University of Michigan community.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [RE-95-17-0104-17]. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Questions? Please contact Principal Investigator, Soo Young Rieh (Associate Professor in the School of Information, University of Michigan): rieh at umich.edu.


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