Community Blogs

Unpacking an Interdisciplinary Experience: Reflections from a Data Science Student

Elizabeth Hanley Not too long ago, we had project-wide midpoint check-ins where lab members came together in small groups to discuss our experiences so far in the Library as Research Lab project. Many of the topics had to do with how the skills learned in this project differ from - or augment - our experiences in the classroom at the School of Information. Being a project member who hails from the School of Information Data Science track, I had a lot of thoughts about the value of being an interdisciplinary student that I wanted to continue unpacking after the focus group. Not only has this program been deeply influential in shaping my academic trajectory at UMSI, but it has influenced how I think about my future career as well. More than just a research project, the Library as Research Lab program has helped me better articulate who I want to be as a data scientist.

Library as Research Lab’s Lessons Reach Beyond the Classroom

Elizabeth Hanley As one of the fortunate students who has been able to participate in the Library as Research Lab project since it began in Winter 2018, this program has deeply shaped my time at the School of Information. In returning to this program for a second year, I’ve discovered that staying with a project long-term teaches a set of valuable professional skills that can’t always be covered in a semester-long class. Being a member of the Library Assessment of Student Learning Lab throughout the course of my time at UMSI has taught me to take ownership of the research process in a way that, to me, feels meaningful and fulfilling. Participating in this program has pushed me to grapple with ambiguity, think deeply about how to ask meaningful questions, and draw real-world conclusions from our findings. I’ve had the chance to watch our research evolve from the very beginning stages until now, when we’re starting to see our work accepted at conferences and shared more broadly in the community.

Mentorship in Action

Laurie Alexander As the work of the Lab progresses, mentorship is more visible, active and accessible. It is coming from many directions – peer interaction, (in)formal mentoring activities, inspiration & iteration, and broadening of perspectives. The following observations focus on professional growth and stand apart as both notable and compelling.

The Fuzzy Front End and What It Means for Mentorship

Caroline Wack I have been working in the Design Thinking for LibraryServices lab this semester along with my wonderful peer mentors, Sophia McFadden-Keesling and Jordan Gorzalski, and our fearless librarian leaders,Meghan Sitar and Justin Schell. Our work focuses on building a design thinking tool for librarians, but we also use design thinking to create the tool. That’s right—we’re design thinking about design thinking! It’s very meta.

Research in real life

Jackie Freeman Depending on where (and when) you attended library school, a research methods class was probably a requirement. These types of courses are designed to provide students with theoretical knowledge of research methods – and if they are particularly fortunate – students may have an opportunity to work with a library practitioner on some aspect of that librarians’ research. Due to the length of most library school programs, these opportunities when offered are necessarily brief and often do not allow for sustained engagement with a project from inception to completion and dissemination.

Equity begins with Funding

Andrea Kang Before coming to the University of Michigan (U-M) School of Information in the fall of 2017, I made a promise to myself that my time here would be different from my time at my undergraduate institution. It would be different in that I would ensure that the feelings of isolation as a student of color at a predominantly white institution would not deter my initiative to seek out opportunities that would help advance my personal and professional skills. It would be different in that I would not be afraid to apply to positions I thought I was unqualified for simply because people in positions of power told me so in coded language.