As one of the two librarians leading the Assessment of Student Learning Lab, it has been a very exciting year working on this IMLS grant project. As I look back on about a year of our work, I am amazed at how much we have accomplished.
We began in January with just a semester to welcome our student fellows, then plan, implement, analyze data, and present our findings of our first project. This fall has followed a similar pattern, though we will have much more time to analyze data, contemplate our findings and derive additional improvements that we can make to the two instruction environments we are assessing.
Beyond the actual assessment work with which we are engaged, I am very grateful to have been invited to participate in this project. I think I have been able to contribute and have benefitted from it in ways that I might not have fully anticipated when we began in fall of 2017.
- Connecting with Faculty
I graduated from SI with an M.I.L.S. degree many years ago, and have had little opportunity to communicate or collaborate with current faculty in the School ofInformation. Having both an outstandingUniversity Library and an outstanding School of Information, it makes perfect sense that we should be developing and pursuing projects and programs of mutual interest. Since the beginning of thisIMLS grant project, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with two SI faculty members, Soo Young Rieh and Beth Yakel. I have learned so much about their research interests and practices, career paths, and their dedication to the students in SI.
2. Partnering with Students
Over the past two semesters, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with six SI students. It has been one of the most rewarding parts of this project. Students come with varied backgrounds in research with some having little experience and some having substantial experience. Regardless of their prior experience, it is amazing to see how much professional growth occurs in as little as 4 months. The students in our lab have grown so much in expertise around research methods and learning new tech tools as well as in independence and confidence about their research and presentation skills. I’ve greatly enjoyed meeting with them individually to provide career mentoring or discuss other opportunities for future internships. They have so many career opportunities open to them. It is exciting to help them think about how they can bring all of their past work experiences together and explore the interdisciplinary options that lie ahead of them — and learn about job opportunities they don’t even know exist.Connecting with my own colleagues
3. Connecting with my own colleagues
While librarians always collaborate on projects – it is just the nature of library work that almost every endeavor requires collaboration across unit or division lines, this grant project has provided for a different level of collaboration. Perhaps it is a different sense of purpose. Planning for the grant is much bigger than planning for our unit or even the library as a whole. It has given me the opportunity to connect with my colleagues around scoping projects that benefit the library, us as librarians who seek professional engagement, the School of Information, the research interests of SI faculty, and of course the academic and professional needs of our students. Thinking holistically about all of this has led to conversations and observations with colleagues that I may not have otherwise been able to have. It give me renewed insight into my colleagues’ ambitions as well as prior work experience that directly relates to our project at hand. I hope the same holds true for my colleagues about me.
4. Developing a culture of research
I have been a librarian at U-M for 24 years. Over that time, I have seen interest in librarian research fluctuate. During some years, librarians have been actively engaged in great research to advance our campus impact. And other times, librarians’ attention is turned to other pressing matters. When this IMLS grant began in late 2017, a resurgence in librarian research was just beginning. So, the timing of this grant could not have been more perfect. It dovetailed nicely with our renewed interest in research and has been instrumental in elevating our interest even more. It has led to a monthly research meeting in the Learning and Teaching division of the library, the sharing of new tools or methodologies that we learn about, and above all, the feeling that we are in this together helping our colleagues and ourselves embrace new research projects. As we begin to share the results of our research and implement changes based on this research, our hope is that it motivates librarians across the the library to consider engaging in a research- whether it is Research with an upper-case R or research with a lower=case r.
Doreen Bradley obtained a B.A. in French Literature, Linguistics, and Translation from the University of Toronto and a Master of Information and Library Studies (M.I.L.S) from the University of Michigan. She has over 17 years experience as a health sciences librarian, and for the past 9 years has focused on information literacy particularly for undergraduate students. She is the Director of Learning Programs and Initiatives unit in the U-M Library.