When beginning my contribution to the Library as Research Lab project, I had a fair idea of what I wanted my career path to look like: academic librarianship, with focuses on digital scholarship and undergraduate learning. After a semester working on the project, I have found that my career aspirations are now more nuanced because of the opportunities and connections created during my time as a lab mentee.
I was so fortunate to be mentored by Doreen Bradley and Angie Oehrli this semester in the Library Assessment in Student Learning lab. Both Doreen and Angie contributed significantly to the clarity I’ve found in my scholarly path. Doreen served as my internship mentor (I did my research for internship credit hours), and her ability to connect my lab goals (strengthening my research and presentation skills) to my overall career objectives was incredibly helpful. She did this by connecting me with various professionals at Michigan Library who could offer insight into various aspects of academic librarianship that I expressed interest in. Through Doreen’s fostering of these connections, I met with Digital Scholarship Librarians, Digital Learning Librarians, a Student Success Librarian, an Education Librarian, and a Data Scientist at UM’s Center for Academic Innovation. These connections proved invaluable, and the advice I received from this diverse group of information professionals spanned topics of higher education, critical librarianship, facilitating student success, equity in the profession, digital scholarship in academic libraries, CV/cover letter advice, and my own interest in doctoral programs.
In addition to the connections Doreen was able to foster, I was also able to gain a more introspective sense of my career values because of an exercise we did at one of our All Hands meetings. Led by Angie and librarian mentor Laurie Alexander, we identified our core values by defining personal mission statements. By recognizing how much I value genuine communication, equity and ethical practice, resilience, and community in my work, I was able to narrow down how my core values project onto the articulated career aspirations I was beginning to develop. Because of these connections I made, and the career values I was able to articulate, I realized that my interest in the library/digital scholarship as a tool for academic and societal equity extends beyond tangential aspects of my career path—it is an integral part of my future career, and I would like to potentially study it further as a doctoral student.
I truly consider the mentorship I have received this semester as a participant of the Library as Research Lab project invaluable, and I am excited to learn and grow with the lab next semester.
Julia Maxwell is a second year MSI student at UMSI, where she is also a Graduate Student Instructor. Julia also works on projects at UM’s Center for Academic Innovation surrounding open-access online courses, and spent last summer at Harvard Library working on digital strategy-related library initiatives.