The conundrum of leadership

by Jaclyn McLean, Electronic Resources Librarian, University of Saskatchewan

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a leader. What leadership is. What a strong leader would look like. How I could be a leader from right here where I am today. So naturally, I have been doing some reading about leadership. And watching some videos about it, too. I’ve found a few philosophies about leadership that resonate with me, and many others that didn’t, which only serves to demonstrate the individual nature of leadership. There seems to be a need for hope, for optimism, in the world today. For me, thinking about the leader I could be and focusing on the positive, rather than letting my energy be drained by the state of the world around me, has made me feel like I’m doing something positive. These are some of the people whose ideas about leadership are inspiring me:

Susan Cain [link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/opinion/sunday/introverts-make-great-leaders-too.html] wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, a book that showed me that introversion is powerful. It is not something that needs to be cured. It is not the same thing as shyness. Some of the most powerful leaders in recent history would describe themselves with the characteristics of introversion.

Drew Dudley [link: https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership] reminds us that leadership can be as small as a moment when you have an impact on someone else’s life. That as long as we make leadership about changing the world, we’re giving ourselves the excuse not to expect it from ourselves or each other.

Roxane Gay [link: https://www.ted.com/talks/roxane_gay_confessions_of_a_bad_feminist ] has the bravery to say and write the kinds of things I think but am not always brave enough to say. She says, in Bad Feminist: Essays “When you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.” If you haven’t read any of her writing, consider it [link: http://fortune.com/2015/02/12/women-shouldnt-have-to-lead-like-men-to-be-successful/]. Or follow her on Twitter and observe how she engages with critics. She leads by example.

Simon Sinek [link: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe] tells us that leadership is a choice in his Ted talk. He talks about trust and cooperation, about choosing to look after those to your right and your left, to sacrifice so others may gain. When you do, others will sacrifice for you. And that is leadership.

Tina Fey [link: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/university_of_venus/lessons_from_bossypants_women_and_leadership] reminds us to be part of the solution. To say yes rather than no, to stay open to possibility rather than shutting it down for yourself and others.

Looking to these sources (and so many others who stretch my thinking (watch Leroy Little Bear [link: https://vimeo.com/172822409])), I’ve been building my personal definition of leadership for several years now. Right now, it looks something like this. Leadership is the accumulation of small victories. It is situational, vulnerable, authentic, generous, flexible, and driven by the heart. Leaders admit when they falter or fall down, and they get back up again. Being a leader is about the small actions, about treating others how you’d like to be treated, by setting expectations for others and meeting them yourself. The idea of leading with the heart reminds me of Selinda’s recent post [link: http://words.usask.ca/ceblipblog/2017/01/03/affective-research-supports/] on this blog. Providing affective research support is one of those small actions that can have a large impact.

So that’s what leadership looks like to me right now. What does it look like to you? What kind of leader do you want to be? What can you do to make someone else’s life a bit better today?

 

Author’s Note: In writing this post, I came face to face with the unavoidable truth that many of those we hold up as leaders, or as exemplifying leadership qualities, are white men or women. If you’d like to read more about that bias, I would point you to this article, “Think Leader, Think White? Capturing and Weakening an Implicit Pro-White Leadership Bias” from PLos ONE [link: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0083915], and ask you to look for role models and leaders from outside your own cultural community. Or think about how to encourage leaders from all communities. Michelle Obama has some advice [link: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/09/remarks-first-lady-tuskegee-university-commencement-address]. Thanks for reading.


This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Leaning In or Leaning Back?

by Marjorie Mitchell
Research Librarian, UBC Okanagan Library

With apologies to Sheryl Sandberg.

I am going to admit it here first – I’m going through a bit of a dry spell with my research. Actually, it’s not the research – that feels like it’s making some forward movement for the time being. No, the dry spell I’m experiencing has to do more with disseminating my research results and getting my findings “out there” than it has to do with the “research” per se. I’ve recently had proposals for two conference presentations (one traditional presentation and one poster) rejected. Now I’m in a bit of a quandary. I’m trying to read the message of these two rejections to determine whether I should continue this line of research or not. Do I continue and hope the results of my research will be more convincing and compelling nearer completion (leaning in) or maybe it’s a good time to adjust the focus of my research (leaning back).

Research is a funny thing. While many of us conduct research for reasons like “contributing to the profession” or “out of curiosity” or “because I’m required to do research for tenure and/or promotion”, few of us spend enough time determining whether our topic meets the criteria Hollister (2013) called “noteworthy”. Basically, he is pointing out the importance of saying something new, or utilizing something existing, either a theory or method, in a new and unique way.

I would take this a step further and say that a topic also needs to be timely. If your topic has already been written about and presented on many times, it might be that the topic has become stale, even if you have found something new to add to the knowledge about the topic. Another contribution to a topic that has occupied our professional attention for some time just isn’t as appealing as something newer. There is also the problem of being too new. There are some topics and ideas that are just a bit too far ahead of the crowd and won’t be accepted in the current round of conferences and upcoming journals.

Some ideas are just ahead of what the profession is ready to be discussing at any given time. No matter how well composed, researched and executed, an idea that is ahead of its time will fall on deaf ears. You may have had the experience of coming up with a topic and pitching it, only to see it presented by someone else two years later at your favorite conference. There is no quick or easy solution to this. You can only console yourself with a hot cup of tea, secure in the knowledge that you had that idea first.

I think one solution to the issue of being timely is also to develop a certain passionate detachment to the research you’re doing. Research needs a certain amount of objectivity, but I truly believe research needs passion and enthusiasm to carry it forward. I’ve come to recognize, however, I also require a certain amount of detachment, particularly at the conclusion of my research, to allow me to withstand the rejections my ideas sometimes receive.

Sometimes it is worthwhile to step back from the research, particularly after a rejection, and honestly weigh whether the research is still worth pursuing and finishing. It may be your great idea is just a little too late. For now, I’m going to take my proposals to a colleague and get a second, less biased, look at them before I make any decisions. So, before I lean in any direction, I’m going to lean on a friend for advice. I don’t think Sheryl mentioned that kind of leaning.

References

Hollister, C. V. (2013). Handbook of academic writing for librarians. Chicago: Association of College & Research Libraries.


This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Should I stay or should I go? Thoughts on conference travel and protest in academia

by Shannon Lucky, Information Technology Librarian, University of Saskatchewan

Over the past week I had many conversations with colleagues about this upcoming conference season and what we, as Canadians, are going to do about travelling to the U.S. The response from universities and academics around the world has been swift and damning of the American administration’s decision to ban citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from travel to the U.S., but there isn’t much consensus about what else we can do. Back in the Fall, I was delighted to be accepted to speak at a large American conference at the end of March, but now I’m not so sure I want to go. I’m thinking twice about the politics and practicalities of my choice; whether or not I feel both safe and right to participate in academic conferences in the U.S.

The impact of this ban was immediately felt in academia where travel for conferences, teaching, workshops, and research is the norm. Post-secondary campuses are full of people from all over the world and limiting the ability to travel for work and personal reasons – either for fear they won’t be allowed into the U.S., or fear they won’t be able to get back to their American home if they leave, is chilling. The ban doesn’t affect my ability travel. I am a Canadian citizen, I am white, English is my first language – I am in a place of privilege. But I worry about my colleagues who are not.

Writing for a blog about evidence-based practice, it isn’t hard to see how engaging in any way with a U.S. administration that uses ‘alternative facts’, led by someone making decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had” (Fisher, 2016, July) is troubling. The fallout from this executive order is unpredictable and shifting day to day with little clarity about what it really means. As I am writing this, the ban has been temporarily halted (who knows what will have happened by the time you are reading) and it is this instability that is causing so much of my anxiety.

I have been weighing my options, reading everything I can find online, and asking colleagues what their plans are for traveling to the U.S. for work. For some people, there is no option – the risk of being blocked at the border (or not allowed back in if they leave) is too high. It’s fair to questions the intellectual integrity of events where Muslim colleagues are explicitly excluded. Over the past week, more than 6000 academics have signed a pledge to boycott travel to international conferences in the U.S. until the travel ban is lifted. I have also read online comments proposing that academics petition international conference organizers to move their events outside of the U.S. in protest. Many of the people interviewed for a CBC story about the travel boycott found supporting it was a complicated decision, a feeling I am also struggling with.

My knee jerk reaction is to stay away, take a moral stance and protest with my dollars. But I also think about my colleagues who have no choice but to live and work in that climate – what message am I sending them by staying away? What about scholars from those six countries studying and working in the U.S. who cannot leave the country with confidence they can return home?

The impetus to DO SOMETHING is strong (and I will confess that I am a little afraid of what could happen while I am there), so I want to sign that pledge and boycott with all of the people on that list that I respect. However, I haven’t signed because I also believe that smothering academic discourse by refusing to participate isn’t the answer, and withholding my registration money from liberal institutions and cheating myself out of the experience of being at the conference (and the CV line for having presented) does no good either. I have thought about asking if I can teleconference in for my talk or pre-record it, but that isn’t entirely in the spirit of an academic conference and it might be more technology than the organizers are prepared to deal with. I don’t know what to do.

I sit solidly on the fence today as I write this, and so do many of the people I have asked about this question. I imagine there are Brainwork readers struggling with the same decisions and weighing their own options. Have you made a decision about what you are planning do in the next few months? Do you have any advice to offer? I would love to hear it.

——————————–

Fisher, M. (2016, July 17). Donald Trump doesn’t read much. Being president probably wouldn’t change that. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://wpo.st/STj_2


This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Mainstreaming Scholarly Communication Support: C-EBLIP Journal Club, January 5, 2017

by DeDe Dawson
Science Liaison Librarian,
University of Saskatchewan

The C-EBLIP Journal Club kicked off 2017 with a “classic” article:

Malenfant, K. J. (2010). Leading Change in the System of Scholarly Communication : A Case Study of Engaging Liaison Librarians for Outreach to Faculty. College & Research Libraries, 71(1), 63–76. Retrieved from http://crl.acrl.org/content/71/1/63.full.pdf

In journal club we tend to select newer articles from the last year or two. Although 2010 is not that long ago it is outside our usual range. I recently revisited this article while working on a strategic action item that I am leading for our library. Our team for this action item is tasked with positioning the library as the source for open access expertise and advocacy on campus. As we contemplate ways to engage our library colleagues in this topic we have been doing what all good academics do: consult the literature! This article, in particular, seemed a good one to discuss beyond our team.

Kara Malenfant is a Senior Strategist with ACRL. At the time of writing this article her main responsibility and interest was in changes in scholarly communication and how libraries are responding to them. The article is an intrinsic case study: “…a special, significant example, not a typical or average case of how libraries implement scholarly communication outreach programs” (p 64). She describes how the University of Minnesota (UMN) Libraries “mainstreamed” scholarly communication duties into the work of all liaison librarians.

The notion of an “intrinsic” case study was new and intriguing to me. Indeed, the methods of this research were the first discussion point raised in our journal club. Malenfant conducted semi-structured interviews with two liaisons involved in this transition as well as Karen Williams, the library administrator at the time who implemented the change. A few of us raised concerns about the low number of people interviewed and their obvious bias in support of the changes, while another objected to the lack of generalizability of this kind of method. Despite these concerns, we all agreed strongly that this article is highly valuable and worthwhile – and one of the better case study articles we have read! Biases are labelled and acknowledged, and Malefant is clear about the methods and limitations.

Apparently, many other readers agree too. The article is highly cited and was selected as a landmark paper for republication in the College & Research Libraries’ 75th Anniversary issue. We discussed this popularity a bit too. Malenfant clearly states that the findings of a case study of this type are not generalizable… but they are transferable. This rings true: we noted many situations described where we saw ourselves and our library! We identified with the challenges the UMN Libraries faced. It is likely the case for other readers as well. All academic libraries face this challenge of how to address the changing needs of their users with the same, or fewer, resources and how to engage liaisons in new areas when they are already overwhelmed with numerous responsibilities. So, it is not surprising that the journal club discussion veered away from the article and towards this meaty and contentious topic.
Scholarly communication support is an obvious and pressing need on campus, and liaison librarians are ideally positioned to provide this kind of support. Making this kind of transition, getting everyone on board and (most critically) stopping doing some other things, is a rough road however. The successful strategies discussed in this intrinsic case study are useful to many libraries struggling with the same challenges.


This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Experiences of publishing journal articles

by Kristin Hoffmann
Associate Librarian, University of Western Ontario

One Tuesday morning last December, Western’s Librarian and Archivist Research Support Network held a panel session where colleagues shared their recent experiences with publishing their research. Sharing experiences of different parts of the research process is an important part of building a research culture. I found it illuminating and motivating to hear about my colleagues’ experiences, so I thought I would share with Brain-Work readers the key points I took away from that session.

It can take a very long time.
All of the panelists talked about this. In none of their cases did the publishing process take less than a year from start to finish. Be prepared for publication to take time, and be quick to respond to requests for revisions.

So, consider having more than one project on the go at any given time.
One panelist offered this suggestion as a follow-up to the long publication times mentioned above. Working on more than one project at once means that you can be working on one while waiting for the reviewers’ comments on the other.

Feedback helps!
Colleagues who read your paper before you submit it to a journal might identify changes that you can’t see because you’re so close to your work. Editors and reviewers can also give you helpful feedback, even if they end up rejecting your submission to their journal. Panelists also emphasized the value of getting feedback throughout their research, not just at the end when they were writing their paper.

Author order matters, so talk about it.
Do this early on in the writing process, if possible. Some factors that our panelists took into account included the relative contributions of each author to the research, and the authors’ sense of which of them would benefit most from being first author.

It matters where you submit your article.
Your article should be a good fit for the journal’s scope. If you aren’t sure, ask the editor. Create a list of journals to which you could submit your paper, and do this early on in the writing process so that you can write with your selected journal’s style in mind. In choosing journals, panelists considered factors such as: prestige, fit with the journal’s scope, open access, frequency of publication, impact factor, and whether the journal could bring the article to a larger audience than librarians.

“Resubmit” is not rejection.
Take it as a positive sign when a journal asks you to resubmit your paper if they don’t accept it outright. Even though “resubmit for review” can feel like a rejection at first, it isn’t! Focus on the positive comments from the reviewers and work on making your paper even better. Also, rejections aren’t the end of the world. Half of our panelists had their first submissions rejected, but their papers were ultimately published in other journals.

For anyone who has published journal articles, this likely reminded you of your own experiences. For those who haven’t yet published an article, or who haven’t published in a while, these are good tips and strategies to keep in mind as you are writing and preparing to submit your paper.


 

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

The hidden challenges of a Workplace-based Doctorate

by Tegan Darnell, Research Librarian, University of Southern Queensland

There are those things no one tells you about being a parent. Usually people say ‘Congratulations!’ like being pregnant is some sort of remarkable achievement. Nobody tells you the truth. The nurses don’t tell you that you will be so sleep deprived that you will drive straight through red lights. No one will admit that there will be days when you truly want to leave your kids at the park. Certainly no one tells you to start saving for electronics (I recommend you start saving now). It is the same with starting a Doctorate while working full time.

I expected late nights, intellectual challenges, and workplace negotiations. These things turned out to be less difficult than I expected. With this post I expose some of the hidden challenges I have come across when attempting a major research project while working full-time in a professional position. The things no one told me…

Ethical complexity

Considering the volume of literature published over the past thirty years or more that has lauded the benefits of situated action research to the learning organisation and its relevance to professional learning, I assumed that it would not be difficult to present a case for an insider-researcher model. A research model where the researcher is participating in a project with the people they work with is still considered very risky in the world of academia. My confirmation of candidature process included two revisions and took over seven months. It appears that there is still much work to be done before I can confidently apply for Human Ethics approval.

Existential crises

OK, so, some of this was to be expected. The questions that have arisen as I start to critically examine my professional practice are complex: why do we consider ourselves a profession? is there actually any role for the profession as it exists today at all? why did I end up in this particular profession (and am so passionate about it) when I appear to disagree with so much of what it does?  I could go on. As it is, let’s just say that I am having many sleepless nights wrestling with these questions. This leads nicely into the next challenge.

Headspace shift

One minute you are trying to help someone troubleshoot referencing management software and the next minute you are trying to abandon the idea of the value of referencing at all. One second you are making vegemite sandwiches “cut-in-four-triangles-with-the-crusts-cut-off-please”, and the next you have to sit down and write about how the benefits of situated action research outweigh the risks to participants. It takes me about twenty five minutes every time I have to do a mental shift from “Where are my shoes, Mum?” to “Zuber & Skerritt (2002)”. These interruptions mean that you need more time than you expect, and you need to do some of the next thing.

Extreme time management

When adding a PhD into the mix of full time work and the rest of your life, you’ll probably have to schedule your meals, your sleep, and even your toilet breaks.  You will probably have to schedule time with your spouse and your children – I know I do. As a parent of 2 biological children and 3 non-biological children, with a spouse, a farm, a parent with a disability, and house renovations to contend with, I also schedule myself into Time Out. This usually involves some sort of gore film or video game, whilst telling everyone to *ahem* go away (in a less than civil fashion). Self-care is incredibly important to add to the whole mix.

Surprising reactions

Don’t expect everyone to be happy for you or supportive. There will be those who will tell you to your face that you won’t be able to do your job properly, or, that you can’t possibly commit to research, work, and be a decent parent. Then there are people who tell you that they would have studied if only it wasn’t for their spouse/mother/child/dog problem, and then look at you just waiting for you to withdraw from study.

There are moments when I wonder just how crazy a person has to be, but then I remember that I am me, and I think, “BA HA HA! Pretty crazy!” and it all makes sense. ;P

Dependence on ‘angels’

You will need one or more of these. Angels are the people who make you dinner, do your grocery shopping, repair your toilet, and buy you coffee. Sometimes they remind you to eat, or go to bed. Sometimes they tell you that you are awesome. Sometimes they tell you not to do any study over your Christmas break. The very best ones will tell you to “pull your head in” or that your writing doesn’t make sense. As much as it is your research, you can’t do it without the care, kindness, and goodwill of others, so at some point you will have to just accept it and stop feeling rubbish about it.

Just as someone telling you when you have a child, “Your boobs will never look the same”, I can honestly say about doing an advanced work-based research project: “Your job, workplace, and profession will never look the same”. And just like being a parent, when people ask you “Is it worth it?” I can honestly say, “Most of the time.”


This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Locating the Local: A Literature Review and Analysis of Local Music Collections

by Veronica Kmiech, BMUHON, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan

This work is part of a larger research project titled “Local Music Collections” led by Music Librarian Carolyn Doi and funded by the University of Saskatchewan President’s SSHRC research fund. A post from Carolyn’s perspective on managing this project will be published in 2017 on the C-EBLIP Blog.

Introduction

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgy1

At this point in my university career, I have written several research papers, most of which were for the musicology courses I took as part of my music degree. This research gave me familiarity with the library catalogue, online databases for musicological articles, interlibrary loan, and contacting European collections to request material (this last one involved an interesting 4 a.m. phone call). As a Research Assistant, my background was helpful, but I found the depth of searching needed for the literature review much greater than anything I had done before.

My role as a research assistant for music librarian Carolyn Doi involved searching for sources, screening those sources based on their relevance to the project, and using NVivo software to identify themes in the literature.

Aim

The aim in doing the Literature Review was to find sources that discuss local music collections, especially those found in libraries. With these results, a survey to accumulate information on current practices for managing local music collections is under development.

It was important to find as many sources as possible, across a wide geographic area and collection types, although the majority came from North America. Reading sources from all over the world that talk about collections in a range of settings (e.g. libraries, churches, privately built, etc.) increased my understanding of the contexts that exist for local music collections.

Methodology
One of the most important parts of the Literature Review was to find as many items relating to local music collections as possible, or in other words – FIND ALL THE SOURCES!
findallthesources2
There were thirteen sources that became a jumping-off point, providing guidelines for how to focus the literature review. From here, I searched for literature in a variety of locations including USearch, Google Scholar, Library and Information Studies (LIS) databases, music databases, education databases, newspaper databases, humanities databases, and a database for dissertations and theses.

As a music student, I was familiar with the library catalogue and databases such as JSTOR. However, I was not familiar with the LIS or the Education databases. There were a variety of articles from journals, books, and newspapers that described different types and aspects of local music collections. One point of interest was the range of collection types, which appear in academic libraries and public libraries, to private and government archives. Most of the sources were case studies, which discussed the challenges and successes of a particular collection.

Other sources of information were print works from the University of Saskatchewan Library and Interlibrary Loan, conference abstracts and listserv conversations from the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML), the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (CAML), and the Music Library Association (MLA).

After completing the search, 408 unique results were saved. Although many of the same sources appeared in different search locations, Figure 1 shows where documents were first located.

The majority of the sources came from North America and Europe. It is worth noting that this may be a result of the databases searched, rather than an indication of absence of local music collections and the study of such in other parts of the globe.

Figure 1: Pie chart showing all 408 saved documents based on search location
Figure 1: Pie chart showing all 408 saved documents based on search location.3

Challenges & Limitations

The common challenge, regardless of the database being searched, was finding effective search terms for finding relevant sources. It was important when searching in places like Google Scholar, JSTOR, and USearch to narrow the parameters considerably; otherwise one would obtain thousands of hits. Full-text searches, for example, were not helpful.
onedoesnotsimply4
Comparatively, some of the LIS databases and ERIC, an education database, required only a keyword or two to find all of the information relative to local music collections that they contained.

Results

Figure 2Figure 2: Geographical distribution of sources in the literature review.5

I saved 408 sources to Mendeley. These consisted primarily of journal articles describing case studies from a variety of international locations. Three hundred and sixty of the sources came from North America and Europe, with the complete breakdown by continent shown in Figure 2. Since we were more interested in research from North America, it is worth noting that 123 of the 201 North American sources are from the United States, 73 are Canadian, and 5 are from other countries such as Jamaica.

After screening, 59 documents were selected for NVivo content analysis. Documents were included if they spoke directly to the management of local music collections in public institutions. Documents were excluded if they were less relevant to the research topic (for instance, they may describe private collections), or they may be items that provide useful context (for example, this may be a resource on developing sound collections in a library).

Conclusions

For me, completing this literature review was a little bit like a treasure hunt – what could I do to find more information? Where else can I look? This process took me to locations for research that I did not even know existed, like the IAML listserv. And, after accidentally emailing every music librarian on the planet while trying to figure out how to work the thing, I was able to add a new researching tool to my repertoire.

In conclusion, the literature review served as a means for finding sources to analyze. However, it provided more than just a list of articles. The completion of the literature review, although global in scope, created a picture centered on North America, which has been an enormous help in understanding the topic of research. Through this search for documents, it has also been possible to see how it would be best to approach the analysis, based on the what work has already been accomplished and what work still needs to be done in this field.

1Szent-Gyorgyi, Albert. BrainyQuote. “Albert Szent-Gyorgyi Quotes.” Accessed July 22, 2016. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/albert_szentgyorgyi.html
2Imgflip. “Meme Generator.” Accessed May 30, 2016. https://imgflip.com/memegenerator
3Meta-chart. “Create a Pie Chart.” Accessed September 17, 2016. https://www.meta-chart.com/pie
4“Meme Generator.”
5“Create a Pie Chart.”

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

NAP: Assisting Students Just In Time

by Tasha Maddison, Becky Szeman and Nina Verishagen
Saskatoon Campus, Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Saskatchewan Polytechnic has four campuses located throughout the Province of Saskatchewan. In 2015/16 our student population was listed at over 14,000 (Saskatchewan Polytechnic, 2015). The institution offers an array of scholastic options in certificate, diploma and degree programs. Students have access to a variety of supports such as counselling, research help and learning services (tutoring). In 2014, faculty from learning services approached a librarian about partnering up to host an event with the mission of providing students with just-in-time help for research assignments: a Night against Procrastination (NAP).

Although the event was open to all students at the Saskatoon campus, the 2014 organizers developed it to fit into the schedule of nursing students who had a major paper due that semester. It happened that during this busy time of year, the two departments were having a difficult time keeping up with students’ individual requests for help. The inaugural event was held in early November from 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm in the library’s computer lab. Students were invited to enjoy food and one-on-one homework help. This event was a success with more than 40 attendees.

The following year, to entice students from other programs to attend NAP, the organizers hosted multiple events at different times. Despite the changes, attendance dwindled with approximately 20 students attending all events. But on a positive note, we did see a more diverse set of students attending from various programs.

For our latest iteration of NAP, in 2016, our mission was two-fold: revisit the events original intent of focusing on nursing students and diversify our service offering to make it more accessible to all students. At our initial planning meeting, we discussed strategies to achieve these goals. They included, continuing to provide snacks, sitting at an Ask Us table, extending the event beyond the computer lab to the whole library, and offering mini workshops.

Successes:
We had an overabundance of snacks, so we decided to tour the library and hand them out to students. This was an unexpected success, as it opened the event to students who were present in the library, but were not there to attend NAP. We soon discovered that students were more likely to ask us questions if we approached them, organically making our snack giveaway a Roving Reference Service. Helping students where they had set up for the night led to more interactions than if we had stayed in one spot. We have carried this technique over into our recent ‘Stress Better’ event in which distributed food to students studying for exams.

Students also responded well to the Ask Us table with many approaching us at the table with their laptops in hand. Librarians responded to a total of 21 APA (references and formatting) questions, while learning services reviewed papers and offered writing support for 9 students.

Lessons Learned:
Students prefer the option of seeking one-on-one help. We had planned to host 15 minute mini workshops in the computer lab during the event but there was no uptake at all. The nursing students had already attended a 3-hour research intensive and in most cases their paper was almost complete; what they required was assistance in the last stages of editing.

Our promotion efforts fell short. We developed a web graphic for social media which received high engagement, sent an email directly to Faculty in research intensive programs, and had digital displays throughout the campus. We later learned, through anecdotal feedback, that the design (see below) might have led the students to believe that we were only hosting mini workshops and not providing one-on-one help. In addition to a graphic redesign, there are many other communication tools available at our institution that could have been utilized and we will be considering them for future events.

napblogimage2016

Final Thoughts:
Even though attendance has not increased since 2014, we feel that it is still worth doing. At our institution, students typically don’t have lengthy breaks throughout their day, and therefore, they are often unable to access librarians who work regular hours. With this event, we were able to offer students assistance at their time of need which may have reduced their anxiety. Helping even a few students improve their academic performance fulfills both our library and professional goals. We feel confident about this as a few of the attendees approached us at the end of the night and asked that we provide this sort of service more often, solidifying our certainty in this event’s value to our students.

The authors wish to acknowledge Chau Ha who initiated and hosted the event in 2014 and 2015. We also wish to recognize Margaret Campbell and Susan Healey who have partnered with us each year from Learning Services.

References
Saskatchewan Polytechnic. (2015). Quick facts about Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Retrieved from http://saskpolytech.ca/about/about-us/quick-facts.aspx

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Affective Research Supports: Small Actions, Big Difference

by Selinda Berg
Leddy Library, University of Windsor

In informal conversations with colleagues across Canada, as well as within the formal conversation of the professional literature, there is an underlying notion that librarians can feel a lack of support towards their research activities. It is perceived that librarians would benefit from more support from their colleagues and leaders. But when prompted, it is sometimes ambiguous what that “support” might look like. Of course, there is the obvious: funding, time, structural supports; however there is also a substantial need for affective support.

Because there are restrictions on the amount of funding, time, and structural support that colleagues and leaders can provide, I think we should consider the small actions we can take that will show our support towards our colleagues’ research.

Take the opportunity to hear about your colleagues’ research:

All too often we overlook our in-house activities and expertise and look outside of our institutions for the ‘interesting’ and ‘new’. However, there is much value in seeing what is happening internally. Just taking the time to hear about colleagues’ research is a way to demonstrate support, whether the opportunities arise at conferences or within your own institution.

It is always difficult to make decisions about what to see at conferences and there are limitations to all that we can see; however, showing up at your colleague’s presentation can be compelling. Showing support for colleagues can be one factor to take into consideration when selecting your conference itinerary.

Creating opportunities at your own institution to hear about your colleagues’ research is also very helpful. Again, we often overlook the amazing things that the colleagues in our own institutions are doing. At my academic institution, we have the Librarian Research Series where we share our research projects and people often are amazed by the great research happening within our own walls.

Acknowledge colleague’s research successes:

Keep your eye out for your colleague’s research successes, however big or small. Every step of the research process is difficult and perseverance is sometimes difficult to maintain. Acknowledging the milestones—funding successes, REB clearance, launching data collection, completing analysis, presenting findings, and publication—can help individuals push through the long process.

Take the time to acknowledge and congratulate your colleagues on their publications when you see them. Getting published is hard work. Just a quick email will go a long way to applaud and inspire researchers.

Just take an interest:

Of course, not all research is in our focused areas of interest. The research within librarianship is very diverse, spanning many fields. However, the areas are all interconnected and recognizing the ties will create a stronger research culture- a culture that values diverse areas of and approaches to research. We have much to learn from one another and the opportunities that will evolve from this learning are infinite.

What we can all acknowledge is that research is not easy, it takes hard work, tenacity, and perseverance. The tangible supports are valuable, but we cannot undervalue affective supports to help us move through our research journeys. While these small actions may seem insignificant, they can make a big difference. I do also want to encourage those in leadership positions to also engage in these small actions. When tangible supports are limited, affective support can demonstrate continued endorsement, encouragement, and validation of research in our field. These small acknowledgements and signs of support can be very powerful coming from library leaders. We all have a role in demonstrating our commitment to a strong and healthy research environment. Affective supports, which are often under-acknowledged, are small actions that can make big differences.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP)
University Library, University of Saskatchewan

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close. The end of the year is always a time for reflection and there were milestones for the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) in 2016. July 2016 saw the 3rd anniversary of the opening of the Centre which was held during the 7th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice conference held here at the University of Saskatchewan. In October, we hosted our third C-EBLIP Fall Symposium, a 1-day conference dedicated to librarians as researchers. It was a fantastic day with a keynote address from Margaret Henderson from the Virginia Commonwealth University, a range of outstanding presentations focused on research projects as well as the hows and the whys of librarian research, and of course the granola bars. This blog, Brain-Work, continued into its third year with a wide variety of posts from authors across Canada and increasingly around the world.

And speaking of an international focus, 2016 was also the year that the C-EBLIP Research Network was launched. The network is an international affiliation of institutions that are committed to librarians as researchers and/or are interested in evidence based library and information practice. Since the soft launch of a 2-year pilot at the end of April, 21 international members have joined from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, and the United States. The C-EBLIP Research Network was created to foster collaboration and communication among librarians who are doing research, are interested in research, and/or who are involved with evidence based practice or wish to be. While the membership is institutional, the network is specifically for librarians on the ground. And of course, the more the merrier, so if you think your organization would be interested in joining the C-EBLIP Research Network, there’s a handy form you can fill out here: handy form

Well, if 2017 is as exciting as 2016 has been, we’re in for another fantastic year. C-EBLIP would like to wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and all the best in the New Year.