Category Archives: Outreach

RIOT: Latin@ Perceptions of the Library: Transforming our Space and Services

Dallas Long, Latino Students’ Perceptions of the Academic Library, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 37, Issue 6, December 2011, Pages 504-511, ISSN 0099-1333, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2011.07.007.(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0099133311001613)

As we move forward with our new space considerations and campus collaborations, I am thinking of student perceptions of the library, specifically among our diverse populations. The literature suggests that Latin@ students report lower levels of library usage and do not ask librarians for help as often as other racial and ethnic groups. This group also exhibits lower levels of information literacy (see below studies from Solis and Dabbour and Whitmire).
Over 19% of UT’s student population self-identifies as ‘Hispanic’ according to UT’s Statistical Handbook. What are we communicating to these students as we build our spaces and transform our services? Why is it so hard to find information about the intersections between cultural support and learning support in libraries?

This study is the result of interviews with 9 undergraduate students from a large midwestern residential research I institution. All of the participants held an on campus job for 10-20 hours a week. All self-identified as Latin@ and were recruited for the study by the Latino Cultural Center (LCC), a university program created to support the cultural, educational, and recreational needs of Latin@ students. As such, the researchers acknowledge, the group of students interviewed may not be representative of the Latin@ population at this school or at other schools. These students identify with their Latin@ background and may therefore be “more engaged and better perceive the connection between cultural constructs of identity and educational systems more than other students who share their cultural identity”(507).

All of the participants began using the library after their first semester – sometimes years into their academic career. Many of the students only came to the library after being prompted by their peers. Some reported learning how to use the library catalog or databases from their peers. As with other studies we have read here in RIOT, the students interviewed here rarely ask librarians for help and often do not know what librarians can help with. Not much new information there.

Where the study got interesting was in talking about the participants’ experiences in the library as they related to their specific cultural identities. For instance, one participant revealed that she had felt on several occasions that staff members and student workers could not understand her accent and therefore raised their voices as if she could not understand them (509). Participants also intimated that they are more likely to approach a library staff member who appears to share their cultural identity. One participant is quoted, “It’s good to know who the other people are who are like you, even if it is just to say hello to.” (509)

Another participant felt that the lack of materials on display which reflect her culture make her feel alienated from the space. She said, “seeing materials that are clearly for me and not really marketed to other students…that really sends a message to me that the library knows that I am here and they recognize me and want me to feel included” (509). Her thoughts were echoed by two other participants who lamented the lack of Spanish-language materials, signage, and posters, materials which make them feel at home (509).

Interviews with the subjects also suggest that public and school libraries figure heavily in Latin@ communities. Those interviewed regarded these spaces as part of their community, spaces for cultural support and expression (509). Experiencing a library in this way would make the transition to the typical university library unsatisfying; we do not typically engage students on that level. The authors suggest holding performances, celebrations or showcasing traditions in the library or dedicating space to Latin@ student services (510) in order to make culturally diverse students feel more included.

In anticipation of the Learning Commons, one of the initiatives that I have been working on this semester is building fruitful partnerships with campus diversity organizations, like the Multicultural Engagement Center, the Gender and Sexuality Center and smaller student diversity groups (and credit is due to the hard work and inspiration from Kristen, Jee and the rest of the Diversity Action Staff Interest Group in facilitating this conversation). This article suggests building substantial partnerships with student orgs and support services and any other cultural groups on campus for shared library spaces. I think such efforts in our space could go a long way in communicating our values and promoting our inclusive attitudes, but the key is finding places where our services complement one another.

So, my questions for you are:

  1. Have you ever thought of this issue of students not feeling included in the library space? Do you have examples?
  2. What about in the virtual space – do you think there is a way or a reason to study diverse students’ perceptions of the library based on how they encounter us digitally?
  3. Moving forward with the Learning Commons, what diversity partnerships or initiatives would you like to see?
  4. The students in this study also work on campus. Do you see opportunities for our diverse student worker population in helping us create an inclusive environment?

Footnote:

Jacqueline Solis & Katherine S. Dabbour, “Latino students and libraries: a U.S. Federal Grant Project Report.” New Library World 107 (1220/1221) (2006): 49.
Ethelene Whitmire, “Cultural diversity and undergraduates’
academic library use.” Journal of Academic of Librarianship 29 (3)
(2003): 152.
Ethelene Whitmire, “Campus racial climate and undergraduates’
perceptions of the academic library.” Portal: Libraries and the
Academy 4 (3) (2004): 363.

Discussion: It’s not just an event…It’s a classroom

Kristen kicked off the discussion by asking the group about collaboration with student organizations.
Benson has been involved in a student led anthropology conference. They have also worked with student groups such as a Spanish and Portuguese group who wanted information about the Benson. AJ will go to a classroom to talk to a group of students, in this case there were 15-20. This again is student initiated.
Teaching and Learning Services (TLS formerly LIS) works with student groups. RAs will ask them for a study break or pre-Law student groups will ask for a presentation about the Libraries. The Welcome Tables were also mentioned. Michele considered the learning outcomes for the welcome tables and thought relieving library anxiety would be one. Peer mentors were also mentioned.
When Roxanne puts on a Science Study Break she always makes time for information about the library and relevant to the study break to the attendees.
For Poetry month, Kristen partnered with students including a Design class who designed a broadside for an upcoming event. She has also been considering classes in the library about poetry led by students.
The art history undergraduate symposium was mentioned, both assisting students in preparing their visuals and the FAL co-sponsoring the event. Laura plans to mention the FAL and its resources at the event.
April mentioned the student entrepreneurs group and assisting the students in their 72 hour marathon. She helps the students get started with their projects and research.
PG mentioned vendors coming to campus and looking to students as their audience. Vendors have considered having experts come and lead a discussion. This is primarily motivated by marketing.
There are so many student groups, some are stable and some are fleeting. They are looking for space to meet and connect, so the Libraries has an opportunity. But we must offer more than space. We must offer the value-added service. We need to find partnerships that are related to student learning.
In the media lab focus groups, creating newsletters for student organizations came up as a need. A workshop in the space could consist of creating a newsletter and a design faculty or grad student could lead it.
The Archives workshop was mentioned. This is coming up next month. Elise steered the conversation to the Archives Week programming that she wants to do in the Fall. She is trying to work with the Society for American Archivists student group. She is hoping for a faculty panel about how archives are used in the classroom or possibly students talking about how they have used archives in their class projects.
Kelly mentioned the K-12 Mapping Workshop led by Julianne at the Benson. Two grad students who worked on mapping and worked with Benson maps presented. This was partly student led.
The conversation then moved to student initiated or student curated exhibits. Martha talked about the exhibit currently being mounted at Architecture and Planning. She also wondered about engaging students in much smaller exhibits, for example students could work on a display of special collections objects they came across in their research. She also mentioned that she was giving her end of semester presentation in the Alexander Architectural Archive for the class she was taking this semester.
The discussion then moved to engaging students in pulling materials for exhibit or display. And we talked about the difficulties of setting something up that is driven by someone else and the difficulty of doing something regularly or committing to anything these days.
AJ mentioned the Benson student photo exhibit which is not student led but students are the authors of the work on exhibit.
Brittney discussed the Library Guru idea which is to train students to go out and let other students know about the Library. This works because students tend to be more comfortable with a peer than with a librarian. These trained students should receive compensation for their work.
Building relationships with the Marketing campaign and Advertising campaign classes was also mentioned.
Martha also wondered about leveraging resources for a student competition to redesign how the journals are displayed at the Architecture and Planning.
Janelle talked about Education students and engaging with them about publishing and the publishing process. This is a service that we can grow and that will be of interest to graduate students across disciplines. A library class could be developed and recorded and learning objects could be created around it.
The Texas Teen Book Festival was discussed and its relationship with the Youth Collection. This may be the first step in moving the Texas Book Festival on to campus.
Kristen thanked everyone for contributing to the discussion.

RIOT: It’s Not Just an Event… It’s a Classroom

This is, as usual, a lively month for events at the UT Libraries – I know many of you are organizing events, and PCL events are also part of the vision-in-action of the Learning Commons. This past month I’ve been working (with a lot of great collaborators) on planning for the April 10 National Poetry Month event (yes, that’s a shameless plug!). I wanted to take a look at how we describe/use programming in the library – and, in particular, in collaboration with students – as information literacy education/engagement. And then, of course, how we can raise awareness about this benefit.

I took a look at this article:
Margeaux Johnson, Melissa J. Clapp, Stacey R. Ewing, and Amy Buhler, “Building a Participatory Culture: Collaborating with Student Organizations for Twenty-First Century Library Instruction,” Collaborative Librarianship 3.1 (2011): 2-15.

The authors make a connection with Partnership for Twenty-First Century Skills’ “Framework for 21st-Century Learning” and, in particular, their focus on “collaboration and communication skills” as well as on information literacy (2). While they see lots of literature about librarians’ collaborations, one missing piece is analysis of librarians’ connection with student organizations.

I like the framework of the “participatory culture”: “Twenty-first century learners not only create content, but they also contribute content to their community. This practice of community membership, creation, and collaboration can be seen as building a participatory culture” (5). Libraries, they point out, are testing grounds for new skills for building participatory cultures. While I hardly think this is limited to the 21st century, I do think that we are drawing on student interests and participation in the classroom as well as in our outreach. How are we making explicit connections between the two?

The examples the authors offer from the University of Florida indicate that to them collaboration focuses on getting students into the library. I wanted more discussion of what the negotiation part of the collaboration looks like – more on this after the overview.

Two of the examples are, I think, particularly useful and relevant to our context. The authors describe the first as an example of inviting students to peer-teach information literacy at the library. A student organization focused on understanding and promoting student creation of Open Access materials approached the library to hold an OA week event in their learning commons. The students selected four open-source media creation programs to load onto learning commons computers, then held an open classroom where the students taught other students how to use the programs to create media mash-ups. (In case you’re interested, the four programs were: Gimp for image editing, Blender for 3-D animation, Audacity for sound editing, and Inkscape for vector drawing.)

For each example, the librarians offer learning objectives. For example:
Learners attending the “Mind Mashup” workshop will be able to do the following:
1. Select Creative Commons licensed images, movies, and music to reuse, remix, and construct new creative products.
2. Identify Gimp, Blender, Audacity, and Inkscape as high quality open source software programs available for media creation.
3. Recognize the library Information Commons as a place for high-tech learning and play.
4. Create their own multimedia projects using images, video, and sound clips.  (7)

In other examples the library participated as a Human v. Zombies site and the Student Government partnered with the library for their first year student recruitment event.

The article closes with an inviting framing for these collaborative events: “Developing collaborative experiences with student-led organizations not only increases turnout at events, but also creates opportunities for students to develop twenty-first century skills, practice new media literacies, and attain higher levels of cognitive engagement” (12).

I’m interested in how we do or can think about our events in these terms, and market them as such to update faculty and student ideas about information literacy.

Here are some questions to consider for our discussion:

  • How do we/can we frame ongoing library programming as information literacy education?
  • How do/could you partner with student organizations within your liaison departments?
  • How can we build information literacy education into the collaboration itself? For example, how can we engage students in the ethics of representation (the Humans v. Zombies event relied heavily on “zombie trances in Haiti” (9))?
  • How could/does this event-based collaboration inform our classroom instruction?

Discussion: Talking Research Data Management

At our February 25 RIOT, Robyn started with including us all, reminding us it’s not just the sciences requiring data management: the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) and the IES (Institute of Education Sciences) require data management, too. (Tellingly, perhaps, the NEH data management plan executive summary is a PDF. The IES offers a detailed data sharing implementation guide.)

In her post, Robyn outlined a dream workshop building graduate students’ information literacy through data management skills. At the session, we worked through how to move towards such workshop.

Start with a small, focused group: One starting point would be to focus the workshop by working with a small group of graduate students in one lab, or starting with one Principal Investigator, or doing a drop-in session at the Pickle campus. Then, move outward to a department or area. Research says data management education gets too expansive in interdisciplinary groups, so it’s best to focus on a small group.

Perspective of scale: Schools doing this well have teams of dedicated data curation librarians. Purdue (linked to in the original post), for example, has money to invest in infrastructure like this. So, we need strategies to make this scalable as we get started.

So what does this look like? From the librarian’s perspective, data curation might start with a website or online modules teaching students how to organize and manage their files, preparing students to think about and create effective metadata so that the data is truly shareable.

Starting where we are: Structurally, we can start by sharing what we have. Let’s let students know about Box and the UTDR. We also have data sets available through subscription to ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research); using this tool, we could build data literacy.

Then build skills: The critical scaffolding for using Box and UTDR effectively includes issues like copyright and the ethics of open data. These conversations open up space to think about how graduating students leave data behind, how well-structured data can increase citation.

Sharing data: This approach could build capacity within UT, since people want free data sets to use with undergraduate classes, particularly with the growth of digital humanities. Building UT awareness of data management frameworks and metadata best practices would allow UT classes to use UT student and faculty data sets, an exciting prospect.

Connected to Learning Commons Initiative: During focus groups for the learning commons, students and faculty said they wanted help using Excel to manage data. This would include both help using Excel and help understanding data analysis (as well as understanding that changing how we analyze the data can change our results).

Next steps:

  • Build data management discussion/awareness into graduate student orientations.
  • Add data management resources to research guides.
  • Curriculum mapping to find out where students are using/creating data.
  • Get started with small, scalable groups.

Our role is in building best practices, connecting researchers with data networks for the future.

RIOT: Research Data Management (aka Data Management, Data Curation, and Data Stewardship)

One of my goals is to provide a workshop on data management for engineering graduate students.  Instead of presenting on a particular article, I’d like to highlight some of the initiatives done at other universities.  Many of these schools have dedicated library staff working, to some degree, on data management instruction and/or outreach.  Many of my engineering colleagues are working on this issue, but this is not solely an engineering topic, librarians from the natural sciences and social sciences are often part of an interdisciplinary team.  I’m curious if others are working in this area with your students/faculty?

Why would students want our help with managing their data?

  • Prevent data loss (preservation)
  • Continuity among rotating graduate students
  • Providing unusable data is not nice.  In other words, if a dataset is made available in an acceptable format other researchers, educators, and the general public can benefit from your work.  [Of course, personal/private information, patent and proprietary issues are taken into account.]
  • Funding requirement*

*Data Management Plan: This is a requirement of funding agencies including the NSF, NEH, NIH, IMLS and the Institute of Education Sciences.  Straight forward(ish) – a data management plan demonstrates to the funding agency how you will make your datasets freely available to the public.  Colleen has a helpful page and the DMPTool is a service that provides step by step instructions for researchers.  Not a place to re-invent the wheel.

Big data: So I’m not talking about managing “big data”. This is the type of work being conducted by the likes of CERN, the federal government, and Target.

Why should we be interested in providing Research Data Management services?

  • There is a definite need among graduate students and post docs.
  • This is an important trend within our profession.
  • This with be a topic for a future UT Strategic Initiative.

Sample of ARL institutions:

MIT – Data Management and Publishing: MIT has a great website, one that I will use as a model in creating my own research data management web page.  While they don’t have a dedicated position for data management services, they do have a team of 5 librarians from various departments including engineering, economics, and biosciences.

Purdue – Research and Data Services: Data Curation Profiles

University of Minnesota – Managing your data: Another great website, I will borrow from these guys as well.  They also have videos of previous workshops.

University of Virginia Library – Data Management Consulting Group: U.Va. has 4 data consultants! In addition to having a great website they have a Library Research Data Services Newsletter, provide Data Services office hours, and conduct a series of data management workshops.

Potential Modules:

  1. Overview (i.e. why managing your data is important)
  2. File organization best practices/standards
  3. Metadata
  4. Data storage and security protocols
  5. Data sharing options (i.e. Institutional repositories vs subject based repositories)
  6. Copyright and Ethics
  7. Funding requirements/Data Management Plan (DMP)

Resources/Toolkits for Librarians: