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Friday, March 23rd
8:30 AM

Becoming a Competent Graduate Librarian

Wendy Doucette, East Tennessee State University

RM 400

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

As I enter my fourth year as a graduate librarian (and my 10th year of academic librarianship and my 29th year of teaching), I’m struck by how my approach to graduate students continues to shift. To my surprise, every academic year has brought a new revelation concerning what our students don’t know and do need, which necessitates a corresponding revision of service on my part. Although “competence” is a relative term, I feel strongly that the needs of our graduate students—and the skills necessary for us as providers to fulfill these requirements—are similar to those at other institutions and would like to share some of these findings with my fellow graduate librarians.

Points for discussion will be: getting to know student needs (for real); empathy and perspective; problem-based and lifelong learning; partnerships. I will provide examples of how these shifts in perspective have manifested with regard to explanatory content for students, particularly with literature review and the writing process overall. I will also discuss the search for internal versus external sources, which I expect will foster input and dialogue from participants.

Impediments, Partners, and Proposals: Preparing Graduate Students to Start Their Thesis and Dissertation Proposals

Erin M. O'Toole, University of North Texas Libraries

RM 460

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

The proposed presentation will share the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries’ experience of creating and refashioning workshops to prepare graduate students to write their dissertation or thesis proposals. Concurrently, it will challenge attendees to consider the impediments graduate students may face at their own institutions and possible partnerships and services to enable students to complete their proposals. Highlights of the presentation will be collaboration with UNT teaching faculty and the Graduate School, the structure and content of the workshops, and the evolution of the workshops in response to student evaluations.

The Library Research Support Services Department (LRSS) works closely with the UNT Graduate School to identify points in the graduate life cycle where numerous students stall in their path toward graduation. One of these bottlenecks at UNT is writing and defending the proposal for the thesis or dissertation. Many graduate students finish their coursework and comprehensive exams, and then linger for months without starting their proposals. The Graduate School and LRSS met in Spring 2015 to discuss how to move students past this obstacle. We started to offer the Proposal Preparation Workshops in Fall 2015 to give graduate students information and confidence to move forward on their academic pathway.

LRSS now offers the Proposal Preparation Workshops twice every long semester. Initially, we combined graduate students from all subject areas in the workshops, but starting in Fall 2016, we divided the students between STEM and Humanities/Social Science workshops. Each workshop is composed of three presentations given by faculty: 1) teaching faculty on how to write a proposal in a broad discipline, 2) library faculty on the best subject-specific databases and how to search them, and 3) library faculty on how to use RefWorks to make research and writing more efficient.

The presenter will foster participation by encouraging attendees to consider and record on a worksheet their thoughts on the following issues: 1) possible impediments to completing the dissertation or thesis proposal faced by students at their institution, 2) partners who might assist the library in moving students past obstacles, and 3) related programs and/or services they might implement or are currently providing. The presenter will pause after each of these main areas in the talk to let the participants reflect and record. During the last 10 minutes, the presenter will invite attendees to share their ideas, and will field any questions about the UNT workshops. The presenter will collect the worksheets and add the responses to the end of the presentation file after the conference. This valuable pool of ideas will then be accessible to all conference attendees through the Kennesaw State University Digital Commons.

9:00 AM

Creating Transformative Connections with Graduate Students Using a Social Capital Framework

Mary J. Markland, Oregon State University
Hannah Gascho Rempel, Oregon State University

RM 182

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Graduate school is a transformative time for many students. It is also a time when they are part of an elite community of learners. For some students, this is an exciting adventure that allows them to explore new ideas and more fully express themselves. However, many graduate students also experience feelings of anxiety, frustration, and exclusion because they don’t feel like they really belong to this academic community. Graduate students sometimes struggle with how to navigate the new social norms, hierarchies, and structures built on many years of accumulated, implicit knowledge. These socially-based struggles frequently lead to lower levels of retention among graduate students.

Because librarians typically work outside of departmental or graduate school hierarchies, we often strive to act as neutral and safe information brokers for graduate students. However, researchers have found that in order to fit into small, specialized communities, instead of asking for help, people avoid doing anything that would make them look like they weren’t a “normal,” fully-functioning part of the community. So how can librarians create a trust-based relationship where students are willing to ask for help when few of us are part of graduate students’ immediate social community?

In this workshop, we will explore theories such as Social Capital and Information Poverty to provide a lens for examining graduate students’ existing social networks. We will provide a grounding in past research on social capital and information acquisition to help participants better understand the context of graduate students’ information seeking behaviors. We will create personal social capital maps together to illustrate the principles of social capital, and then we will also build social capital maps based on graduate student scenarios. Using an assumptions inventory exercise, we will develop a better understanding of the connection between our beliefs about graduate students’ information needs and our perceptions of how those needs are provided.

We will also explore the unique social capital perceptions and needs of historically underrepresented and underserved students. Drawing upon recent literature on the difficulties historically underrepresented students face, we will share findings that can help participants recognize ways that they can reach reach out to these students without threatening their standing in their academic communities. Using activities such as the critical incident questionnaire, we will ask participants to reflect on how their role as librarians can lead to increased engagement with these students.

Recognizing that librarians’ interactions with graduate students vary based on a range of institutional factors, we will share our own experiences with graduate students at two different libraries - one small branch library and one large, main campus library. Through the use of individual reflection and small group discussions, we will guide participants through ways that they might use their own social capital within their own context to improve interactions with graduate students. Ultimately, we look forward to transforming our own and other librarians’ awareness of graduate students’ affective and information needs so that we can provide appropriate and meaningful assistance.

9:15 AM

Preparing Humanities PhDs for Academic and Professional Success

Chella Vaidyanathan, Emory University
Erica Bruchko, Emory University
Scott Libson, Emory University
Louis Fagnan, Emory University

RM 460

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Recent efforts within academia increasingly focus on developing programs to transform professional development and career planning within humanities Ph.D. programs. Scholarly associations such as the American Historical Association (AHA) and Modern Language Association (MLA) took initiatives to help students build skill-sets that meet the demands of various job markets not traditionally associated with humanities PhDs. The 2013 AHA report, The Many Careers of History PhDs: A Study of the Job Outcomes, Spring 2013, stated that history PhDs worked in wide range of professions including law firms, government offices, publishing houses, libraries, etc. []. Granting institutions have likewise committed resources to transforming graduate education and making the Ph.D. more versatile with the “Mellon Humanities PhD Interventions Project” []. Besides this new project, the Laney Graduate School funds the long-standing Woodruff Library Fellowship program. This program helps PhDs gain practical work experience related to their areas of interest and subject expertise within the Woodruff Library, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, and Rose Library. Often subject librarians and, in general, the libraries, are overlooked as potential partners in this crucial conversation. This panel explores how the fellowship program and a pilot initiative by two history subject librarians support graduate students on the job market. The fellowship program helped advanced graduate students gain a wide variety of skills suitable for non-traditional job markets. With the launching of the new initiative in January 2017, the history librarians worked closely with graduate students helping them in diversifying their skill-sets to succeed academically as well as professionally. Their outreach efforts included conducting professionalization workshops, meeting individually with graduate students to brainstorm potential career opportunities, setting up mock interviews, and providing meaningful feedback on their professional portfolios. The end goal of this pilot initiative is to help the Ph.D. candidates apply their subject expertise and research skills in both traditional and non-traditional career settings. In the process, students identify and develop new skills that make them more competitive in the current job market. Part of this presentation will also focus on the experiences of Emory history PhDs who have benefited from the Woodruff Library Fellowship program and the pilot initiative led by Emory University’s history librarians. They will chronicle their work with librarians and archivists, the skills that they acquired through these partnerships, and the practical aspects of preparing for non-traditional careers. They will also look back on the totality of their graduate studies and identify circumstances during coursework, teaching, and dissertation writing that either expanded or narrowed their perception of career possibilities. As librarians become more involved in the professionalization of humanities PhDs, these will be ideal moments for intervention. After the panel presentation, attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify similar outreach opportunities on their campus
  1. Brainstorm practical ways for creating meaningful partnerships with university administrators, faculty, and graduate students
  2. Initiate new programs for supporting efforts to diversify professional opportunities for humanities PhDs

Roundtable: Supporting professional masters' programs in social science and policy fields

Elisabeth Shields, Kennesaw State University

RM 400

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Professional masters programs in the social sciences and policy fields prepare participants for middle and senior positions in the private sector, government, non-profits, and international organizations. In addition to ensuring further disciplinary knowledge, programs often include components on managerial, organizational, communication, policy analysis, and similar skills. Institutions are adding programs in interdisciplinary and emerging areas to their existing professional programs in business, counseling psychology, social work, and public administration.

Librarians face distinctive challenges in supporting such programs. Faculty teaching in these programs may be adjuncts unfamiliar with their institution’s library offerings and services. Some students have just completed undergraduate programs, while others have been in the workforce for years. Some are seeking further depth in subjects they already know, while others are looking to change careers and have little knowledge of academic approaches in their new fields. Students in these programs therefore have uneven states of disciplinary knowledge and academic writing conventions. [JDS1] Mid-career students are often balancing work and family with the degree program, with little time or attention for anything beyond the strict requirements of their classes, making it harder for librarians to reach them.

Post-graduation, most students will work in knowledge-heavy environments where they are expected to evaluate and produce knowledge products such as technical papers, white papers, policy and program analyses, proposals, plans, and evaluation, yet they will not typically have access to the scholarly literature as provided through academic libraries.

How have librarians supporting such programs adapted to support such students? What mix of academic and open resources do libraries and librarians incorporate in their teaching, research guides and collection development activities?

Participants are encouraged to be prepared to share outlines of research guides, slides, exercises and other material they use in working with students in these programs. In particular, we will discuss:

1. How have you assessed the needs of students in these programs?

2. Have you identified needs that are significantly different from students in academic masters programs?

3. Is there a role for academic libraries and librarians in helping students understand how to access and use the kinds of resources they will encounter post-graduation? If so, what have you done/what are you planning to do in terms of services and collection development?