Reflections on a dh+lib Transition

Ahoy!  icon-anchor

The 2016-2017 school year was my busiest year in academic libraries. My role saw a number of shifts; I added art history as a department, broadened my collaborations with the College’s art museum, and now lead the LITS WordPress Team. To make room for these new developments, I realized I had to step away from some projects and committees. Transitions are always an opportune moment for reflections and I realized over the last few weeks that the last few years prepared me for these new and challenging roles.

On May 11, 2017, I sent off my last email as the Review Editor of dh+lib. I sent out my first one nearly four years ago to the date. I’ve loved being a Review Editor on that team, but I realized during this school year that it was time for me to step into a new phase of the dh+lib project to create more space for my growing campus commitments. It was sad to sign off for the last time, but I also felt proud of the work I’ve accomplished in collaboration with the other editors over the last four years. My colleagues even wrote a VERY touching farewell post.

Putting together my final newsletter.
Pen and paper still gets the job done.

My work with dh+lib prepared me for my new projects at Mount Holyoke. Deeper engagement with WordPress and sustained consideration about the editorial process prepared me to move forward on eportfolio projects and WordPress governance on campus. Working on the review with colleagues via email and video conference taught me how to engage in a large scale project asynchronously; I gained experience with project management and blended learning. I channeled that experience into the blended learning projects I consulted on which helped me grow into my role as an instructional designer.

Above all, the relationships I cultivated through this project have been the greatest gift. I’ve learned so much from my fellow editors, the content the editors-at-large selected, and from the original content that the site publishes. I am grateful to remain a part of this project as a contributing editor and the remain connected to many wonderful colleagues.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017

Over the weekend, I celebrated my fourth workiversary at Mount Holyoke College. How the time flies! The last week or so felt like my first weeks on campus: quiet. The middle of May has a unique ‘here today, gone tomorrow feel’ as exams end; students haul their luggage towards cars and buses away from campus, and faculty decamp to their summer routines.

I remember anticipating the arrival of the class of 2017 in 2013 as I prepared for their orientation, their first M&Cs in the library, and in collaboration with colleagues from DAPS and Archives, a digital exhibition. New to Mount Holyoke myself, I read about the traditions, the history, and of course, the class colors and mascots. Quietly aligning myself with the class of 2017, I considered myself a Green Griffin, the mascot for that incoming class. After all, I was a first year, too.

While not a Griffin, I honed my button making skills in the archives that summer and took a photograph of my best work, a blue lion

Summer ended and fall began; the class of 2017 began their college careers and I met some of them in classes and one-on-one consultations. I grew to know some of them better. As the years passed, I enjoyed a certain amount of continuity in the student body; I never felt that before having moved jobs after two years in my previous positions. As I ended year three, I realized that I would watch the firsties I welcomed in 2013 blossom into seniors.

Over the last week, I’ve seen the seniors roving the empty campus. I smile at them, silently wishing them well.

For the students I developed a relationship with, it’s been a pleasure to learn about their future plans and congratulate them. And for the few I’ve known throughout the four years, it’s been remarkable to see them grow into themselves. I am lucky to have born witness to their transformations.

Congratulations!

Not Your Grandma’s Annotated Bibliography

The annotated bibliography is a stalwart assignment for students undertaking research projects. 1 I frequently encounter the annotated bibliography with the classes I support.

In upper level classes, students know the drill: collect 5-10 ‘scholarly sources’ and write a few sentences about why each source might be useful for their research papers.  Ready, set, go!

Sometimes, this assignment can feel mechanical; as long as the sources meet basic requirements (NOT a Wikipedia entry) and supports a question (I think this article will tell me about what a non-state is) generally, it’s fine. But what if we could transform the classic assignment, aka, your grandma’s annotated bibliography? In this post, I will propose modifying the traditional annotated bibliography into an enhanced ‘learning intervention’ 2 that will push students to give greater consideration to who they are citing, what types of journals are they using and begin to assess the quality of the the scholarship they are citing? An enhanced annotated bibliography is a moment of creating an environment in research education for learning for understanding. 3 

Clearly, this would not be your grandma’s annotated bibliography.

Front Row Center: ACTUALLY my great-grandma

Front Row Center: ACTUALLY my great-grandma

The Enhanced Annotated Bibliography

  1. Collect 5-10 sources that inform your topic using the library catalog (monographs/books) *and/or* the databases discussed in a research session with your librarian to locate journal articles.
  2. Cite each of the sources in the style of your faculty’s choice. 4
  3. Compile a basic dossier about the author(s) (basic author bio, institutional affiliation). If you located a book, locate and cite reviews of the book. What did the reviews say about the book? Provide information about the press that published the item.

If you located a journal article, track if and how the article has been cited. Locate information about the journal in terms of disciplines represented, what is the editorial process like?

For example:

Halberstam, Judith. The Queer Art of Failure. Durham: Duke University Press. 2011.

Judith Halberstam (Jack Halberstam) is a Professor at the University of Southern California of American Studies and Ethnicity and is the author of five books published primarily by university presses in the United States and various journal and magazine articles.

The Queer Art of Failure is a well-reviewed book in American Studies journals, Queer Studies Journals, and Gender Studies journals published by Duke University Press, a leader in the humanities and the social sciences publishing.

Reviews Consulted

  1. Ayu Saraswati. “The Queer Art of Failure by Judith Halberstam (review).” American Studies52.2 (2013): 179-180. Project MUSE. Web. 2 Mar. 2016. <https://muse.jhu.edu/>.

Nishant Shahani. “The Future Is Queer Stuff: Critical Utopianism and Its Discontents.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 19.4 (2013): 545-558. Project MUSE. Web. 2 Mar. 2016. <https://muse.jhu.edu/>.

Tara Mulqueen. “Succeeding at Failing and Other Oxymorons: Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure.” Theory & Event 16.4 (2013). Project MUSE. Web. 2 Mar. 2016. <https://muse.jhu.edu/>.

Next, conduct an audit of your bibliography. Are there any patterns that emerge? How many of your authors present as white? How many of them practice in the global north? What disciplines are you encountering? What do you think these patterns of trends suggest about the results you are encountering? Can you find additional sources that diversity the pool of authors you will cite?

My hope is that your annotated bibliography will challenge students to think critically about the scholarly record, read the sources they collect more deeply, and ask questions as they revise the research.

 

  1. “Annotated Bibliographies” UNC Writing Center
  2. Learning Interventions is a term I learned about through a MOOC I am taking through MIT about the history of educational technology
  3. While “routine learning” helps students learn mechanical tasks, learning for understanding aims to foster deeper, conceptual understanding generally through experiential learning.
  4. Chicago, obviously

In Which I Encourage Students to Make Research Boxes

It is the height of teaching season! Fortunately, it is also fall break; I wanted to take advantage of this pause in my schedule to share my how research education sessions have evolved since beginning to incorporate lessons learned from reading  The Creative Habit.

Writing research papers is CREATIVE

When students feel empowered to call themselves creators and feel empowered to believe that their work is situated in a larger scholarly conversation, they tend to rise to the occasion. I also believe that connecting creativity, research, and writing gives students unique ownership over the entire process. Framing research as part of the creative process makes my classes more exciting for both the students and myself. It’s easy to think that the creative process starts with writing, but Tharp helps us understand that the research is equally important.

The research box is a winning metaphor

Tharp writes about the research box; the place (physical or metaphorical) where material, inspiration, and planning resides. Tharp does not believe that the box must only be reserved for actionable research, but also for pieces of inspiration and possible directions for a particular project. In my classes, the box becomes a compelling frame for students to consider using a citation management system like Zotero to collect their research as they work towards outlining and writing their papers. Tharp also cautions against conflating research with creation, a warning I also share with students. Research, while critical to every project, is just a step in the larger process.

Rituals build better habits

Tharp wrote about the importance of routines and rituals in her work; daily rituals sustain her and prepare her to do work effectively every day. Creative genius is not a burst of brilliance, but sustained, consistent effort over time. Creative practice is as much about work ethnic and dedication as it is bursts of energy or ideas. Sustained effort helps translate ideas into projects and performances. I like to encourage students to think about how they do their work, to break it down into parts and understand that investing time into understanding how their process actually works and to refine their research rituals and routines will help them evolve. Research is a craft that requires dedication to refine over time; no one is a ‘born researcher.’ Tharp’s book does an excellent job of modeling that mindset; your research paper won’t get written when inspiration strikes in the course of one night, but through meticulous research, iteration, outlining, writing, editing, and refining over a period of time.

 

 

Best Back to School Accessory

I have the best school accessory ever: a tote gifted to me by the amiable and generous Simon Beattie. I saw the lovely tote with its orange text at RBMS slung on Beattie’s shoulder. After the amazing professional development seminar, I saw Beattie give them to the panelists as tokens of thanks. I wondered: ARE THERE MORE?

Orange is my favorite color and librarians seem genetically determined to acquire tote bags, so I remarked to a colleague that I wondered where these bags were available for sale. He suggested I tweet Simon to inquire. Communications were exchanged and Simon graciously sent me a bag from England with a lovely note. I appreciate the gesture, but also to represent the campaign the tote represented by using this bag.

I am a huge fan of digital reading for a variety of reasons, but note that the analog book allows friends, colleagues, lovers, and family to freely exchange books. The books on my shelves at work represent far more than the content between covers, but relationships, projects, aspirations, and memories. Books are definitely my bag.