Yesterday marked the first day of my virutal travel fellowship at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City. I'll write more about my Day 1 activities in a near future post. I first wanted to talk a bit about my project and the efforts that went into making the first day a success.
Over the course of my nearly seven and a half years of working at Mount Holyoke, my job changed a lot. We un-merged our roles as the result of a multi-year reorganization effort transforming me from a broad scoped instructional technologist and librarian into a research and instruction librarian. The narrowing of my portfolio is a relief; I can focus my energy on collection development, deeper engagement with student research, and teaching information literacy courses in my liaision areas. Speaking of liaision areas...
When I started at Mount Holyoke, I supported German Studies, Asian Studies, Spanish, Latina/o/x & Latin American Studies, Critical Social Thought, and Environmental Studies. Over the last four years, I've subtracted some of the language and culture departments adding Art History & Architecture, Geology & Geography with some brief stops in the visual and performing arts. Over the last few years, I reflected a lot about what was working in my consultations and my teaching and what needed some deeper engagement.
A major may be interdisciplinary but that doesn't erase displinary norms often embedded in courses. Those disciplines use certain types of style guides to structure their arguements, consider eveidence in different ways, and even use active and passive voice to convey meaning. This implicit knowledge can be challenging for students to learn when it is not directly unpacked. I've started to actively talk about those issues in my consultations and teaching, but, as ever, there's more to learn.
I the librarian need to learn more about the history of disciplines I myself have not studied to better support my students and faculty. I need to take the time to learn this implicit knowledge. I often have questions as I am engaging with content and felt like I need time and tools to answer them, but I have not had the time or space to do that work.
How can I incorproate these lessons learned in my teaching in dynamic ways? Even before the pandemic, my teaching was shifting towards facilitation, creating opportunities for the pedagogy of surprise, small group work with students to engage with materials without me lecturing, and creating more space for faculty to be my classroom partner. Nonetheless, there's more I can do.
So, last winter as my partner applied for writers' residencies, I wondered if I, too, might apply for a travel fellowship of some kind. Thanks to the amazing Jason Dean's Twitter feed, I discovered that the Linda Hall Library offered travel fellowships, so I decided to see if my project goals might align with their fellowship program. It did! And here I am working on my fellowship from home.
Next Up: A Librarian gets some research help from other Librarians