Over the last year and three months, I have been delighted to immerse myself in the world of scholarship and learning at Teachers College as the Research and Instruction Librarian within Gottesman Libraries. While family needs have compelled me to move back to my home state of California, I will be leaving TC and Gottesman Libraries with an immense respect and excitement for the incredible research being done in the fields of Education, Health, Psychology and Leadership here.
I was given the opportunity to reflect on my experience at TC through this post, and here you will find some data visualizations charting my consultations, workshops, and information sessions throughout the past year as well as some thoughts on the developing work at the library and its importance to all areas of research at the college. This was my first full time position after earning my Master’s in Library and Information Science, and I could not have asked for a better library at which to establish myself and gain an introduction to the field.
The past year has presented many opportunities in sharpening and expanding our approach to research support and instruction here in the library. From hybrid workshops to the introduction of our roaming librarian hours, we have created more and more ways to access information and support and directly engage with students and faculty. My experience at Gottesman Libraries began with the large-scale project of creating Research Guides for the programs at TC, and we continue to grow and refine that collection by adding Guides on enduring research topics and updating the resources reflected in the program guides. I look forward to seeing the ways in which my colleagues continue to enhance this essential online support service. For synchronous interactions, from March 2022 to May 2023, I worked with many students and faculty through consultations, workshops and information sessions on a variety of topics and resources.
By far my favorite part of my position at Gottesman Libraries has been working with students through research consultations. Consultations at Gottesman Libraries are hour-long appointments with librarians to help you get started in your search, troubleshoot your project, explore citation management software, and much more. Below you will find that a good majority of consultations have consistently been over zoom, even as we slowly returned to in-person and hybrid instruction sessions and workshops, pointing to the flexibility of working one-on-one over zoom and the ability to screen share in order to walk through a search strategy or resource. You will also notice that the number of consultations over the year spikes during October and March, the most popular times for scheduling consultations appears to be a bit after the start of the semester.
I have been consistently awed by the dedication of every student to their ongoing projects, especially as they worked towards learning more about a topic they are passionate about. Through many consultations I was able to engage with new resources and tools, especially in supporting systematic and scoping reviews. Health Education is the program from which the most of my consultations have come from. Supporting health sciences research was new to me, but I have gained so much interest and knowledge through investigating resources for students in this program and other fields adjacent to the health sciences.
From Integrative Projects to independent research, students, faculty, and staff at TC are using library resources to create some incredible work. If there is one thing I can recommend to those working on projects at TC, schedule a consultation! While I am departing, our incredible and knowledgeable Head of Reference and Reader Services Ralph Baylor will be available for consultations, and you can schedule a meeting through Ask a Librarian.
Myself in collaboration with Ralph have worked to revamp our evergreen workshops over the past Spring Semester to fully represent our resources and services. We also made it a priority to associate each workshop in the series with a key information literacy concept from the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education (you can read more about our use of this framework here).
Your Research Journey as our foundational workshop series has brought a structure to our offerings that has helped to create connections, provide easy access to ideas, and support students and faculty. This workshop series was also our first foray into a hybrid format, with a good amount of online engagement that was supported by our use of LibCal for event registrations. Of the workshops in the series, my favorite to host has been the Zotero tutorials, because of the excitement that comes with introducing new people to the wonders of the time saving software. It is also far and away our most highly attended workshop, followed by workshops that go over methods in different types of literature reviews.
Our second workshop series called Elevate Your Research is a more dynamic approach to our offerings, providing an opportunity to showcase work happening within and in collaboration with the library on a semester-to-semester basis. The Spring workshops offered in this series are just the beginning, with topics spanning funding opportunities, MeSH Term Searching, Primary Sources, and our first Wikidata edit-a-thon. This series is one I am sad to be leaving behind especially, because I am certain it will create exciting opportunities for collaboration and engagement with the library beyond our day-to-day services and resources.
Information sessions provided an opportunity to work with individual classes and instructors to provide both an introduction to library resources as well as search demos for different topics around the class goal.
While I have really enjoyed the opportunity to work with students both online and in-person through consultations, workshops, and information sessions, I also appreciate the perhaps quieter engagement we can see with the library through the use of our online support materials. The value of asynchronous research services has not diminished even though the majority of TC classes have returned to an in-person format. As I mentioned above, our primary method for reaching students and faculty through online support is our suite of Research Guides. They are now available to be searched in Educat+ as well as on our website.
The process of creating this group of resources began with considering design choices, economy of language and information, and the ways in which users might want to receive information. I developed a template for our guides utilizing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and UX design research for our specific research guide platform called LibGuides by SpringShare. Over the course of the creation of all these guides, I have learned a great deal about how to reuse and adjust materials across multiple guides, and hope it stands as a strong foundation for more and more guides to be created for specific classes, topics, and needs.
Another avenue for research exploration we at the library have utilized is our library blog. Some topics that I have explored through the blog include Open Educational Resources, Excellence in Research, Managing Your Research Data, and ChatGPT and its uses in research. The library blog has allowed me a chance to break down research topics through narratives and long form explorations.
I would like to thank all the students who came for consultations, workshops, and information sessions for sharing their incredible knowledge and research interests with me. TC being recognized as the top Graduate School of Education in the U.S. truly belongs to these students who continue to innovate and learn even through tumultuous times, as well as the faculty members who support students in their work and conduct their own groundbreaking research. I know Gottesman Libraries will continue to support this incredible scholarship in new and exciting ways, and I am really grateful for the time I was able to spend in the libraries.