Today I participated in the first Empirical Librarians Symposium at NC A&T. The goal of the symposium was to showcase librarians conducting research and librarians supporting (mostly high-level) researchers. The organizer, Nina Exner, said it best that these two tracks mutually reinforce each other. As we support high-level research, we learn more about the research process thereby helping us to create our own research agendas. These are the highlights in my notes from the session. I hope the Power Points will go online because there was great information in them.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Diane Kelly from SILS at UNC Chapel Hill. Her talk was entitled “Why Empirical Librarianship?” and gave an excellent overview of empiricism and empirical research. A few points that stood out to me as reminders:
- Empirical research tends to be associated with quantitative methods, but empirical research does not have to be quantitative. The goal is to use observation in order to inform what we know about the world. This can be done with qualitative methods.
- She also had a great breakdown of the different empirical approaches (surveys, interviews, and why you would do them). Nice reminder that surveys are not the only way!
- She also gave some readings that sound great including Lincoln and Guba’s Naturalistic Methods.
The Lightning Talks covered a range of topics. Here are the highlights:
- Jess Bellemer at Hood Theological Seminary talked about supporting the research needs of commuter students. They shaped a thoughtful approach to supporting the unique needs of this population. I especially like that they email a summary of interaction after each consultation. I’m not sure I could scale that for my consultations, but I might be able to create a template that I could cut and paste into. Something to consider.
- Mary Scanlon from WFU talked about business datasets and the unique considerations for those sources. She did a fabulous job discussing the differences between free and for-pay data sources and when researchers might need each type.
- Jahala Simuel at Shaw University presented on a faculty workshop called “Copyright Law in the Digital Age”. They got a grant to create the workshop and hire an outside expert in copyright law. It sounded really cool and I wish we could do something like that.
I also talked about supporting the patron’s research life cycle. Mostly theoretical musings but fun to put together.
I also presented on supporting research data management on a shoestring. Most of the resources I discussed are available on our library’s Research Data Management website.
Finally Chris Eaker of the University of Tennessee and Chelcie Juliet Rowell of Wake Forest University talked about their experiences supporting data curation through a research-driven approach. In other words, their decision-making about data curation is being driven by their research into the data curation practices of peer institutions or specific user groups. They developed their projects through the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship, which sounds like a great opportunity! Definitely fun to meet some more folks interested in data issues!
Overall great symposium. Looking forward to #2!