The following post was written by library student ambassador, Agustina. Agustina is a first-year international student and library ambassador majoring in psychology. She was born in Argentina but was raised in Puerto Rico and Uruguay. She has an interest in both reading and writing and hopes to one day become a published author.
On a cold Tuesday of November, on the third floor of William H. Hannon Library, two women prepared themselves not only to present their recently published book, Enhancing Library and Information Research Skills: A Guide for Academic Librarians, but to discuss the importance of research in the life of a librarian.
The evening was going to be a special one as both authors are part of the William H. Hannon Library family, and the first librarians to present at Faculty Pub Night: Kristine Brancolini, Dean of the Library, and Marie Kennedy, Serials & Electronic Resources Librarian. Together, they worked on this book for nine years– a book in which they explore the culture of library-related research, institutional support, and the barriers conducting research, among other relevant topics.
When I first walked in, nervousness lingered in the air alongside the faint smell of food. The sun was setting behind the sea and the mountains, transforming the sky into a land of color. I sat in the last row of chairs, observing how the room filled up drop by drop. The spectators laughed, moved from seat to seat, told stories about soon-to-be flights and commented on small anecdotes from a few hours back. “It’s good to see you” and “thank you for coming” echoing against the walls.
Soon, after everyone grabbed a plate of food and refreshments, the presenters stood proudly behind the podium. Both of them earned laughs from the audience and made the atmosphere comfortable as if old-time friends were getting together after many years. Then, the authors and their hard work were presented, along with their book, which had already garnered great prestige.
Both authors would be speaking tonight, but Brancolini was the first one to stand behind the podium.
“A talk by librarians in the library? It’s about time. To that, I say ‘Hurray!” she said, obviously proud of displaying her work in the place she puts pieces of her heart into.
They opened the night by talking about the culture of library-related research. But…wait! Librarians are researchers? Brancolini says yes! It’s an important part of the life of many librarians. She explained how becoming an accomplished researcher and improving as a librarian could bring great satisfaction. However, other professionals and institutions don’t always take this as seriously. Yet, instead of curling up in defeat, these two authors decided to generate a change. To do this, they would have to overcome the barriers librarians face, the gap between what is taught and what is needed, and what they could do to create change.
After finding this deep-rooted problem and conducting surveys showcasing the need to attend to this, they became more and more interested as time went by. I listened carefully as well as the other viewers, who remained concentrated in respectful silence.
Brancolini and Kennedy decided to build a program to further the education of librarians and usher them into the world of professional research. This program meant to remove barriers and provide support for all of those who were able to participate–from university librarians to those in non-research libraries. The program is named the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL) and takes place at Loyola Marymount University. The curriculum seeks to help librarians increase their self-efficacy and quality of research. It also gives participants hands-on practice in areas they aren’t experts in, provides year-long support, and offers a promise of future research success. I found it interesting to know that this book was born “for all of those who couldn’t be part of the program.”
As the presentation came to an end, both authors left a few important points for everyone to take home. Firstly: “There is no magic bullet.” Individuality, colleagues, and the environment are important to generating research success. Secondly, it’s important to be critical when reading and writing. Never forgetting the importance of publishing. Thirdly, time management, mentorship, collaboration, and co-authoring can make a significant difference. The latter in display as both authors, after working so many years side by side, now managed to generate genuine joy and small smiles from one another.
The applause was polite and uninterrupted as both Brancolini and Kennedy smiled before the audience asked their questions. Answer after answer, the authors presented their points of view to the public, demonstrating the importance of having this discussion. Here, they pointed out that:
- Even if a librarian is not going to do research after graduating, who could argue that having the skills of a good researcher is not valuable?
- Even if getting a job is more important at first glance, who wouldn’t benefit from having research skills in their day-to-day classes?
- Even if the librarian’s institution is not supportive, who with these research skills won’t be able to continue moving forward into a future with research in it?
Our two authors showcased the importance of librarians’ research and how they should be recognized as part of the research community as much as any other professional. Yet, before this can be reached, there needs to be a change in the way research is taught in LIS schools and applied in the work environment– and his book is one step in the right direction.
Thank you, Agustina, for sharing your experience with us! If you are an LMU student and interested in being an event correspondent for a future library program, contact the Head of Outreach & Communications, John Jackson.