New year, same project!

We’re back! 2020 is starting off fast and furious and here at Penn State and we are just beginning week three of the semester. It has been wonderful to have Ally back in the office and we are ready to conquer the second half of this project. Some of our work has stayed the same (recruiting students and interviewing them) and other parts are new (analyzing the interview transcripts, writing manuscripts, and presentations). Lucky, we have a great support system, within the Libraries, at the Student Engagement Network, and with colleagues in the LIS field to help and encourage us as we move into these new parts.

With the new semester, things are lighter for students and we’re seeing that in the number of folks responding to our recruitment surveys. Ally and I have also made some changes to the recruitment survey itself, mainly around how students indicate their availability. We’ve been learning that fewer, more broad choices for interview times works better than a bunch of individual time slots. So far, we’ve completed 10 interviews and are hoping the last 14 can occur between now and Spring Break (second week of March). When I first started this project, 24 interviews seemed not too bad but I’m slowly learning that 24 is a lot of students. What has been interesting is that while there is some bleed between participants, each interview is standing on its own, which shows the power of individual student engagement journeys. I know that both Ally and I are looking forward to reading the interview transcripts and to start applying codes to better understand what we’re seeing with these sample of students.

Finally, one important component this semester is sharing out our work. I’ve only got Ally until May, so we definitely want to let as many people know about what we have been up to and ways that this work can inform future library and student engagement initiatives. What’s great about our project is that we can share out the results of the interviews themselves, and have meaningful conversations on what it means to employ an undergraduate as your research collaborator. In addition to presentations, we are also preparing to write a few manuscripts and hopefully submit a couple before May. So far, our presentation line up includes:

  • Connect & Communicate webinar entitled “Centering Student Voices: Conducting Library Research with an Undergraduate” on February 20 (more information on that coming soon).
  • Hailley will travel to the Lily Conference at the end of February to present, “Discovering the Student Engagement Journey: Implications for Teaching & Learning”
  • A presentation to the Libraries, date not confirmed, to discuss both the research project and implications for the Libraries and the role Ally has played as an undergraduate research assistant.

If you’re interested in having a presentation on this research, reach out ( and let us know. Ally and I love talking about this project with one another but will not turn down an opportunity to share out more broadly!

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Head of Education & Outreach Services at Northern Kentucky University. When she's not in the library, Hailley is an avid oatmeal connoisseur, baseball scorekeeper, bike rider, embroidery queen, and reader of memoirs. Check her out on Twitter @hailthefargoats.

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