Daily Archives: January 30, 2009

ProQuest Creates A Q&A Community For Grad Students

Most academic libraries target their information literacy efforts to the undergraduate population. There may be an assumption that graduate students are well equipped to meet the demands of their research assignments. But I suspect that most of us know, at least anecdotally, that graduate students need just as much help, and possibly more, than the average undergraduate. But given staffing constraints it can be a real challenge to meet the needs of graduate students who may be struggling with research and navigating the library’s e-resources.

Though it’s not specifically geared to research, a potential source of help may be a new online community for graduate students call GradShare (in beta of course). According to an interview with a GradShare spokesperson that appeared in the Wired Campus blog “Gradshare will become a way for graduate students to use peer mentoring to get answers to questions that they’re either not comfortable asking their advisors or unable to ask their advisors.”

What I found interesting is that GradShare is a creation of ProQuest. Given their role in the dissertation publishing process, it would seem ProQuest has a strong connection with graduate students. There is no advertising in this community which is good because it wouldn’t feel right if there were ads for ProQuest products all over the place. There is also an institutional tie in. A college or university can join the network and then make available its resources for their students. So far about 20 IHEs are listed as members. Grad students can select their institution, get access to dissertation guidelines for example, or see a list of their library’s databases on a particular subject area. As you might expect, ProQuest databases are prominently featured.

GradShare strikes me as a potential channel for academic librarians to further extend their reach into our students’ social network spaces. If GradShare takes off and achieves popularity, given that it’s a Q&A service first and foremost, I would hope that ProQuest would offer librarians more opportunity to get involved. Why not have academic librarians answering grad students’ questions about research? Why not allow the grads to access the name of their library’s subject specialist for their discipline? Take a look at GradShare to get a sense of how our community may be offer value in that social space. These days we need to take advantage of any and all opportunities to connect with our students wherever they may be going for research advice and assistance.

Congrats To Winners Of ACRL’s Big Awards

Two of ACRL’s biggest awards are the Academic/Research Librarian of the Year and the Excellence in Academic/Research Libraries Awards. We just learned who the latest winners of those awards are, and we wanted to extend our congratulations.

Congratulations to Gloriana St. Clair, dean of university libraries at Carnegie Mellon University. St. Clair is the 2009 ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year. Anyone who has met Gloriana knows what an incredible person she is. I personally recall how willing she is to help colleagues. In the early days of portal, as editor, Gloriana would provide much encouragement to potential authors, providing mentoring and support. Here is what the official press release had to say:

“Gloriana St. Clair is deserving of this award on all counts. She epitomizes the Librarian-Leader-Scholar model through her long and notable career as an academic librarian, her contributions to ACRL and other professional organizations and in particular her record of scholarship and scholarly contributions with both national and international influence and impact,” said award committee Chair Robin Wagner, director of the Gettysburg College Library.

St. Clair has a distinguished record of service to the profession. She has contributed to the body of scholarship and scholarly communication by serving as editor of three prestigious journals – College & Research Libraries (1990-96), Journal of Academic Librarianship (1996-2000) and portal: Libraries and the Academy (2000-03). St. Clair has additionally contributed to the body of scholarship as the author or co-author of numerous articles.

In addition to her work as an author, editor, and scholar, St. Clair has served as director of the Universal Digital Library Project since 1999. A broad coalition of libraries and computer scientists in the United States, India and China, the project aims to digitize one million scholarly volumes and make them freely available online. She has contributed to the future of the profession by serving as an adjunct professor in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh, teaching academic library management.

And it looks like we have another group of first-class academic libraries being added to the ranks of those recognized for their excellence. Here is the rundown on those three libraries from the official ACRL press release:

ACRL is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2009 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award – The Moraine Valley Community College Library, Palos Hills, Illinois; the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University, Roanoke, Virgina; and the University of Minnesota Libraries – Twin Cities. Sponsored by ACRL and Blackwell’s Book Services, the award recognizes the staff of a college, university, and community college library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution.

The Moraine Valley Community College Library, winner of the community college category, was recognized for creating an environment that fosters numerous relationships with partners outside those traditionally associated with libraries.

The staff of the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University, winner of the college category, impressed the selection committee with their “can do” attitude that has resulted in many innovative and creative programs.

The University of Minnesota Libraries, winner of the university category, was praised for developing excellent strategies to successfully transform and rebrand the libraries to secure a highly valued position on campus.

Again, congratulations to Gloriana St. Clair, and the staffs at all three Excellence in Academic Libraries award winners.