Innovation Grant Results and Recommendations for Applied Research in Institutionalizing and Sustaining Diversity Recruitment in Library settings
Funding for this project began in Spring 2012 when PI Hahn hired four undergrad diversity interns for Summer and Fall 2012 semesters. The composition of disciplines involved in the grant included 2 Computer Science minors, 1 Informatics minor, and 1 transfer student majoring in Electrical Engineering.
As planned in the innovation grant application, the University Library partnered with GSLIS in Fall 2012 to make an application for three more years of summer internships based on this pilot internship project. The University Library will have a three-year summer internship funded if the LAMP renewal is secured. University Library asked for yearly summer student funding of $7,840.00 for 1 summer or $23,520 for 3 summers of IMLS funding.
Diversity interns were interviewed at the end of the semester. The interview trends are summarized below:
1) In order to recruit individuals with diverse backgrounds into library IT work: Speak to Interdisciplinary Profession, Unique Projects and Data Problems in Library IT work.
Students saw a need to debunk myths about library work (it’s not just shelving books) speak directly about the data problems/data processing in library production work and talk about the interdisciplinary nature of library profession, and the pillars of information organization and access as it relates to the massive computing enterprise that a library system contains. To further recruit diverse individuals speak about innovative and emerging tech experimnts, i.e. Indoor Positioning Systems, Semantic Search Technologies, Augmented Reality experiments.
2) Individuals specifically from two-year schools can be recruited through internships or other technology jobs, newsletters from advisors, information in career centers.
Students talked about wanting to have more jobs available in library IT work and suggested specifically to have more IT internship opportunities for getting exposure to the work, students suggested that the library be more intentional in reaching out to career centers and advising staff to post to websites, blogs, and newsletters to reach diverse students at two-year schools.
3) Specific Mentoring Support to create bridges between two-year programs and graduate study in library and information science – partner with graduate schools in LIS, public presentation of library/librarian led research, develop a handout on application process.
Since there are many areas of technology in library work the students also wanted to talk with grad students or an LIS professor to learn the range of options. Students asked for a sheet that tells them how to get to LIS grad school, e.g. these skills will be needed in library science tech positions, so students can prepare for grad school and professional work. Students wanted to know more about librarian research, and thought that learning through blog posts would be helpful.
An article search mobile software module
A student team learned to build RESTful web apps, implemented a scraping program to parse the API returned from EBSCO and re-display with a list view in an Android interface.
An Indoor Positioning System
Students built an app to collect WiFi signals within the undergraduate library. They recruited and trained volunteers for data collection and created a data set of half a million data points, which were given to CITES wireless as part of the project work. Students experimented with algorithms for approximating a user’s location in the library book stacks, given a set of WiFi access points.
All students began the summer with “Hello World” Android projects that got them familiar with the Eclipse Developer Environment. Over a series of 8 weeks they became proficient Java coders, and can implement RESTful web services in a Tomcat/Jersey servlet. Their work was showcased to the library at an end of the semester presentation in late July 2012. All code is saved in a project repository for building out future library prototypes.
The University of Illinois’ diversity interns worked on departmental-specific mobile app modules and user studies of those app modules. We wanted to understand how departmental collections and other library locations would use our already developed RESTful web services –which serves as the core component of the prototyping pipeline– for departmental and subject based mobile application modules.
Enhanced Wayfinding in a Departmental Library (ACES prototype)
The mobile application modules we worked on include enhanced wayfinding support of multi-story buildings and collections. (originally designed for an undergrad space of one level of collections).
Reserve access is one of the most requested mobile app features. This reserve program offers the student access to library reserves from an Android device.
Hours of library locations integrated into book data
If the item is in a library that is closed, this item may not useful to a student. Most OPACs will let you know if the book is available. This is not always so straightforward in OPACs that inventory multiple locations. Some of the departmental collections actually have business hours of 9-5, or other limited hours during the weekend, yet the OPAC will show an item as Available so long as the book is not checked out. We tried to address the problem in our display module by adding a location status to the library — this checks against an hours database to let the user know if the library is actually open for the student to check out an available book.
Rapid use studies
With a number of feature enhancements to our core set of mobile app modules, we wanted to gather empirical data that could inform production services. The fastest way to get user input into modules that may be in the early design phase is to approach users who are currently in the building. In the case of these modules, we were experimenting with the idea of location services in department collections, and the wayfinding support was specific to the ACES library and so we made this our test location.
Once here we approached users with a test set of questions around the modules. We asked what parts of the app are useful for helping the students integrate library resources into their work. We also asked and observed what doesn’t help, and additionally what features would be worthwhile to further develop.
We asked these questions about app modules:
Please describe any previous experience finding items in the Funk ACES Library?
What software modules help students integrate library content into their course work?
How easy to use is the application?
Does the student need time to learn how to use the software?
What unexpected things occur?
How do students react when the application does not work as they expect?
Do students make use of the location-based features?
User Study Follow up
We would like to integrate our wayfinding feed for highly circulating collections (Music and Performing Arts Library, Engineering Library, Main Stacks) into the OPAC to help students get from the book information to the stacks location, using the RESTful web-services we’ve designed for system efficiency from the onset.
The next step for our fledgling prototyping initiative is system integration, which involves taking prototype work and injecting its most useful and used components into production environments like our VuFind search and our Primo discovery layer.