Library Committee Handbook

Executive Committee



Applied Research in Institutionalizing and Sustaining Diversity Recruitment in Library Settings

 

Applied research in institutionalizing and sustaining diversity recruitment in library settings

 

Jim Hahn, Orientation Services and Environments Librarian

jimhahn@illinois.edu

 

This proposal requests seed funding that will investigate the potential for creating a diversity recruitment program around the areas of library information technology and emerging technologies and in creation of “software as a service” (SaaS) prototypes to be used library wide.

 

Specifically the project will investigate the broad questions of:

 

1)    How to recruit individuals with diverse backgrounds into library information technology positions?

2)    How individuals with technical backgrounds from two-year schools can be recruited into library IT positions?

3)    What types of mentoring support and transitional initiatives are necessary to create bridges between two-year programs and graduate study in library and information science?

 

To investigate these questions, the seed funding of this program will focus on sustained mentoring support for students who have graduated from local community colleges and are enrolled at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The students can be enrolled in any major, but we will aim to find students who have two-year degrees in an IT related field, like software programming or software engineering. Another potential pool would include students from diverse backgrounds who are pursuing either the minor in Informatics, or the minor in Computer Science offered at the University of Illinois.

 

In summary, the target population for this grant is:

 

 

  1. Have a two year degree in an IT related field (computer engineering or computer programming) or
  2.  enrolled in the Informatics or Computer Science minor at UIUC.

 

 

The library would offer summer and fall paid internships to targeted students so they would gain skills and training that would prepare them for either a) graduate studies in library and information science, or b) other academic professional positions in library settings.

 

Internships will have focused student projects with defined outcomes. After consulting with the software development group, we have the following sample projects as starting points for Intern work:

 

 

Recent work with undergraduate student software teams has shown that students who have earned two-year degrees in software engineering or programming will be valuable to library service development. These students have shown to be particularly effective in developing micro-services that could support library wide production environments. Students with these practical backgrounds have much to offer the University Library particularly as it turns its focus to Discovery layers that are a part of the new strategic plan (http://www.library.illinois.edu/committee/exec/documents/2011-2012/Library_Strategic_Initiatives_Final.pdf) -- the outputs of student work that this grant will fund supports Goal 1 – Provide access to and discovery of, library content and collections.

 

PI has consulted with representatives from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the University of Illinois. We anticipate that interns from this seed program would also be invited to attend activities at GSLIS. This would include class visits, and lectures, as well as meeting with students and other social opportunities that would involve students in the academic life of GSLIS before applying to graduate study.

 

 

There is a gap between the desired diversity of the library workforce and the currently existing workforce. This gap is from missing diversity initiatives: the University Library does not currently have a diversity recruitment program for undergraduate students. The library does encourage our students to apply for library schools, but a more intentional approach is required, especially as it relates to IT positions, which are most notably missing diverse populations from their workforce.

 

This grant will help to address the problem of diversity in the library workforce, and as part of our evaluation plan, we expect that this grant will impact the number of individuals from diverse backgrounds working in library IT positions over the next three years. In order to accomplish this objective we must be prepared for sustained intentional support at the end of this seed funding.

 

 

The library has supported a LAMP (http://lisaccess.org) intern in previous years. Additionally the Undergraduate Library is actively working with undergraduate student design teams for software development. A natural fit for diversity interns will be the Undergraduate Library; the students will be involved in software development and other emerging technology services.

 

Particularly the new small lab space (either 149b or 243a and b) will be an incubator for this project and PI Hahn will offer sustained mentoring to recruited interns, both in development of software and in novel evaluation methodologies.

 

PI Hahn has talked with the library software group about how designed middleware (like SaaS) could potentially be integrated into production environments, this grant will look to add to library IT’s software offerings and capabilities particularly in meeting the library’s strategic goals for discovery and access.

 

 

Equipment Available

 

iMacs in the Undergrad Library are available for students to code with – we have a Linux/Ubuntu server available at Grainger for prototyping needs. Additionally, the Eclipse developer environment is freely available and is loaded on the iMacs for coding. We have also run the Blacklight/Ruby environment on the Macs as well.

 

Time of Library Staff

 

PI Jim Hahn will meet with the student from 8-10 hours per week during the fall and summer semesters; offering mentoring support in use studies and application design.

 

Tom H and other research programmers will meet weekly with students to touch base on coding progress and problems, this may average to about 1 hour a week per student over the grant. Students are also scheduled to participate in monthly Software Development Group meeting in the library.

 

 

Hourly Needs ($15680)

Two students each semester:

 

40 hours per week (8 weeks ) summer 2012 semester. @$12.25/hr (3,920 per student)

Note: if students are not enrolled for any course-work during the summer they can work 40 hours per week.

 

20 hours per week (16 weeks) for the fall 2012 semester. @ 12.25/hr (3,920 per student)

 

Use Studies ($400)

 

Twenty $20 gift cards for rapid user studies. We anticipate needing five participants per mobile app iteration and anticipate testing at least four iterations of various mobile applications.

 

Total funding needs ($16,080)

 

 

After the summer semester we make an application to the IMLS in the Fall 2012 semester. The likely funding source after the summer internship work will be the Laura Bush Twenty First Century Librarian grants. http://www.imls.gov/applicants/detail.aspx?GrantId=9 We will look to partner with GSLIS as they make their renewal for the LAMP program and/or other library schools that graduate diverse populations.

 

 

 

Spring 2012

 

Project will begin in Spring 2012 by reaching out to local UIUC students who have both a) diverse backgrounds and b) with technical degrees from two-year schools or students in the Informatics minor.

 

Summer and Fall 2012

 

Mentoring activities and software creation. The software will be made available to the Library Software Development group. We will contribute the code to the library’s micro-services initiatives in service of new discovery initiatives.

 

August 2012

 

Write IMLS grant for Fall 2012, potentially in tandem with GSLIS and/or other library schools (IMLS views multiple institution proposals more favorably, so we’d want to investigate how to include more than just UIUC departments in the IMLS application)

 

Spring 2013

 

We will issue a project report with next steps for implementing residency programs in the University Library.

 

 

Grant Evaluation

 

An evaluation of the internship program will be completed after the end of each semester; participants will be interviewed and will provide a final project report of library work in emerging technologies, software creation, and software evaluation.

 

The project report and interviews will seek to answer our study questions of : How to recruit individuals with diverse backgrounds into library information technology positions? How individuals from two year schools can be recruited into library IT positions? What types of mentoring support is necessary to create bridges between two-year programs and graduate study in library and information science?

 

One benefit of a diverse workforce includes innovation:

 

“A study of innovation I corporations found that the most innovative companies deliberately established diverse work teams (Kanter, 1983).”

http://oeoa.illinois.edu/SupportingDocs/BenefitsAndChallengesOfDiversity.pdf

 

Another benefit to the campus will be the richness of scholarship:

 

“Using data from the 1995 Faculty Survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, another study documented that scholars from minority groups have expanded and enriched scholarship and teaching in many intellectual disciplines by offering new perspectives, raising new questions, challenges, and concerns (Antonio, 2002. See also Turner, 2000; Nelson and Pellet, 1997).

http://oeoa.illinois.edu/SupportingDocs/BenefitsAndChallengesOfDiversity.pdf

 

Long-term, the University of Illinois Library will be stronger if it can incorporate additional viewpoints in its organization:

 

“The level of critical analysis of decisions and alternatives was higher in groups subjected to minority viewpoints than in those that were not, regardless of whether or not the minority opinion was correct or ultimately prevailed. Minority viewpoints stimulated discussion of multiple perspectives and previously unconsidered alternatives (Nemeth, 1985; 1995)

http://oeoa.illinois.edu/SupportingDocs/BenefitsAndChallengesOfDiversity.pdf

 

 

 

The library will be investing in a skilled technical workforce that can bring new perspectives and new ideas library services, particularly information technology services.

 

 

This project is successful if the University Library can increase its pool of diverse workers in library IT over the next three years.

 

An additional metric for success of this seed funding would be securing an IMLS grant that could build a diversity residency program at the University Library.

 

 

Applicants must demonstrate that they have consulted closely with other Library and/or University staff in units whose support is necessary for the project’s success.

 

Although we urge individuals to plan activities and apply for funding well in advance, we are aware that there are sometimes emerging opportunities. We will therefore accept occasional applications off-cycle. If you are filing an off-cycle application of this kind, it is necessary for you to explain why you were not able to request funding on the normal application schedule.

 

All successful awardees are required to submit a short report at the end of the project’s specified timeline.