Library Workshops Focus on Library Support System Expertise and Share Resources | New
Each year, university libraries offer 100-200 workshops on a variety of topics ranging from digital embroidery and citation management to the Python programming language. Natalia Lopez, chief librarian for data education, said that while many workshops have again come in person, for others the virtual format has been beneficial.
According to Lopez, most of the workshops are open to the public. Lopez said the workshops also serve to highlight the expertise of the library support system and raise awareness of the resources available to the North Carolina state community.
“We offer a number of workshops each semester that meet a variety of data analysis and method needs for our student body and for our researchers,” Lopez said. “The goal of the workshop series is to introduce our community to a variety of information literacy needs, whether around specific things like citation management. [or] practical learning. So whether you are using Makerspace technology or data for your research needs, the idea is to support research holistically at all levels.
Depending on how one-on-one a workshop is, Lopez said attendance can range from four to over 30 people, and moving the data and visualization workshops online has actually increased attendance significantly.
“Our Hunt and Hill employees often have to choose which campus, and we have such demand from both populations, [moving online] was really helpful, ”Lopez said. “[For] other departments or other series, it is more useful to be in person for certain technologies. But it’s been very helpful for a lot of people to experiment and sort of see the kinds of things that we can offer.
Tisha Mentnech, research librarian for life sciences and research metrics, said she has been teaching workshops for four semesters.
“The [workshops] that I teach focuses on research parameters and the impact of research, ”said Mentnech. “So how is the work that researchers, students, faculty and staff, whoever they are, used in their fields and disciplines? I help them figure out what metrics to watch and track, as well as where to look at them, where to track them themselves, and find a way to leverage them to look their best.
Mentnech said they typically see graduate and postdoctoral students, as well as faculty, staff, and external participants.
“[Moving online] turned out better for me, actually, because people can register more easily, ”said Mentnech. “So with the graduate students, faculty, and staff coming in, it was more difficult to leave their labs or research or whatever they were doing. Since it’s online, it’s easier for them to register and come.
While many workshops are delivered by academic library staff, Shaun Bennett, research librarian for business, education, and data literacy, said the Peer Scholars program enables graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to also run workshops. He said that this program started in the fall of 2017 and that while the peer scholar workshops are online this semester, they could return in person next semester.
“The library’s workshop program is really incredibly diverse in what it offers and by whom it is offered,” Bennett said. “Peer scholars fit into this because librarians don’t necessarily have all the expertise, we don’t necessarily have the time to become experts in everything. So what we do is we are looking for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have a skill, talent or tool… workshop, which is unique to fellow scholars. Then they can go there, teach this workshop multiple times per semester, and share that expertise with the campus.
Bennett said Peer Scholars workshops included in-depth literature review studies, MATLAB sessions, and National Science Foundation grant writing workshops. He said students from all colleges except the College of Veterinary Medicine attended.
“One of the strengths of the program is that we invite graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to teach things they thought were difficult in their own field,” Bennett said. “We always encourage people if they say, ‘Well I’m not sure what I want to teach, but I know I want to be part of the program’, we usually say, ‘What is that? has been a stumbling block for you? What part of the program maybe wasn’t so great? How can you help mitigate this in the people who follow you? And it still works. “