WriteCast Episode 76: An Interview With the Library
© Walden University Writing Center 2020
CLAIRE: Welcome to Write Cast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers, a monthly podcast by the Walden University Writing Center. I’m Claire Helakoski,
KACY: and I’m Kacy Walz.
KACY: This month we interview a librarian about features that can support students and their writing at Walden University!
CLAIRE: Welcome, all! Today we have a special guest on the podcast, Kim Burton! Kim works at the Walden library and has agreed to join us today to answer some of our questions about the library, their services, and ways in which they can support student writing. Welcome, Kim!
KACY: Yes, welcome! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, for example: how long you’ve been at Walden, and what you do at the library?
KIM: Sure! Thank you, I am so happy to be here! I have been working with the Walden Library for five years. I started off as a reference and instruction Librarian, and now I am the Liaison to the College of Education. One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting with students in appointments and at Residencies, both in person and virtual, to learn about their research and get to know them as a person and not just a name. In my free time, I enjoy doing things with my family and our four rescue pets. We have a dog named Orry, and three cats, Harmony, Brutus, and Greta.
CLAIRE: That is a lot of pets! Thanks for sharing a little bit! So, I know that there are quite a few different types of librarians available for students to work with, right? Could you tell us a little bit about that?
KIM: Yes! As I mentioned, I liaise to the College of Education with my partner in crime, Anne Rojas, but we also have Librarian Liaisons to all the programs and schools at Walden. The liaisons can assist any students in reference regardless of the subject are, however, we do focus on maintaining and collecting resources that support all the programs in our schools, and help faculty and students with their research in those areas.
KACY: And hopefully the library is the first place people go when they’re trying to find more evidence and research for a project! I know how to use the main search bar for articles and resources…but can you give us a sense of the other services that the library might offer? Maybe something that would be particularly helpful for students to know about?
KIM: Yeah, sure! I could talk about my favorite features on the Library website. They are the Ask a Librarian (AAL) button and our Quick Answers. The AAL button is on the top of every website in the Library website. Through there you can email a question to our reference staff. We work reference 7 days a week (but not 24 hours a day!), but we do have Librarians in most of the time zones in the US, and many of us work in the evenings and weekends. We usually respond very fast.
You can also chat with us through the AAL. The chat button will notify you if chat is live or not, and if you click on the button you will see a calendar that shows what day it is and what hours chat is live in Easter Time for that day. You can also leave us a voice mail if you would prefer to call. Your voice mail will go into the queue with the email reference questions and we will respond to it by email. You can also access the Library Quick Answers through the AAL button. Quick Answers are our frequently asked questions. If you have a question for the Library, someone has probably already asked it, and we have probably already made a Quick Answer for it. And they’re just that: they’re quick, succinct answers to many Library questions, such as “How do I find articles on my topic?” Or “What is peer review?” Many of them have short videos and links to other resources in the Library on that topic.
CLAIRE: That is so much great information! Ask a Librarian is an amazing feature that I often send students to if they are stuck on research or trying to find more information on a particular source—I’m really glad this service is there for students! And I hope that students are making good use of it. I’ve used it myself a few times. For example, the library has found me articles I couldn’t pull up in our databases. That’s something the library can do, if you find something you really think would fit your research, but it’s not showing up. The library can help you find it. Which is great!
KACY: I’m sure a lot of students, especially as they move into more independent research and doctoral work, would find all of these resources extremely helpful. Could you tell us about some more ways the library can help with longer research projects?
KIM: Sure. The Library offers 30-minute appointments with the Liaison Librarians to discuss students doctoral level research questions. We can run through searches with them, but we also have other resources we can share in those appointment, such as information on how to locate datasets, identify tests and measures, locating seminal research, and resources on methodology. These appointments can be done over the phone or through Zoom. I personally prefer Zoom because then I can share my screen and demonstrate different searches.
CLAIRE: I really like screen sharing, too. I’m very visual when learning something new. And that service sounds really helpful, especially if your Premise or Prospectus has been approved so the Writing Center can’t offer as much feedback on your direct work. But the library can help you find that research that’s going to be helpful for you. On a writing-related note, I think that something that often gets overlooked in the writing process is that what you find in your research might change your thesis, outline, or even the focus of what you wanted to write about. Kim, do you have any thoughts about the research process and its ties to writing? What would you recommend that a student do if they end up wanting to research a different avenue than they initially planned?
KIM: That’s a great question. I always tell students to go into research with an open mind and don’t be afraid to go where the research takes you. A lot of times, students have a topic they want to pursue, however, if there is no research out there on that topic, it’s not going to be feasible. Sometimes, you have to step back and broaden your topic. You can do this by looking at the articles you have already collected. In academic articles there are usually sections for areas for future research or limitations to the study. And those can help give you some ideas about the direction students can take and where they can expand their search.
KACY: I completely agree, and I find that keeping an open mind often leads to way more interesting and engaging projects! Especially when we’re talking about social sciences, we want to be open to…maybe our initial hypothesis isn’t correct? Right? So, we want to be open to finding information about that. Do you have any software or organizational tricks you recommend for students as they are gathering all this great research?
KIM: Yeah, organization is key and the best thing to do is to start early. The Library does have search logs, both in Word and Excel. It’s a lot like the Literature review matrix from the WC. It helps keep track of your searches, where you are finding articles, and what search terms work best for you in different databases. Another great tool out there is citation management software. This stuff is pretty cool. It is software that you can download onto your computer. It will save articles and citation information for you and can organize it any way you like for easy retrieval. It also generates in text citations and reference lists. You just have to double check that the citation in formation is correct. You never want to assume the citation formatting is correct from Google or a database.
The Library does not have any licensing agreements with any software company, so we do not endorse any of them, but we do have a guide that goes over what citation management software is and reviews two different brands: Zotero and Medeley. You can find that guide, as well as the search logs, by simply searching “citation management software” or “search logs” in Quick Answers.
CLAIRE: Yeah. Organizing your research is really important. And I’m going to second the double-checking all those references. What I have found is that they’re pretty reliable in getting all the information that you need for your reference, but sometimes they just code it in this really weird way.
CLAIRE: So you end up with the volume number at the very end of your reference or something like that. So it is important to just go and double-check those. And the Writing Center similarly, we don’t endorse any particular brand of citation software, but you can ask your fellow classmates if things are working for them or they have different organizational tools and software. I met a student at residency once that had this very colorful mind map kind of software that connected ideas and had the citations embedded into their notes, and it was very engaging and fancy! You never know what’s out there.
Well I think that’s all we have time to go over today, but there’s a lot more to learn from the library! Thanks so much for joining us today, Kim! Students, the library is here for you in your research and writing process—just like the writing center! Definitely plan to incorporate some time to search and brainstorm with a librarian for your next research project. We’ll link to all the great resources Kim mentioned today in our show notes.
KACY: Thanks so much, Kim!
KIM: Thank you so much for having me! The Librarians love working with the Writing Center!
CLAIRE: That’s it this month, listeners! Until next time, keep writing,
KACY: Keep inspiring.
KACY: WriteCast is a monthly podcast produced by the Walden University Writing Center. Visit our online Writing Center at academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter. Find more WriteCast episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. We would love to hear from you! Connect with us on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter, and at [email protected]. Thanks for listening!