Unique Background Enriches Ekstrom Library’s Research Department

Meet Sarah Drerup, STEM Librarian, RAI

New librarians who enter the profession after working in another career typically have backgrounds in teaching, journalism, or law. What’s a bit unusual is when their former vocations seem worlds away from librarianship, for example, water quality monitoring, public outreach with FEMA, or chemical decontamination in the Army National Guard.

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The Libraries’ newest STEM Librarian, Sarah Drerup, in her office in Ekstrom.

However, that unique background dovetails nicely with the requirements of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math librarian, like the role filled by Sarah Drerup, recently hired to work at Ekstrom Library. While her education and expertise in the profession are solid and impressive – for instance, as a graduate student she built a SQL (Structured Query Language) database of digitized historic personnel images for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration –  she has also had quite a diverse background in scientific and technical pursuits.

 

After earning a BA in human ecology at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, she served in the AmeriCorps as a hydrology technician in Ohio and Massachusetts, and later interned with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a water safety specialist. After earning her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington in 2014, she worked as a program specialist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency near Seattle, WA. At the same time, she served in the Army National Guard as a chemical decontamination platoon leader.

All her education and training will help her in her new role, helping students conduct research in the STEM disciplines. To drill further into Sarah Drerup’s background and expertise, we conducted this brief interview:

How do you feel your diverse background fits in with your work as an instructional librarian at Ekstrom?

I think most of my previous positions have in some way increased my instruction skills and I often create a scientific component if one doesn’t already exist. A perfect example is working as a natural resources intern by day while bartending during the evenings. The natural resources position satisfied my desire to work in the sciences and bartending helped develop my interpersonal skills and made me a more empathetic person. I have been fortunate to be able to travel and work across the country and meet a diverse workforce in the sciences.

How did you ultimately choose librarianship as a profession?

I had worked for my hometown library and college library for a total of six years and focused my undergraduate education on marine science. It really hit me I wanted to be a librarian when I was working as a hydrology technician out at the Cape Cod National Seashore and my supervisor loaned me out to the fire crew for a controlled burn.  I was sitting on the back of a tailgate during lunch and the sawyer I was working with for the day asked me if I had a dream job. I told him I think my dream job would be a science librarian and he became unnaturally upset. He told me (in a loud voice) that most people say president, movie star, or CEO of a multi-million dollar company, but my dream job is easily obtainable. I thought about it and agreed and less than six months later I applied to get my masters degree in Library and Information Science!

What did you like most about working with FEMA? With the National Guard?

The thing I liked most about working with FEMA is traveling to so many interesting and wonderful communities. Unfortunately, I was meeting people right after a disaster had devastated their community, but I was always impressed with the strength and fortitude of the survivors. The thing I like most about being in the National Guard is it makes me a better person and I’m able to positively influence my soldiers. As a platoon leader, I set the example for them and it made me strive to be a better person in every aspect of my life from professional development to physical fitness. I am also thankful that I am able to influence my platoon by developing engaging training plans, prioritizing their welfare, and being a supportive and reliable point of contact when life isn’t going as expected.

What drew you to UofL and Louisville?

The job posting initially drew me to UofL. When researching the University and the city of Louisville before submitting my application, I quickly understood that this is a vibrant and progressive community. I am from London, Ohio, which is only three hours away, but somehow had never made it down to Louisville. I didn’t know what I had been missing!

How are you settling in?

I feel like I am finally getting my feet under me at the University and I am looking forward to starting instruction and research appointments this fall! I attended my first drill with my new unit, the 299th Chemical Company this past weekend, joined a volleyball league, and started at a new crossfit gym on Friday. I think once I finally unpack my last few boxes of kitchen stuff, I will officially feel settled!


Navigating Ekstrom via Online 360° Views

Ekstrom Library’s website now offers an online 360° feature that will help students navigate the library’s interior spaces. The feature includes information “bubbles” that allow users to click to learn more about a certain area. For example, on the first floor-east side, informative hubs are provided for Research Assistants and Instruction (RAI), the Digital Media Suite (DMS), REACH, and the Writing Center.

The project resulted from feedback gleaned during the University Libraries’ Library Student Advisory Board (LSAB) meetings in which students expressed a need for clearer ways to navigate the library. Jason Zahrndt, of the DMS, created a prototype of the Learning Commons in Ekstrom (first floor-east) using the application RoundMe. Libraries Website Director Terri Holtze embedded it into Ekstrom’s webpage.

The feature is linked to the site’s floor plans and currently offers 360° views of the first and second floors. Further floors are currently in the works.

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Find Your Study Space

“Where can I study with a whiteboard?”

“Can I reserve a room to study in the library?”

Find your spot with Ekstrom Library’s new Study Space Finder at http://uofl.me/lib-study2.

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Note to Shelf: A Book’s Journey

One of life’s greatest pleasures is browsing bookshelves, searching for topics at random, finding the unexpected, neglecting all commitments to ponder at leisure.

Anyone seeking such non-digital delights can visit libraries on the Belknap or HSC campuses, or for virtual browsing, our website. But how did these physical and virtual books make it to the stacks and website, to be discovered by inquiring eyes and fingertips?

Each book’s journey to the shelf is deliberately egalitarian, says Tyler Goldberg, Head of Technical Services and Print Collection Development. Anyone affiliated with the University may request books, videos, recordings or other materials via this link on the Libraries’ website (http://library.louisville.edu/forms/order-recommendation). Allowing suggestions from University-affiliated individuals aligns with the Libraries’ mission to provide free and open access to information for our patrons.

After a request comes in, Tyler and Technical Services Acquisitions Specialist John Burton confer to determine: 1) whether we already have an item; 2) whether it meets basic criteria for inclusion in our collection; 3) if so, where to order it; and 4) how to pay for it.

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Shelves of book labels in Tech Services’ basement offices in Ekstrom Library.

After searching Amazon or other online sites, John orders an item, inspects it when it arrives, and ensures it is as advertised, i.e., not ripped, not missing pages, published in the wrong language, or another book altogether. (These errors have all happened.) Before the book is ordered, John has to choose a fund from which to order the book, either from an endowment or gift*, or from the main Libraries budget.

Continuing the journey, a book, DVD or other item arrives at a Technical Services staffer’s desk, to be barcoded, cataloged (added to Libraries’ online catalog), and passed to a staff member for labeling, stamping, and a final check. Items without records or incorrect information are bounced back to Tyler. For those items without records, she creates and adds a record to the WorldCat database.

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Tyler Goldberg (photo, Ashley Triplett)

After final processing, materials arrive at their final destination, perhaps the Browsing Collection on the third floor of Ekstrom Library, or the African American Collection on Ekstrom’s second floor, or the general stacks — wherever it will be among its counterparts, waiting to be gazed at fondly by browsing eyes.

So there you have it. Our librarians and staff deal with machinations behind the scenes so you can study, research, write that scholarly paper, or continue in the simple pleasure of book browsing.

 

*Many of our loyal and fantastic donors have contributed funds for general materials and specific genres, and the Libraries depend upon these gifts to augment our collections. Some of these funds support specific subject areas, such as Asian studies, humanities, engineering, women’s studies, finance, children’s literature, biology, American literature, and even railroads. Given the budget cuts to collections, these gifts are more valuable than ever.

 


Research DIY: Self-Guided Library

By Amber Willenborg

Research assignments can lead to enlightenment, but, as the scholarship on information literacy indicates, the path isn’t easy. The Project Information Literacy Freshmen Study found that students face many challenges with finding and using information, from locating appropriate databases to reading research articles and evaluating information. With this in mind, and in direct response to faculty requests for a one-stop research resource for students, the library has unveiled our new Research DIY website.

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Research DIY is an online tool featuring visually appealing infographics, videos, and step-by-step instructions to help students get started with a wide variety of research tasks. The PIL Freshmen Study revealed that students struggle most with formulating online searches, selecting and locating research resources, and reading and comprehending materials. On the DIY website, students will find resources that directly address these struggles: a video on generating keywords for searching, numerous videos with instructions for finding a variety of source types like scholarly articles, and an infographic on how to approach reading research articles. Research DIY also includes content created in conjunction with the University Writing Center to help students appropriately integrate sources into their research papers.

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While the website is easy for students to find and use on their own, we encourage instructors to link to the site on Blackboard or in their syllabus, or direct students to sections of the website that would be helpful for particular assignments. In addition to Research DIY, the library offers a variety of teaching tools including online learning modules for practice with information literacy concepts and research guides for more in-depth information on research topics and resources. Librarians are also available to create custom content tailored to your class or assignment. The path may not be easy, but the library is here to illuminate your way forward to success.

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New Guide Provides Best Sources for Data and Statistics

By Chris Heckman, Intern, Research Assistance and Instruction, Ekstrom Library

Do you need to know the rate of accidental gun deaths in the U.S. between 2006-2012? What about the voting records of your representatives in Congress, or the percentage of households with running water in a particular Afghan province?

Finding very specific data like this can be a significant challenge for both new and experienced researchers. That’s why the University Libraries offers research guides, or collections of curated links to useful journals, databases, and depositories of statistical data, organized by subject. These can be invaluable resources for students beginning the research process, as well as for faculty who want to impart research skills in their students.

Social Sciences and Outreach Librarian Sam McClellan has recently added a new research guide, Finding Data and Statistics,  which provides links to several databases and search engines for use with a variety of topics. For example, Zanran is a search engine specifically designed for finding statistics on the internet. A search as simple as “birth rate Somalia” returns over 2,700 relevant graphs, charts, and tables for a researcher to easily narrow down and comb through. You can find a link to this research guide in any of the social sciences subject guides.

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The Finding Data and Statistics guide also includes links to social science data archives from universities such Cornell, Princeton, and Northwestern, all freely available for students at University of Louisville to use.

The new guide allows for narrowing by topic, including criminal justice, economics, education, environment, health, politics and elections, labor and employment, public opinion, religion, and urban planning and housing. Selecting any of these topics takes the user to a collection of links to useful data sources. For example, narrowing by “health” yields links to over 50 different data sources along with descriptions of those sources. These data archives are selected because they are freely available (or available to anyone with a UofL Library account), and because they contain a wealth of information for researchers interested in health issues in the United States and abroad. From statistics on the prevalence and mortality rates of specific diseases to information on access to healthcare by region, a wide array of information is available here at a researcher’s fingertips.

Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute of Health (NIH) are available here, as well as data from international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank. Broad research tools such as CDC Wonder, a search engine provided by the CDC for navigating the agency’s public records, or WHOSIS, the WHO’s statistical information system, can assist with research on a wide array of topics, but there are also databases for more narrowly focused research areas.  For example, the AIDS Public Information Dataset from the CDC provides data specifically on HIV/AIDS incidence in the U.S., while the Cancer Statistics resource from NIH provides data on cancer in the United States. You can find data from some current large-scale studies here as well. For example, results from Princeton University’s ongoing Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study are useful for research on children’s health, particularly among children with single parents.

Several resources provide information on mental health concerns (the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, the HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), child and adolescent health concerns (Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health, Monitoring the Future Series, The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, UNICEF Data: Monitoring the Situation of Children and Statistics, Guatemalan Survey of Family Health 1995), and healthcare cost and utilization (Health and Medical Care Archive @ ICPSR, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HHS), Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (HHS)).

The Health section of the Finding Data and Statistics guide contains many more avenues for researchers to explore subtopics in the health field, and health is just one of the topics available in the guide. Anyone conducting research at University of Louisville should consider giving the research guides a try!


New Peer-Reviewed Journal in ThinkIR

By Rachel Howard

Most peer-reviewed academic journals are subscription-based: some require high fees from academic libraries and their institutions, while others charge authors directly if they want to make their content freely available to other scholars and researchers through open access. The University of Louisville recently launched its own open access, peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Respiratory Infections, using ThinkIR, the University of Louisville’s institutional repository in University Libraries.

Released on January 30, the new journal is one of several open access journals planned for hosting in ThinkIR that will serve the needs of scholars and researchers worldwide regardless of their means and without toll barriers.

img_7675bestLeft to right: Rachel Howard, Sarah Frankel, and Jessica Petrey of University Libraries; Dr. Julio Ramirez, Dr. Bill Mattingly, Kimberley Buckner, and Matt Grassman of Division of Infectious Diseases.

Doctors in UofL’s Division of Infectious Diseases approached their Clinical Librarian, Kornhauser Library’s Jessica Petrey, last year about their idea to publish two open access journals: one focused on respiratory infections and the other on refugee and global health. They had thought through the aims and scope of these journals, and identified who within the division and the field they wanted to be involved, but they needed the Libraries’ help with hosting it and providing digital preservation of journal content – a prerequisite to getting it listed in PubMed.

Jessica put them in touch with Rachel Howard, Digital Initiatives Librarian, whose work involves digital preservation as well as open access. As a result of the work of Rachel, Sarah Frankel, the Libraries’ Open Access and Repository Coordinator, Dwayne K. Buttler, the Evelyn G. Schneider Endowed Chair for Scholarly Communication at UofL, and the Scholarly Communication and Data Management Work Group, the Libraries developed policies, procedures, and agreements to support the Division of Infectious Diseases as a pilot project for a new phase of repository development. Jessica expanded her support of the Division by serving as copy editor of the journal.

On January 30, 2017, the Division of Infectious Diseases celebrated the launch of Journal of Respiratory Infections Volume 1, Issue 1, with a party at MedCenterOne. Petrey, Howard, and Frankel were in attendance, where they were warmly thanked by Division of Infectious Diseases Chief Dr. Julio Ramirez.