Part of what makes our Libraries special are the people working in it. This series aims to explore the people of the libraries, their invaluable work, and how their contributions impact the larger FSU Community.
When I was in elementary school, I remember Googling various football statistics, running down to my parents, and telling them, for example, “Ben Roethlisberger had 4,328 passing yards in 2009!” I played football for eight years from elementary school to high school, and I was good with working with numbers. I found that sports analytics was a great combination of the two. In high school, I entered a sports analytics competition, where my project was to determine what would happen if onside kicks in football would be replaced with a 4th down and 15, and I absolutely loved it. Now, I’m fascinated with data science as a whole– being able to make a computer do something that we could never imagine doing as humans is an amazing feeling for me.
Since the sports analytics competition, I’ve been doing anything and everything I could related to data science. Some of the research I’m currently working on includes sports team values, kickstarter data, and sportswashing (for example, Qatar holding the World Cup amidst some controversial political issues). I also had a job this year working for a company called Scouting Heroes, where I logged basic statistics for the FSU football team. (More information on what the data I collected was for can be found at https://simplebet.io/nfl.html.) I’ve also worked on creating data visualizations based on football data. For example, this past summer I created over 20 graphs that can be found at https://twitter.com/a_graph_a_day .
In one of my classes, one of my (now) coworkers, William-Elijah Clark, posted the opening for the STEM Libraries Data Fellowship in the class’s GroupMe, and I was eager to apply. Something I’m super excited for with this Data Fellowship is that I really want to translate my skills into some real-world experience. Instead of simply creating graphs or finding statistics on my own, I want to have a tangible impact with regard to data. I hope to be able to help students out with their needs or be able to have my data analysis translate into a decision being made that affects people. In a way, it would signify that my hard work on data analysis is paying off.
One of the projects that I’m super interested in working on as a Data Fellow is the use of Jupyter Books to assist users in learning more about how to code and analyze data as a whole. By offering interactive code blocks and giving users the opportunity to run code on their own, they may be more willing to learn about the data analysis techniques used. Furthermore, I hope that by implementing sports analytics examples, specifically football, people who are interested in sports may be more willing to learn how to use data analysis techniques with respect to sports.
As a whole, I’m very excited to learn more about data analysis techniques here at the FSU libraries and as well as apply my skills to tangibly help others at Florida State as a whole.
This blog post was written by Sahil Chugani, STEM Data Fellow at FSU Libraries.
Prior to my experience at Florida State University, I took a few research classes in high school. In these classes, I had assignments where I would have to collect and analyze data as part of a research project. These experiences sparked my interest in data science, and from that point forward I always knew that I was interested in data-related research. Furthermore, I have always been interested in a few different subjects, including computer science, biology, and mathematics. I never realized that I would be able to combine my interests before starting this data fellowship.
When I first found this fellowship during the summer of 2022, I felt that I was at an academic crossroads. I was unsure of what I wanted to study and my career goals. However, I was extremely interested in this opportunity, because it was unlike anything I had ever really known about. I thought that this position would be a great learning opportunity for me, and would hopefully allow me to utilize my data skills and pursue some of my interests. So far, this fellowship has gone above and beyond what I was hoping for.
As I am still in the beginning of my academic career, I have not had the opportunity to obtain much experience using my data skills before this fellowship. For this reason, I am so grateful to be participating in this fellowship. I have already learned so many different things in my few months here. One of my first assignments was to meet with many of the different librarians at FSU Libraries. I really enjoyed this task, because I liked hearing about all of the different paths that were taken until finding this career. It introduced me to a lot of different projects and areas of expertise in the library that I had never known about, such as the Health Data Sciences Initiative and open science.
Another concept that I have recently learned a lot about is the importance of critically evaluating data. Working on a blog post about this topic has been a great learning experience for me. It has introduced me to so many ideas that I had never known about. Specifically, I have learned about machine learning algorithms for data science. As a student currently pursuing a computer science degree with a minor in data analytics, this topic was extremely interesting to me, and is something that I am excited to explore further.
As I take more classes related to my major, I am excited to apply the skills I learn towards this fellowship. In the future I hope to teach workshops about Unix, C#, SQL, and many more. I am looking forward to continuing my work with the FSU Libraries.
This blog post was written by Reagan Bourne, STEM Data Fellow at FSU Libraries.
Ever wondered what it’s like to work at the library? We sat down to talk shop with one of our Part-Time Engagement Assistants, Jaidyn Smith, who has been with the Libraries since February 2022.
What’s your major and year in school?
I’m a Junior Communication Sciences and Disorders Student.
What’s a song that best describes you?
I would have to say Björk’s “Atopos – Side Project Remix” really connects with me. Like it’s really unique beat wise and that’s really how I would describe myself. I can never really be truly comfortable unless I’m pushing the bounds in some way.
What made you interested in working for the libraries’ engagement team?
From the moment I stepped onto campus, I looked for a way to help out at the Libraries. Growing up, I was always really into books and would go out of my way to surround myself with them whether it be volunteering at my high school library or winning bingo night at my local bookstore. Initially, I just would have been fine working anywhere but I think the Engagement Team is the perfect role for me. I love campus events and connecting with people and this allows me to do both.
What have been some of your favorite projects while working here?
The postcards event was super fun. It was a lot of work to create and I know the whole team put a lot of effort into it. I think the students really appreciated the opportunity to send a postcard. I also loved the Add-Your-Art Tapestry event. One of my favorite parts of the job is being able to connect with other students. It was nice to just be able to de-stress, talk about our lives, and see the students make some awesome art.
Is there a resource or service that the library offers that you wish more people knew about?
I think people could benefit from knowing all the different ways to access their class text. I know all my friends complain about paying a bunch of money for a book they only reference a couple of times and don’t use again after the semester ends. We have a huge eTextbook collection for a wide variety of classes. We also have Course Reserves where you can rent a textbook in the library for a period of two hours. If you need to use that textbook outside of the library, there’s a book scanner. Imagine all the money you could save.
Last Question – what’s your favorite book?
My favorite book right now has to be Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. I think Yanagihara is masterful with her storytelling and really brings life to her complex, emotionally hurting characters. Reading the story has allowed me to connect to my emotions in a way I didn’t previously think a book could. A Little Life also introduced me to my favorite photographer Peter Hujar which is a cool bonus.
This blog post was written by Jaidyn Smith, Student Engagement Assistant at FSU Libraries.
The GEOSET Initiative at Florida State University (FSU) is the original branch of a global initiative focused on the advancement of scholarly communications in science, engineering, and technology. Located in Dirac 207, GEOSET specializes in providing media services to the entire FSU community.
How It Started
GEOSET—which stands for Global Educational Outreach in Science, Engineering, and Technology—was founded by Sir Harold Kroto in 2006 with the assistance of Dr. Colin Byfleet and Dr. Steve Acquah. The main goal of the initiative was to pave the way for researchers all over the globe to easily create and distribute informational, scientifically accurate content.
Sir Kroto figured the best way to get videos from the scientific community out into the world was to develop a fast, cost-effective way to put science videos online in one place. Back in 2006 when GEOSET was founded, YouTube was only a year old. A student couldn’t easily find videos of scientific lectures or fun, at-home experiments as easily as we can today. But Sir Kroto knew that wouldn’t always be the case. He had a concept he called the “GooYouWiki-World,” the idea that the internet—especially websites like Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia—were going to revolutionize how the world shares information and education content.
Knowing that we were moving quickly into this GooYouWiki-World, Sir Kroto founded GEOSET. The original GEOSET website became a place where researchers could share their passion and knowledge by uploading recorded lectures and lessons through a system hosted locally at their own university. GEOSET was not only for established researchers, however. Eager undergraduate and graduate students began sharing their scientific research activities on the website, widening the range of content offered and sparking the creation of a small recording studio in the Dittmer building here at FSU.
Sir Kroto shared his passion for educational outreach worldwide, inspiring many universities and educational organizations to join the GEOSET initiative. At one point, universities and researchers all over the world were contributing content to the site, from universities in the United Kingdom to Toyo University in Japan.
How It’s Going
GEOSET is still actively advancing scientific communications at Florida State University today. Activity is focused in the main GEOSET Studio, located in Dirac Science Library. The Studio was opened by Sir Kroto, Dr. Byfleet, and Dr. Acquah in 2012. While the library studio is not the first of its kind at FSU, the opening was an exciting moment as the new studio would be a more accessible place for people to make GEOSET-style content for free. It was such a big deal that Bill Nye came to celebrate the opening!
Providing the opportunity for presenters from all levels of academia to share their expertise and enthusiasm to a global audience has always been a major part of the GEOSET initiative. The studio continues this mission by providing FSU faculty and staff with the space and tools necessary to produce educational content for a wide audience.
GEOSET has recently expanded our team to further this purpose. With backgrounds in audio and video production, journalism, and universal design, we are fully equipped to assist in any project that helps advance academic communications, whether that be a video series, podcast, or other form of media. Our team here at FSU, along with partners throughout the world, are working to keep Sir Kroto’s vision alive.
How We Serve You
Ever wanted to start a podcast after realizing you could go on for hours about your research? Ever thought about a short video series explaining key concepts of your field? Or maybe outreach videos to include in your grant? GEOSET can help! All you need to do is visit our website and submit a project request. A team member will then reach out to schedule a consultation with you. During the consultation, we’ll get an idea of how we can help based on your time frame and preexisting skills. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or someone who’s never plugged in a microphone, we’ll help you come up with the best plan to complete your project. We can help revise your content, offer use of our professional studio and equipment, and assist with editing.
While the studio primarily serves faculty and graduate researchers, everyone at FSU is welcome and encouraged to reach out to us for help with their digital media projects. However, we also know that not everyone needs our resources to make fun educational videos or talk about their research. That’s why GEOSET is in the process of developing a space for everyone at FSU to use freely. Need a green screen for your short film or a quiet space to record your class presentation? This space is for you! The Media Suite at Dirac, coming this Spring, will allow anyone at FSU to create incredible audio and visual content with professional equipment. The best part is that you will be able to book the suite online like any other library space, giving you maximum flexibility to record and edit without having to go through the booking and consultation process required to use the main GEOSET Studio.
How You Can Keep In Touch
For updates on the upcoming Media Suite, follow FSU Libraries on this blog and other social media outlets. If you have any questions or are in need of project help, please visit FSU’s GEOSET Studio website. You may also feel free to visit us in Dirac 207, located just to the right of the circulation desk on the main floor. We’ll be glad to give you a tour or assist you any way we can!
This blog post was written by Sabine Joseph, GEOSET Studio Assistant at Dirac Science Library.
The Midwest Data Librarian Symposium (MDLS) is an annual conference aimed at providing Midwestern librarians, as well as others across the United States, the chance to network and discuss several industry issues and topics related to research data management. This year the event was co-hosted by the University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, and Miami University, as well as virtually through online Zoom conference calls and presentations. With free registration to all participants, MDLS focuses on the goal of providing low-cost networking and educational opportunities for established professionals and developing librarians of the future. Relatively new to the environment of Research Data Management, I was eager to represent FSU and the entire state of Florida at the Symposium, being the only participant in attendance at the conference from the state. While I could not travel to participate in the in-person programming, the free registration allowed me to actively engage with the virtual conference presentations and events, like many others over zoom meetings.
Whether it was a zoom scavenger hunt or a presentation surrounding a less talked about subject, like “Making Infographics More Accessible”, I found that with each opportunity to engage I was able to learn something new and many things that I could bring back and put into practice in my own work. The presentations also left me with a lot to contemplate and consider, opening my eyes to information and concepts I had yet to broach or discover through my own work, like Digital Curation and Data Management for filmmakers and documentaries. For example, in the growing industry of filmmaking there are many times limited resources, especially for independent filmmakers, to effectively meet the costs to preserve their data. With barriers, like high memory file capacities, time constraints, and the threat of file corruption or loss of data, documentaries have a much more indirect path to successfully serve as critical sources of historical and cultural documentation.
The vulnerability of data collected in documentaries further illustrates the broader importance to take serious measures to securely store raw data, especially with its potential relevance to guide other research. Additionally, metadata’s pertinence in other research frameworks encapsulates the expansive benefits of open science and universal accessibility. Pressures of academic viability, publishing, and performance can direct researchers’ hesitancy to relinquish ownership and control of data. This exemplifies the utility and demand to create stronger avenues to motivate the open sharing of data even when it is imperfect or incomplete. Procedurally, sharing upon request protocols have been imperfect, to say the least, as the decision to distribute that data is left at the mercy of the Primary Investigator of the original research that was conducted, who may have internal or external factors that motivate, dissuade, or even obstruct their ability to share the data in a timely or consistent manner.
While there were a variety of different topics covered during the conference, several presentations were based around the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) Data Management and Sharing (DMS) policy that will come into effect at the beginning of 2023. More specifically, there were discussions about the effects of this new policy on data management and sharing, as well as how to prepare and instruct those in need of support to navigate through these changes at a university level. For one of the main presentations on this topic the authors conducted semi-structured interviews at their university to survey the research data service needs of their constituents, as well as to gauge and collect their perspectives in relational proximity to the new governmental regulations being put into place. These interviews produced a myriad of noteworthy and interesting observations to take away. Perhaps the most surprising theme to emerge was that many of the researchers and professors were unaware of or unworried about the policy changes, believing that they’d be able to adapt their research practices and proposals when the new year began. Others wondered about how strictly the new policies would be enforced, especially with loose criteria for what might qualify submissions as exceptions and with aspects of proposals not tied to scoring to motivate researchers to put more effort into adopting practices that promote open science. Additional implications of being able to recognize and remove protected health information further supports the importance of collaboration when it comes to properly following research assurance, protocols, and proper maintenance as well as storage of data.
These interviews revealed that many students and faculty across the country were uninformed and/or ill equipped to seamlessly handle this transitional phase that will take place in the coming months to comply with the new NIH DMS policy. Perhaps an even larger overarching takeaway that can be applied is that the general level of informational literacy is relatively low in association to student needs and the expectations that they must meet in order to perform adequately in their field. Adjustments are necessary to overcome the deficiencies in standard coursework that often operates on a foundational assumption that students will come into their academic institutions already having research skills and a working knowledge of information systems, catalogs, and databases. In most cases an established base of informational literacy is required to locate or know that library resources for these causes even exist. Libraries as well as universities more broadly must make an effort to publicly promote their services and resources more widely, while also making them more accessible to effectively address this dilemma. Without additional infrastructure to develop these skills, students have a much larger barrier to overcome the limitations embedded in the university academic framework. Taking levels of privilege into account with access to both technology and experience must also play a part in the organization of their practicum.
As always each institution has its own individual needs as well as priorities and is equipped with different resources to be able to develop the necessary systems and resources to provide its student body with enough support to navigate through all academic challenges. Conferences typically follow a shared academic code of free exchange that open science bases itself on principle. Just look at the public accessibility of most universities’ research guides that they produce and publish and one can truly get a sense of the collaborative instruction that academic libraries strive to achieve. The symposium offers an opportunity that amplifies this ideal, allowing different institutions to come together to cooperate and exchange different ideas through dialogue with similar like-minded individuals trying to reach mutual goals.
Preparing for the Midwest Data Librarian Symposium, my impression was that I’d simply be attending lectures where I’d experience most of the learning. However, in addition to some of the networking events and opportunities, the interconnectedness and interactive components of the entire conference made attending the symposium a much more well-balanced exchange of ideas and information. Moreover, MDLS hosted a slack channel to further promote ongoing discussions and networking, as well as archiving notes that all participants were given access to and permission to contribute as well for each presentation and event. In addition, many of the presentations that were longer than the five-minute rapid-fire “Lightning Talk” featured aspects of involvement from the audience, whether it was through discussion questions, breakout room consultations, or jam board collaborations to exchange ideas on different subjects. The integration of technology was applied seamlessly and improved the overall quality of engagement within the presentations and symposium as a whole. Attending this symposium gave me the chance to consider and discuss countless ideas to bring into practice with my own work. I am grateful for opportunities like these and experiences that enrich professionals at all stages in their careers with an academic environment of common interests and goals.
Author Bio: Liam Wirsansky is a second-year MSI student at Florida State University and the STEM Libraries Graduate Assistant at FSU’s Dirac Library. He currently serves as the President and Artistic Director of White Mouse Theatre Productions at FSU and acts as the Director of Research and Development for the Rosenstrasse Foundation. Liam loves the academic outlet that research has provided him as well as the opportunity to educate and assist students in the development of their information literacy skills.
If you have any questions regarding the Midwest Data Librarian Symposium (MDLS), please contact the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some Helpful Resources That Were Shared at the Symposium:
Did you know that you can access more than 700 research databases through FSU Libraries? What is your favorite database? And what databases do your peers or professors use? When Google Scholar appears to be everyone’s go-to, why do you need to use research databases? Let’s talk about it.
Hello, my name is Kyung Kim. I am one of the Social Science Librarians working at FSU Libraries. An important part of my job is to inform the faculty and students about where to search for and access the literature they need for their assignments, learning, instructions, or research. I checked the stats and found the top 10 most popular databases on the Libraries’ Database A-Z page from October 2021 to September 2022- here’s what I found!
Given the often seemingly endless hours you put into finding relevant articles or books for your research, knowing the pros and cons of the research databases and when to use which would enhance the quality of your academic life. Here are some quick tips on the top 10 databases!
Quick Tips! The Pros & Cons of the Most Used Databases
JSTORis a good place to access peer-reviewed journal articles or books in the humanities and social sciences, but be aware that it often does not provide access to the most current issues. If you are looking for the latest research findings or the most recent publications on a topic, do not settle with JSTOR. See if the recent issues of the journal are available through the Libraries; if not, we recommend you use our Interlibrary Loan service to get the articles for free.
A multi-subject database, the Academic Search Complete is a good starting place if you do not know where to search, and the goal of your search is to select a few good ones by checking the breadth and not the depth of the literature on the topic.
If you are looking for the most cited papers or hot papers on a certain topic or in a subject area published in reputable, cream-of-the-crop scholarly journals, the Web of Science is your go-to. This premium database is also great for identifying a bibliographic network of who cites whom, but the search interface is not too intuitive. Besides, if you are an Arts and Humanities major, this might not be the database your professors use highly.
Do you want to search multiple databases all at once? This so-called “federated search” is available at the EBSCOhost and ProQuest Databases. EBSCO and ProQuest are two of the leading providers of academic research databases where you can search scholarly articles, eBooks, images, reports, etc., from Anthropology to Zoology. Through the FSU Libraries’ EBSCOhost database, you can search 86 databases simultaneously, and at the ProQuest Databases, 92 databases. Use these databases when you are in the mode of searching for everything, everywhere, all at once.
But why bother when you only need articles or books published in your subject areas? The Top 10 List shows that FSU researchers tend to search the APA PsycInfo for psychology literature; the PubMed(NLM) for biomedical literature; the Business Source Complete for business, and the ERIC(ProQuest) for education.
Not on the Top 10 List, but the Social Science Premium Collection database is something social science dissertation or thesis writers might want to try. There you can search 55 databases in various social science fields simultaneously. The Libraries subscribe to many other specialized databases for the university community. Having free access to rich scholarly content through subscription databases is one of the privileges of FSU members!
So, when in doubt, ask your subject librarian to learn where to search first, what search terms to use, and how to get and organize the materials you need! The librarian might also give you time-saving tips, such as when to use extra caution in evaluating certain sources and how to take full advantage of Google Scholaras a springboard to discover hidden gems in the library databases. You can request a one-on-one research consultation with librarians and meet them online or in person.
Good luck and happy searching!
This blog post was written by Kyung Kim, Social Sciences Librarian at FSU Libraries.
As a Social Science Librarian, I address the research, instructional, and collection needs of faculty and students. Most members in my department—Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities (SSAH)—focus on specific subject areas. I focus on the areas of Education and Psychology!
I provide patrons with assistance on their research journey. This includes navigating databases on our library website, finding credible sources, performing citation chaining, and completing deductive and inductive searches. I love conducting research, and I am always excited to learn about others’ research. My research interests focus on systematic instructional design and organizational change. So, I have a lot of fun helping students in Education and Psychology with their specific research topics. It is a great way for me to learn more about current research in those areas.
I also teach dozens of instructional sessions every year. These sessions often focus on navigating the library website, writing correct APA citations, using citation management software, and locating relevant sources. I am a fan of active learning, and I provide students with an engaging learning environment where they learn by researching their desired topics. I find this creates a motivating learning environment and promotes retention!
Collection development is one of the responsibilities of librarians in SSAH. We keep the collection up to date with impactful research on current topics. Additionally, we concentrate on current trends in the field of librarianship and guarantee that our collection practices are beneficial to the research community. There are a lot of online students in Education and Psychology. I focus on purchasing online books and journals so our students and faculty can access the materials anywhere at any time.
As the Visual & Performing Arts Librarian at Florida State University something I say often is that no two days are ever the same. And how could they be? I am the liaison to all six departments within the FSU College of Fine Arts (Art, Art Education, Art History, Dance, Interior Design, Theatre) as well as the FSU Master Craftsman Studio, the FSU Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, and the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. For these programs, I am responsible for all things arts-related such as collection development and management, library instruction, and reference. In this work, I’m always learning something new, and that’s one thing I really love about my job!
While my academic background lies in Art History, I am constantly inspired by the variety of arts topics I see throughout each semester. In the same week, I can go from acquiring forthcoming publications in medieval art history to working one-on-one with Dance majors researching the evolution of breakdancing. I might also be collaborating with our Special Collections & Archives Division to purchase rare materials like artist books and illuminated manuscript facsimiles, or even consulting on a digital scholarship project like the creation of the Open Access arts journal, Athanor.
Probably the biggest project I’ve been working on lately is the formation of FSU Libraries’ Art in the Library program. This new initiative is all about bringing the visual and performing arts into the library for the benefit of the entire Florida State community. We are a student-centered program that aims to highlight the work of artists across our campus, regardless of their major or professional aspirations.
If you are an artist interested in exhibiting with FSU Libraries: applications for the spring 2023 semester are being accepted now through September 30, and all the information about our exhibition program and future deadlines can be found on our website.
Finally, when I’m not working with the Fine Arts community at FSU, I am active in several professional organizations. The Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) and its Southeast Chapter (ARLIS/SE) are two groups that have been very influential in my development as an arts librarian. These organizations have given me amazing opportunities to advance my scholarship through conference presentations and publications, grow my leadership skills by serving on committees and in executive roles, and connect with colleagues and mentors from around the world. Besides my work in the physical library, I have personally found that my ability to contribute to and shape my field of arts librarianship through such professional service is extremely rewarding.
This blog post was written by Leah Sherman, Visual & Performing Arts Librarian at FSU Libraries.
My name is Priscilla Hunt and I am the Government Information Specialist for Florida State University Libraries. I first became involved with Strozier Library as a student here on campus desperately in need of class materials and resources. As I became more familiar with the library, I took a student position working at the circulation desk and assisting the Associate Dean of Research & Learning Services, and then later on a staff position where I currently reside.
As the Government Information Specialist, I handle a wide variety of tasks such as collection development of government resources from local, state, federal, and international levels. Additionally, I help manage the government information portion of the library website, create physical and digital displays, engage in consultations with the public, and supervise Federal Work Study students. The last of which became the recipient of the 2022 FSU Mores Award.
My two most recent projects include participation in a team effort to create a research guide on gun violence, and FSU’s “The Human Library Project.” It is our goal that the research guide on gun violence will help to facilitate conversation, teaching, and scholarship on controversial social issues such as gun violence as well as serve as a valuable resource for data and key information. Meanwhile, The Human Library Project will include individuals of various backgrounds that make themselves readily available to scholars on campus, as a human “book” to be checked out and interviewed as a means of exploring diversity through open minded conversation. The goal of the Human Library Project is to provide a safe space for our scholars to gain perspective and understanding of individuals with unique experiences and stories, while promoting the library as the hub of the intellectual community.
To tell you a little more about myself I’d say that I have a passion for helping people, and I like to see people reach their full potential whenever possible. I believe that we all benefit when we take the time to learn from one another and that when one of us succeeds, we all do. So, should you ever find yourself in Strozier in need of assistance, please feel free to find me and I will do my best to help!
This blog post was written by Priscilla Hunt, Government Information Specialist at FSU Libraries.
Libraries are one of the top campus employers of students with a yearly average of over 70 student employees in the last five years. As one of the top employers: do we play a role in the success of students while they are employed with us, and does working in the libraries influence their career experiences after graduation? In the Fall of 2021, the Assessment Team at FSU Libraries found ourselves asking these exact questions. So, we embarked on a study to explore this with some of our former libraries’ employees from the past five years.
After receiving IRB exempt status, we connected with six former employees of the FSU Libraries Assessment Department for this first study cohort. We wanted to know how former-student employees described their work experience at the library. What aspects of library employment did they perceive influenced their current career outcomes? What are ways we could incorporate what we learned to support current part-time employees with more meaningful campus experiences while at FSU?
Most students in this first cohort were in STEM majors and were hired in data analyst roles. They collected, prepared, analyzed, and reported on library data, created data visualizations, benchmarked survey results, presented papers and posters at conferences, and helped to coordinate statistical survey data for national and regional organizations.
Benefits and drawbacks of working on campus & in the Libraries
Alumni employees found working on campus to be convenient—especially since the library was located near their classes. Participants said that they valued working on a beautiful campus, with real-life data, and enjoyed working in the pleasant atmosphere of the library. Drawbacks or challenges included time management and shifting gears between classes and work duties, and sometimes they found themselves on campus from sun-up to sundown. Some reported cramped office space, while others wished they had gotten comparable pay with that of a corporate internship and found that working a campus job did not prepare them for the fast-paced work environment of deadlines and deliverables they now face in their current jobs.
Highlights of their FSU experience
Participants of the study shared that they enjoyed learning how to collect, find, share and synthesize data. They found it particularly useful working and visualizing real-world data to solve problems. Often students have trouble relating the information they learn from a textbook to practical applications in the real world. This experience allowed our employees to practically apply the information they learned in a job setting. Another aspect participants cited as enjoyable was the opportunity to meet and connect with other campus partners on different projects. Being able to see how data and libraries could be integral to campus success gave a new perspective to our employees. A final highlight from this study was learning how many of our women participants have excelled in STEM fields post-graduation.
Key experiences our participants had on campus
Building friendships, relationships, and mentorships with colleagues and other members of the FSU Community
Engagement on campus in the LeaderShape Institute and Garnet & Gold Scholars Program
Opportunities for professional development, including submitting and presenting conference proposals and papers
Tutoring peers including student-athletes and at the Reading Writing Center on campus
Participating in internships and experiences abroad at our international campuses
Going to career fairs and speaking with recruiters about potential job opportunities
Looking into the future & how we can improve the experiences of our part-time employees
Former student employees said that they would have liked to have collaborated more with other library departments and to have learned about other parts of the library. This is especially true for those who switched their career plans and decided to work in libraries after working here. For example, one alum shared that they wished they knew more about Digital Humanities. They also wanted more opportunities to practice their leadership skills, such as leading meetings and giving presentations.
Overall, this study was invaluable in helping us better understand the student employee experience and ways we could improve future students’ employment at the libraries. One pillar of the Libraries’ Strategic Plan is “Investing in People” and it’s become a top priority of the organization to continue improving the professional development opportunities for both our full-time and part-time employees. This study has opened the door for others, and we hope to do further studies with the various departments within the libraries that employ student employees. To view the PowerPoint presentation for the New England College Assessment Conference, follow this link.
If you are a former alum employee and would like to participate in this study, please reach out to Kirsten Kinsley (email@example.com).
This blog post was written by Kirsten Kinsley, Assessment Librarian at FSU Libraries.