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Supporting Faculty Research and Instruction

November 30, 2017
History of the book class

Students in a history of the book class at the School of Communication and Information examine rare books in Special Collections and University Archives. Photo credit: Michael Joseph.

Ask librarians at a university as large and diverse as Rutgers what faculty support looks like to them, and you may be surprised at the variety of responses.

To Krisellen Maloney, vice president for information services and university librarian, supporting faculty means tackling the issue of name ambiguity. Maloney chairs a university working group that has begun a universitywide implementation of ORCID iDs, digital numeric identifiers that tie researchers to a record of their scholarly activities even through changes in name and institutional affiliation. Consider that there are two dozen faculty at the University of Michigan alone with the name “J. Lee,” and the need for such a system becomes apparent.

“ORCID iDs are an easy way to ensure that researchers receive proper attribution for their work,” said Maloney. “And they have the added benefit of streamlining important research processes like manuscript submission and grant application.”

For undergraduate experience librarian Lily Todorinova, faculty support comes in the form of leading the fight against soaring textbook costs. Todorinova coordinates the Libraries’ Open and Affordable Textbooks Program, which helps instructors redesign their classes to use low-cost, free, or library-licensed materials instead of traditional textbooks.

“At Rutgers, students spend an average of $1,500 on course materials each year,” she said. “Working with instructors to transition to open educational resources not only reduces this financial burden, but also helps faculty provide a more personalized learning experience for their students.”

Data librarian Ryan Womack lends his expertise in statistical software and data visualization with open workshops, discipline-specific presentations, and one-on-one consultations. He even uploads video tutorials to his YouTube channel where they can be accessed on demand by a worldwide audience. In addition, Womack manages the Secure Data Facility in Alexander Library, where scholars who have completed a rigorous review process can access restricted data to conduct specialized research.

“This data has formed the core of several students’ dissertation work,” he said. “And it has been rewarding to support budding researchers through the process.”

Physics & chemistry librarian and science data specialist Laura Palumbo teaches data management instruction sessions in courses such as graduate seminars. She shares best practices for data management and helps students understand how to comply with grants that require data management plans.

“Not only are the students appreciative,” she explained, “but sometimes we find that this is new information for the faculty as well!”

Digital humanities librarians Francesca Giannetti and Krista White support faculty by providing consultations on highly specialized digital humanities initiatives ranging from data-intensive digital projects to the digitization and preservation of multimedia.

“Academic units don’t offer much by way of formal training in digital humanities tools and methodologies, and a 90-minute workshop can only give a taste of what is possible,” Giannetti said. “So researchers value being able to have a consultation where we can review resources relevant to their specific project.”

“Many faculty don’t know where to start when it comes to digitizing, or they get stuck at a certain point because they’re not used to managing digitization projects,” added White. “I help them develop a long-term preservation strategy so that their digital scholarship will be useable well into the future.”