iSchool Alumnae Advance Research Skills at Second Institute for Research Design in Librarianship


Three iSchool alumnae recently attended the second Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL) to learn about the craft of research. The institute’s goal is to assist new academic and research librarians in designing viable research projects.

The School of Information (iSchool) at the San José State University was well-represented during the second Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL) held from July 12, 2015 to July 24, 2015, in Los Angeles, California. Of the 22 IRDL scholars, three are graduates from the iSchool’s award-winning Master of Library and Information Science online degree program.

The institute’s goal is to assist new academic and research librarians in designing viable research projects to be conducted over the course of the following year. IRDL is a partnership between the iSchool, the Loyola Marymount University William H. Hannon Library, and the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC), and is funded in part by a three-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Dr. Michael Stephens, assistant professor at the iSchool and an IRDL instructor, stated that he was impressed by the IRDL scholars and the insights they had about decision making and information sharing during the institute. “I am excited to work with them and watch their projects grow,” said Stephens. Dr. Lili Luo, also an assistant professor at the iSchool and an IRDL instructor, noted that all the scholars in the program had developed interesting research projects and said that the three iSchool alumnae, Jamillah Gabriel (MLIS 2011), Cynthia Orozco (MLIS 2011), and Carolyn Schubert (MLIS 2009), were “wonderful.” 

Classroom instruction on research design is an essential part of the IRDL program, but Luo noted that feedback from the first IRDL cohort led to the addition of writing and consultation time to the daily schedule this time around. Students also participated in online Twitter chats using the hashtag #irdl2015 to support each other, post links to research articles, and share insights about the process of designing a research project.

Schubert, a health sciences and nursing librarian at James Madison University, is working on a project titled, “Assessing Information Use in Clinical Education,” and appreciated the opportunity the develop and practice research skills offered by IRDL. “Having completed other week-long trainings before, the year-long engagement and applied project building upon our new skills will help solidify my research experience,” she stated.

The content presented by Stephens focused on “reflective practice” and how to build personal learning networks, because, he stated, “reflection and participation in conversations about research problems should be the first step on the path to creating new knowledge.” Schubert echoed this thought and noted that connecting with other researchers was an especially important part of the program. “As both a researcher and a practitioner,” she explained, “I find the community of similarly inspired researcher-practitioners the most valuable element of this experience. Everyone was so motivated to conduct original research and improve the profession.”

Gabriel, a librarian at the Black Cultural Center and a metadata specialist at the University Libraries at Purdue University, has embarked on a project titled, “Multiliteracies: Incorporating Archival and Museum Literacy into Information Literacy Instruction.” She remarked that learning how to apply research skills to what she does as a practicing librarian was also a very valuable part of the IRDL training. “One of my objectives, as a result of participation in IRDL,” she explained, “is to be able to combine library research with practical applications and disseminate to the profession, in a useful way, the information gleaned from that.”

Orozco is the student services librarian at California State University, Long Beach. She is particularly interested in diversity in librarianship and the experience of first-generation college students. Her project is titled, “Understanding On-Campus Resources: First-Generation College Students and Library Anxiety.”

Information about the IRDL, about this year’s scholars, and about research published by scholars from the first IRDL cohort is available on the IRDL website. The site also provides information about preparing a proposal for the program.