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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Journal of Academic Librarianship: Article Forthcoming, a Note on Reviewers, More Work

Yesterday I received an email from the Journal of Academic Librarianship requesting some minor revisions on a paper I submitted a bare few weeks ago (a portion of my dissertation work, rewritten as a scholarly journal article). It took me all of perhaps 40 minutes to respond to the reviewers' suggestions and make recommended edits, and I resubmitted the manuscript around 3:45pm PST before preparing to teach an information literacy session at 4:30.

This morning I received the following email (excerpted) from the editor:

I am pleased to inform you that your paper "The Relationship Between Academic Library Department Experience and Perceptions of Leadership Skill Development Relevant to the Academic Library Directorship" has been accepted for publication in The Journal of Academic Librarianship."

Huzzah! This may be the record for fastest 'revise and resubmit' ever. I was thrilled--I was afraid the article might be too long, might be too statistical in nature, might simply not be of interest. A lot of folks whose work I admire have appeared in this journal, and I'm proud be among those researchers. In particular, I'm excited because more eyes will see the research this way than via the actual (TL;DR) dissertation, and I'm interested to see whether it will spark some conversation about our ideas about leadership development in the profession. 

The anonymous reviewers who commented on the article were extremely helpful, and since I can't thank them in person, I'll do so here. It was more difficult than I expected to excerpt an article from the larger dissertation and still make it flow well for the reader. I pulled two closely related research questions from the original five in the dissertation--the ones dealing specifically with data about leadership skill development and academic library work. A shorter version of the introduction and literature review, the statistical analysis, and then the discussion...and it was still far too long. It took a few weeks to craft a version I was happy with, and even then, it was long. The reviewers helped significantly by recommending I put explanations of statistical tests into footnotes to make things easier for the reader--a really good way to make sure readers who are interested in statistical analysis or replication have the information they need, but also allowing the less statistically-inclined to go straight to the important information about significance. 

Honestly, having lived with the manuscript for this long, it was very helpful to have multiple sets of eyes on it. Other recommendations included adding some information here and there to refine an idea, to better articulate consequences, to explore next steps and how to to improve the research design for future iterations. Much of the usual manuscript cleanup and reviewer comments were handled by the dissertation committee members, but I was still surprised that indeed, the more eyes the better. Thank you, reviewerfolk, for the close reading, patience, and recommendations for refinement!

Next steps? 

  • Well, firstly I want to take on the other three research questions from the dissertation. Those deal with position in academic libraries, not department; the findings are interesting (to me, at least). I will probably shop it to College & Research Libraries or to the Journal of Library Administration, since it focuses on academic library management and leadership at different levels of the organization. 
  • Secondly, I'm in the process of extending the research to different types of academic institutions to see if my research conclusions hold for non-Master's granting colleges. I've gotten IRB approval for one more iteration of the study at baccalaureate institutions, and and am about to apply for approval to collect information on associate's-granting institutions.
  • Thirdly, I'm working on developing an extension of this research into academic administrators outside of the library. I've pitched this idea as a student-faculty collaboration research course (UNIV 498), and I should be hearing about whether or not that was approved here in the next few weeks. I got my start in research under my undergraduate advisor (Dr. Nayef Samhat, now President of Wofford College), and I'd love to get students actively involved in research and analysis. 

The research side of life. I'm digging it. As an instruction librarian, I discuss with students the peer review process, and the iterative process of research as inquiry. It is important to me to be a scholar-practitioner, to be doing what it is that I teach. It makes my teaching more authentic, because I'm not just telling students how to do something from on high. I'm not just telling students what troubles they will encounter. I'm one of them, a fellow researcher, a fellow student, a fellow enquirer. I've just been doing it longer, and have a bit more experience, a few more battle scars (or carpal tunnel, as it were). More on that philosophy of practicing scholarship later...


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dr. Colleen Harris-Keith, At Your Service

I have been a nerd since I was a toddler. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to get a doctorate. 

At 7:00am PDT this morning, I defended my dissertation research, "An exploratory study of the relationship between academic library work experience and perceptions of leadership skill development relevant to the academic library directorship." After my 30 minute presentation, Q&A session with the audience, and discussion with the committee members, I left the Zoom instance (I defended from a distance). When I was reinvited after the committee's consultation, the inimitable Dr. Ted Miller (my chair, or He Who Is Responsible for Wrangling Colleen and Committee) let me know that the committee's decision was unanimous:

They are recommendaing that the Graduate School of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga award me the degree of Doctor of Education in Learning and Leadership.

From here on out, it's paperwork. My committee members are dealing with signature pages, and will check with the Graduate School to see if I can walk (attend graduation) in May, or if I'll have to wait and attend the ceremony in December. 

I am giddy. Fabulous Husband Jed actually came to my office to sit through the presentation, so I was able to celebrate with him immediately upon signing out of the meeting, immediately followed by a call to my uber-proud mom. My library chair presented me with a congratulatory bottle of pink champagne (how did she know I love that stuff?!). Friends and family have been congratulating and hugging via Facebook and Twitter. I can't decide whether to drop from exhaustion, or run laps around the house. 

I surprised myself with my emotional reaction to the committee's official approval. I've lived with the idea of Actually Finishing for the past few months, knowing that it was A Thing That Would Happen. But. I laughed. I danced. I cried. I kissed and hugged my husband. I posted to Facebook, and grinned every time someone liked or posted a comment. I kissed and hugged my coworkers. I sweated. I had shivers. I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and said to myself, "I am a doctor." It feels surreal.

Now, I know that having a doctorate doesn't mean a person is any smarter than anyone else. I've worked in higher education for too long to be under that illusion anymore. Really, it's a badge of perseverance more than anything else, I think, and passion for a subject area. But I am so proud. 

Layering on these feelings is that fact that I'm a first-generation college student. My cousin, working on his own doctorate, posted to my Facebook wall noting that I'm the first doctor in the family. (Graduate work isn't a rarity, though - my sister has her teaching MA, my brother has his Master's in accounting, one of my cousins is a Physician's Assistant, and another is working on his Ph.D.) I hadn't considered that--I'll be the first doctor on either side of my family tree. I have complicated feelings about this, and expect to blog about it in the near future.

For now, I'm just going to bask in the completed product of five full academic years, with a tough chronic illness diagnosis, a marriage, and a cross-country move happening in the middle of it. And I'm going to hug my husband and bassets.




Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Research and Writing Life: A Snapshot of March 2015

For those interested in the writing life of an academic librarian who is on the tenure track, you may be interested in what my research and writing schedule looks like. If you include all of my writing for librarianship, professional conferences, my Ed.D. work, and my Ph.D. work, it adds up to a lot. I usually don't list it out this way, since it makes me want to hyperventilate, but it is helpful to see it in this form to (1) give myself credit for what I've accomplished, and (2) budget my time wisely for what remains.

Not much writing happened in January and February - largely my focus was polishing up the dissertation, and getting healthy after some wicked bouts of illness. Papers submitted for publication or a grade already this month (March 2015) include:

  • "The Relationship between Academic Library Department Experience and Perceptions of Leadership Skill Development Relevant to Academic Library Directorship" (submitted to peer-reviewed journal in academic librarianship)

  • "The Significance of the Stylistic Device of Repetition in Ritual" (Ph.D. in Mythological Studies paper)

  • "A Close Reading of Joseph Campbell's Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal" (Ph.D. in Mythological Studies paper)

  • "An exploratory study of the relationship between academic library work experience and perceptions of leadership skill development relevant to the academic library directorship" (Ed.D. in Learning & Leadership dissertation)


Papers in progress that I intend to (read: am required to) submit before a March 31st include:

  • A yet-untitled because it is a yet-to-be-decided-topic paper for my Dreams, Visions, Myths class (Ph.D. in Mythological Studies)

  • "An Age of Abundance, an Absence of Control: The Intersection of Mythology, Technology, Discourses of Power, and Information Literacy" (intended for the peer-reviewed Journal of Mythological Studies)

  • "Same-Sex Marriage in America: Ritual and Claims in the Mythic, Psychological, and Social Realms" (Ph.D. in Mythological Studies)

  • "The Four Faces of Marvel’s Black Widow: A Model of Regenerative Mythmaking" - a book chapter for a collection on Black Widow

  • "'Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing': Empowering Students and Rebuilding the Freshman Literature Syllabus with a Focus on Critical Thinking, Mythology, Creative Writing and Library Research" - a paper to be presented virtually at the The Fifth Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship

  • "Piety, Poetry, And the Pastoral Landscape: An Exploration of the Power of Place, Rhythm, And Religion in Maurice Manning's Bucolics" - a paper to be presented virtually at the The Fifth Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship


Projects in-progress that require my vigilance include:

  • Completing the paper "Academic Librarians Learning to Lead from the Middle? Not According to the Data" (intended for the peer-reviewed journal Academic Library Administration, probably before April 30)

  • Editing a book titled "Mythology and Contemporary Women Poets: Analysis, Teaching, and Critical Reflection" to be published by Mcfarland (full manuscript due September 1!).

  • I received a contract to edit a book for ALA Editions based on my dissertation research. The first chapters will be my research, the later chapters will be essays by library directors on their experience developing much-needed leadership skills in specific areas. I've already sent out the call for abstracts and have received some stellar pitches!


Not happening this month (thank goodness!) but on my to-do list for the coming months/year:

  • Redesigning the Library's 3-credit course and co-writing that up for publication in a peer-reviewed journal

  • Shoring up plans for a research project with a colleague in the Communication department on information literacy and research skill development that we're hoping to complete in the fall and co-write up for publication in spring 2016 for a peer-reviewed journal

  • Continuing my research on academic library leadership (collecting more data, analyzing, writing up for publication)

  • Writing on the idea of chronic illness as liminal space as it relates to ritual theory for a peer reviewed journal

  • Re-/Self- publishing my three books of poetry (both small independent presses have folded, and I'd like for the collections to still be available)

  • Finding a publisher for another completed poetry manuscript

  • Completing a half-finished poetry collection


So, that's my writing and research life in a nutshell (or a blog post).

How does it all happen? Well, a few nights a week and one weekend day per week are dedicated to writing/research/class doings. I do literature searches in brief breaks during the workday, between instruction sessions and at the reference desk. It helps that my husband is working on his Ed.D. and understands the need for dedicated reading and writing time, since most of that work, for me, happens outside of worktime (though I do like to go into the office to do research on Saturdays, when it's quiet.)

Next time: a brief discussion of what my reading habits look like, given my weird and interdisciplinary work. For your amusement, a selection of a few of the textbooks for my upcoming Spring quarter at the Pacifica Graduate Institute:

[caption id="attachment_366" align="alignnone" width="300"]Just a few of the textbooks for my Spring 2015 quarter for the Ph.D. in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. Just a few of the textbooks for my Spring 2015 quarter for the Ph.D. in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology.[/caption]

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Doctoral Dissertation Defense: Scheduled!

I am thrilled to share with everyone that my dissertation defense is scheduled for next Thursday. I'll be defending via Zoom (a Skype-like video conferencing software)--welcome to the future! Also, in terms of preparation for the defense, a huge shout-out to my CSUCI Broome Library colleagues who sat through my first-ever run-through of the slides, and to Fabulous Husband Jed, who sits through more than his earthly share of my practicing.

Text of email sent from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga's Graduate School:

The UTC Graduate School is pleased to announce that Ms. Colleen Susan Harris-Keith will present her dissertation research titled, “An Exploratory Study of the Relationship Between Academic Library Work Experience and Perceptions of Leadership Skill Development Relevant to Academic Library Directorship,” on March 19 at 10:00 am in Hunter Hall #208. Everyone is invited to attend.

Candidate for Doctorate of Education: Learning and Leadership

Chairperson: Dr. Ted Miller

Abstract:

Though research into academic library director leadership has established leadership skills and qualities required for success, little research has been done to establish where in their career library directors were most likely to acquire those skills and qualities. This research project surveyed academic library directors at Carnegie-designated Master’s granting institutions about their previous library positions, and what skills and qualities they perceived to have exercised in those positions. Five research questions were assessed. RQ1: Which of the respondents’ last five positions previous to the directorship are most often represented in the path to the academic library directorship? RQ2: Which of the previous positions held by the respondents are perceived to have helped prepare directors the most for the qualities and skills required of the position? RQ3: Is the perception of library leadership skill and quality development equal across departmental experience? RQ4: What, if any position(s), appear to be the “gatekeepers” for academic librarian skill and competency development? RQ5: What are the skills most commonly perceived to be used in each department?

Findings revealed that respondents perceived there to be great opportunities to exercise leadership qualities in previous positions, but few opportunities to develop more empirically measurable leadership skills. In addition, respondents perceived those skill development opportunities to be available only once working in the position of library director or in the Administration department of academic libraries.

Professional Development 2015: Spring/Summer

Spring 2015 started with a bang, and the reference and instruction folks have been swamped with very full teaching schedules. I hear rave reviews from discipline faculty about how those sessions go, which is heartening. Maybe even better, I hear rave reviews from our students who stop by the reference desk! Our recent program review by outside parties, a regular requirement of all programs here at CSUCI, also went very well and it was good to hear what our faculty and students thought about our strengths and weaknesses.

In all the hubbub, I also wanted to point out some upcoming professional development excitement:

  • I've been selected to be a Spring 2015 Project ISLAS (Institutionalizing Student Learning, Access and Success) Faculty Fellow. This means I'll be attending various faculty-taught workshops on best practices in areas such as: teaching and engaging first generation and underrepresented students; research-based innovations in learning to learn; cross-campus collaborations to promote student access and success; service learning across the curriculum; multicultural and international perspectives across the curriculum; writing across the curriculum; outcomes-based assessment. And then I will join the graduates of the program as a member of the faculty offering such workshops for others. Last semester we librarians offered a workshop titled "Sustainable Information Literacy: Facilitating the Information Literate Classroom," and it was a hit. We'll be offering the same workshop, slightly revised, in early April 2015 for interested faculty.



  • The Ventura County Library is offering a grant-writing program in partnership with the California State Library, The Grantmanship Center and the Center for Nonprofit Leadership. With thanks to my colleagues for covering my reference desk shifts, I will be spending the last week of March at a 5-day workshop here in town to develop my grantswomanship and start flexing our library's muscles for some funding. Participants are supposed to learn how to use the program's model for developing a grant proposal, developing a budget that anticipates funding agency questions, learning which grants will fund specific projects, and the such. Plus, there's 12 months of support from the Grantsmanship Center after the workshop. I plan to make the most of this with my CSUCI Broome Library colleagues!



  • With much thanks and most of the credit to my Library Chair and Head of Public Services Debi Hoffmann and Provost Gayle Hutchinson for stellar letters of recommendation, I've been accepted into the ACRL Immersion Program in the Program Track. For those unfamiliar with the program, it's a competitive program with a thorough application process. As an accepted applicant, I will be spending one week in Seattle, Washington in an intensive series of workshops on developing campus partnerships, evaluating the information literacy program, and helping us evolve as we consider how we want to serve our students and faculty moving into the future. Some of the best instruction librarians I know are alumni of this program (and have referred to it as nothing less than "life-changing"), and I'm very excited that Amy Wallace, our AVP of the Library, is generously funding my attendance for the August 2015 session.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Goodbye, Guardienne of the Tomes; Hello Eve of Instruction!

The blog isn't dying, it's just moving - you'll find me blogging about librarystuffs and other relevant information topics at Eve of Instruction from now on. I do hope you'll follow me over to my new Wordpress site and join the conversation.

Blogger has been a great (and super easy) way for me to blog, but changes both in my professional life and how I view librarianship have changed greatly since I started blogging as the Guardienne more than a decade ago. Starting out in Access Services, I was very much oriented towards the 'guardienne' idea of librarianship - keeping the building safe from dropped drinks, and materials safe from french-fried fingerprints. More than a decade into this career, I'm much more interested in greater access for everyone, in every way--chocolate shake drips be damned. So the title of 'guardienne' rubs me wrong nowadays.

I'm also interested in having a bit more control of my layout and information than I can usefully do with the free Blogger platform, so Wordpress makes sense for me right now. All blog posts from this blog have been ported over to the Eve of Instruction site, so in addition to this blog, which will lapse, you'll have access to all the oldies but goodies over on the new site as well.

Thank you to everyone who reads me, and I'll see you at a slightly different address!


CFP: Chapters on Academic Library Directors and Leadership

A call for chapters! I'm turning my dissertation into the preface for a book intended to help our directors overcome what data indicate are severe shortfalls in leadership development prior to the directorship. I'm excited that ALA Editions has contracted for the work. See below, and contact me with questions or for more details!

Edited volume title (tentative): So You Want to be an Academic Library Director: Leadership Lessons and Critical Reflections

Publisher: ALA Editions

Editor: Colleen S. Harris-Keith

A number of studies have highlighted that we know what the leadership skills and qualities are that make a good library director. However, there’s not much research that says where academic librarians in particular develop those skills along their career paths, giving the impression that all paths are considered equal. Recently collected data from mid-sized college and university library directors (a much larger leadership pool than just ARLs) reveals disturbing information: not only are not all career paths equal in terms of preparation in particular skills, most academic library directors don’t get to exercise those skills until they become directors (Harris-Keith, 2015). This implies that while academic library directors should be developing campus relationships and informing scholarly communities about important information issues, they are often distracted by the overwhelming work required to get up-to-speed on those necessary leadership skills.

After a thorough introduction addressing the literature and data related to this issue, this volume collects lessons related to very specific leadership skills from the experience of practicing academic library directors.

Proposals are requested for critical, reflective essays addressing the development of one of the skills in relation to a specific project or challenge as academic library director:

Allocating Resources

Budget Management

Building Community Partnerships

Building Teamwork

Business Ethics

Community Relations

Communicating Expectations

Compliance Issues

Computer Technology

Conflict Resolution

Cultural Diversity

Decision-making

Enforcing Policies & Procedures

Faculty & Staff Development

Fundraising/Donor Relations

Legal Issues

Managing Change

Problem Solving

Program Evaluation

School Safety Issues

Strategic Planning

Student-Focused Learning

Vision Articulation

Submission information

Please send titles and abstracts for a concise 2,500-3,000 word essay on leadership lessons as well as a 75-90 word author bio in the body of an email to colleen.harris-keith [at] csuci.edu

Proposal deadline: April 17, 2015

Acceptance notifications: May 1, 2015

First drafts due: November 30, 2015

Final drafts due: March 31, 2016

No previously published or simultaneously submitted material, please.

Editor bio: Colleen S. Harris-Keith serves as Information Literacy Coordinator and Assistant Librarian at the Broome Library on the CSU Channel Islands faculty. Previously, she also served as Head of Access Services at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and as Assistant Head of Access & Delivery Services at North Carolina State University. Colleen received her MLS from the University of Kentucky, an MFA in Writing from Spalding University, and will graduate with her EdD in Learning & Leadership from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her work has appeared as book chapters in Library Management Tips that Work (ALA Editions, 2011), The Frugal Librarian (ALA Editions, 2011), Writing and Publishing: The Librarian’s Handbook (ALA Editions, 2010), and Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators (Neal-Schuman, 2009), and as articles in Library Review, Journal of Access Services, The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, and Library Journal.

[Cited study: Harris-Keith, C. S. (2015). An exploratory study of the relationship between academic library work experience and perceptions of leadership skill development relevant to the academic library directorship. (Dissertation), University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN.]

CFP: Chapters on Academic Library Directors and Leadership

A call for chapters! I'm turning my dissertation into the preface for a book intended to help our directors overcome what data indicate are severe shortfalls in leadership development prior to the directorship. I'm excited that ALA Editions has contracted for the work. See below, and contact me with questions or for more details!

Edited volume title (tentative): So You Want to be an Academic Library Director: Leadership Lessons and Critical Reflections

Publisher: ALA Editions

Editor: Colleen S. Harris-Keith

A number of studies have highlighted that we know what the leadership skills and qualities are that make a good library director. However, there’s not much research that says where academic librarians in particular develop those skills along their career paths, giving the impression that all paths are considered equal. Recently collected data from mid-sized college and university library directors (a much larger leadership pool than just ARLs) reveals disturbing information: not only are not all career paths equal in terms of preparation in particular skills, most academic library directors don’t get to exercise those skills until they become directors (Harris-Keith, 2015). This implies that while academic library directors should be developing campus relationships and informing scholarly communities about important information issues, they are often distracted by the overwhelming work required to get up-to-speed on those necessary leadership skills.

After a thorough introduction addressing the literature and data related to this issue, this volume collects lessons related to very specific leadership skills from the experience of practicing academic library directors.

Proposals are requested for critical, reflective essays addressing the development of one of the skills in relation to a specific project or challenge as academic library director:

Allocating Resources
Budget Management
Building Community Partnerships
Building Teamwork
Business Ethics
Community Relations
Communicating Expectations
Compliance Issues
Computer Technology
Conflict Resolution
Cultural Diversity
Decision-making
Enforcing Policies & Procedures
Faculty & Staff Development
Fundraising/Donor Relations
Legal Issues
Managing Change
Problem Solving
Program Evaluation
School Safety Issues
Strategic Planning
Student-Focused Learning
Vision Articulation

Submission information
Please send titles and abstracts for a concise 2,500-3,000 word essay on leadership lessons as well as a 75-90 word author bio in the body of an email to colleen.harris-keith [at] csuci.edu

Proposal deadline: April 17, 2015
Acceptance notifications: May 1, 2015
First drafts due: November 30, 2015
Final drafts due: March 31, 2016

No previously published or simultaneously submitted material, please.

Editor bio: Colleen S. Harris-Keith serves as Information Literacy Coordinator and Assistant Librarian at the Broome Library on the CSU Channel Islands faculty. Previously, she also served as Head of Access Services at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and as Assistant Head of Access & Delivery Services at North Carolina State University. Colleen received her MLS from the University of Kentucky, an MFA in Writing from Spalding University, and will graduate with her EdD in Learning & Leadership from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her work has appeared as book chapters in Library Management Tips that Work (ALA Editions, 2011), The Frugal Librarian (ALA Editions, 2011), Writing and Publishing: The Librarian’s Handbook (ALA Editions, 2010), and Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators (Neal-Schuman, 2009), and as articles in Library Review, Journal of Access Services, The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, and Library Journal.


[Cited study: Harris-Keith, C. S. (2015). An exploratory study of the relationship between academic library work experience and perceptions of leadership skill development relevant to the academic library directorship. (Dissertation), University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN.]