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ACRL Academic Library Services for Graduate Students Interest Group: Programs for Interest Group Discussion Forums

Programming Information for ACRL's Academic Library Services for Graduate Students Interest Group.

ALS4GS Interest Group Forums

We meet at ALA's Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting to share brief presentations on topics of interest.  Accepted presentations have been double-blind reviewed.  We typically announce our call for proposals over listservs 2-3 months before the ALA Conferences.

2019 ALA Annual Presentation Abstracts

Presentations will be given at ALA Annual at the Marriott Marquis, Capitol Room, on Saturday, June 22, 2019. All are welcome to attend.


You Are Not Alone: Facilitating a Holistic Graduate Academic Experience through a Dissertation Writing Workshop

Stan Trembach, Education Librarian, University of Northern Colorado


For graduate students belonging to the Millennial generation, writing a dissertation can be an isolating and anxiety-provoking experience. While several recent studies suggest that thesis and dissertation writing support ranks highly among possible workshop topics graduate students expect from their institution's library, there is a gap in both research and practice focusing on the often-crucial role of libraries in providing these services. In designing outreach and literacy initiatives for graduate students, librarians face the challenge to take into account the particular learning styles, habits, and socialization patterns of the current generation of students.


This presentation will delineate the University of Northern Colorado Library collaboration with the Graduate School to launch the campus’ first ever Dissertation Prep and Writing Intensive workshop to provide peer support opportunities for UNC doctoral students at all stages of the dissertation writing process. The author will situate the success of this multi-agency project within the prism of the 5R learning model put forth by Price (2009) who posits that today’s students excel when they are able to form rapport with their instructors and peers and also have the rationale to engage in research–oriented practices in a relaxed classroom environment. The presentation will then address what implementation strategies may need to be factored in to ensure the immediate relevance and long-term sustainability of such comprehensive library outreach initiatives through the buy-in from a wide variety of stakeholders, including library administration, individual subject liaisons, the graduate school, academic departments, and various other units across campus.


Graduate Student Bootcamp: Feel the Force!

Mou Chakraborty, Director of External Library Services, Salisbury University


Often graduate students feel disconnected from the main campus. This is even more evident in the non-traditional students who are returning to graduate schools. Salisbury University offers a wide array of services to the graduate students who may not always be aware of these resources. In response to a campus-wide growing need for equipping graduate students with adequate research skills, Salisbury University Libraries partnered with the Office of Graduate Students to host a day Graduate Student Bootcamp: Feel the Force for incoming and relatively new graduate students (typically in their first year). The objective was to expose them to the vast array of services and resources available to them from across the campus. Based on the Star Wars theme, the bootcamp offered various sessions starting with a breakfast panel where key administrators and faculty addressed what it takes to be a graduate student. Food throughout the day and door prizes were a big hit! The daylong bootcamp ended with a yoga/mindfulness session. Faculty, administrators, and staff from across campus led the various sessions. Registration exceeded expectations. Based on student feedback the university’s Graduate Council recommended offering such bootcamps twice a year!


The presentation will report on the planning, implementation, and outcome of the very successful bootcamp. Collaboration with various stakeholders across campus was a key to this success. The presentation will not only include the colorful visuals of the bootcamp’s Star Wars inspired flyers, LibGuide, pictures from the sessions, but will also include graphical results of the pre-test and the post session survey.


Working with Graduate Students at a Distance: Liaison Librarianship to an Online Doctoral Program

Samantha Harlow, Online Learning Librarian/Kinesiology and Public Health Education Librarian, University of North Carolina Greensboro


Many universities and colleges are creating more online courses and degree programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of Fall 2015, 26 percent of post baccalaureate students are enrolled in “exclusively distance education courses.” With this new trend in higher education, more and more graduate programs are moving online, which changes the way librarians work with graduate students. Many online graduate students do not live near campus, work full time jobs, and have possibly been out of school for a long period of time. With this shift in education comes unique challenges for liaison librarians in creating trust, engagement, tutorials, and communities within online graduate programs concerning their research needs. This 10 minute presentation will tackle the research question: how can librarians create active and effective learning environments for online graduate students, using a variety of methods? This presentation will quickly cover projects, successes, and failures of a liaison librarian at a mid-size, public university working with a fully online Kinesiology EdD program. This presentation will cover strategies for online asynchronous and synchronous library instruction with higher level research and dissertations, including services such as virtual consults on Google Hangouts and Docs, embedding and working within a learning management system (Canvas), digital tools to create interactions, library orientations, webcasts, and online tutorials. And lastly, this presentation will include one section on assessments of online graduate students and library services, including findings from a usability study and survey.


Libraries Supporting Graduate Students on Alternative Career Paths: How & Why

Barbara Rochen Renner, Library Services Evaluation Specialist and Liaison, Allied Health Sciences; Lee Richardson, Information Discovery and Metadata Librarian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Health Sciences Library


Alternative Academic careers, or Altac, is a term coined in 2010, according to Inside Higher Ed, referring to two post-PhD career tracks, most often the first: 1) positions inside academia other than traditional tenure track faculty positions; may include teaching or research, adjunct or fixed term faculty appointments, or primarily administrative positions or 2) research or administrative positions in the public or private sectors outside academia.


There is a significant and growing shortage of traditional tenure track faculty jobs. Many students who entered PhD programs planning to seek those positions face a reality that includes both that shortage and a general move in higher education toward non-tenure-track positions, often part time with low pay and lacking benefits. Graduate students struggle with this new reality, most critically in the humanities, and while many are trying to think ahead to graduation and jobs, their faculty advisors and committees may have little knowledge of non-traditional jobs and the best preparation for them, or they may view anything other than traditional tenure track faculty positions with some distaste and suspicion. Many faculty are thus reluctant even to discuss other options. Some students even report being dropped by faculty if it becomes known that they are considering experiences and training for non-traditional faculty positions when they finish.


Libraries can serve as a neutral and accessible place to gather resources providing information and guidance for students considering the Altac path. This presentation will share the process of creating an academic library guide for doctoral students considering alternative, academically oriented careers. Although the main audience for the guide is doctoral students and those faculty who are aware of the situation and supportive of exploring alternatives, students at all levels and others interested in exploring career opportunities for advanced degree holders will find useful information.

Presentation Files ALA Midwinter 2019

Saturday, June 23, 2018, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the Morial Convention Center, Room 296

A Collaborative Initiative for Graduate Student Success, Bonnie Fong, Rutgers University

The library, graduate school, writing center, and learning center collaborated to apply for an internal seed grant and received $25,000 for their "Boot Camps for Graduate Student Success" initiative. The purpose of this innovative program was to ensure doctoral and master's students learn many of the skills that might not be taught within their graduate program curriculum, but are quite valuable for timely degree completion and for gaining competitive career advantages. Intensive, rigorous training in the form of 1-day or 2-day boot camps - offered before a semester began or after one ended - were provided for the themes of data skills, grant skills, literature research skills, presentation skills, research impact and promotion, and writing and publishing skills. In cases where we did not have the expertise to teach a topic, we sought instructors from outside of our group. We offered a total of 16 boot camps during our 2-year grant period (2016-2018) and recorded at least one session for each boot camp theme. During this presentation, you will learn more about the content covered under each theme, how we found instructors, and what worked well and not so well.

What Reference Services Do International and Science and Engineering Graduate Students Need? Evidence from a Graduate Student User Survey, Kelli Trei and Jamie Carlstone, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In 2016, the Ithaka S+R Graduate Student Survey was administered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Over 10,000 graduate and professional students were invited to participate and 1,388 respondents completed the survey. According to the Institute of International Education, international graduate students made up 49% of total on-campus enrollment at Illinois. The majority of these students were enrolled in Liberal Arts & Science and the College of Engineering. This study sought to examine the perspectives of the international and science and engineering graduate student population. Focusing on this user group this study seeks to identify 1) common graduate-level research skills 2) perceptions of reference services and 3) how demographic characteristics such as academic fields and international status impact graduate students’ needs and perceptions.

A prior study at Illinois focused broadly on the perception of the library and university by these student groups using a non-parametric tool called the Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon test to detect significant differences. This current study uses the same methodology to examine selected survey questions related to research skills and the library role in providing reference services to these groups. The advantage of this study over a transaction log analysis is that it includes responses from users who rarely visit physical library spaces or interact with librarians. It is important to observe how specific user groups approach research and library services, particularly as our large research institutions serve more international students. These surveys help us target our services and outreach in more specific ways as we parse out the needs of student groups. This session will give subject specialists and all those interested in assessment a repeatable study to investigate their own user groups as well as provoke discussion on what these findings mean for us as we continue to shape our services and outreach to graduate students.

Get Hired!: Library Support for Graduate Students’ Alternative Career Needs, Christina Sheley, Indiana University, Bloomington

According to the 2016 Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities report produced by the National Science Foundation, only “45% of all doctorate recipients with definite employment commitments (excluding postdoc positions) in the United States reported that their principal job would be in academe.” The competitive academic job market has resulted in an increasing number of graduate students looking for jobs outside of academia. Libraries have an opportunity to support these students as they conduct a job search in for-profit or non-profit sectors.

This presentation will detail a career support service at the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries’ Business/SPEA Information Commons. HIRE ED includes personalized research assistance for graduate students who need to locate company and industry information for interview or internship preparation, networking events, and application materials. In addition, a compensation research guide supports salary evaluation and negotiation for corporate job offers. Finally, workshops that identify strategies for conducting a non-academic job search have been offered. Development and promotion of HIRE ED is done in partnership with campus stakeholders, including Indiana University’s Career Development Office, the Kelley School of Business’ Graduate Career Services, and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) Career Development Office.

Standing Room Only: Creating a Graduate Workshop Certificate Program to Increase Graduate Student Workshop Attendance, Brian Quinn, Texas Tech University

Although many academic libraries offer a variety of workshops aimed at graduate students, trying to get students to attend them can be challenging. Students often register, and then fail to show up. They give a variety of reasons for not attending. Students may complain that the workshops are offered at inconvenient times or that they had planned to attend, but then something more important came up. In an effort to address the problem, the library partnered with the graduate school to create a graduate workshop certificate program. Graduate students who attend eight of ten graduate-level library workshops offered each semester are eligible to earn a Certificate in Research Strategies. The certificate is jointly sponsored by the library and the graduate school. Many students, especially international students, place a high value on programs that offer credentials that are prized in their home countries and that will provide them with a competitive advantage over other students when applying for positions in their field of study. The certificate serves as an incentive to attend most of the workshops. At the same time, it provides students with the flexibility to choose the workshops that are most beneficial and convenient for them. The workshops are offered in a scaffolded sequence that begins with basic topics like how to manage citations and how to conduct a literature review. As the semester progresses, the topics become more advanced, covering topics like data management, altmetrics, and copyright. Offering the workshops in a scaffolded sequence makes the topics easier to comprehend and makes the sequence of topics seem logical and cohesive. The certificate program has resulted in a dramatic increase in attendance, with all graduate workshops completely filled and necessitating waiting lists to manage the demand.