People say sometimes that librarians are unnecessary because we have the internet. Even my own father initially questioned the validity of my chosen career path, worrying about that being true.
But the longer I spend volunteering in a library, the more I see that that simply isn’t true. Librarians can gatekeep information, librarians can amass information, librarians probably know how to look for what you’re looking for better than you’re looking for it. One of the things I do at the library is manage ILLs and that, that’s something that people would have no access to without a library. But it’s so miraculous and practical! By subscribing to the sharing system (we use Docline) we don’t have to subscribe to every journal that someone might want things from. That would be exorbitantly expensive. We can instead put out a call and have it sent our way, and do the reverse for others in need. It’s really very beautiful.
And research! So many people email our librarian asking for help narrowing down information on a topic, or conversely finding information on a very specific, difficult-to-find topic. The library is a resource.
This is my pointless evangelizing after getting home from an afternoon of volunteering. It always excites me.
Okay, I know for almost certain I’m somehow interested in looking at library outreach/programs/whatever as pertain to an LGBTQA* population.
That’s pretty apparent in my example questions, and it interests me both personally and professionally.
I have no idea where to start with that, though. This is my abrupt call for help.
Discussions of ethics as pertain to research feel almost old hat to me. In high school, I did mock trial, and although I was a witness and not a lawyer (it was originally an activity I chose as a way to get the sort of starring roles I never got in school plays because I couldn’t sing and didn’t look an ingenue and whatever else, and besides that intense arguing makes me nervous) I picked up a fair amount from the case studies we read and discussions of legal theories we had. In college, I was a psychology minor (or rather, it was easier to describe myself that way than to explain the truth of it, which was that I did an interdisciplinary studies degree and psychology was one of my focus areas) and so I read goodness knows how many horror stories about experiments gone wrong, watched grainy videos to the same effect, and —
Well, I’m not entirely sure where this is going. I think it actually might be an affirmation of how much I like it when my studies and interests collide. Because it’s not like I ever thought that improperly conducted experiments were cool (while psychology is the closest my brain gets to really comprehending proper sciences, I respect them and the methodology very much) so it’s not like I particularly had to learn a lesson from studying the same sorts of things so many times.
I’m currently conducting a social experiment in my personal life, though not for any purpose other than my own curiosity about the lengths people will go to in order to live in willful self-denial and/or the depth of their obliviousness, but it’s a personal experiment. It’s not for a paper or a study, and one of the two subjects has already finished and with no hard feelings so I’m not terribly worried, but it is interesting, considering the framework of these things. I’m not really sure what that has to do with any of this either, but it seemed like a good thing to mention just for mentioning’s sake.
I don’t live in a small town by any means, but I do live in a town where “culture” typically means things that appeal to wealthy, middle-aged-to-old white people and by and large diversity is more of a discussion than an actuality. All of this is to say that most of my access to actual discussions of anything pertaining to the sorts of culture and diversity that interest and affect me has been found on the internet. And that is to say that, as research goes, I’m not entirely sure how to connect the things I’m interested in to something that’s tangible to me in my physical location.
As per my postings on the discussion board, I would definitely be interested in seeing how a library can affect or does affect a quote “diverse” population. I volunteer at a medical library, and we do have a section of the collection devoted to Spanish-language books and there are also educators who either speak Spanish or can call in an interpreter for appointments, but that’s only a fraction of what could be looked at. I’m curious (for example, I’m sure someone has written a book out there about childrearing in families with LGBTQA* parents, but I’ve never seen it in our library and I’ve never heard anyone asking) and I don’t even know where to start.
I do a lot of research, often for fun; this sometimes includes spiraling tangents on Wikipedia, going from link to link (my favorite tangent to this day was the one that led from owls to the Biblical Lilith) and gleaning information on various subjects. But the question of my research is often a basic “can I learn more about this thing?” and not a question of specific aspects of things and possibly how they can be improved.
Yet I also spend a lot of time thinking about how things can be improved. I know that I’m what is sometimes (perplexingly) disparagingly referred to as an sjw, or “social justice warrior.” I tend to only discuss racial issues to the extent that I will point you in the right direction to actual POC discussing racial issues; I’m a little white girl, what I have to say about such things is less important than what someone who is actually affected by said issues has to say. But I’m a queer feminist and I’m sure going to be outspoken about queer and/or feminist issues, whether they pertain to real life or to media and fiction (or how media and fiction pertain to real life, that’s one of my pet issues).
So as I start to construct research questions, yeah, a lot of them are probably going to slide into some of those “niches.” (It’s weird to think that an entire half of the world’s population, i.e. women, is still in so many circles considered a niche, but there you have it.) I’m interested in using my powers, i.e. research, for good. I’m not sure quite how yet, or how that will translate into whatever I end up doing with my degree, but I’ve always liked having lofty goals to shoot for.
As we haven’t properly started class yet, this is more of a brief reflection on research and me. I’m not one of those people who was afraid of this class; I’m Research Girl, that’s my superpower, my sigil is a cat with glasses named Research Cat and my words are “do your research.” I’m that kind of girl.
But it’s interesting to me to observe how “normals” perceive research. I’m visiting family right now; my parents are preparing to move my grandparents up nearer to where we live than where they currently live, and there are a lot of preparations that need doing. Apartment measurements, deciding what goes where and what they’ll put together. I’m not particularly adept at finding the most space-economical way to pack like my mother is or at all good at decisively saying what goes where like my dad is, but I am good at research, and I think I might actually get this from my grandmother, to an extent. She’s called the officials of the town they’re moving to to get all sorts of material, what goes on and where things are; she’s asked my parents to measure the exact dimensions of every room in the house so she can decide what furniture will go where and what furniture is worth bringing.
My dad told me this information and chuckled, like it was funny; I said that I don’t think it’s funny, I think it’s maybe a bit adorable but also completely worthwhile. And that’s the thing. I think there are probably those two types of people: those who do their research, and those who chuckle about it.