DSSRF17 ended a week ago, and since then I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about the summer (and our spring prep work), and cohesively reflect on the past eight weeks. It may sound cliche, but DSSRF has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career as a librarian. Courtney pointed this out early in the summer, but it bears repeating: one of the best parts of our program was getting to see the students work through the research process from beginning to end. As librarians, we so often see students for a one time research appointment, and we don’t know where the research goes after they walk out of our offices. In this case, we got to the point of seeing completed projects, which was truly gratifying. I’m also so heartened to know the students each have an idea of some way in which they can continue their research beyond the summer program, and that they don’t see this research as merely existing in a vacuum or as coming to an end as they might with a research paper in a semester long class.
Another great aspect of DSSRF has been the collaboration, which is a prominent theme in digital scholarship and digital humanities. I’m so pleased that we were able to bring that to fruition through this program: our students were great collaborators, in helping each other learn intricacies of different methods and platforms, and in making suggestions for how projects could be improved upon. The value of collaboration really showed itself in our visit to Gettysburg, as they were able to collaborate not only with each other, but also with students in another digital scholarship program and build on the idea of creating a community of practice. I know from talking to students both at Bucknell and Gettysburg that they enjoyed that experience, and I hope that can serve as a groundwork for future collaborations between our schools and reaching other institutions.
Speaking of collaboration, DSSRF was truly a collaborative effort between Library and IT staff. It would not have been possible without the generous help and expertise of so many of our colleagues in Research Services, Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship, and from other areas of the organization. It is remarkable that the vision we had for this program when we first started talking about it in January could come to fruition so quickly, and that is due in large part to the support we received from our Library and IT colleagues. And I could not have asked for a better co-facilitator for DSSRF than Courtney!
Finally, our students: we could not have asked for a better cohort – thank you Justin, Rennie, Tyler, and Minglu for a great summer!! Whether they knew it or not, they were our guinea pigs in DSSRF, and I’m so glad they decided to pursue this program. They embraced flexibility and a willingness to learn at every turn, and taught us so much about their research topics. They are energetic, inquisitive, driven young scholars who have proven that undergraduates can conduct meaningful, rigorous, independent research. And also, that you can have fun while doing research! My sense is that this was a transformative experience for our students, and something that we can build upon as we look for more ways to engage students in research.
The DSSRF17 cohort on their last day! L-R: Carrie Pirmann, Justin Guzman, Rennie Heza, Tyler Candelora, Minglu Xu, and Courtney Paddick.