"But I'm not an Engineer"...Collaboration between a Librarian and an Upper Division Project-Based Engineering Program
Since 2013, a librarian at Minnesota State University, Mankato has collaborated with faculty and students in an upper division project-based engineering program. While having several years of experience in university libraries plus advanced degrees in history, the librarian had a limited background in science, engineering, and technology, and lacked a formal engineering degree. At first glance, this match may appear to be a recipe for failure. Indeed, in those first few years, the librarian’s angst about the missing engineering degree caused many sleepless nights of worry and concern. However, there came a time when the words “but I am not an engineer” fell to the wayside as the librarian grew more confident and embraced the role of library liaison to the Integrated Engineering department and its project-based and co-op-based programs. This paper describes the partnership that went from self-doubt to success in supporting project teams of student engineers. The program operates at off-campus locations so providing service at a distance and developing electronic resources has been crucial for positive interactions with students and faculty. The vertically integrated student teams mean that there is some institutional memory in the student experience about the benefit of working with their librarian. This appreciation supports student learning of contextual research skills and abilities to describe their project information needs to a non-technical audience. While the successes did not happen overnight, the current status is of a positive working relationship where students understand the benefit of working with librarians, including non-engineering librarians, to solve their technical challenges. This paper presents our approach to building relationships between the library resources and engineering students and faculty, our strategies for success, and our future plans for collaboration.
Integrated Engineering, Library Services
2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Southworth, H., Bates, R., & Sleezer, R. (2022, June). “But I’m not an engineer...” Collaboration between a librarian and an upper division project-based engineering program. Paper presented at the 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/40493
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