Editor Note Reflection

Merging Into the Tenure Track

Learn more about Hailley's LibParlor origin story and how being on a tenure track impacts the way she approaches her work.

We are happy to introduce our first editor post. Hailley Fargo is currently the Student Engagement Librarian at Penn State.

I’ve been a librarian for a little more than a year. I started off as an academic librarian, with faculty status, in a non-tenure track position. As a reference and instruction librarian who worked primarily in the evenings, public service was priority number one. I was encouraged to think about and pursue research and publications but only when I had time for it. When I did find the time, I felt a little guilty. I felt like I was taking away time that should be spent helping patrons or preparing to help patrons. That guilty feeling also fueled my insecurity about how to do this research — where to begin, how to craft a research agenda, who to ask to proofread drafts, and good starting spots for publications. So when I met the editors of what would become LibParlor, I saw this project as a way to dive into the world of LIS research on the side and to learn a lot along the way.

Hailley working in the Penn State Knowledge Commons
Public service in action: Hailley working in the Penn State Knowledge Commons, September 2016.

But since our initial discussion at ACRL, my position has changed. Now my tenure clock is ticking. As of a July 1, I moved into the Student Engagement Librarian position, a new tenure track position at Penn State. Research is calling out to me, asking me to carve out that time, build a coherent research agenda, and start getting my name out there. LibParlor takes on a new meaning for me. These posts create the intentional reflection space I need to process the work I’ve done, see where I start, and then later on, where I end up.   

Earlier this year, I learned about some service changes our library was hoping to make. The idea was to create a suite of services for peer-to-peer support where those services would intersect and intertwine. Undergrads helping each other learn and grow in one space in the library. Penn State already has peer-to-peer learning, such as our Writing Tutors and Tech Tutors (assistance with using software from Excel to Photoshop). The library wanted to bring those services into the same space and add one other service: peer research help. As someone who worked as a writing tutor during my days of undergrad and saw the benefits from learning how to teach others and communicate ideas, I immediately latched onto the idea of peer research consultants. Students we could train to be undergrad-librarians-in-training, helping answer and teach reference and research skills, and gain a more holistic view of the library. As I did an environmental scan of other Big Ten schools, without a library science graduate program, I saw that other peer research consultant positions existed, but none had the collaborative or cohesive program that we hoped to create in our space.

Now in my new position, I see this new suite of services as an opportunity to start some really interesting research. My tenure hat is on when discussing this space — how can I publish on the developing/creating/? process and then, hopefully, the success of the space? What steps do I need to do now to ensure intentional assessment of space, what meaningful training needs to be created for our peer research consultants, and what IRB steps should I take when getting this space off the ground? We are building this service from the ground up and in collaboration with two other areas on campus. Not only could I publish in the library science world, I could write with the Writing Center and Tech Tutor coordinators and publish with them in their respective disciplines. I’ve always thought of myself as an intentional person, but with tenure on the brain, I feel the intensity increase, ever so slightly.

I’m trying to dig up research as I go and tuck it away in a folder for an eventual lit review. I’m trying to document the things we do, the roadblocks we face, and the successes we have for an eventual, “Here’s how we did it” sort of paper. Assessment is at the front of my mind, and I’m trying to make sure the way we assess the space is sound and logical, not put together last minute and without IRB approval.

It’s a daunting process for sure. But the project is ripe with opportunities. Not only for me as a researcher/librarian, but more importantly, for the undergraduate students at Penn State. As someone who is committed to undergraduate students, this space promises to deliver success and incredible learning opportunities. I hope to use LibParlor to talk about this project more and the process of research-while-building-something-new.

So, let’s keep the conversation going. We’d love for you to comment below or talk about this topic on Twitter using #libparlor, or submit your own proposal! I’ve got a question to get you started.

  • Are you currently working on any new projects where you’re keeping publication in mind? If so, what has that process been like?

Featured image “Street Sign Thru Traffic” [CC0 Public Domain], via Public Domain Pictures.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

3 comments on “Merging Into the Tenure Track

  1. Pingback: Nurturing Patience, Building Community – The Librarian Parlor

  2. Pingback: Where is all the research about community college libraries? – The Librarian Parlor

  3. Pingback: Tenure Track Meets Burnout – The Librarian Parlor

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