Submitted by Mary Hitchcock, Midwest Chapter/MLA President 2015
“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.” – Wernher von Braun
Daylight Saving’s Time, sunshine, and multiple days of 40+ degree weather have finally arrived in Madison. We can finally start seeing patches of grass and the lakes are beginning to lose their ice cover. The cycle of seasons to me is like pulling back roadblocks and exposing those awesome discoveries.
If you and I sit down and talk, you will soon realize there are a few things I can ramble on about easily: hockey, genealogy, and conducting research. I think one of the things that makes librarianship such a fabulous career is the fact that we get to constantly go on treasure hunts researching information. However, one of the things that tends to be a bit more difficult for some within the profession is actually figuring out what we want to personally research to either better the patron’s experience or advance the profession or how to even get started. This is where our friends come in to help.
We all have questions that pop in our heads during meetings, at conferences, or singing in the shower. Questions about things we need to find the answer to, such as “why is it like this” or “do patrons have a better understanding when doing X,Y,Z?” If we are lucky, we have coworkers we can bounce potential research ideas off of and get excited to undertake the project…only to have the excitement wane over time. It’s happened to me numerous times. When I was watching the grass peek out from the blanket of snow and thinking about projects I would like to investigate, a question struck me. How many other Midwest Chapter members are facing the same problem of getting help researching a topic or having someone to bounce the idea off of to see if it’s viable? I bet quite a few of us!
So I would like to give everyone reading something to ruminate on over the next few weeks or months. As a profession we grow from the ideas, projects, and encouragement of each other. We see that in our posters, papers, and research we undertake. If you have a research idea or project you’d like to do, what’s stopping you? Is it time? Is it project management? Is it just not wanting to work alone? These are reasons why we have an excellent treasure trove of skills within the Midwest Chapter.
I can almost guarantee there is someone out there who is also interested in the idea or project that’s floating around in your cerebral cortex. We just need to ask if anyone out there is interested too!
I encourage all members to use the listserv to communicate those research ideas and projects to see if we can’t network and expand our knowledge and friends. If the project fizzles out, it’s ok—dust it off and start again when things are not so busy. Research is a process that is flexible and mutable, but it’s something that we shouldn’t overlook, not only for our curiosity but for the advancement of our profession. Happy researching!