08 Jul Connecting the Dots: A First-Gen Doctoral Candidate’s Connection with the Library
This testimony is one of a series describing how librarians are working with students to ensure they have access to and understanding of the many resources available.
By Casey Mullen, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology Department
I am a Ph.D. student from the Sociology Department and my research is related to Environmental Justice. I am teaching a course for the first time ever this fall called Challenges to Global Sustainability.
The first time I met Dale Larsen (Graduate and Undergraduate Services Librarian) he was a guest lecturer in my Research Methods course, teaching us how to utilize the library as a resource. I remember him because he was very friendly, enthusiastic about research, and incredibly informative about how to optimize library resources for research. He also showed us all of the resources that he gathered and featured on his library page. I remember he told me to keep him in mind as a source for help because of my focus on Environmental Sociology in graduate school.
The next time I was reminded of Dale was while I was the teaching assistant for the Environmental Sociology course. I was told Dale helped contribute to the syllabus used in that course, which I found impressive considering the student that told me that had adopted the syllabus from a grad student who taught the course before her! I learned that Dale was very helpful during the process of building that syllabus. Naturally, I kept his expertise in mind, and eventually, I found myself trying to adapt my own syllabus for an environmentally focused course.
I have been interested in specifically adding materials to the course that highlight Indigenous science/expertise and feminist perspectives from the Global South on matters of environmental sustainability.
I was not quite sure how to search for those topics correctly and reached out to Dale. He was eager to help me and sent over a video that showed how to navigate the library page. At first, I thought it was a pre-recorded instructional video that the library featured and I felt embarrassed for wasting his time with a silly question, but quickly I realized he was talking to me personally about the specific questions I asked about! That personal touch made me feel heard, as though my questions were valid, and that helping me was important to him.
This is especially meaningful because as a first-generation college student I am sometimes embarrassed to ask for help, but Dale made me feel grateful that I did! Instantly I felt reassured that the library is a dependable, quality resource to me as a graduate student and teacher, especially during a time of remote learning. He also connected me with a network of librarians and I have since been directed toward various search engines, keywords to consider, even given some articles and links to review, and of course, told to reach out for more support as I continue to cultivate my syllabus. Needless to say, I was incredibly satisfied and impressed with the help I received from the library!
Additionally, I am drafting my dissertation proposal this summer. My dissertation research will be an extension of my past research on air quality and environmental injustice in Salt Lake County and the nation. I will definitely reach out to Dale and other librarians when I need assistance because I am certain that he will go above and beyond to help me any way that he can! I am so grateful to have such a dedicated librarian who is excited and happy to help students and faculty.