Library Scholars say summer research projects enhance their own skills, help peers discover resources

from left are Amber Dierking and Xavier Golden standing in the Mary Idema Pew Library
Amber Dierking, left, and Xavier Golden stand in the Mary Idema Pew Library; Dierking serves as mentor to Golden, who is a Library Scholar.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

Students participating in the Library Scholars Summer Program said they are enhancing their research skills while working on projects that will help their peers better utilize University Libraries' vast resources and collections.

Similar to other programs offered by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, students selected as Library Scholars earn a stipend to work for 12 weeks with a library faculty mentor on a research project.

Xavier Golden, a senior who is majoring in art education, is developing a resource guide for K-12 teachers who might find stumbling blocks while conducting online research for lesson plans. 

"It's a guide with links to articles and journals that will help teachers, as they graduate from Grand Valley, to tap into resources without having issues," said Golden, son of GVSU mathematics professor John Golden. "It's a shock when you realize that, as an alumnus, you don't have access to some of the resources you used as a student."

He has interviewed teachers about their processes when developing lesson plans and said connecting with professionals has made him more conscious of the daily tasks involved when leading a classroom.

headshot of Daisy Soos
Daisy Soos is a Library Scholar, working on a research project with mentor Leigh Rupinski.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Daisy Soos, who has a double major in history and nursing, is creating a video resource guide on studying history objectively and accurately. For example, Soos said, in the early 20th century, many people believed in the theory of social Darwinism, which was used to make arguments about racial superiority.

"We now know that 99.9 percent of human genetics is similar, so that theory is not true anymore," Soos said. "We must always think critically about the historical information we encounter and question whether it is true or not. And aiming to find the truth enables us to make more accurate interpretations and well-informed arguments about the past.”

Leigh Rupinski, archivist for public services and community engagement, serves as a mentor to Soos and said one of the biggest misconceptions students have is that every primary source is accurate.

"Daisy's project will go a long way to teach that something might be accurate in research but not truthful," Rupinski said. "I'm excited to see it in the classroom."

Amber Dierking, liaison librarian in liberal arts, serves as Golden's mentor. It's her second summer as a Library Scholars mentor.

"I wasn't involved as an undergraduate in research, I did in my graduate work," Dierking said. "It would have made a huge difference to me and I wish I had that option as an undergraduate. I want to do my part to help Grand Valley students."

Soos said her work on this project has already made her a better student. In the fall semester, she will take a class that involves editing submissions for the Grand Valley Journal of History.

"When the semester starts, I'll have a better understanding of the history discipline itself and the research process. With this background, I'll also have a better understanding of the journal submissions," she said.