Interview with the Authors: Gerrity and Lanning on Conducting Original Research

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

November 28, 2023

Caitlin Gerrity and Scott Lanning co-wrote the forthcoming book Conducting Original Research for Your Library. This is an important topic, because librarians often make decisions that require research and because we support our users with access to research. 

If you will be embarking on a research project, or just want a refresher on research methods, this book is for you. 

1. Please introduce yourselves to our readers.

Caitlin Gerrity, Director, School Library Endorsement Program, Southern Utah University

Caitlin is a former school librarian, Associate Professor, lifelong learner, and lover of libraries. She currently teaches college-level research and information literacy skills and directs the School Library Endorsement Program, which prepares teacher librarians for the State of Utah and beyond. Her research investigates best practices in school librarianship related to collaboration, information literacy instruction, educational standards, and professional development, especially as it concerns student preparedness for higher education. 

Scott Lanning, Assessment and Reference Librarian, Southern Utah University

Scott has been a reference and instruction librarian for many years. He teaches future school librarians in SUU’s certification program, works the reference desk, liaises with the School of Business, and occasionally finds himself doing research where numbers need to be analyzed.

2. Briefly summarize Conducting Original Research for Your Library.

This book combines elements of multiple traditional text topics into one concise manual for librarians; addressing 1) how to do research in the field, 2) types of research methods, and 3) how to run and interpret statistical tests. This text is a practical approach for working professionals looking to supplement a skill area not typically taught in their graduate programs. The application of this book goes beyond “how-to” and addresses a critical area of need for librarians. Whether serving as a refresher on research methods or filling a gap in their professional knowledge, this text will facilitate the important work done in libraries every day. The book is an introductory guide and reference book with short, to-the-point information that librarians will refer to often to help them at any stage of a research project. Beyond just “how-to,” it will help them choose an appropriate research method that best fits their unique needs. It will also help librarians design and execute an entire research project, and serve as a reference manual to answer specific questions. From research ethics to statistical significance and everything in-between, this primer is the point-of-need resource for all librarians.

3. Why did you decide to write this book?

Librarians of all kinds need quick and reliable answers to problem-solve in the workplace. This book will help librarians perform original research in order to solve problems and answer questions about their libraries and services. Between them, the authors have worked in public, school, and academic libraries. In each of these settings, they have experienced the need to helm research studies and, in brushing up on their own research skills, wished a text like this one existed! The Masters of Library Information Science (MLIS) is the terminal degree for librarians. Extensive education and experience in research methods is far more typical of PhD and other Doctorate programs, and yet, school, public, and academic librarians with an MLIS often need to engage in this type of rigorous research to support and advocate for their libraries, meet tenure requirements, or participate in publication efforts. 

4. In what ways do you see librarians conducting original research?

Library professionals are educators, multi-tasking public servants, and defenders of intellectual freedom. They are continually engaged in research for advocacy, problem solving, and supporting the profession. This book will empower librarians to formalize and further the important work in which they are already engaged. When writing this book, we were inspired by the following quote from David R. Lankes: “If you want a future of libraries, it is within you, the librarians.” By distilling the complexities of the formalized research process into a singular, accessible text, we hope to empower and elevate the hard work of librarians everywhere.

5. What are two things you hope all readers take away?

Librarians are essential and their day-to-day work is to be celebrated and shared.

6. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our upcoming publication!

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Dr. Lauren Hays is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri, and a frequent presenter and interviewer on topics related to libraries and librarianship. Please read Lauren’s other posts relevant to special librarians. Take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterprise, and GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all types, sizes and budgets.

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