Iteration and Intention Within the Library

by Katherine Chen ’23Photo of Katherine Chen

Last year around this time I wrote a blog post about my experiences with the library and what I learned as a first year at Cal. Now, I’m writing a blog post about what I learned as an Undergraduate Library Fellow, all from my bedroom.

I applied to the Undergraduate Library Fellowship during the end of my first year at Cal because I wanted to not only learn more about library resources and design, I also wanted to share them with my peers and better understand how my peers viewed the library. The peer to peer activities and workshops my ULF cohort did together showed me that library resources are not accessible to everyone, with one activity in particular standing out to me. We were given a task to find a resource through the library website using whatever means we could think of, I volunteered to go first and had a time limit of five minutes. Unfortunately, I spent those entire five minutes going in circles; I could not figure out how to navigate the website to find the resource and I just became more confused and discouraged the longer I tried. Whether it be because of faulty design or just because students were not aware of such resources, students were not taking full advantage of all the amazing resources the library had to offer. From the thousands of databases offered, subject librarians who you can meet with to help with your research and assignments, to gaining access to research articles found on Google Scholar— the library offers so much but students were not utilizing them.

Once I learned more, I quickly wanted to share everything with everyone, but I realized I could not just start there. As a cohort, we learned to approach the design process with empathy, remembering that the aim is to help people, not just solve problems. Thus, I first had to learn where students had these gaps in library resources and student awareness in order to help them. 

With my affinity group, we worked to craft a survey aiming to learn about people’s research methods and practices when they use Berkeley library services. With this, we hoped to understand the gaps in research knowledge and how to help students overcome those gaps. Crafting the survey, however, was not a walk in the park. 

Brainstorming questions came relatively easy— it was creating the questions with intention while also designing them with the back end in mind that was not so easy. We went through several iterations of the survey and scrapped many questions throughout because we realized they were either not conducive to our intentions with the survey, or the question would not give us information to learn from. One question in particular was very tricky: what types of resources users rely on the most. This question went through at least three different phases. The first iteration of the question had issues because the potential answers would not tell us where the gaps in research were. The second iteration used jargon that most students would not understand, and the third iteration was too long of a question to ask. Ultimately, we refined the question to what it is today (pictured below) with the help of the wonderful mentors, but the journey was not easy.

Survey question: Rank the types of sources you rely on most.

Through this process and with the help of the mentors and my affinity group, I learned about the importance of iteration and intention. If a project is important, you will not work on it once then call it done. It will require your prolonged attention and energy, and with that comes constant refinement. As you refine your project, you have to remember the intentions of it— in fact, that is a guiding principle of the iterative process. What are your goals with this project and how is the project leading you towards accomplishing those goals? This question helped me frame my approach to the project and became a guide that I turned to whenever I needed aid.

My time as a fellow has been incredibly rewarding. Not only have I met wonderful people (special shoutout to my mentors Kristina, Nicole, and Kiyoko!) and learned more about the library resources, I learned about new ways of thinking that I will bring along with me wherever I go. 


ProQuest TDM Studio

ProQuest TDM Studio
Find source materials for TDM research

One of the most thorny aspects of embarking on a text data mining project is collecting the materials for your corpus. If you are interested in text mining newspapers, scholarly journals, dissertations, or primary sources, ProQuests’s TDM Studio may help you address this challenge.

TDM Studio provides a virtual environment in which you can run text data mining analyses on large datasets curated from library-subscribed ProQuest content. TDM Studio is a new research tool offered by the Library. 

Content available in TDM Studio includes selected current and historical newspapers, dissertations and theses, scholarly articles, and primary source material that the Library has subscribed to through ProQuest. Some coding experience (e.g., Python) and familiarity with Jupyter notebooks would be necessary to run your analyses. You must first request an account before being given access to the environment.

Quick Links


Workshop: HTML/CSS Toolkit for Digital Projects

HTML/CSS Toolkit for Digital Projects
Monday, April 12th, 3:10pm-4:30pm
Online: Register to receive the Zoom link
Stacy Reardon and Kiyoko Shiosaki

If you’ve tinkered in WordPress, Google Sites, or other web publishing tools, chances are you’ve wanted more control over the placement and appearance of your content. With a little HTML and CSS under your belt, you’ll know how to edit “under the hood” so you can place an image exactly where you want it, customize the formatting of text, or troubleshoot copy & paste issues. By the end of this workshop, interested learners will be well prepared for a deeper dive into the world of web design. Register here.

Upcoming Workshops in this Series:

  • Check back for Fall 2021!

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.


Workshop: Text Data Mining and Publishing

Text Data Mining and Publishing
Tuesday, March 16th, 11:10am-12:30pm
Online: Register to receive the Zoom link
Rachael Samberg and Stacy Reardon

If you are working on a computational text analysis project and have wondered how to legally acquire, use, and publish text and data, this workshop is for you! We will teach you 5 legal literacies (copyright, contracts, privacy, ethics, and special use cases) that will empower you to make well-informed decisions about compiling, using, and sharing your corpus. By the end of this workshop, and with a useful checklist in hand, you will be able to confidently design lawful text analysis projects or be well positioned to help others design such projects. Register here.

Upcoming Workshops in this Series – Spring 2021:

  • By Design: Graphics & Images Basics
  • HTML/CSS Toolkit for Digital Projects

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.


Workshop: Creating Web Maps with ArcGIS Online

Creating Web Maps with ArcGIS Online
Tuesday, March 2, 3:10pm-4:30pm
Online: Register to receive the Zoom link
Susan Powell and Erica Newcome

Want to make a web map, but not sure where to start? This short workshop will introduce key mapping terms and concepts and give an overview of popular platforms used to create web maps. We’ll explore one of these platforms (ArcGIS Online) in more detail. You’ll get some hands-on practice adding data, changing the basemap, and creating interactive map visualizations. At the end of the workshop you’ll have the basic knowledge needed to create your own simple web maps. Register here.

Upcoming Workshops in this Series – Spring 2021:

  • Text Data Mining and Publishing
  • By Design: Graphics & Images Basics
  • HTML/CSS Toolkit for Digital Projects

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.


Workshop: Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects

Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects
Tuesday, November 10th, 11:00am–12:30pm
Online: Register to receive the Zoom link
Rachael Samberg and Tim Vollmer

This training will help you navigate the copyright, fair use, and usage rights of including third-party content in your digital project. Whether you seek to embed video from other sources for analysis, post material you scanned from a visit to the archives, add images, upload documents, or more, understanding the basics of copyright and discovering a workflow for answering copyright-related digital scholarship questions will make you more confident in your publication. We will also provide an overview of your intellectual property rights as a creator and ways to license your own work. Register at bit.ly/dp-berk

Upcoming Workshops in this Series 2020:

  • Check back later!

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.


Workshop: Web Platforms for Digital Projects

Web Platforms for Digital Projects
Tuesday, October 13th, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Online: Register to receive the Zoom link
Stacy Reardon and Kiyoko Shiosaki

How do you go about publishing a digital book, a multimedia project, a digital exhibit, or another kind of digital project? In this workshop, we’ll take a look at use cases for common open-source web platforms WordPress, Drupal, Omeka, and Scalar, and we’ll talk about hosting, storage, and asset management. There will be time for hands-on work in the platform most suited to your needs. No coding experience is necessary. Register at bit.ly/dp-berk

Upcoming Workshops in this Series 2020:

  • Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.


Workshop: The Long Haul: Best Practices for Making Your Digital Project Last

The Long Haul: Best Practices for Making Your Digital Project Last
Tuesday, September 22nd, 11:00am-12:00pm
Online: Register to receive the Zoom link
Scott Peterson and Erin Foster

You’ve invested a lot of work in creating a digital project, but how do you ensure it has staying power? We’ll look at choices you can make at the beginning of project development to influence sustainability, best practices for documentation and asset management, and how to sunset your project in a way that ensures long-term access for future researchers. Register at bit.ly/dp-berk

Upcoming Workshops in this Series 2020:

  • Web Platforms for Digital Projects
  • Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.


Workshop: Publish Digital Books & Open Educational Resources with Pressbooks

Publish Digital Books & Open Educational Resources with Pressbooks
Tuesday, September 15th, 10:00am-11:30am
Online: Register to receive the Zoom link
Tim Vollmer and Stacy Reardon

If you’re looking to self-publish work of any length and want an easy-to-use tool that offers a high degree of customization, allows flexibility with publishing formats (EPUB, MOBI, PDF), and provides web-hosting options, Pressbooks may be great for you. Pressbooks is often the tool of choice for academics creating digital books, open textbooks, and open educational resources, since you can license your materials for reuse however you desire. Learn why and how to use Pressbooks for publishing your original books or course materials. You’ll leave the workshop with a project already under way! Register at bit.ly/dp-berk

Upcoming Workshops in this Series 2020:

  • The Long Haul: Best Practices for Making Your Digital Project Last
  • Web Platforms for Digital Projects
  • Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects

Please see bit.ly/dp-berk for details.


Stephanie Reyna – Fellowship Reflections

My name is Stephanie Reyna (she/her/hers) and I graduated from UC Berkeley in the Spring of
2020. I double majored in English and Anthropology and one of my most cherished experiences
as an undergrad was being a Library Fellow.

I applied to be a Library Fellow my Junior year in hopes that as a Senior, I would be able to
make a difference in the undergraduate community. When I read through the fellowship
description, I knew that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to carry out my research
project. I knew that I wanted to make a resourceful guide that would be available to the English
Undergraduate community; a guide that could be used not only by English majors but by
anyone writing a paper and needing guidance with citations.

The first semester of my fellowship consisted of further developing my research skills and
navigating the wealth of information the library has to offer. My relationship with the library and
my understanding of what a library does completely changed. I learned about the various
databases that are accessible and how much information is actually available to students.
Learning about databases such as Kanopy, OED, and having access to the full Chicago Style
Manual would have been extremely useful in the beginning of my undergraduate career. I know
many students do not know the types of resources that are available and as a fellow, students’
have a unique opportunity to learn about librarianship and help bring awareness to the
undergraduate community.

With the help of my mentor, Gisele Tanasse, the Film and Media Services Librarian, I created a
survey that was sent out by the English Department Advisor, Katie Schramm, to all the declared
English majors. From this survey, I learned that the majority of students preferred a Library
Guide on MLA format, footnotes, works cited, Chicago Style, and APA. As an English major, I
knew that the majority of students write their papers in MLA format, therefore, the main focus
was kept on MLA but I included links to Chicago style and APA.

The second semester of the fellowship, I focused on collecting the best resources possible and
designing the guide. I wanted to make the guide as visually appealing and digestible as possible.
I created examples drawing from my own academic papers and used images from Unsplash. I
created this guide in the hopes of bridging a gap I saw within the English undergraduate
community.

Moreover, the fellowship had team building exercises and I was surrounded by brilliant students
and librarians who mentored and supported our ideas until they were realized. By the end of my
fellowship, I was completely inspired by librarianship, so much so that I plan to pursue a career
as a librarian. This fellowship not only helped me make a difference but it has inspired me to
continue on the path of public service. I hope that the next cohort of Library Fellows have as an
enriching experience as I did.