Inspiring Advanced Research by Cultivating Information Literacy
An Interview with a Mover & Shaker

Stephanie Davis-Kahl is the Scholarly Communications Librarian and Professor at The Ames Library at Illinois Wesleyan University. Her role includes providing leadership for scholarly communication programs, acting as the liaison to nine departments, including the Design, Entrepreneurship & Technology program, and serving as the Managing Faculty Co-Editor of the Undergraduate Economic Review.

                                                                                                        

By Karen Phillips, SVP of Global Resources at SAGE Publishing
 

  Stephanie Davis-Kahl is the Scholarly Communications Librarian and Professor at The Ames Library at Illinois Wesleyan University. Her role includes providing leadership for scholarly communication programs, acting as the liaison to nine departments, including the Design, Entrepreneurship & Technology program, and serving as the Managing Faculty Co-Editor of the Undergraduate Economic Review.

In 2014, Stephanie was honored as a 2014 Mover & Shaker by the Library Journal. Given SAGE’s proud support of the Academic Movers & Shakers program, I reached out to Stephanie, hoping she could share some of her wisdom with the LJ community.


1. You've dedicated much of your work to helping students go beyond a foundation of information literacy and enter the world of advanced research (and even publishing!). How did you begin this work?

Completely by chance - I was a new liaison to the Economics department when the advisor of one of its undergraduate journals asked me to be a co-advisor for the journal since the library was hosting it in our institutional repository. It was a great opportunity and helped me better understand how we can connect larger issues of scholarly communication with information literacy. Also, it’s a way to introduce the economics of higher education, specifically with regards to scholarship and research, to students majoring in economics.

  

2. How do you get students interested in advanced research and publishing and how do you keep them motivated?

The faculty are absolutely key; I follow their lead and personalize my work with students as much as possible to what they're interested in, what they're working on, etc. Some faculty in my liaison departments require students in upper-division courses to meet with me, which is a great opportunity to really dig into what the student is investigating. The faculty members in the departments I work with are generous with their time and expertise, helping me understand the different habits and values in each discipline, which is valuable (especially since I have a number of new departments this coming year).


3. Tell us about your work as the Managing Faculty Co-Editor of an undergraduate academic journal at your institution. What does this role entail?

My role is educational as well as technical – I introduce the concept of open access to students and discuss the economic pressures libraries face to provide access to scholarship and research. Students (and some faculty) may not understand that the landscape of scholarly communication is complex, with different actors with perhaps diverging goals, and that it's an industry in and of itself. The technical piece is related to bepress, our publishing platform. I introduce the student editors and reviewers to the peer review system and I'm the liaison between the editors and bepress.


4. You wear many hats at your university, including those already mentioned, providing leadership for the digital commons program at IWU, and more. How do you balance all of your roles?

I have no idea. If I stopped to think about it and tried to parse it out, I have a feeling it would all just fall apart!

Seriously - I've learned the hard way to say no to opportunities and I've also learned the value of connection and synergy between projects, committees, and research. For example, I'm now the Collections Librarian in addition to my work as Scholarly Communications Librarian, so my sabbatical project will explore collection practices, attitudes and goals at small private liberal arts colleges. Following my interest in undergraduate research, I'm co-chairing IWU's Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee. I've also taken on liaison responsibilities (e.g., collection development, instruction, and consultations) for the Sciences at IWU, so a good deal of the next year will be spent getting to know the faculty and students in those departments, which will directly inform my interest in open access and undergraduate research. I also live my life by ruthless list-making and copious amounts of caffeine.


5. How has your professional life changed since being honored as an LJ Mover & Shaker?

I've been privileged to receive invitations to speak both regionally and nationally, which has been a great learning experience. The best thing, though, was meeting other Movers & Shakers at the photo shoot at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, and then seeing the issue come out talking about all the different ways we're serving and supporting our communities.

 

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