Michelle Bass joined the University of Chicago Library on July 1 as the new Science Research Services Librarian.
Michelle has a MSI from the University of Michigan School of Information and PhD from the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Education. Michelle held a University Library Associate, Graduate Student Assistantship position at the Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan from August 2013-June 2015.
Barbara Kern interviewed Michelle about her experiences and plans for her work at UChicago.
How do you envision working with faculty and students in your new role here?
One of my main goals in this new position is to serve as a welcoming “concierge” between faculty and students and the information professionals working in the library, particularly when it comes to data information literacy and data management services. I want to be knowledgeable about the topics and discussions going on across departments and fields of study as they relate to research services and create opportunities for me to share and suggest new technologies and databases, software options, and trends with faculty and students. I hope to be involved in orientation sessions for new graduate students in all science departments and continue my participation and relationship building with students and faculty throughout the year through my attendance and contributions to monthly seminars and brown-bag lunches across centers and schools. Getting students interested and invested in the importance of data information literacy and research service best practices will be a main goal complemented by building relationships with faculty who are interested in becoming advocates and partners in sharing a passion, and respect, for research services.
Michelle, what originally got you interested in science libraries?
This is one of those times when I can say “I blame my mother” and mean it as a wonderful compliment. My mother has worked at medical libraries for nearly forty years. I knew that there were other kinds of libraries out there in the world beyond my local public library and school’s media center growing up. However, my interest in science librarianship as a professional option was really cultivated over the past two years through my experiences working at the Taubman Health Sciences Library at the University of Michigan and networking with many medical and science librarians at national and regional conferences.
What are some of the highlights of your time as a Graduate Student Assistantship at the Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan?
Traditional health sciences library-focused highlights included instruction sessions with students in their first through fourth years of medical school and the opportunity to work with the Associate Dean of Medical Student Education to craft many of these sessions. I was the information professional lead on a systematic review on the effects of bullying on LGBTQ students and worked with a Public Health and School of Information professor on creating a data management plan for an extensive scoping review of consumer health informatics literature. I was also encouraged and able to take continuing education and professional development courses including PubMed for Trainers and Expert Searching. As a member of the social committee, I was a co-organizer of the Donut Madness bracket challenge during the NCAA March Madness tournament and am proud that this delicious event is now an annual tradition at Taubman Health Sciences Library.
What are the key challenges or trends that you see in libraries today?
A key challenge facing academic libraries today is expanding the concept of what defines a library. For me, a library is defined by the people who work in them and the skills and information they make accessible in addition to the materials they hold within their walls. Importantly, they are not confined by the walls of their physical library spaces but rather move and travel with the services and knowledge shared by information professionals representing their library as institutions wherever they go. With respect to the librarianship profession, I think a major opportunity is presenting itself as a generation of librarians prepare for retirement. The curriculum of my mother’s master in library science degree and my own share few, if any, similarities beyond the fact that they are both American Library Association accredited. It is up to both incoming professionals and long-standing pillars of the profession to proactively connect with one another to ensure institutional and professional knowledge is shared and cultivated to help rising leaders respond to the challenges ahead.
What do you like best about Chicago (the city) so far?
While Chicago definitely falls under the “big city” category, I have found that the distinct neighborhoods within the city make it much more manageable and inviting. I decided to live in Hyde Park to be able to walk to work, and I have truly enjoyed getting to know my new neighborhood. I’ve always lived in the suburbs and had to drive to shops and grocery stores; now, Treasure Island is a 7 minute walk and Hyde Park Produce is 15. The Museum of Science and Industry is 2 blocks away and I’m a short(ish) bus or train ride away from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium. So, a few weeks in, I have to say that getting to know the Hyde Park neighborhood has been the best part about Chicago, so far.
UChicago faculty and students are encouraged to contact Michelle with questions or requests for assistance with science research, teaching and learning. You can reach Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-702-8774.