UI Libraries aim to make a ‘scholarly impact’ on student research

The University of Iowa Libraries developed a new branch to support researchers and students more effectively.


Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

When University of Iowa Libraries saw increasing student involvement in research, each branch came together with their unique services to create a department aiming to better serve researchers and their teams.

The Scholarly Impact department is a continuation of UI support of developing research opportunities on campus to further the goals of students and faculty, said Sara Scheib, head librarian of Scholarly Impact.

“The new department is an opportunity to coordinate our efforts and develop innovative services to meet the demands of a rapidly changing research environment,” said Scheib in an email to The Daily Iowan. “We’re committed to increasing public access to information and to helping UI researchers to maximize the global impact of their research.”

Prior to the development of Scholarly Impact, Scheib was the Sciences Reference and Instruction Librarian. In her current position, Scheib said, she has the opportunity to engage with researchers for specific purposes, which includes working with others on new projects and services.

Scheib worked alongside two other librarians to make this new department possible. The project has been in development since a year ago, she said, as a way to reorganize library staff to better serve students and research.

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UI Libraries Data Services Manager Brian Westra joined the project in its planning stage. Westra said he hopes to help researchers benefit as much as possible from the data services at the UI Libraries by being a part of this new department.

“My hope is that data information literacy will be increasingly integrated across the curriculum, so that students from the UI have the skills and real-life experience in managing and sharing data to use wherever they go,” Westra said in an email to the DI. “The Libraries and other campus partners are deepening our collaborations to build a robust set of research data services, and I think that provides a foundation for continued growth and success for our students, faculty, and staff.”

Although Scholarly Impact is still in its beginning stages, Scheib said, it is already improving UI Libraries.

“We serve all fields of study, specializing in helping people publish their work, use open educational resources in the classroom, manage research data, and assess research,” she said. “The UI campus can [now] rely on our expertise and guidance when they need it, so they can get back to their real work of learning, teaching, and research.”

Scheib said a current departmental goal is to build a comprehensive catalog of all the publications authored by members of the UI community.

UI Libraries Scholarly Communications Librarian Mahrya Burnett said in an email to the DI that she is excited to be a part of the new department and appreciates its ability to help faculty and administrators make their work more available to the public.

“Open access publishing is a way to bring research out from behind paywalls, and I’m glad to help faculty find ways to publish open access without having to pay for the cost of publishing themselves,” she said.

Burnett said this new department was one way to bring visibility to the library’s work, as well as researchers. She said it has the power to bring together the support for research that wasn’t utilized by UI Libraries previously.

“I see this department gaining a campus-wide reputation as the place to go to make faculty and student research more impactful,” Burnett said.