MLIS Graduate Portfolio

Justin Barnett

Application of Research

Professor Jennifer Arns, in SLIS705 (Introduction to Research in Library and Information Science), provided the class with a trove of data regarding the presence of Hispanic/Latino material availability in US public libraries, and posed the question: "what factors seem to coincide with the availability of these materials?". While we were not tasked with obtaining the information ourselves, this assignment required us to consider methods of evaluating raw data, understand and condense an enormous amount of findings into useful material for answering a specific question, then explain that question to readers in our final document.

I have included this assignment because nothing else in the program came close to working with this same amount of raw information. Unsurprisingly, much of a graduate program involved research and student-driven learning, but this piece exemplified the sort of "massive data pile" one often associates with the concept of "research," and illustrates my competence in understanding, parsing, and presenting that data to later users. In addition, the constructed nature of the assignment and the provided data required us to consider the flaws in a dataset and ways research may be unintentionally compromised, which is an important aspect of interpreting it.

Reflection and Analysis

I have never been especially interested in public library work (outside of a general sense that "working in a library, whatever the type, is better than not working in a library), but examining the material representation in libraries via this data was fascinating to me, and had me considering how we, as information professionals, can ensure we are providing materials and representation for all of our patrons in reasonable proportions. It is important that librarians be able to look at our own collections, policies, and biases not simply from an insider's perspective, but with factual information we can compare to colleagues and similar instutions.

One thing this showed me is how much information is actually available, especially via the Institute of Museum and Library Services public library survey, with which one can look at a community learn about it in an abstract. The same data that helped inform our project here was something I was able to later draw on in my Public Libraries course, for the project I presented as a leadership example. Familiarity with research data sources might not be as important as knowing how to find and understand them, but it certainly doesn't hurt when it comes to looking at communities I might serve in the future.

Raw Research Data and Tables

Also included with this analysis was our research data and raw results, via an Excel document, which can be viewed via the embed below, or downloaded for full viewing.