January 22, 2020

University of Miami: “Pioneering Librarians Shine in their U-LINK Roles”

From the University of Miami:

At the first Team Science Workshop three years ago, Angela Clark felt uneasy. The librarian at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science didn’t know what she could add to the inaugural University of Miami Laboratory for Integrative Knowledge, or U-LINK, team she had been assigned to support.

After all, it was no secret that librarians had been embedded in the initial five U-LINK teams as an afterthought—after the teams were awarded the first $40,000 Phase 1 grants designed to help them develop the cohesion and a common language needed to tackle complex problems.

“In the beginning I felt very uncomfortable about speaking up,” Clark recalled. “It was a huge learning curve. You have to do the research, read all the articles, participate in all the meetings, to get your base knowledge.”

Yet, last Friday, at U-LINK’s third Team Science Workshop, Clark, who so far has served on four U-LINK teams, discussed how librarians can help move projects from Phase I to Phase II like the seasoned and valued collaborator she has become—a unique role that the workshop highlighted as a critical element of U-LINK’s early successes. Although the ongoing Phase II grants of $150,000 a year for up to two years were designed to advance the most promising proposals to the stage where they would attract external funding, five U-LINK projects already have received a total of more than $6 million in external support.

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The first librarians assigned to U-LINK teams exhibited their own courage, Morgan said, after she and Kelly Miller, associate dean for learning and research services, dreamed up the idea of library embeds during a casual conversation just weeks before the inaugural team science workshop.

“They really were pioneers,” Morgan said. “They had to take a leap of faith because we didn’t really know what we expected the librarians to do, except to have a front-row seat on the generation of interdisciplinary knowledge to address a grand societal challenge. So they had to be OK with being uncomfortable because there was no script for them to follow.”

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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