By Melissa Rayner
Hey, you! Have you had a chance to check out Gale U yet? We’re very excited and are pretty sure you’ll like what you see! If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to drop by our virtual campus, we encourage you to take a quick peek at www.gale.com/university.
There, you can browse our unique campus, find the people to whom you most relate, or those who remind you most of the people who use your library. Each of these people has a story to tell you about how he or she uses Gale resources to address challenges and further scholarship. We hope you will then take their shared experiences and apply them to the real-life people your library serves everyday.
Every Monday, we’ll pick one Gale U resident to explore in depth as part of our Getting to Know U blog series. Today, let’s talk with Elizabeth, who is a professor of English Literature.
“Oh, hello. You’ve caught me at a bit of a strange time,” Elizabeth says, taking off her wire-rimmed glasses and passing them from one hand to the other. “I’m in a bit of a hurry, but I… suppose I could use your help. Yes, please take a seat.”
You somewhat hesitantly step into her pristine office, which is free of clutter save for bookshelves that are packed to the brim and a few scant posters on the wall.
Elizabeth sets her glasses onto her large oak desk and sinks into a worn leather office chair. Again, she motions for you to take a seat, and you comply. “I have a meeting with the Dean in…” She glances at the antique clock sitting atop her desk. “… eighteen minutes. Mind if I run over the high points while you’re here?”
You nod, but otherwise keep silent.
“Great! Well, I’m up for tenure this term, and the Dean has asked me to present my case for consideration. I plan to start by reminding him of my service on the department’s curriculum committee as part of my commitment to seeing the university’s Department of Literature grow, thrive, and become more effective than ever. Well, the Dean is on the committee with me, so I don’t feel as if I need to tell him too much about my responsibilities there, right?”
“Sounds good so far,” you offer encouragingly.
Elizabeth nods and continues. “The other two areas I must mention are research and teaching. I thought I could tie those together to show how important the students’ success is to me. You see, my passion is Victorian Literature, and I share that with students in my graduate course. I require my students to become intimately familiar with complex and historical sources as well as contextual documents to aid their interpretations. It may seem like a tall order, asking students to decipher such high-level sources, but I also know that many plan to go into academia for themselves and benefit greatly from learning the research process as early as they possibly can. In fact, I often share my own research with them to show them what is possible when they’re looking in the right places and in the right way. I’ll even be bringing two of my most promising students along with me to co-present this research at NACBS this fall. After all, the best way to teach them is to allow them to have these experiences themselves, both inside and outside of the classroom. Is this good? Am I still on the right track?”
“You’re doing great. I wish I were in one of your graduate courses!”
Elizabeth offers a rushed smile and continues. “I also teach two introductory literature courses per term, and, while I cannot delve as deep as I do for my graduate courses, I also refuse to let my undergraduate students off the hook when it comes to conducting research. Instead of older primary source documents, we often assess more contemporary literary criticism. I also assign readings on the personal lives of the authors we read in class to offer a more studied look at their writings. My students write three research papers per term, and I hear I have a reputation around campus for being hard but fair. That’s it. Do you think I’ve said enough to make my case for tenure?”
You review all that Elizabeth has said, trying to find any tip for improvement–tenure is obviously very important to her–but before you can offer even the smallest bit of advice, Elizabeth rises from her chair and pulls her laptop out of a messenger bag sitting by her office door.
“I should talk about resources to really exemplify the type of research my students and I do.” She logs on to the library website and into a program called Gale Artemis: Literary Sources. “For my undergraduate classes, I refer them to this. You see, the library has several different literature collections from Gale–all of which are great in their own right–but Artemis is better, because it allows them to search these resources simultaneously.”
She keys in a search for EM Forster and explains, “Forster’s one of my favorites, you see. Such a complex life. Such complex literature–and look! This search returns over 2,000 results, then sorts them by content type, subject, name of work, and publication title. I can even pull up multimedia content for the more hesitant researcher and primary source content for those that are a bit more advanced.”
You try to look at the results, but Elizabeth closes the browser and opens a new one. This time she clicks into Gale Artemis: Primary Sources.
“This is what I use for my graduate classes as well as some of my personal research. Same kind of idea, but with very different content. I’m still petitioning for the library to buy the newest installments of the Nineteenth Century Collections Online series. I’m particularly interested in this collection they have about Children’s literature during the time period, but I probably shouldn’t bring that up at my tenure review, should I?” She pauses briefly and writes a note to herself about this. “But just look at all this content. Over 10,000 results for Queen Victoria, and they’re all sorted nicely as well. I can even limit the time period or plot the frequency of my search term. The students really like this term cluster feature too. Let me show you how it works…”
As interested as you are, you notice the time and warn Elizabeth that she needs to hurry lest she be late for her important meeting.
“Oh, you’re right. Thank you for pointing that out, and thank you for listening. Stop back in any time, and I’ll let you know how it went!”
Isn’t it fantastic when professors like Elizabeth truly take the time to make sure their students understand the research process?
There’s no doubt that Elizabeth loves the Gale Artemis cross-search experience–for both Literary Sources and Primary Sources–but she often uses a variety of other resources as well. To see what they are, visit www.gale.com/university/elizabeth. To learn more about Gale U, visit www.gale.com/university. Next week, we’ll introduce Alexandra, a biology student who routinely visits Gale U’s Writing Center to get some extra help.
Melissa is obsessed with books, birds, and bonbons. She is a new mom and holds an MA in Applied Sociology. She also writes fiction and skips about the interweb as Emlyn Chand.