I can pick anything?

So, I’m faced with a research project this semester where the topic is wide-open for me to choose from, not even a course theme. The idea is actually to track the research process following a research model (like I-Search, Pathways to Knowledge, Big6, Handy 5, etc.) To do so, then, I can pick ANYTHING I want to learn about. Quite the tall order.

I’m kind of torn about doing something that would benefit me professionally and something that just feeds my curiosity. Both are valid endeavors. If any of my old readers still are watching after my long silence, I’d love your thoughts on research development potential/narrowing. Here are my ideas:

Building libraries in the developing world
I am really interested on how these projects come to life and the impact they make. An extension would be to investigate the follow-up on these projects, like they do with reality shows sometimes to see it really has made a difference. I would love to connect with Librarians Without Borders (and/or start a UW-Madison chapter) and go on a service trip. Also, I’ve seen things on Amazon over the years about donating Kindles to places where there are no books. At Ikea, there’s a solar powered reading light they donate for every one they sell. Do those work?

Collection development for Heritage Spanish speakers, especially young adults
This is a topic I’m interested in because it would serve a dual-purpose of library-based research and something applicable to my job. I’m not sure how research worthy it would be, because it’s something I’ve struggled with for awhile and don’t feel like I have leads.

Competency-based education and badges
When I first learned about this topic (summer 2012), it absolutely blew my mind and made me think that American education has got it wrong, with the Common Core, high-stakes assessment and teacher accountability. To me, this could a viable solution for education reform. I’d like to see how it’s progressing. There is some potential for action research with this for me, because I have an badge program set up for my students.

Jesuit education and outreach
These last two are little bit more of personal interests. I was completely inspired by the Jesuit approach to education while an undergrad at Marquette, and even more so as I learned a little about Ignatian spirituality. Historically, the Jesuits made some waves and had a widespread reach. I have a feeling that there is more than meets the eye even today.

Training of service dogs
I read Luis Carlos Montalván’s book, Until Tuesday, about his experience as a veteran with a service dog. I also could watch this webcam for hours. Working dogs in action are just so fascinating to me. I love it when they bring in the drug dogs to sniff lockers. When I see a service dog, I always want to pet them because they are so well-behaved (but you can’t because they have a sign that says “Don’t!”)

That’s What I Like About You

I did my undergrad at Marquette University, a Catholic Jesuit school located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I love Marquette, it was ridiculously expensive, especially considering the value and quality of the flagship public university here. Hindsight’s 20/20, right?

In my experience, the cool thing about a Jesuit university, is that while we were required to take an extensive core curriculum, including significant amounts of theology and philosophy, I never felt like their religious views were being crammed down our throats. In fact, it was more like, “Yes, this is what we [as Catholics] believe, but here are ALL of the points of view. You decide.”

Or, in the words of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities:

Jesuit colleges and universities are places of intellectual integrity, critical inquiry, and mutual respect, where open dialogue characterizes an exciting environment of teaching, research and professional development. The Jesuit ideal of giving serious attention to the profound questions about the meaning of life encourages an openness of mind and heart, and seeks to establish campus communities which support the intellectual growth of all of its members while providing them with opportunities for spiritual growth and development.

All in all, I loved the Jesuit approach to education because it honored my liberty of thought. It’s funny, but it is exactly THAT emphasis on liberty of thought that draws me to Library and Information Studies as well.

Consider this, from the ALA on Collection Development:

Librarians have a professional responsibility to be fair, just, and equitable and to give all library users equal protection in guarding against violation of the library patron’s right to read, view, or listen to materials and resources protected by the First Amendment, no matter what the viewpoint of the author, creator, or selector.

Basically, one of the tenants of librarianship in the United States is intellectual freedom. Between that and an emphasis on privacy protection for patrons, the ALA’s view on intellectual development is right up my alley.