When doctoral research while being a working class academic feels overwhelming, an important motivation for continuing is the ability to contribute to equitable access. The project described in this interview explains some about my research assistantship with Dr. Colin Rhinesmith on the IMLS funded work “Measuring Library Broadband Networks for the National Digital Platform (LG-71-18-0110-18).”
The interviewer asked a lot about my background, which I hadn’t formally thought about since applying for the SLIS PhD program at Simmons. One of the best things about pursuing a doctorate is the freedom to explore new areas that relate to one’s research in unexpected ways.
Since my professional life has been focused mainly in academic resources, I had not started thinking formally about equitable access as it applies to systems. Reading and listening to wonderful researchers who are navigating this field, such as Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, inspired me, but I didn’t know how someone like me could contribute to changing the system so that it works for everyone without exploiting people.
This project was the first real exploration of that. I wouldn’t have pursued it without my advisor, Dr. Rong Tang, encouraging me to do so, and the opportunity wouldn’t have existed for me if Dr. Rhinesmith had not taken the chance on working with someone who hasn’t navigated the public library sphere as a researcher.
In other words, it seems like research depends as much on the student as it does on the teachers who guide them.