KU Libraries’ Sanders Scholars provide project updates, program highlights during panel presentation

A trio of KU students and their librarian mentors taking part in KU Libraries’ Sanders Scholars program recently presented their wide-ranging collaborative work exploring technology and assessment as a part of a panel in Watson Library on March 22.   

Three pairs — Carola Emkow and digital humanities librarian Brian Rosenblum; Vydhika Krishna Meka and social sciences librarian Amalia Monroe-Gulick; and Sarah Crossley and graduate engagement librarian Scott McEathron — shared highlights and progress with library colleagues during a hybrid presentation in the Watson 455 Conference Room. The Sanders Scholars program aims to provide an opportunity for KU students to learn about the evolving practice of librarianship, as well as to assist librarian mentors in their projects.   

A pair of Sanders Scholars Award participants present their project to library colleagues.

Emkow and Rosenblum explored creating a digital platform for the collection of community-generated data and stories related to Peruvian heritage cultural items held in the Spencer Museum of Art, part of a larger, on-going project with KU Anthropology Professor Bart Dean. After an initial trial using a complex content management system proved too clunky, the project pivoted to a minimal computing platform that’s faster and more suitable for the limited internet access in remote communities.   

“Being a Sanders Scholar is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, very pleasant and worthwhile experience, and a very useful experience,” said Emkow, whose Ph.D. in linguistics and coursework in American and Indigenous Studies have aided the efforts. “I have insights into new terrains, and I also now have ideas of applying this newly gained knowledge for my portfolio.”   

Krishna Meka and Monroe-Gulick's project involves cleaning data used to assess the diversity of KU Libraries’ e-journal collections. The pairing highlights Monroe-Gulick's expertise in collections development and utilizes Krishna Meka’s technical knowledge as a master’s student in computer science.   

“This project closely aligns with my graduate studies,” Krishna Meka said. “This position gave me some significant insight for the inner workings of the libraries.”  

Crossley and McEathron are similarly working on an assessment tool, one that will inform KU Libraries’ work. The Center for Graduate Initiatives and Engagement, which McEathron heads, started a new program in the fall called “Fridays on Fourth,” which includes weekly research, write-ins, and workshops in Watson Library’s Graduate Student Study Lounge and throughout the fourth floor as part of a collaborative project between KU's Libraries, Writing Center, Office of Graduate Studies, and Center for Teaching Excellence. Crossley is helping to analyze survey data and gather insights that may help the program better meet students’ needs.   

“One of the main things for me is to take the education that I’ve just received [as a recent masters of library sciences grad] and have practical application,” Crossley said. “I understood the way wording really affects the response that you get and how you can refine that to make things more clear.”  

All full-time libraries faculty can apply for the Sanders Scholars Award, which supports up to 300 hours of work for the semester. Projects are selected based on their relevance to the practice of librarianship, impact on the strategic direction of the libraries, feasibility of the project, and learning objectives for the student mentee. The program was created through a gift from William J. Crowe and his wife Nancy P. Sanders, in memory of her parents.  

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity – it really helped move forward our project,” Monroe-Gulick said. “We all have an issue with the availability of time and varied skills – this really brought together something for us. This project also took people from every department, it was really a collaborative thing.”