mentorship, summer research scholars, research liaison


Library and Information Science


In 2017, the University Libraries of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) began a partnership with GVSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) which extended the OURS Scholars Summer Program to include the Library Scholars Summer Program. The goal of the Library Scholars Summer Program is to “provide students with the opportunity to have an intensive research experience using the library’s resources and collections.”1 Students are mentored or co-mentored by library faculty and receive a $2,000 stipend for twenty hours of commitment per week for ten weeks, culminating with a product that enhances the library for other users and contributes to the Grand Valley library mission and goals.

The Library Scholars Summer Program is one of the rigorous and robust OURS Scholar & Fellowship Programs. Running concurrently with the Student Summer Scholars and Beckman Scholars program, the library scholars are required to attend several training sessions hosted by OURS prior to and during the program. Mandatory training included completing an online certificate course on responsible conduct of research, participating in an on-campus all-day research orientation, and completing an Individual Development Plan (IDP). In addition to the OURS-required components, the library scholars were expected to participate in weekly cohort readings and discussions, individual meetings with their mentors (which may include additional readings), and maintain a research journal that is shared with their mentor for formative feedback. Amongst all the required meetings, each scholar must narrow or hone the scope of their initial project proposal, implement the project, and present the final product to the entire OURS summer scholars community.

In the summer of 2018, four student scholars were accepted into the program. These students were respectively majoring in Geography; Photography; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Psychology/Economics. Erica Millspaugh, Liaison Librarian to Legal Studies, Criminal Justice, and Hospitality & Tourism Management, was chosen to mentor the Psychology/Economics major, and Barbara Harvey, Liaison Librarian to Nursing, Public Health, Clinical Dietetics, and Diagnostic & Imaging Sciences (and previous liaison to several science departments), was selected to mentor the Geography major. There were no librarians available whose subject areas or educational background matched either of these two students. Erica and Barbara each have a second master’s degree (in addition to a Library & Information Science master’s); Erica’s second master’s is an MFA in visual arts, and Barbara’s is in biology. Because the main focus of the library scholars’ projects are library resources, the authors and other faculty mentors in the program thought Erica and Barbara possessed the knowledge and skills to effectively mentor these students.

In this paper, each liaison will summarize their experience mentoring a library scholar, highlighting the benefits gained and challenges encountered. A literature review summarizes current practices of librarian involvement with undergraduate research, which indicates that GVSU’s Library Scholars Summer Program is unique in several ways. While the authors acknowledge that there is a wealth of literature about the benefits to students of engaging in “high impact” practices, including undergraduate research, the focus of this contributed paper is on the experience of the liaison librarian as the primary mentor of an undergraduate student research project.


Original Citation:

Millspaugh, E., & Harvey, B. (2019). What I Learned from my Summer Research Scholar: The Transformative Impact of Undergraduate Research Mentorship on the Liaison Librarian Narrative. ACRL 2019 Proceedings, 829–837. Retrieved from