Faculty Success with Erin E. Kelly and Sara Humphreys: Open access for all

Erin and Sara sitting on rocks in front of the Petch fountain
Erin E. Kelly and Sara Humphreys

UVic Libraries is pleased to celebrate faculty success with a series of interviews featuring researchers and their recent collaborative projects

Professors Erin E. Kelly and Sara Humphreys of UVic’s Academic and Technical Writing Program in the Faculty of Humanities recently published an open access writing guide titled Why Write? to help students in Canada to become more effective and confident academic writers. 

This open educational resource incorporates wisdom from the Four Feathers Writing Guide, with thanks to Elder Shirley Alphonse (THE-LA-ME-YÉ), Elder Nadine Charles (TEȺȽIE), and Theresa Bell, in order to create a welcoming text for all students, including those who are connected to Indigenous communities. Why Write? is the result of collaborative work from members of the Academic and Technical Writing Program, the Centre for Academic Communication, and the University of Victoria Libraries. 

UVic Libraries is proud to help faculty publish free textbooks that support student learning at UVic and beyond.

What is your favorite place in UVic Libraries and why?

EK: I love the Special Collections reading room on the ground floor of the Mearns-McPherson library. The staff go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome, and it’s thrilling to be working on something relevant to my research while seeing folks at other tables looking at such different items – I might be turning pages of a 16th century book and spot a few students working with a medieval manuscript, a librarian sorting through Victorian periodicals, and a community researcher exploring a box of letters. I’m constantly encouraging students to engage with the rich resources we have at UVic Libraries Special Collections and University Archives.

SH: I am partial to the Digital Scholarship Commons (DSC). The workshops are helpful to faculty and students alike. There is also a wonderful view! I often encourage students to take workshops with the terrific library staff at the DSC. There are also lots of interesting artifacts and tools to use and try out, including a 3-D printer.

What is your favorite LC subclass (the first two letters at the beginning of a call number range) and why?  

EK: I don’t know about favorites, but I am interested in the places where LC subclass categorization doesn’t line up well with what the actual research scholars are doing. To give a basic example: at what point does a study of English drama tip over from being catalogued in PR (English literature) to P (literature generally, and where theatre history lives)? Work on social history, women’s studies, and gender dynamics means that HQ (The family, women, gender, and sexuality) is a huge section of the library. It’s interesting to look for items that one might classify differently or in more than one section of the library.

SH: I am more of a digital researcher so I don’t often enter the stacks, but I can share my favourite databases. I often use EBSCOHOST and ProQuest. I really enjoy digging into the databases and cross-referencing sources.

What is the most exciting or interesting experience that you’ve ever had in a library or archive?

EK: Too many to recount! But at UVic, I have to say that I’ve been excited to have opportunities to share materials in Special Collections with UVic students, school groups, HUMA100 classes, and members of the general public. When I introduce a group to a book with which I’m very familiar – say, our 1610 edition of John Foxe’s English Protestant martyrology Acts and Monuments – I know that someone will point out a feature I never previously noticed or ask a question I can’t answer. I’m always excited to have a chance to learn something new, and these encounters in the library push my thinking in new directions.

Any form of research is exciting for me, so any library feels like a magical place.

- Sara Humphreys

SH: The library resources I have had the privilege to access are tremendous. I can look up anything I want in a second and that is incredible. And I don’t mean just the digital resources! I remember using card catalogues in my undergrad and to be honest, they were also quick and easy to use (just a little more walking was involved). I don’t get into the stacks very often, but I sometimes wander around just to enjoy the smell of the books and the presence of all that knowledge.

Is there anything else that you’d like to tell us?

EK: One of the things we’re committed to helping students understand is that what we call research is a human endeavour. The questions we ask and try to answer are shaped by our perspectives. What we can and can’t find in a library has been affected by human beings making decisions about cataloguing and labeling and sorting. People with special knowledge – academics and librarians as well as people with deep experience – can guide us to different ways of seeing the world.

By learning what it means to research at a university and how we can share research with others through our writing, we step into a big, ongoing, and really exciting conversation. We’re grateful to the library for helping to support our work and assisting students as they become part of this conversation.

- Erin E. Kelly

SH: I think Erin said it all. I couldn’t agree more.