Professor-student collaboration results in prize-winning poster

November 18, 2010

photo of Elizabeth KoehlerAs a research assistant for the past two years, SILS student Liz Koehler has partnered with Dr. Sandra Hughes-Hassell on a number of studies targeting school librarians and young adult users. One of them, an examination of school library resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) students in North Carolina, was presented as a poster by Koehler at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's iDEAL Summit.  Entitled, "LBGTQ YA Fiction in North Carolina High Schools," it was selected as one of the summit's five best posters.

The poster highlighted the goals and outcomes of a study conducted by Hughes-Hassell and Koehler into how much LBGTQ young adult fiction North Carolina school libraries possessed. A core collection of 15 LBGTQ young adult novels were chosen for the study. A total of 150 North Carolina high school libraries' catalogs were then analyzed to see how many of the titles each library possessed. 

Upon completion of the study, Koehler and Hughes-Hassell's findings showed that, for the most part, North Carolina high school's collection development policies failed to account for the inclusion of LBGTQ material. In the mind's of Koehler and Hughes-Hassell, it is particularly important for North Carolina's school librarians to start better representing the LBGTQ experience in their collections, since doing so "can reduce the feelings of isolation LBGTQ teens experience by providing access to resources that provide positive, accurate images of the LBGTQ community."

To learn more about the study's findings, you can view a pdf of the poster Koehler presented by clicking here.

A SILS master's student in the MSLS program, Koehler is particularly interested in librarianship as it relates to equal access, diversity and youth services. "The research I do with Dr. Hughes-Hassell generally focuses on supporting school librarians and helping them to better serve minority and multicultural youth in libraries by promoting equity, supporting self-concept and addressing specific literacy needs," Koehler said.

In addition to this current research, Dr. Hughes-Hassell has co-authored several books including
Urban Teens in the Library: Research and Practice (with Denise E. Agosto, ALA, 2010); School Reform and the School Library Media Specialist (with Violet H. Harada, Libraries Unlimited, 2007) and Collection Management for Youth: Meeting the Needs of Learners (with Jacqueline C. Mancall, ALA, 2005). Hughes-Hassell is an associate professor and the coordinator of the School Library Media program at SILS.

“It is rewarding to work with SILS students like Liz who are committed to social justice, and who share my desire to give 'voice' to the needs of underserved youth," said Hughes-Hassell.  "In working with students on collaborative research projects, one of my goals is to provide students with an opportunity to take on a leadership role in the profession.”