IRDL advisory board spotlight: Ione Damasco

Ione DamascoAfter graduating with a B.A. in English from Ohio State University and holding down various jobs (selling shoes, customer service rep for a small software company, supervisor at a large bookstore chain, and processing health insurance verifications for a hospital) I finally found my calling as a librarian and earned my M.L.I.S. from Kent State University in 2005. Since then, I have been working as a Cataloger Librarian at the University of Dayton. My title does not quite reflect the broad range of responsibilities and activities that I engage in at my institution, but I am mostly focused on cataloging, metadata and digitization projects, as well as collection development for several subject areas. Over the years I have served on many different committees, worked on lots of different projects, and implemented several programming grants. I have also engaged in several research projects that have emerged from personal experiences I had as a newer librarian. Those projects resulted in two co-authored articles on the role of practicums in cataloging education, and most recently, a large survey project that resulted in a co-authored article on tenure and promotion issues for academic librarians of color. I am very committed to issues of diversity in the field, and plan to continue conducting research on the intersections of diversity, librarianship, and higher education.

Why are you participating in the IRDL Advisory Board?

In 2008, I had the opportunity to attend a week-long leadership institute geared towards early career academic librarians of color. At that institute, I was able to make connections with other librarians who were experiencing many of the same issues, challenges, and opportunities that I was. Being able to bounce ideas off of other librarians in such a focused environment was a tremendous experience, and really helped me sharpen my focus on several areas of research that I was interested in exploring, but didn’t know how to pursue. One of the librarians I got to know there, Dracine Hodges, eventually became my research partner on a rather large survey project, and together we ended up producing a piece of scholarship that I truly believe adds something new to the existing literature in our field. And now she is serving on the IRDL Advisory Board as well!

I really believe a focused program like the IRDL will help novice librarian researchers develop the tools and skills they need to go forward confidently and pursue their projects. But I also believe the personal connections that will be forged at a residential institute such as this will also enrich these researchers’ professional lives in ways they might not expect. I truly believe peer mentoring is an invaluable factor in any librarian’s professional success, especially when it comes to conducting research. Being able to voice uncertainties, question ideas and assumptions openly, and have multiple sets of eyes review your research as you work through it, ultimately raises the level of quality of your work, and makes your findings more useful. By serving on the Advisory Board, I hope to give back to the library community and help new librarian researchers succeed.

What impact do you hope IRDL has on the library community?

My hope is that over time, the IRDL will create a new community of researchers within the field of librarianship—not just librarians who hold PhDs, but academic and research librarians who might think of themselves as practitioners, but find themselves mulling over research questions that might not have been answered yet. I think the IRDL will infuse into our profession a new cohort of inquisitive, passionate, and well-skilled researchers who will help us better understand the changing world of information around us, and what our roles in that world will be. I hope that the librarians who complete the institute will in turn inspire other novice librarian researchers and serve as peer mentors not just to fellow IRDL librarians, but to their colleagues at their home institutions as well.

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