Saturday, September 29, 2012

Narrator Profile..and research associated

Conducted Narrator Profile (meeting for the first time) for an oral history project and this led me to even more research. In realizing that he is from Ireland, more specifically from Northern Ireland with a childhood filled with bombed out cars, soldiers and police heavily armed, and helicopters on a regular basis - this research has taken on a new twist. Some of the challenges include the fact that since the formation of the European Union, little to no records are kept of those migrating between countries. It is much easier to find statistical data for those immigrating to the United States.

I have found and tied the following so far to our overarching project to find, record, and protect the stories of Maine's Irish: new and generations past immigration, as well as those who helped to build Portland, Maine and our country.

Another major find, supporting my narrator's sharing about the heavy Polish immigrant arrival when ireland and Northern Ireland were in heavy development to become "the fastest growing population in the United Kingdom" (Cairns, D. & Smyth, J., 2009, p. 138) was the discovery of Trinity College-Dublin Sociology department is dedicated to being internationally known for their Migration studies, which are being conducted by both Professors and doctoral candidates. It can be found at: While it is heavy on research language, requiring me to read it multiple times, I am doing so without giving up. Interesting that I am able to understand the difference in data and methods, and am finding myself giving preference to those studies conducted in a qualitative approach instead of simple statistical data gathering offered as more of a literature review. I get it!

Before starting my Research Methods class, researching scholarly research-based articles would NOT have been at the top of my list. I was intimidated by the abundance, the language used, and the exclusionary feel of one who was not invited into the select group of those who publish. Now that I see that most research and articles associated are to open a dialogue, I feel invited to read, absorb, reflect and possibly contribute my own research to enrich the pool and our collective knowledge.

The new information I glean is often more current, and by mining their bibliographies, I am able to gather additional valuable resources that I might not have found on my own.

Sources for Background Research

"The sources for background are as varied as the narrators and will include conversations with Maine Irish Heritage Center members, historical documents, old newspapers articles, and their archives. Their archive includes original St. Dominic’s church documents dating back to its creation in 1833. Additional resources will include US Census Bureau statistical information, local, regional, state and national newspaper and magazine articles, scholarly research-based articles and essays, as well as regional, state and nationally published books. See Resources page for more specific titles, to reflect direction of current research."

Resources page:

Other resources include scholarly research-based articles and essays such as:
Cairns, D. & Smyth, J. (2009). I wouldn’t mind moving actually: Exploring Student
Mobility in Northern Ireland, International Migration, 49(2), 135-161.

Kirk, R. (2011). City of Walls: Letter from Belfast. The American Scholar, 80(4),

Moloney, D. (2009). Who’s Irish: Ethnic identity and recent trends in Irish
American history. Journal of American Ethnic History, 28(4), 100-109.

O’Kelly, C. (2004). Being Irish. Government and Opposition, 39(4), 504-520.

National-Irish publications including controversial titles such as:
Dolan, J. P. (2008). The Irish Americans: A history. New York, NY: Bloomsbury
Griffin, W. D. (1990). The book of Irish Americans. New York, NY: Times Books

Miller, K. A. (1985). Emigrants and exiles: Ireland and the Irish exodus to North
America. New York, NY: Oxford Press.

Maine-Irish publications such as:
Connolly, M. (2004). They change their sky: The Irish in Maine. Orono, ME:
University of Maine Press.

Mundy, J. H. (1990). Hard times, hard men: Maine and the Irish 1830-1860.
Scarborough, ME: Harp Publications.

Smith, N. (2010). The 22nd Maine volunteer infantry in the Civil War. Jefferson,
NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers

Thibadeau, W. J. (1992). The Irishman: A factor in the development of Houlton.
Augusta, ME: O’Ceallaign Publications.

Portland-Irish publications such as:
            Barker, M., Avjian, J. & O’Neil, P. (2001). The Western Cemetery Project 1997-
2001: A celebration of 125 years of services to the Portland Irish-American
community. South Portland, ME: Waterfront Graphics & Printing.
Connolly, J. (1909). Souvenir History at St. Dominic’s Church: 1822-1909.
Portland, ME: Publisher not credited (yearbook style book).

Excerpted from: Barker, M. J. & Connolly, J. titles (1997). Saint Dominic’s: 175
years of memories 1822-1997. Portland, ME: Smart Marketing, Inc.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Irish: ethnicity and identity

Scored a number of great resources to help me connect my Project Design Statement - Oral History project plans to a larger historical context.

Here's where I am at with the research:
  • See above post with specific sources was submitted for my PDS (project design statement) for LIBR284 on September 30th
Questions left to answer:
  • define "nationality" and "ethnic background"
  • find/record/compare 1980 1990 2000 and 2010 ethnicity statistics on US Census records
  • why is it considered "haute couture" to claim a connection to Ireland/being Irish?
  • St Patrick's Day - significance of March 17th (US only or significant to Ireland also?)
  • Phoenix Park - Ireland's president and US Ambassador reside (confirm)
  • find article: Farley, Reynolds. (1991). The new census question about Ancestry: What did it tell us?, Demography, 28(1), 411-429. 
  • find article: Blessing, Patrick. (1985). Irish immigrants to America, Irish Studies, 4(1), 11-38.
  • research Ireland
    • literacy rates
    • education/ higher education rates
    • education to salary rates
  • research Dept of Homeland Security, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 2008 1,547 per year equates to 12,379 (2000-???)
    • Maine figures for same period and average annually
    • trends since 1980 (brain drain?)
    • trends especially between 1995-2003 when Ireland became one of most globalized countries on the planet
    • trends since 2007 (economic disaster)
    • exact figures for both 2000-2008 compared against 1930-1939 (just under 50,000)
Thoughts and new ideas to ponder:
  • intermarriage lends to multiple ethnicity responses (on Census)
  • more likely to marry based upon religious match than ethnicity
  • "ethnicity affects politics, neighborhoods, and social circle"
  • social increase of being Irish ethnicity far outweighs natural increases (4.5 million immigrants can't possibly equate to 40 million Irish Americans)
  • "nine-fold increase in Irish population in US stems from combination of favorable outcomes: been here long time, religiously diverse, highly educated, dispered across the US"
  • states with at least 15% concentration of Irish ancestry populations include: DE, MA, NH, ME, VT, PA, RI, NJ & CT (while national average is only 10.8%)
  • individuals can now identify with any number of ethnicities, borrowing aspects of one mixed with others to create their own "identity" (US is multicultural, hence "multi" census self identifying/choosing which to belong 
  • "Irish migration as involuntary exile" lends to rooting for connecting with the 'underdog' downtrodden to help them overcome obstacles
  • prior to Ireland becoming globalized, were considered binational - dealing almost exclusively with the United States
  • connection to Irish music lends to feeling more Irish (even when ancestry doesn't support it)
  • "ethnicity is not a fixed category, but a process"
New questions to ask my narrator (need to use between 20 and 30 from a pool of 50 questions):
  • Tell me about yourself including your full name and birth year
  • Be sure to obtain town and county in Ireland where he was born
  • How do you introduce or describe yourself to others? 
  • Tell me about your education 
  • Did you ever participate in a student exchange program at any time during your youth?
  • Could you share some of the places you've traveled to or places you've lived besides Ireland?
  • What career opportunities have you had? What was your occupation while in Ireland?
  • What role did the economy have in your emigrating from Ireland?
  • What other influences might have been factors in your relocating?
  • As one emigrating from Ireland, with the entire world to choose from - why Portland, Maine?
  • Do you have family already living in the United States? If so, where? 
  • What was the process you undertook in securing a position before leaving Ireland for Maine?
  • Is it part of the tradition of those leaving ______ County to give preference to the Maine or New England regions first?
  • What sort of community activities have you participated in while in Ireland?
  • What does the term "community" mean to you?
  • Which communities do you consider yourself a member?
  • I understand your sister emigrated two years ago...what role did she play in preparing you for making the same journey?
  • How did you come to hear about the Maine Irish Heritage Center?
  • What role did Maine Irish Heritage Center play in your transition? 
  • What suggestions do you have so they can support other new immigrants moving to the Portland area?
  • What has it been like to be 'adopted' into this new country and new way of life?
  • How many family members do you still have in Ireland?
  • How have you stayed connected to them and friends?
  • Do you expect any other family members to emigrate to the United States? Maine?
  • Will you be joining in the celebrations for St. Patrick's Day in Portland this coming March?
  • What are some of the benefits of being in Maine?
  • What are some of the challenges you've had to adapt to?
  • Throughout much of your childhood (1995 to 2003), Ireland experienced a rapid economic expansion and was ranked as one of the most globalized societies in the world. So while Ireland's citizens were able to benefit from a new worldly perspective: their sense of home actually grew much stronger. Do you have any insights to share?
  • Ireland's 10th president: Michael Higgins resides in Phoenix Park in Dublin, in a building modeled after the White House of the United States. How are the similarity and connection looked upon by Irish citizens?
  • In 2007, I spent 23 days using public transportation to criss-cross the country and it seemed I was in constant conversation about politics (never once did I bring it up) and that if they could, every one would vote for Barack Obama. Why was it so important to so many that they initiated these conversations? How has his presidency impacted Ireland? If I were return to Ireland now, would I again be prompted to vote for him?
  • The term 'emigrate' is defined as leaving one's country to permanently move to another country. Do you consider this a permanent move?

Monday, September 17, 2012

First two abstracts: a quality draft

Bernier, A. (2009). A space for myself to go: Early patterns in small YA spaces. Public Libraries, 49(1), 33-47.

This study seeks to instruct on the impact of creating small, deliberate library spaces for YA patrons. Using sequential mixed methods strategies, profiles submitted by libraries interested in being published in a regular VOYA feature were examined, as well as a follow-up survey. The ten smallest libraries were selected, based upon square footage. Without comparable benchmarks, it was not possible to determine the effectiveness of these new spaces. Inconsistencies in both terminology and statistics made it impossible to note any discernible patterns. However, the data did reflect that the average YA space was 500 square feet, was accessible to some extent for 52 hours a week, and had one YA staff member. Other notable data shows the need for youth-friendly seating, displays, and youth development in the design and operation of these new spaces. Further research is needed in order to determine patterns, and benchmarks must be clearly defined prior to space creation to determine the true level of success. 

Bishop, K. & Bauer, P. (2002). Attracting young adults to public libraries: Frances Henne/YALSA/VOYA research grant results. Journal of Youth Services, 15(2), 36-44.

The purpose of this study was to improve YA programs and services for young adults in public libraries. Qualitative and quantitative strategies including weighted surveys, field notes from library visits, in-person and email interviews, and focus groups responses were collected and analyzed. Comparisons made between the librarian and YA responses indicated that there is agreement on the need to provide food and bring friends, and that young adults use the library for research, Internet use, and volunteering. Differences included the importance of providing an appealing, comfortable space, the library web page as a valuable resource, and the benefits of in library publicity. Most valuable to a public library was having staff that looked favorably upon young adults. Much follow-up was necessary as the survey sought specific roles that were not yet defined or existed in many public libraries across Florida. This study reflects the importance of youth development when determining a young adult’s need to be met by public libraries. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ready to Write Abstracts...

Have selected the following six articles to allow flexibility in writing of five abstracts (one for each) with the first draft for the first two due on Sunday.

Here they are:

Bernier, A. (2009). A space for myself to go: Early patterns in small YA spaces. Public Libraries, 49(1), 33-47.

Bishop, K. & Bauer, P. (2001). Attracting young adults to public libraries: Frances Henne/YALSA/VOYA research grant results. Journal of Youth Services, 15(2), 36-44.

*Bourke, C. (2010). Library youth spaces vs youth friendly libraries: How to make the most of what you have. Aplis, 23(3), 98-102.

*Derr, L. & Rhodes, A. (2010). The public library as urban youth space: Redefining public libraries through services and space for young people for an uber experience. Aplis, 23(3), 90-97.

*Hannan, A. (2011). Communication 101: We have made contact with teens. Aplis, 24(1), 32-38.

*Walter, V. (2003). Public library service to children and teens: A research agenda. Library Trends, 51(4), 581-589.

New (Sept 17th) additions to replace above four that are not survey or data-driven research articles (yet very helpful professional journal articles!):

Fisher, H. (2003). A teenage view of the public library: What are the students saying? Aplis, 16(1), 4-16.

Fourie, J. A. & Gericke, E. M. (2009). A theoretical model for the provision of educaitonal and career guidance and information services for high school learners in public libraries. Mousaion, 27(1), 1-23.

Jones, K. R. & Delahanty, T. J. (2011). A viable venue: The public library as a haven for youth development. Children and Libraries, 9(1), 41-44.

Snowball, C. (2008). Enticing teenagers into the library. Library Review, 57(1), 25-35.
Frustrated with the findings of so many more professional articles that are relatively short, helpful but not in meeting with the needs of reading and reviewing actual research for my LIBR285 coursework. Though the search filtered to only include Peer Reviewed articles, the majority of the results are written by librarian professionals and are based upon actual experiences rather than any qualitative research. And the several articles that did refer to the actual research, were not as well defined, understandable and current as those provided for our class readings - and those don't support our groups theme: Libraries and Youth.

Gone back to EBSco...found 6 more relevant, yet again only 1 is research based. Grrr...however, I'm going back to all of my articles to start mining them from their list of resources to see if I can find more academic/research-based information. Fingers crossed!

On a more positive note, (for my LIBR284 coursework) beginning with a recent edition of Encyclopedia of American Immigration and their section on Irish Immigrants (pgs 582-587), I was able to glean enough basic information and a plethora of further reading. This will support my research to place my oral history project into more of a historical context and give me more of the specific language to use when conducting a project of this magnitude.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Research question - a revised FIRST draft!

As a school librarian, I have those students who are brought to the library by their teacher to find research, required resources, a choice reading book or to seek out help. I have a group who frequent the library daily during lunch, as a means of escape of the open school atmosphere during this time. And I have those who would stay after school every day to delay going home...

Thinking about programming, doing more for our teens (as none of our five district's public libraries meet teen needs) - I would like to know:

What do teens WANT from their local library? 

Supporting questions include:

How are rural teens wants the same as urban teens? How are they different?

How can we get teens to want to use our libraries?
What is a Teen Advisory Board (TAB)?
How can a TAB help a library to meet teens' needs?
How important is it to know what teens want?
What social events or teen programs would be most appealing?
With limited funds, how does a library start meeting teens' needs?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Research Methods: Survey, Experimental and Quasi-experimental, Qualitative, and Content Analysis

To demonstrate my understanding of these methods, I'd like to use the analogy of a crime scene or criminal case to elaborate.

Survey Research: much like questionnaires used to poll potential jurors in a criminal case, some questions are restricted to certain answers while others may be open ended. They are all used in an effort to weed out those who might already be biased toward the trial. However, sometimes the questions themselves are asked with tone or inflection that creates the 'feel of an alliance' which could potentially inspire a biased response. All potential juror survey responses, those asked by the prosecutor, defense, and judge are all combined help to determine if one is eligible to serve on that particular jury. The bias is balanced by the removal of candidates for no reason, an equal number each for the prosecutor and defense. The judge also has to power based upon survey results or open-ended responses that may conflict with a fair and equitable jury decision.

Experimental and Quasi-experimental: ______________________________.

Qualitative: the researcher is the eyewitness to the crime, even taking notes to ensure all details are captured to their fullest - all while possibly influencing the crime, actions or reactions of those involved. It could also be the law enforcement who arrives on the scene to interview the eyewitnesses, keeping track of all details in the handy little notebook including not only what witnesses say but their body language and other behaviors indicative of added meaning; this little notebook becomes part of the legal record should those charged go to trial. Especially ironic that more than one group of 12 is used "...because of the serious danger that a single group of 12 people will be too limited to offer any general insights or conclusions" (de Groot, 2012, Introduction to Research Methods Frequently Used in LIS Research) yet 12 is the single group size of the deciding group in our judicial system in the United States - determining a possible criminal's fate.

Content Analysis: the handwriting expert who can decipher the psyche of the criminal, past history, and likelihood of potential victims used in order to catch the criminal.