Training Research Consultants: A Guide for Academic Libraries

Available Formats
ALA Member
Item Number
AP Categories

Primary tabs

You don't need to be an ALA Member to purchase from the ALA Store, but you'll be asked to create an online account/profile during the checkout to proceed. This Web Account is for both members and non-members.

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors

Whether you’re creating a new peer research consulting program in your library or simply looking for fresh ideas for your established program, this book will give you an in-depth look at how fifteen different colleges and universities approach this powerful student-to-student learning experience.

Training Research Consultants: A Guide for Academic Libraries is an inspirational collection of perspectives and tools from library leaders who have created and maintained successful programs, plus thoughtful explorations of the theories and motivations that inform peer learning. In four sections—Introduction to Theory and Practice, Library Case Studies, Perspectives from Campus Partners, and Consultant Perspectives—the book covers everything that goes into these increasingly popular research consulting programs: learning theories, the role of research consultants in encouraging student intellectual development, program administration, hiring practices, training, marketing, and assessment. The book ends with two insightful reflections from former research consultants, leaving us with a reminder us of the lasting impact these programs have on the consultants themselves.

Though using different job titles and set in different campus contexts, all the programs profiled here have three core factors in common: empowerment of the student employee, robust training with ongoing support from experienced staff, and unwavering confidence in the strength of peer-to-peer mentoring in higher education. Research consultants bring their unique perspective as students to every conversation, and curiosity is key. They become experts in modeling how to embrace fearless exploration as a key part of learning. Searching can be an adventure, and effective consultants are calm, empathetic, and nimble during consultations, eager to try creative new approaches. 

Many of the best practices in library consulting programs are shared by writing centers, speech labs, and library user experience departments, all three of which contribute their knowledge to this book in a way that highlights the rich collaborative opportunities between core academic support services. With important lessons from these critical partners, plus practical and reproducible hiring and training materials from libraries, Training Research Consultants is an important reference for academic libraries of all kinds.

Table of Contents
Introduction, Jennifer Torreano

Part I: Introduction to Theory and Practice

Chapter 1. The Library: A New Project-Based Learning Classroom
Amy Benton

Chapter 2. How Research Consultants Can Encourage Student Intellectual Development 
Jennifer Torreano

Part II: Library Case Studies 

Case Study 1. Research and Writing Center at Brigham Young University: Developing Leadership and Collaboration
Elise Silva & Suzanne Julian

  • Appendix A: Library Instruction Teacher’s Assistant Job Posting
  • Appendix B: HBLL TA Training Packet
  • Appendix C: Student Employee Work Expectations
  • Appendix D: Student Job Description
  • Appendix E: Student Employee Evaluation
  • Appendix F: Research Consultant Observation Form
  • Appendix G: Research and Writing Center Intake Form

Case Study 2. Information Commons at Butler University: Committed to Service and Student Development
Amanda Starkel

  • Appendix A: Information Commons Trello Boards
  • Appendix B: Information Commons Associate: Expectations for the Associate Role
  • Appendix C: Library Circulation
  • Appendix D: Customer Service & Research Skills I
  • Appendix E: Introducing the Reflection Portfolio

Case Study 3. The LibRAT Program at Cal Poly: Full Partners in Peer Learning
Brett Bodemer & Kaila Bussert

  • Appendix A: Job Posting for LibRAT Position
  • Appendix B: Library Research Workshops—LibRAT Lesson Plans
  • Appendix C: LibRAT Teaching Observation Checklist

Case Study 4. Research Desk Assistants at the College of William and Mary: A Winning Collaboration
Lauren M. Manninen & Don Welsh

  • Appendix A: Database Searching Tips and Tricks

Case Study 5. Reference Associate Program at Florida State University: Training Future Librarians
Emily Zoe Mann

  • Appendix A: Criteria for Assessment
  • Appendix B: Training Agenda

Case Study 6. Peer Research Mentors at Gettysburg College
Clinton Baugess, Mallory Jallas, Meggan Smith, & Janelle Wertzberger

  • Appendix A: Job Description—Peer Research Mentors
  • Appendix B: Peer Research Mentor Boot Camp Schedule
  • Appendix C: Topics Covered at Biweekly Meetings

Case Study 7. Research Tutors at Grinnell College: Collaborating and Transforming
Phil Jones & Chris Jones

  • Appendix A: Interview Questions for Research Tutor Applicants
  • Appendix B: Basic Information Service Training Checklist
  • Appendix C: Research Tutor Training Schedule

Case Study 8. Ask your PEERS at James Madison University: Developing a Peer Reference Service
Stefanie E. Warlick, Kelly N. Miller-Martin, & Jonathan R. Paulo

  • Appendix A: Peer Reference Specialist Job Posting
  • Appendix B: Ask Your Peers Guidelines for Reference Service
  • Appendix C: Peer Reference Training Schedule 
  • Appendix D: 33 Questions
  • Appendix E: Peer Reference Specialist Pre-Test Assessment
  • Appendix F: Peer Reference Post-Test Assessment
  • Appendix G: PEERS Marketing Outline
  • Appendix H: Promotional Copy Sent to Newspaper
  • Appendix I: Peer Reference Specialist Handbook
  • Appendix J: Referral Methods for Library Resources For Peer Reference Specialists
  • Appendix K: Providing Chat Reference during Ask Your PEERS shifts 

Case Study 9. Collaborative Learning at John Carroll University Library
Amy Wainwright, Katherine Baker, & Michelle Millet

Case Study 10. Parallel Pilots at Lewis & Clark College:  Augmenting Training vs. Developing an Accredited Practicum
Dan Kelley 

Case Study 11. Writing Consultants at the University of Dayton: A Collaborative Cross-Training Approach
Heidi Gauder

  • Appendix A: Introduction and Entry from the Knowledge Hub Service Desk Manual
  • Appendix B: Training Questions Delivered Through the Learning Management System
  • Appendix C: Writing Consultant Survey
  • Appendix D: Writing Sample Used for Training with Writing Consultants
  • Appendix E: Conversation Prompts for Writing Consultants

Case Study 12. Peer Research Consultants at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities: Student-Driven Success
Kate Peterson, Jody Gray, & Andrew Palahniuk

  • Appendix A: Sample of Appointment Requests
  • Appendix B: PRC Job Description
  • Appendix C: Peer Research Consultants bookmark
  • Appendix D: Peer Research Consultants poster

Case Study 13. Research Mentor Program at UNH Manchester: Peer Learning Partnerships
Carolyn White Gamtso, Annie Donahue, & Kimberly Donovan

  • Appendix A: Unit Organization Chart
  • Appendix B: Center for Academic Enrichment Tutor Application
  • Appendix C: Faculty Recommendation for Prospective Peer Tutor
  • Appendix D: Peer Tutor Interview
  • Appendix E: Research Mentor Training—Discussion Questions
  • Appendix F: Mock Tutorials—Preliminary Questions & Research Mentor Roles

Case Study 14. On Not Reinventing the Wheel: Borrowing from the Writing Center Peer Consultant Model
Kate Hinnant & Jill Markgraf

Part III: Perspectives from Campus Collaborators

Collaborators 1. Nothing is Permanent Except Change: The Adaptive Writing Center Training Model
Patrick Johnson & Melanie Rabine

  • Appendix A: Application to Become a Writing Consultant
  • Appendix B: Application Review Form
  • Appendix C: Individual Interview Sheets
  • Appendix D: Group Interview Observation
  • Appendix E: Contract for Writing Consultants
  • Appendix F: Orientation and Staff Meeting Agenda
  • Appendix G: Walk-In Script

Collaborators 2. Speech Consultants at Grand Valley State University: Empowering Student Voices
Danielle R. Leek & Carl J. Brown

  • Appendix A: Speech Lab Promotional Ad
  • Appendix B: Speech Lab Consultant Application
  • Appendix C: Staff Handbook
  • Appendix D: GVSU Speech Lab Code of Ethics
  • Appendix E: GVSU Speech Lab Training Checklist
  • Appendix F: GVSU Speech Lab Training Quiz

Collaborators 3. User Experience at Grand Valley State University: Training Students Who Take the Lead in Staffing the Library’s Single Service Point
Kristin Meyer, Maya Hobscheid, Kristin Kerbavaz, & Kiersten Quilliams

  • Appendix A: User Experience (UX) Student Assistant Position Description 
  • Appendix B: Student Worker Application
  • Appendix C: Excerpt from “Reference Learning Guide: The Basics Pt. 1”
  • Appendix D: Selections from Customer Service Learning Guides
  • Appendix E: UX Student Assistant Pre-Assessment: Answers & Rubric

Part IV: Perspectives from the Consultants

Consultants 1. You Trust Us With This?
Susannah Kopecky

Consultants 2. A Reflection on Being a Consultant
Caitlin Lewis

Author Biographies

Jennifer Torreano

Jennifer Torreano is the Knowledge Market Manager for the Grand Valley State University Libraries. She earned her Master’s degree in higher education at GVSU. Jennifer is responsible for the Library Research Center and the coordination of the Knowledge Market, a collaborative partnership between the Library Research Center, Speech Lab, and Writing Center. Her research interests include peer learning, student development, and the intersections of cognitive bias and information literacy.

Mary O’Kelly

Mary O’Kelly is the Associate Dean for Education and User Services at Western Michigan University. Previously she served as the head of instructional services at Grand Valley State University, where she was responsible for developing and evaluating a training program for student peer research consultants in the GVSU Knowledge Market. Her work at both institutions has been deeply involved with student-focused academic programming, professional development for faculty and staff, embedding information literacy into the curriculum, online and hybrid learning, and assessment. Mary has published and presented nationally on peer research consulting programs in academic libraries and has a deep interest in the relationship between library services and student success.