On April 8, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a team of UAlbany researchers would be looking into the differential outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to ethnic and racial disparities. At the request of President Havidán Rodríguez, a team was assembled with Center for Technology in Government leader Theresa Pardo at the helm. The Minority Health Disparities Engaged Research (MHD-ER) Team has librarians embedded within the ongoing project, and the University Libraries’ resources and services have been key to the ongoing efforts of this team.
A rendering of a COVID-19 virion
Librarians were able to act as support for the other researchers from the inception of this project. Angela Hackstadt (Subject Librarian for Political Science, Public Administration, Public Policy, & Law) and Elaine Lasda (Coordinator of Scholarly Communication and Subject Librarian for Social Welfare, Gerontology, Dewey Reference, and Research Impact) held consultations with team researchers to advise on literature review strategies. Angela and Elaine demonstrated tools like the website preservation platform perma.cc and the citation manager Zotero, and suggested other library resources of use to the Engaged Researcher Team.
In addition to these contributions, librarians on the MHD-ER Team were able to connect Dr. Pardo and team leaders with Scholarly Communication Librarian Emily Kilcer and Lindsay Van Berkom, our Scholars Archive administrator. Emily and Lindsay have had ongoing meetings with leadership about making the work of the MHD-ER team permanently and openly accessible. Scholars Archive is an institutional repository that has functionality desired by the team leaders, who were delighted that the University Libraries already has this service in place. “Scholars Archive is central to the release of the Engaged Researcher white papers. Using our library’s institutional repository will make the scholarly products of the team easily and permanently available.” Emily and Lindsay continue to work with Dr. Pardo and leaders in developing a space in the repository for research output for the MHD-ER symposium to be held June 21 and 28, 2021.
Emily also led a presentation for the MHD-ER Team featuring members of a collaborative effort she has organized to facilitate coordinated Research Data Management Services on campus.
Librarians have been more than just consultants and support for the MHD-ER team. As faculty at the University, they partnered with other researchers on projects and are conducting their own original research for publication. Angela and colleague Abby Adams, Subject Librarian for Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, Cybersecurity, Informatics, Information and Library Science & Criminal Justice presented to the team on their forthcoming research about disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of credible and reliable information from government sources. Titled Conspiracy Thinking: The Widespread Harm of COVID-19 Disinformation, the findings will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.
Angela and Elaine also worked with a team led by Dr. Janine Jurkowski to develop a literature review on food insecurity and its relationship to differential COVID-19 pandemic outcomes. Angela is to be listed as a co-author on the work.
Dr. Pardo and her associate Julia Singleton had nothing but good things to say about working with librarians. “Having librarians on the team has meant greater exposure for the librarians to other research faculty. They could see that librarians are more than a ‘reference desk,’ they are disciplinary experts. Through librarian consultations, researchers could feel confident in the quality control of their literature searches. More than that, however; they are full-fledged faculty partners in the research mission of the team.”