The Instruction and Outreach Department manages and coordinates library research instruction for students, faculty and staff through course-related workshops, outreach activities, personal consultations, research guides and other instructional materials.


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Friday, August 13, 2010

Drum roll, please...

One of the most rewarding aspects of my work in Instruction and Outreach is managing the Robert F. Durden Prize, which recognizes undergraduates’ excellence in research, including their analysis, evaluation and synthesis of sources, and encourages students to make use of the general library collections and services at Duke University.  The award was established three years ago and is funded by alumni who chose to name the prize in honor of Professor Emeritus of history, Bob Durden.

In May of every year, we ask students to submit papers and projects completed for course credit during the previous year, along with faculty statements of support and 500-750 word essays describing their research process and strategies and, of course, the ways that they used the Libraries to complete their work.  These essays are extremely interesting and enlightening -- we learn a great deal about how students make sense of the Libraries' tremendous (and, at times, overwhelming) resources and services, and we are let in on the "aha!" moments that lead to students' impressive discoveries and analyses.

This year, Diane Harvey, Jean Ferguson and I read through every application packet, focusing on research process essays and faculty statements of support in particular.  We then named ten finalists in three categories: first and second-year students, third and fourth year students and students writing honors theses. 

Faculty members Kristen Neuschel and miriam cooke then joined the selection committee, and each of us carefully read the full packets of all ten finalists.  We met yesterday to determine this year's Durden Prize winners:  
  • First/Second Year: Xinglai (Lai Lai) Sun for "The Myth of the Addict: Opium Suppression in Late Imperial China"
  • Third/Fourth Year: Ryan Brown for “The Native of Nowhere: Nat Nakasa” and Eugenia (Jinny) Cho for "Architectural Acoustics of Symphony Hall” (Ryan and Jinny will split the prize)
  • Honors Thesis: Andrew Simon for “Intertwining Narratives: The Copts and their Muslim Relations”
Other finalists are Lindsay Emery, Rose Filler, Caroline Griswold, Brad Lightcap, Brianna Nofil and Eugene Wang.  The work of these ten students represents a range of disciplines, including history, English, dance, physics, economics, Asian and Middle Eastern studies and linguistics.  

We will celebrate the successes of our finalists and winners at the Annual Middlesworth Award and Durden Prize Reception on Friday, October 22 from 3:30-4:30 in the Rare Book Room.  Faculty members and librarians who supported the research of Lai Lai, Ryan, Jinny and Andrew will be commenting on these students' fine work.

This event is part of the Parents' and Family Weekend schedule of events – mark your calendars, and spread the word!

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