Congratulations to Hunter Miesner, winner of the 2022 Friends of the Library Scholarship. Miesner is currently at the end of his first year of undergraduate studies in the Business Administration track here at UMKC.
Miesner’s essay was chosen for his response to the following prompt:
“How did you use library resources and services to complete a project, and what did they add to your work?“
In high school, I often romanticized college life and the unbridled freedom I would enjoy being 190 miles away from home. However, after stepping foot on campus, I quickly realized that college can be extremely overwhelming. Maybe part of this unexpected anxiety stemmed from me being a first generation student, but, suddenly, I was responsible for my own well-being, balancing work and school, and maintaining a social life in between. These feelings of stress and apprehension were only exacerbated by a semester-long research project for English 225 that every student was expected to complete independently. With a unique topic for my project and little to no research experience, I was prepared to give up before even starting. That was until I found help when I needed it most from UMKC Libraries.
For my research project, I wrote a rhetorical analysis on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Lord of the Flies by William Golding; both with the intention of cultivating a better understanding of how toxic masculinity is depicted in young adult novels commonly taught in high school. Though these novels are revered as classics in 2022, with such a specific topic, finding research articles proved to be challenging. For this reason, I knew that outside help would be necessary if I wanted to complete this project successfully. Luckily, I knew just where to go after attending workshops organized by UMKC Libraries and hosted by real librarians.
During these events, I familiarized myself with the resources offered to students. These resources, all of which were incredibly useful for my research, include: free access to databases through Miller Nichols Library, twenty-four hour help with the “Ask a Librarian” feature, and learning how to enhance search results using Boolean operators. Before becoming aware of these resources, many of the Google searches I made during my initial research yielded narrow results with no information worth using in my project.
However, learning that students even had access to premier databases through Miller Nichols Library was game changing. I now had a place that I could visit with the sole focus of finding research articles. Additionally, if it were not for the twenty-four hour “Ask a Librarian” feature, I never would have found some of my best sources, such as, “Dismantling ‘The Man’: New Directions in Teaching The Great Gatsby”; an article focused on highlighting Fitzgerald’s use of
toxic masculinity while providing educators with alternative ways of teaching the novel from a twenty-first century perspective. To locate other scholarly articles for my project, I recalled a lesson on Boolean operators that was taught during a UMKC Libraries’ workshop. Using the librarian’s advice, I perfected my search results by writing queries that utilized Boolean expressions. For example, [(“The Great Gatsby” OR “Lord of the Flies”) AND “toxic masculinity”] garnered much better results than my previous attempts.
After taking advantage of these resources and performing my own analysis of Fitzgerald’s and Golding’s classic novels, I submitted my project in its final form and received 97 points out of 100; scoring a perfect 20 out of 20 points for my development and use of sources. Other than my hard work and dedication, I truly have UMKC Libraries to thank for my success in English 225. UMKC Libraries gave me direction when I had none, added to my overall project by providing me with valuable sources, and taught me research skills that will be
transferable in my academic career. With three years ahead of me as a UMKC Roo, I will continue making use of UMKC Libraries’ resources while encouraging others to do the same.
This unedited essay is published as it was submitted.