Guest commentary by Elizabeth Berry

Since my first year at Connecticut College, Shain Library has been a place to study, collaborate, research, and write, whether at a cubicle or in a collaboration room. During my sophomore year, I applied to be a scholar in the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA), one of the academic centers at Conn. After I was accepted into the prestigious program, I along with my peers was partnered with a research librarian who would help guide us through the next several years of our research journey, culminating in a Senior Integrative Project (SIP). I was paired with the wonderful Research and Instruction Librarian, Ashley Hanson, who met with me on a routine basis to alter my topic until I was passionate about my project, brainstorm key phrases for search engines, find niche articles for my SIP, and edit citations in my independent study. Hanson played a pivotal role in the final product: an independent study conducted under the Italian Studies department with Professor Paola Sica, which analyzed the role of feminism and writing in Elena Ferrante’s novel Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.

Photo by Elizabeth Berry while studying abroad in Bologna, Italy.

After I completed my independent study during fall 2020, Research Support and Instruction Librarian Andrew Lopez, who had also helped me conduct research, suggested I try to publish a version of my SIP. This was something I had sort of considered, but Lopez solidified the idea and met with me to brainstorm potential publications to reach out to, as well as discuss a plan for how to go about sending out these query emails. In the beginning of the spring semester, I began sending out emails to various digital magazines and eventually Italics Magazine expressed interest in my article, “The Inclusive Feminism of Elena Ferrante,” which was published on April 23, 2021. This would not have been possible without the support of Hanson and Lopez who helped me become confident in my research and continued to push me outside of my comfort zone. Research has always been a daunting task for me throughout my academic career, but my time spent at the information desk with Hanson and Lopez has made me feel more comfortable when sitting down to write a long essay that requires secondary resources.