Document Type

Contribution to Book

Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices

Start Page


End Page



At the start of fall 2016, Katie Heffner, an undergraduate English major at the University of Iowa, began a fellowship with Amy Hildreth Chen, the special collections instruction librarian, for the duration of the 2016-2017 academic year through the Iowa Center for Undergraduate Research (ICRU). While ICRU gave our collaboration an end goal--Katie needed to present her work at an undergraduate research symposia at the end of the year--how we met that goal remained up to us. The approach we took to our relationship unfolded organically over time, but its basis came from our feminist values. After all, we immediately recognized that both of us were unorthodox candidates for this partnership. Katie is a non-traditional undergraduate who is the same age as Amy. Amy is an “alt-ac,” an alternative academic, who works as an academic librarian but who does not hold a library degree and had just begun her position two months prior to meeting Katie. This case study will highlight the benefits of academic librarians directing undergraduate research through a feminist approach that embraces unconventional mentors, collaborative methods, and diverse outcomes in order to advocate for the universal value of close-knit, one-on-one connections. Furthermore, this chapter will highlight how this model of mentorship uniquely suits the needs of nontraditional students.


Special Collections, Archives, Academic Librarian, Undergraduate Research, Mentor, Feminist, Non-Traditional Student

Journal Article Version

Version of Record

Published Article/Book Citation

Amy H. Chen and Kathryn Ross. "Mentoring a Peer: A Feminist Ethic for Directing Undergraduate Humanities Research." Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices. Ed. Merinda Kaye Hensley. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2017.


Copyright © 2017 Amy Hildreth Chen and Kathryn Ross

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License