Research Pays Off
Sam Burgess Undergraduate Award Winner
By Matt Berger
Rarely do current students get the opportunity to see their education pay dividends. Much of the time the hard work that goes into an education is not rewarded until employment is found or a graduate school acceptance letter comes in the mail. The late hours spent in the library can sometimes seem like a futile effort, when all you receive upon completion is a letter grade.
For Elana Kelber, junior from Minneapolis, these hours spent resulted in both a good grade and some extra money in the bank. Kelber was last year’s winner of the Sam Burgess Undergraduate Library Research Award.
The award, supported by an endowment started by Jo Burgess, an IUB librarian to honor the memory of her late son, is in recognition of the importance of IUB libraries on undergraduate education.
Applicants submit a research paper that has been completed for a credited course. Winners of the $500 and $1,000 awards have papers that exhibit creativity, sophistication, and personal learning that comes from an extensive process of research and inquiry.
What sells? Examining Gender in Print Advertising in the 1950’s was a paper Kelber had written for her Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) sophomore seminar. With this paper topic, Kelber was given free rein by Professor Wendy Gamber to explore all types of resources available on campus. These resources included print magazines such as GQ from the 1950’s, articles, journals, and books.
“The organization and structure that the library staff provided helped me get all of my sources put together in a way that made the paper easier to write”, says Kelber. Even when the magazine or book she needed wasn’t on campus the services provided by the library brought the source to her. “I used the Wells Library, the off-site library (ALF), even the Kinsey Institute.” Kelber said.
Hoping for a good grade was Kelber’s first concern for this paper. However, Professor Gamber felt the paper was good enough to be submitted for the Burgess Award as well as two separate LAMP departmental awards.
Winning the awards was a welcomed surprise. “I ended up winning all three awards… It made paying for summer school much easier.” Kelber said.
In the end the prize money from the Sam Burgess Undergraduate Library Research Award wasn’t put towards new clothes, a year-end party, or even a summer trip. Instead Elana Kelber put the money towards exactly what it was created for: the importance of an undergraduate education.