Regulatory Disaster Investigation - Bass Connections ProjectContributed by Carson Holloway

Beginning May 13th 2014,  a Bass Connection project team of undergraduate and graduate researchers faculty and I began our collaboration, meeting in a dedicated space in Bostock Library and our project team will carry on there through early July.  The Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation project provides an opportunity to evaluate the process of assisting groups in focused research activities using the resources and expertise available through Duke Libraries. This project is in line with the projected opening of the Library Information Commons in 2015.

The broad intellectual question the group is investigating is “how does government best respond to crises?”   The outcomes from this particular Bass Connections project will include a working visit to Washington D.C. to interview regulators and officials, producing a policy brief/ white paper, and possible conference presentations. This Bass Connections group work will make a contribution to a projected edited work which falls under the umbrella of the Recalibrating Risk working group in the Kenan Institute on Ethics.

The work group was convened in the Library by Professors Lori Bennear and Ed Balleisen and began with a discussion of assignments to investigate the history of government responders to crisis such as the NTSB, the Chemical Safety Board, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, British Parliamentary Commissions and corresponding institutions in other countries around the globe.  The  group members were assigned the task of preparing annotated bibliographies about the institutions and their histories.

As the project moves forward, librarians with subject specialization and language expertise including Holly Ackerman on Latin America and Greta Boers who has expertise in Dutch are helping these researchers make the best use of their limited time.  Only four more weeks- yikes!  In the future it seems likely that the role of librarians will expand in assisting researchers in time-delimited participation in work groups revolving around new spaces like the Information Commons.

Carson Holloway is Librarian for History of Science and Technology, Military History, British and Irish Studies, Canadian Studies and General History

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