Action Research at the Library

ARC Logo


For more than a decade, the Action Research Center (ARC) has been a hub for service learning and community engagement initiatives across the curriculum and co-curriculum at Illinois Wesleyan University, and a platform for bringing IWU students, faculty, and staff together with community partners to “[pursue] innovative ideas that transform communities.”  Offering credit-bearing courses, workshops, independent study projects, internships, and innovative programs like the Citizen Scholars First-Year Experience, and the Weir Fellowship, ARC routinely supports more than 40,000 hours of volunteer service and community engagement activities each year. A long-time relationship between ARC and library focused on information literacy instruction for field-based research and experiential learning is set to take a big step forward with the relocation of the Action Research Center to the Ames Library in Summer 2019.

As part of the “Center for Engaged Learning” initiative, ARC is joining other core program partners already housed in the Ames Library, including the Writing Center and the Thorpe Center to bring together expert resources and services for faculty wishing to integrate information literacy, writing, information technology, and/or service learning into their teaching and scholarship, and to make it easier for students to discover, and make use of, student success programs housed across campus. The co-location of ARC and the Library, in particular, has promise both to integrate the research-based and field-based aspects of service-learning initiatives, but also to further explore the potential for collaboration among libraries in the community, including public libraries, school libraries, special libraries, and museums. Reflecting on her experience with the library to date, and the new opportunities that may come with this move, ARC Director Deborah Halperin said, “Ames Library is a dynamic hub of ideas and resources. We are excited to be in this space and to have greater opportunities to interface with students, staff, librarians, and other faculty. This move will create new partnerships on and off campus that will enhance the student experience, build stronger connections among faculty colleagues, and strengthen the university’s position as a community leader.”

ARC student interns have already joined staff to begin work on community-centered research projects, including an analysis of Westside neighborhood revitalization focused on housing data from 2008-2018. The project requires a literature review of revitalization and community development theories, analysis of GIS maps for the area, and interviews with a wide variety of community leaders and stakeholders. We look forward to seeing additional opportunities for community engagement and field-based undergraduate research continue to develop as the Center for Engaged Learning takes shape in the coming year.

The Action Research Center was founded in 2003 with a focus on providing greater opportunities for students to engage in meaningful, community-based internships demonstrating a shared commitment to improving communities in the spirit of social justice. Major community projects originally sponsored by ARC include Radio Latina (2009), LINK at the Farmers’ Market (2010), IWU Peace Garden (2012), Tool Library (2013), and Veggie Oasis (2014). For more information on the Action Research Center, please contact Deborah Halperin, Director. For more information on library services or the Center for Engaged Learning initiative, please contact Scott Walter, University Librarian.

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