Student Research Leads to Library Prize

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Photo credit/Brandon Davis
Photo credit/Brandon Davis

Faculty and staff at the Franklin D. Schurz Library are issuing more than just late fees to students making use of the campus facility.

“I was really surprised, I was really happy too!” That was the sentiment of student Lexi Millard after learning that she was the 2014 recipient of IU South Bend’s Library Prize for Undergraduate Research. Millard is an English major with a minor in gender studies and plans to graduate next winter.

According to the IU South Bend website, the library prize highlights and rewards those undergraduate students who exhibit exemplary research skills and also incorporate information found within the library’s resources into their projects. The winner receives $500.

Despite the monetary compensation, the number of projects submitted for consideration of the library prize was low.

“I just don’t understand why more people don’t talk about it. It’s such a huge deal,” Millard said. “It’s such a sad thing that not more people know about it.”

“It’s academically great, you get to get your name out there and the school throws a big hoopla around

it,” she continued. “And you get $500 bucks!”

Millard’s winning research paper entitled, “The Long Misery – Troubled Masculinity in Edith Wharton’s ‘Ethan Frome’,” was originally written for an assignment in her ENG-L 352 American Literature 1865-1914 class.

“I also submitted the paper in order to attempt to get into an undergraduate English conference,” Millard said. “I got into that, so I knew it was a decent paper.”

Millard used the 1911 novel “Ethan Frome,” written by Edith Wharton, as a basis to examine masculinity and how our society defines the roles of both men and women. The book details a farmer’s struggle between his obligation to his sick wife and a desire to run away with her younger cousin. Millard believes this story underlines a man’s tussle with what he wants to do versus what society tells him he should do.

“It is impossible to be everything society tells you you are supposed to be, no matter what identity it is,” Millard said. “That is why I ended up doing it, because it has a lot of really, really powerful imagery.”

For this complex project, Millard had to find numerous secondary sources to research the time period, as well as the overall main subject.

“The most important thing was my use of interlibrary loans,” Millard acknowledged. “If our school doesn’t have access and another school does, our librarians will get it and that’s incredibly useful.” Millard also received help from various places, such as literary databases and advice from the tutors in the IU South Bend Writers’ Room, to help finish the paper. Millard is very passionate regarding research, writing and tutoring. She hopes to take the things she’s learned while in school and become a professor after she earns her degree.

“Lexi is delightful. Her use of sources was just really well integrated into the research,” said Nancy Colborn, head of information literacy services and library prize committee chair.

A committee comprised of Colborn, two faculty members, a librarian and one other library staff member review submissions for the library award on an annual basis.

“It doesn’t have to be a paper, it can be a group project (…) something like if a student is costuming a play (…) as long as they can document their research, we will consider it,” Colborn said. “We acknowledge that research papers aren’t the only form of research that exists.”

For more information on the eligibility, criteria and historical winners of the Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, visit

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