Benjamin Peck (MEd 2021)
"I enjoy the process of discovery. Nothing makes me happier than conversing with others in an exchange that inspires me to explore what’s on the next hilltop. Each day I ask, 'What can I learn next?' Collaboration makes me happy because it challenges my brain."
Benjamin Peck’s career as an academic librarian epitomizes the essence of collaboration. As a choral singer, he knows the importance of good listening and attention to detail, critical skills that easily translate to his work teaching information literacy.
He contrasts the public perception of a library with its hushed atmosphere and reference professionals tucked behind a tall desk with his dream of a contemporary space that meets the needs of a diverse student body with multiple collaboration spaces, a plentitude of digital access points and accessible professional research support. Although this vision of a vibrant place humming with information literacy and exchange is also reflected in a larger UNH project that explores the modernization of the library space, it embodies Peck’s outlook on his professional expertise and career.
With a BA in Music from Bates College and a Master of Library Science from Indiana University Bloomington, Ben’s career spans an enormous range of experience and geography. Starting his career in music librarianship, Peck expanded his work into new areas of expertise. This professional exploration encompassed positions with Bates College Special Collections and Scarborough Library in Maine as well as higher education libraries at Mount Alison University in New Brunswick, Canada, Connecticut College, Indiana University and Pace University in New York.
For five years Peck served at the University of New Hampshire as First Year Experience and Student Success Librarian where he introduced undergraduates to the full scope of library services, research methodology and information literacy. In summer 2021, he started a new position with the University of Southern Maine as an Information Literacy Librarian and his collaboration antennae are tingling with excitement.
"As a librarian, I love the idea of having a vast store of knowledge at my fingertips. Research is like a treasure hunt; you need to know the tips and tricks to tease it out, to know where to search and how to assess the credibility of the information. My job is to give students the tools to master this important skill. Support and encouragement from a library professional can provide the foundation necessary to build students’ confidence and foster their success. It is a pleasure to watch our students grow and develop their abilities."
One of Ben’s special projects paired him with two UNH colleagues to teach students in the Health Policy Program the techniques for researching a global health topic, including evidence-based practice. Rather than write a lengthy paper, students captured the essential message components in a clearly defined infographic, a valuable skill in today’s information-based society. The UNH collaborative team included Ben Peck, Eugenia Opuda and Rosemary Caron, who published their case study in an article entitled Teaching Health Impact and Behavior with Infographics which was published in the Journal of Health Administration Education.
To round out his pedagogical skills and embrace a high-level view of higher education, Ben completed a master’s degree in Educational Studies through UNH Online in May 2021. During the pandemic, he transitioned his information literacy classes to remote teaching while he also accessed online MEd courses as a student. Despite the simultaneous challenge, Peck benefited from a first-hand look at library outreach for distance learning students. The grounding experience of online communication and networking with his cohort stoked a healthy fire for further professional development opportunities in his new job.
"Enrolling in the UNH Online MEd classes opened the distance learning experience from a student’s perspective and asynchronous classes allowed me ample time to reflect on the material. As a working parent, the flexibility of pacing my own study time made the degree process manageable and pairing my library expertise with pedagogy skills and scholarly communication gave me the credibility and confidence I needed for a new career opportunity."
As a former member of the 150-voice Cecilia Chorus of New York, Ben recalls the thrill of singing at Carnegie Hall. Although teaching information literacy skills may not earn the same applause as a choral performance, his student-centered work has a life-long impact on their academic and career success. This educative collaboration continuously inspires Ben to dig deeper and climb higher to discover the view from the next mountain.
Written by Gwendolyn Goguelet