I’m Kimberly Hirsh, a doctoral student at UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science. I came to SILS (this time) to study Connected Learning, how it manifests in libraries, and how school libraries can bridge formal and informal learning.

I’m also:

  • a lifelong learner
  • an educator
  • a performer
  • a producer
  • a writer
  • a reader
  • a crafter
  • a gamer
  • a fangirl
  • a mom
  • a wife
  • a sister
  • a daughter
  • a friend

My Work

In my doctoral program, I have written literature reviews on school library makerspaces, tabletop gaming and identity, and possible selves. I have conducted original research on special education training for school librarians and on learning in an improv-comedy community. I am currently finishing up coursework for UNC’s Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research, working on a proposal for a school library Youth Participatory Action Research project, and working on the literature review for my comprehensive examination.

I’m still narrowing the research focus for my dissertation, but it will involve connected learning and culturally sustaining pedagogy. My broad area of interest for this project is identifying and describing how school libraries can support youth in leveraging their own culture, especially participatory popular culture, for learning.

I co-wrote the grant proposal for Project READY, a federally-funded grant program providing professional development focused on racial equity and culturally sustaining pedagogy for school librarians and their collaborating colleagues, and am now serving as the project’s research assistant. In this role, I have taken the lead on developing PD materials around culturally sustaining pedagogy and on facilitating webinars that bring guest speakers to our project participants.

My Background

Immediately prior to entering the doctoral program at SILS, I was the managing editor for LEARN NC, an outreach program of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Education. In that role, I collaborated with authors to shape their work for publication, created multimedia digital content, and worked with units across campus to bring their work to K-12 educators across the state and the world.

Before that, I was a middle school librarian and a high school Latin teacher in North Carolina’s public schools.

But Who Am I Really?

I believe love needs to be central to everything we do. I’m fairly noisy about my own struggles with chronic illness, both physical and mental. I’m a proud long-time resident of Durham, North Carolina. I’m a (not so) secret goth. I’m the kind of person who wears fairy wings because I feel like it and has a collection of crowns and tiaras. I’m the winner of one Can’t Stop the Serenity Trivia Contest. If my soul were a TV show, it’d be a combination of GLOW and Difficult People. I love showtunes. I think producing theater and comedy is the best job I ever had that didn’t pay. My TV avatars are Liz Lemon, Annie EdisonJess Day, and Amy Santiago. The predominant pop culture text in my life is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My favorite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it strongly informs my life philosophy. My go-to Dungeons and Dragons class is bard.  If I were going to marry an inanimate object, it would be the chandelier from The Phantom of the Opera. I have a crush on the Fibonacci sequence, because of an episode of Square One, and on the Feejee Mermaid, because of an episode of The X-Files. I’m kind of always cosplaying as Wednesday Addams. I don’t have a “thing” besides school or parenthood right now, but when I have some time for leisure I spend it playing video or board games. I had to tell people to stop buying me mermaid-themed gifts because I was getting duplicates. I am searching for the perfect old-book-scent perfume. I identify as Ravenclaw, but Pottermore sorted me into Slytherin, and I kind of get it. Kitty Pryde is my favorite superhero. I appreciate a well-crafted pun like other people appreciate a fine wine. I often find glitter on my person without any idea how it got there. If I had to identify only one defining characteristic for myself, it would be that I care. And the strongest manifestation of that is that I love my family and friends so hard.

Photograph by Jackson Hall.