The Birss Memorial Lecture and Book Discussion Group


The 17th annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture has two upcoming signature events. As part of honoring this year’s selection, One Hundred Years of Solitude &  Gabriel García Márquez, a public discussion will be held at Rogers Free Library on February 22, 2017 (7:00 PM). The following week, on March 1, the keynote address on the book will be held in the Mary Tefft White Center in the RWU Library (4:30 PM). The lecture, “Violence and History in One Hundred Years of Solitude: The Politics of Magical Realism,” will be delivered by María Helena Rueda, Chair, Associate Professor of Spanish & Portuguese at Smith College. Concurrently, the exhibition celebrating One Hundred Years of Solitude, remains on display on the first floor of the library through March 31, 2017. For information and resources about the book, please visit


Test Test Test


There is No Such Thing as Educational Use

By Lindsey Gumb, Instructional Technology Librarian


It’s a common misconception that when a resource (e.g. an article, image, video, audio clip, etc.) is used in an educational setting that copyright restrictions dissolve entirely because “it’s educational use.”  I hate to be the bearer of bad news to all of you who may be guilty of casually letting this phrase roll off your tongue, but there is no such thing as educational use.  Really, I’m not lying: it’s not a real thing.  There is, however, Fair Use, which does in fact come into

play quite often in educational settings, granting educators and students alike leniency in many situations.  Let’s take a closer look.

Fair Use, or Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act is a subjective portion of the law which allows us to take and use portions of copyrighted works without obtaining the permission of the copyright holder, if and only if we use them for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.    To determine whether or not a use is considered fair or not, one must look at four different factors:


  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

To give a relevant example in higher education, let’s look at a situation that surfaces often on many campuses, including Roger Williams:

Q: “I want to upload a PDF article I found in an RWU library database to Bridges for my students to read before our next class discussion.  Is this fair use?”


A: Here’s my motto: when in doubt, link out.   Instead of uploading the PDF to Bridges, simply copy and paste the permalink to the article for your students to access themselves.  You might argue that since Bridges requires a student to login it should be fine (and the courts may now agree with you), however, you are reproducing and distributing copies of copyrighted material without the explicit permission of the copyright holder by uploading the document.  By providing a link, the student is required to enter their library credentials to access the article, and if they choose, they can download it for their own personal study (and you hope they do), which is considered Fair Use.


The above example frustrates educators to no end; they feel that because the resource in question is used in an educational setting and for an educational purpose it should be okay to upload it without contacting the copyright holder (in this case, a publisher).  However, if we go back to the four factors listed above, you’ll note that number three mentions something about how much of the work (in this case, the article) one uses without obtaining said permission.  Reproducing and distributing a whole article does not favor fair use, but potentially a smaller portion would be okay.  Keep in mind, however, that the courts believe “intent to infringe is not needed to find copyright infringement.  Intent or knowledge is not an element of infringement, and thus even an innocent infringer is liable for infringement” (ARL).  If you’re unsure whether the use is fair or not, consult with legal counsel.

Because fair use is so subjective, in higher education we are often forced to choose between using the material we wish to use in the classroom and using subpar resources that don’t exactly fit our needs but have no copyright restrictions.  After reading the above Q&A, one can start to realize how frustrating working with copyright can be.

To end this article on a positive note, there is a lot of dialogue happening

in the academic and scholarly communities lately as advocates press Congress for a revision of the law to reflect the drastic change in technology and resource sharing capabilities that we have access to today as creators and consumers.  Most notably, Harvard University is hosting its 4th annual Fair Use Week from February 22 -26 both virtually and on the Cambridge campus.  Be sure to check it out!


Credit: Fair Use icon courtesy of Harvard University Library and copyright image courtesy

From The Archives: The Fulton/Howe Collection: Valentine’s Day

by Heidi Benedict, University Archivist

The tradition of sending Valentines is not a new one. Family members, friends, and sweethearts were exchanging notes and gifts as early as the nineteenth century. Among the correspondence to Edith Howe, we found several home-made Valentines from the turn of the century.



New York Times Online is now available to the University community compliments of the RWU Library

By John Fobert, Electronic Resources Librarian



The library is proud to announce that it has been able to negotiate New York Times Online subscriptions for the University community.

Students will particularly enjoy the convenience of being able to access the latest issues of the New York Times as well as historical content back to 1851.  They will have a well written, researched and curated source of news at their fingertips.  The library hopes a resource with such relevancy to current events will spark discussion outside of the classroom thereby creating a more informed student body.

Faculty can enjoy the ease of incorporating current content into their courses as well as being able to access the New York Times in Education product.  The New York Times in Education product allows faculty to develop general instructional strategies based on learning outcomes. Students can also use this product to develop co-curricular activities when they are on-campus.

The NYT Online can be used for much more than just searching articles or reading today’s news.  Users can subscribe to newsletters such as The Edit where articles are matched to academic majors.  News alerts can be sent to mobile devices based on personal interests and needs.  There is a treasure trove of videos, photography, and other multi-media resources available.  Users can even save recipes from the food section to their own recipe box.

Sign up today!  If you need additional help or have questions, please contact the Library Information desk at 254-3375 or John Fobert, Electronic Resources Librarian at 245-3374.

To access you free subscription, see the instructions at

Innovations in Teaching Showcase Fall 2016

Each year we celebrate RWU faculty expertise in teaching with an Innovations in Teaching Showcase event held during the academic year. Each session has a theme and brief presentation(s) by an RWU faculty member(s) followed by an opportunity for sharing ideas, perspectives, strategies, etc.

Innovations in Teaching Series – Fall 2016
This series of the Fall 2016 semester is being sponsored by Center for Scholarship, Assessment, Learning, Teaching, & Technology (CSALT²).

Session 1 – Using an Interactive Syllabus presented by Jason Jacobs, Ph.D.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 from 2:00 PM – 2:50 PM in Library Instruction Lab (LIL)
Creating an interactive format for a syllabus in Bridges allows an instructor to build student engagement, interactivity and accountability in and out of the classroom. Join us for this session to see one approach to organize and sequence resources and activities like assignments, forum discussions, and quizzes by class, by week or by module. This allows students anytime-anywhere access to what is needed and when for a course.
View the recording of the session:
Session 2 – Fostering Reflection and Metacognition through Journaling
Wednesday, November 30, 2016 from noon to 12:50 PM in Library Instruction Lab (LIL)
Journaling is a simple strategy that has a powerful effect on learning. When students reflect on a learning experience they draw on both cognitive and emotional information to make meaning. In this session the presenters will demonstrate how they have used different approaches to journaling, both private and shared, to engage and deepen the learning of their students.
View the recordings for each session below:
  • Donna Dimery’s Video Presentation

  • Brian Wysor’s Video Presentation


High-stakes Texts: Lowering the cost of textbooks to save Rhode Islander’s Money

By Lindsey Gumb, Instructional Technology Librarian

On September 27th Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo challenged the state’s institutions of higher education to save students $5 million over the next five years by replacing traditional (and expensive) textbooks with openly licensed (free) ones. Roger Williams University, along with 6 other colleges in the state have pledged to collaborate and engage with their respective faculty members to identify appropriate open textbooks to participate in this initiative.  As a part of this collaboration, a Steering Committee consisting of one librarian from each participating institution has been formed to provide guidance, learn from one another and to develop assessments along the way.  Instructional Technology Librarian, Lindsey Gumb, is representing RWU on the committee and is excited to marry the Governor’s initiative with the current partnerships the library has made on campus with the Open Educational Resources movement.

Talking In The Library: Tom Shea on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 4:30 pm


Tom Shea was a reporter for the Springfield Republican for forty years, including six years covering the Boston Red Sox. In 1991, he was among the first reporters writing about the priest sexual abuse scandal in New England. His work has appeared in Baseball America, New England Monthly and USA Today. In 2003, Shea received the New England Associated Press News Executive Award for best local New England column. His most recent book is Dingers: The 101 Most Memorable Home Runs in Baseball History.

Please join us:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
4:30 p.m.
University Library
Mary Tefft White Cultural Center

For more information on Tom Shea visit our Libguide

Did You Know…???

The Bristol Phoenix Newspaper Digitization Project has digitized historic issues of the town’s newspaper dating as far back as 1837 and as recent as 2015.  Now you can view and search past copies of the town’s newspaper online in a PDF format.

Professor John Howard Birss Jr. Memorial Program Exhibit Opening Reception

The 17th Annual Professor John Howard Birss Jr. Memorial Program’s celebration of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude began on February 1 2017, with the opening reception for the Library Exhibition. The exhibit opening was held in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center to celebrate the good works of Professor Christine Fagan and our two inaugural Birss Fellows (Allie Gowrie (’17) and Emily Stoeppel (’19)), while enjoying Colombian food and folklórico dance performed by members of  “Colombians in Rhode Island.”

Below are Professor Christine Fagan’s opening remarks.

Good Afternoon!

It has been my honor for the past 16 years to create exhibitions for the Annual Birss Memorial celebration of great works of literature.  One would think that I would have mastered this project by now, but the reality is that each year presents a new writer associated with a new archive and a myriad of unique circumstances.  This year was no exception.

In fact, it was especially true this year since I traveled to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin with the two Birss Fellows, Ali Gowrie and Emily Stoeppel.  These students were nominated by faculty members to have the opportunity to visit a major archive in order to research the papers of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and select artifacts to be included in the exhibition.  I must say that I had some trepidation before the trip, having never taken students on an off-campus venture.  I woke up one night from a dream in which the students and I missed our plane flight.  We finally managed to get on another flight, but then landed in a chaotic third world country.  That is when I woke up!

I am happy to say that our actual trip to Austin was nothing like that and truly a wonderful opportunity.  The Harry Ransom Center is an internationally renowned Humanities research library and museum.  We began our experience at the Center by taking a guided tour, including the Gutenberg Bible, the first photograph even taken, a Frida Kahlo self-portrait and an exhibition of Elliott Erwitt’s photographs.  We then viewed selected artifacts in the Reading Room which were of special interest to us, including:

  • an illuminated manuscript of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven as well as a hand-written verse from the poem
  • letters from Jack Kerouac to Neal Cassady and a photocopy of Jack Kerouac’s journal from which he wrote On the Road, the work we celebrated in the 2007 Birss exhibition
  • and several of Shakespeare’s plays printed in the early 1600s, including a copy of the First Folio. That was certainly a treat!

We then set to work on researching the Papers of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Having conducted research in advance using the online Finding Aid, we were able to quickly submit our requests for specific boxes of correspondence, photographs, and manuscripts.  Browsing through all these artifacts certainly gave us an appreciation for the life and work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  The students thrived on this unique opportunity to have such a personal view into this life of this great writer.  Researching the archive turned out to be a three-person operation as one person turned the pages of artifacts, another recorded each artifact we selected, noting the box and file number as well as writing a description, and the third shot digital images of the selected artifacts.  All of this information was necessary to process the request for photoduplication from the Harry Ransom Center in order to create the exhibition here at RWU.

We selected artifacts related to the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude, including the initial pages of the manuscript.  We also chose artifacts related to the Nobel Prize for Literature which Garcia Marquez won in 1982, including manuscript pages from his speech along with photographs of the event.  We selected photographs with family and friends, including Fidel Castro and Robert Redford and correspondence with celebrities, including President Bill Clinton and Salman Rushdie.  Finally, we selected Garcia Marquez’s response to Time Magazine’s question for a 1992 feature on “Great Goals.”  The question was:  “What should humankind aim to accomplish in the coming decades?”


That was definitely going in the exhibition!

Once our research was completed, we had the opportunity to meet with Professor Gabriela Polit of the Spanish and Portuguese Department at UT Austin and a colleague of Professor Lee Jackson here at RWU.  Professor Polit played a role in the transition of the Garcia Marquez Archive to the University of Texas at Austin, meeting with the family and the Colombian government during the process.  She explained that there was some controversy regarding the selection of the Harry Ransom Center as the location for the archive as the Colombian government felt it should reside in Colombia when Garcia Marquez was born and raised.  There were rumors that the decision was make so that the family could make more money on the transaction, but in fact, the family turned over the copyright for everything in the collection to the Harry Ransom Center with the exception of the one unpublished work.  The reality was that the Center was chosen because it has the technology and expertise to preserve the collection at the highest level and make it available to the global research community through digitization.

In closing, I want to thank everyone involved in the production of this exhibition, because it was truly a team effort that transformed the work that Ali, Emily and I did in Austin into what you see today.  Liz Hanes mounted all the artifacts.  Heidi Benedict printed all the images.  Megan Lessard and Chris Truszkowski created the Birss website.  Additional exhibition items were loaned by the Redwood Library in Newport, Professor Adam Braver, Professor Paola Prada, Jackie Katz, and Natasha Perez.  Translations were provided by Professor Lee Jackson and Angelina Ferrari of the Spanish Honors Society.  Dean Betsy Learned and Professor Adam Braver offered their support though out the entire project and of course, Bob Blais provided the means to make it happen.  It is the combined efforts of all these individuals that makes the creation of this exhibition such an exciting and enriching experience!  We hope you enjoy it!