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By Peter Deekle, Dean of University Library Services
Welcome to Connections, the RWU Learning Commons digital newsletter! Our new blog-like format will allow us to keep our campus and local communities informed in a more timely way with the activities of the University Library and the Learning Commons. Articles supporting our Learning Commons tagline: “Connect, Collaborate, Create,” will include short announcements of Learning Commons events, feature articles on a variety of topics, a social media round-up, profiles of our Learning Commons staff, and helpful tips for using our resources and services.
Through this newsletter we hope to foster dynamic and ever-current communication about our services, resources, and public events. With contributions from our Learning Commons partners and associates, we hope to enhance the awareness and appreciation of our collective initiatives among the Library’s many users – whether they are on campus or at a distance.
Visions for the Future
Learning Commons staff from the University Libraries, Instructional Design, Tutorial Services with valued contributions from University Advancement, have embarked on a reflective exercise to review and refine current mission and vision statements, aligned with the core values and related goals of Roger Williams University. The exercise supports an institution-wide consideration of strategic priorities, enabling the Learning Commons to reinforce its central and supportive purpose in advancing the academic success of students and faculty. We will use this exercise to align our future efforts in service provision and resource management with institutional goals.
Interview with Chris Truszkowski
Christopher Truszkowski was hired last summer as the Library’s Web and Digital Services Specialist. He is responsible for keeping the Library’s website current, supporting library technology applications, and providing digital services associated with the library’s management of digital content. As a non-librarian professional, Chris brings a welcome and fresh perspective to our library world!
Q: Chris, as a native of New Jersey by way of Pennsylvania, what brought you to RWU? Have you noticed any glaring differences between the people here in Rhode Island?
A: I moved to RI with my wife who is working on a PhD at Brown. The job here at RWU is a perfect blending of my previous jobs—from working briefly as a library page to several different jobs in I.T. I’m really liking the job so far. Rhode Island people are not that different—in some ways, they are closer to people from New York or New Jersey than people from Boston.
Q: What kind of technology work have you done in the past that prepared you for this position?
A: For the past four years I worked building web-based systems for a college in Pennsylvania. It was a good background for everything I am asked to do here—updating and adding new features to the library website, investigating the potential for data mining in order to give a better picture of library user data, etc.
Q: This is your first time working in a library as a professional, though you have worked in academia for several years. Are there things you find particularly different about library work or working with librarians?
A: Working in the library is not that much different from working in a small I.T. department—all campus departments share the same clientele—students, faculty, and staff. Each person in the department has his/her own unique set of responsibilities. I appreciate that librarians as a group have a higher percentage than others of esoteric (random) knowledge.
Q: What areas of new technology excite you? Do you have any ideas on how to bring some of these technologies to RWU Library?
A: I am determined to find uses for touch screens and tablets in the library. There is a great potential with newer web technologies for displaying the library’s content but there are technical as well as policy restrictions for the library website.
Q: We’ve heard rumors that you participate in the endurance obstacle races known as “Tough Mudder.” Can you tell us what these races are like? What do they say about you?
A: The Tough Mudder creed considers the obstacle course not a race but a “challenge.” The 10-12 mile obstacle course features 20-25 different obstacles, based on those used by the British Special Forces. These might include the “Arctic Enema,” submerging in a mud pit filled with water and ice, or my latest challenge, the “Funky Monkey Bars,” where the bars have been greased with mud, and slipping will dump you into a muddy pond, below. The goal is simply to get through the course and, regardless of whom you came with, everyone is on your team.
Q: Do you have any other interests you are passionate about?
A: I have played music since I was 8 or 9, starting with piano and trombone, but now playing a lot of tuba. I also sang in the choir in college, where I met my wife. We now both play in a Providence street band called “The Extraordinary Rendition Band,” and we perform at a lot of activist events. I also am a home brewer and have enjoyed making beer for the past few years. My specialty is pumpkin ale, which turns out the most consistently every year.
Q: May we have a sampling of your pumpkin ale?
A: After work, of course.
Thank you, Chris.
In partnership with Samsung the Learning Commons is inaugurating the Samsung Learning Experience – a designated site on the University Library’s first floor, where students and faculty can encounter and learn about the latest academic technologies and hardware platforms. More information about this new service will be forthcoming in future newsletter issues.
RWU Associate Professor of Art, Anne Tait, delivered a faculty lecture during the Lincoln exhibit on October 15th, “Death, Memory and the Civil War.” Following her lecture, Professor Tait was interviewed by the Newport Mercury about her research on the cemeteries and the Civil War. You can find the full text of her interview online, here at http://tinyurl.com/k6cywg3.
By Peter Deekle, Dean of University Library Services
Reflecting the vital importance for our many users of a coordinated system of services, the University Library has welcomed a partnership with the Office of Information Technology in establishing Integrated Support Services. Two central service desks, one for Library Information and another for Technology Support, will be located in the forefront of the Main Library’s renovated first floor. These new and parallel service points represent a complementary unit of academic and technical support for all researchers, information seekers, knowledge creators, and project developers. The outcome provides, along with academic partners on the Library’s second floor, a “first stop … one stop” dimension for academic success.
by Christine Fagan, Collection Management Librarian
Lincoln arrived this Fall at the RWU Library in thirteen rolling crates–the long awaited result of a grant proposal submitted in 2011 for Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War. The exhibition stood over eight feet tall in five, three-dimensional, sections focusing on Lincoln as President, secession, slavery, civil liberties and finally, his legacy. It was based on the original exhibition on display at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Subsequently, the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities digitally reproduced the images from the exhibition and mounted them on panels that travelled to over 200 libraries across the country in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. At RWU, a complementary exhibition was mounted with local Civil War artifacts from the University Library’s archival collection.
The Grand Opening took place on September 23rd with The Honorable Frank J. Williams, retired Rhode Island Supreme Court judge and nationally recognized Lincoln scholar, delivering the keynote address. This marked the beginning of a stimulating six weeks of programming, featuring faculty lectures, films, a Socrates Café, a Student Showcase, Civil War re-enactors, and performing arts events. The RWU Chorus and Prism of Praise provided a rousing sendoff to the exhibition with the GOSPELFEST on November 2nd. The exhibition was significantly enhanced by all of these programs and the student and community engagement that resulted.
Programming was organized by the Lincoln Exhibition Planning Committee, composed of faculty and administrators from across campus. The RWU Library is deeply grateful for the multi-disciplinary support received in producing this unique educational opportunity for the RWU and nearby local communities.
by Heidi Benedict, University Archivist
In celebration of Veterans Day, RWU Libraries collaborated with the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society (BHPS) on a digital project to make the Society’s collections of World War II posters more readily available.
The Historical Society’s collection includes about 100 posters, the majority emphasizing the importance of rationing, conservation, and safety; and many are uniquely Rhode Island themed. War posters like these were issued by the U.S. Government, and as such are in the public domain. Still, many posters have not been digitized and are only available at the holding repositories. With the completion of this project, World War II posters previously restricted to visitors to the BHPS can now be freely accessed online at http://bhps.omeka.net. The actual posters themselves remain at the Society.
Thanks to the University Archivist, Heidi Benedict for managing this project, Digital Imaging Technologist, Megan Lessard for content creation and digitization, and former Archives and Metadata Specialist, Molly Jencks, for technical development and metadata creation.
by Linda Beith, Director of Instructional Design
The Department of Instructional Design, in collaboration with the School of Continuing Studies and the Library, developed a fully online, six-lesson preparatory course for faculty interested in transitioning to teaching in an online environment.
This course was developed based on best practices drawn from Quality Matters (a national benchmark for online course design), the Sloan Online Learning Consortium, Teaching with Sakai Innovation Program, Blackboard Exemplary Course Program and Educause research and data.
The course weaves in the principles of andragogy with the use of instructional technology tools to foster development of online and hybrid courses that address three main interactions: student-to-content, student-to-student and student-to-instructor. Faculty participants experience the online learning experience from the student perspective while applying what they learn from each lesson in building their own online courses.
This course is facilitated by the ID team and the Fall 2014 Teaching Online course is the sixth offering since its launch in the of Summer 2013. To date, 48 faculty participants have received a certificate of completion. A new section will be offered in January 2015.
As a result of the fall 2013 LibQual+ Survey of RWU students, faculty and staff, we learned that students are eagerly seeking collaborative study spaces in the Library. With the move of the School of Education to the Law School, we were able to repurpose two faculty offices to new study rooms providing small groups (between 2 and 4 people) collaborative work space. The rooms are equipped with Samsung IWB (Interactive White Board) technology and a Windows PC positioned on a 65-inch Samsung display. Students can book these rooms through an online booking system linked to the library’s homepage, or in-person at the Library Information Desk. Since the opening of the rooms, students have been successfully utilizing the space for group work, and we look forward to more students taking advantage of these new opportunities available in the library in the future.
Announcing Talking in the Library Speakers Spring 2015
Please join us on the following dates for lectures by the notable authors:
February 24, 2015 Maria Flook 4:30 p.m. An RWU Alumna Returns to Celebrate Her Ninth Book
March 23, 2015 Jewher Ilham 4:00 p.m. A Uighur Daughter Fights for Her Father’s Freedom
April 13, 2015 Paul Harding 4:00 p.m. 2010 Pulitzer Winner for Tinkers and the 3rd Annual Bermont Distinguished Visitor