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March 2015

Book Review: The Other Joseph by Skip Horack

By Kevin Marchand, Connections Intern

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The Other Joseph by Skip Horack

Ecco Press

March 2015

Imagine, before reaching age thirty, that you’re the last surviving member of your family. Your only brother has been lost to war; your parents ripped away a few years later by a car crash. This is precisely the situation of Roy Joseph in Skip Horack’s new novel, The Other Joseph. And things don’t let up for the young man from here.

It is clear from the start that all he wants is something to care about—someone to care about–to be needed, or even wanted. When he receives a mysterious email from a San Francisco teenager claiming to be his lost brother’s biological daughter, Roy packs up his life in Louisiana—which really only consists of himself, his car, and his dog Sam—and heads for the West Coast. Still paying for the mistakes of his past, Roy will be up against the clock in California. He will have only five days to find Joni (his brother’s alleged daughter) and convince her that it is worth maintaining contact with him; otherwise Roy will have to return to Louisiana alone, as the only surviving Joseph.

There is no underlying tone of heartache in this gripping novel; instead, it is on the surface, within every one of Roy’s thoughts and encounters, and in almost all of his memories. He tells us near the beginning of his journey: “I only have a foggy window of boyhood recollections of my brother, and every year I lose more. In maybe my last one I’m twelve years old and we’re stuck in a rainstorm together.”

The Other Joseph is a story of longing. Longing for meaning, longing for identity, for purpose and connection. Like so many characters in American literary tradition, Roy is hopeful that he will find what he’s looking for by going west. All he wants is “that the daughter and the mother might gradually grow to love me, maybe even take the Joseph name. That a man with no one but a dog might stumble upon a family.” It doesn’t take the reader long to understand that his wishes are futile, his actions desperate and hopeless. Most tragic is that we see it, while he doesn’t.

Despite the fact that we know early on that Roy’s mission is a dead one, we turn every page of The Other Joseph with increasing hope that we may be wrong. Skip Horack allows Roy’s desperate hope to become our own, and we are crushed time and again as he is beaten back by a world that seems to have no use for him. And it’s the final surprise that melts away the piece of ourselves we’ve thrown in with Roy Joseph—and what makes it worse: when it actually happens, we realize that we knew it all along.

Learning Commons – Continuing Progress

By Peter Deekle, Dean of University Library Services

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Each year has brought further advancements in the design, construction, and use of space in the University Library. The Summer of 2015 is no exception.  With the help of consultants from Boston’s  ICON Architecture, Inc., we have embarked on the latest development phase.  During the summer months, Student Accessibility Services will be relocated to a newly-designed site on the first floor where the former Library Instruction Lab (formerly, the 24-hour Study Room) was placed.  Also, thanks to generous donors and a grant from Rhode Island’s Champlin Foundations, we will completely redesign the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center.  That outcome will provide an expanded and flexible-use Instant Theater in which small collaborative groups or large-scale presentations can occur throughout the day and evening.  We anticipate that both of these summer projects will be completed in time for the beginning of our Fall 2015 semester.

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Talking in the Library: Paul Harding on April 13, 2015 at 4:00 p.m.

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2010 Pulitzer Winner – 3rd Annual Bermont Distinguished Visitor

Paul Harding won the Pulitzer Prize for his debut novel Tinkers, and his recent 2013 novel Enon has inspired comparable praise. In the New York Times Mark Slouka wrote: “One might have to go as far back as Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping to find a first novel that declared itself with such authority. Harding’s associative flights—his twisting, turning lyricism—were stunning, his ability to stress the physical world into extended metaphor downright Melvillean…In Enon, Harding’s gifts are again everywhere on display.” Tinkers also won the PEN Bingham Prize, and inspired the following citation: “An exquisite novel, at once fresh and hauntingly familiar, simple and profound.”
Paul Harding is the 2014-15 Bermont Fellowship Distinguished Visiting Writer. He lives with his family outside of Boston, and currently teaches at University of Iowa MFA Workshop.

MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2015
4:00 P.M.

Presented in Association with the Department of Creative Writing and Mt. Hope Magazine

Roger Williams University
University Library
Mary Tefft White Cultural Center

Free and open to the public

Questions: (401) 254-3031

Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Interview with Shawn Platt

Interviewed by: Linda L. Beith, Ph.D., Director, Instructional Design

 

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Shawn, how long have you been at Roger Williams University?

I am an alumnus of Roger Williams University, Class of 1986. After a couple of years working for a defense contractor after graduation I had the opportunity to come back to RWU to work and have been here ever since.

 

Could you tell us a little about your background?

I have B.S. degree with a double major in Electrical Engineering Technology and Computer Engineering with a Math minor. I have always liked working with technology and have grown with the industry over the years. I spent 20 years involved with information technology at RWU primarily focused on support of academic computing involving labs and academic software. When the new Department of Instructional Design was formed in 2009 and instructional computing was reorganized under the Provost in Academic Affairs I moved to this group since it was a perfect fit for my skills and interest.

 

What do you like best about your job?

I really like helping faculty and students with their technologies. My current job as an instructional technologist also involves a lot of troubleshooting and problem solving which I really enjoy. I like figuring out how things work.

As an alumnus and employee I also feel very connected to the University and for that reason I serve on the Campus Campaign. I’m very proud of the progress the campaign has made and the generosity of so many employees.

 

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen at RWU?

One of the biggest changes is the growth of the school. I graduated from Roger Williams College with a student body of 1800. It was a small school where everyone knew each other – especially all the faculty and staff. Then RWU grew into a University and became a much bigger place.

Keep in mind that I was here before Roger Williams even had access to the Internet – initially we went through a 56KB connection through Brown University/Nearnet. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the Law School opened and Academic Computing and Management Information Systems were consolidated into the Department of Information Technology. It was also around this time that the University started to deploy PC desktops to staff and faculty. I have held many different positions in IT. For many years I was in charge of all the academic labs and managed the printing and academic software for the University and employed up to 40-50 work-study students at a time. I was even the email administrator at one point and installed and managed the first desktop email system in the Law School. It’s incredible that today everything that was managed by a large Data General system can now be done on a smart phone.

 

What do you like to do for fun?

Shawn’s answer (as of this morning) would be: My favorite things to do are riding my motorcycle, spending time with my teen-age nieces and vacationing in Florida.

 

What is Instructional Design?

 

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The Department of Instructional Design is a member of the Learning Commons. The team provides instruction, support and trouble-shooting for all enterprise-level instructional technologies (for example Bridges learning management system, Panopto Focus video capture, Turnitin anti-plagiarism, etc.). Instructional design consultation is available for faculty who are interested in transitioning a traditional on-campus course to a fully online or hybrid model or even just to brainstorm the use of technology tools and strategies as a supplement to enhance learning.

The ID team includes Linda Beith and Kevin O’Rourke who are instructional designers, as well as Shawn Platt who is an instructional technologist.

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Please explore just-in-time tutorials for all supported academic software on the Instructional Design website at: http://library.rwu.edu/lib/learning-commons/id/tutorials or contact the team by sending email to id@rwu.edu or phoning 401-254-3187. Follow ID on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rwuid) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/rwu_id)

 

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rCloud and Library Databases

If you have an rCloud account, you’re in luck! Especially if you are a distance student. Once you login to your rCloud account it will be just like being on campus. You can access library databases simply and easily from the library home page at http://library.rwu.edu or from your course guide. Don’t have an rCloud account yet? No worries – you can still log-in to library databases from off campus with your library barcode found on the back of your student ID. If you don’t have a student ID and need a library barcode, just contact us at 401-254-3375 or libref@rwu.edu.

Global Road Warrior

 

Global Road Warrior is a database that you can access through the RWU Library website; it provides a wealth of information about countries including economic and demographic data. Whether you are traveling abroad or researching a country or region for a paper… Global Road Warrior will be able to help you with all your needs.

Please explore the Global Road Warrior Database through this link:

http://library.rwu.edu/lib/research/databases/list/g?subject=All

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Book Review: Find Me by Laura van den Berg

By Ryan Monahan, Connections Intern

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Find Me by Laura van den Berg

Farrar, Strauss & Giroux

February 2015

 

Find Me, a first person account of America’s potential future, is Laura van den Berg’s first novel. After previously authoring two collections of stories including The Isle of Youth, van den Berg begins her first full-length tale describing a vision of America in the midst of fighting a terrifying, unstoppable pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people have been afflicted—first by losing their memory, bit by bit, swiftly followed by a bodily rash of large silver sores, signaling the brain’s rapid atrophy and death. Bizarrely, some lucky people possess immunity—one such girl, Joy Jones, in pristine health, has not shown the slightest hint of catching the disease. She is special. And a hospital, quarantining and studying people immune to the disease, recognizes her unique immunity. Along with about 100 other patients, Joy signs a 10-month contract with the hospital, launching her into daily tedium and routine broken only by the occasional traumatic appearance of the sickness in the patients.

Before the hospital, Joy lived an equally pedantic, depressing life. Abandoned by her mother at birth and completely devoid of deep human connection in her mid-20s, Joy knew nothing but dullness and monotony as a grocer at Stop & Shop, all-too-frequently strung-out on cough syrup to pass the hours. Joy, so young, had her whole life ahead of her, but she was denying herself a future. Perhaps she entered the hospital to pursue change from her dead-end life and depression? Perhaps she saw a rare chance for a stable lifestyle in a near-post-apocalyptic America? Either way, she soon wearies of the endless examinations and orders from the masked hospital staff and longs for a life away from the institution.

Watching the news in the hospital one day, Joy imagines a brighter future when she sees a possible clue to her mother’s whereabouts. She becomes determined to leave the hospital and set out to find her mother, but her adventure is fraught with danger. Even escaping the hospital poses an enormous challenge with the freezing winter howling outside, but Joy faces an even greater challenge–her past. To envision a realistic future for herself and her estranged mother, Joy has to accept the person she is now and find hope to become the person she wants to be.

The reader is taken along with Joy as she undergoes a life-changing journey, and we learn of the most intimate corners of Joy’s mind as she transforms and develops her identity.

Laura van den Berg’s debut novel takes the reader right into the center of a disease-ravaged America, but, instead of despair, paints a picture of hope. One can only hope for more novels from van den Berg, for Find Me explores the deep, universal, humanness of memory, trauma, parenthood, and the search for truth and identity.

Cool Things the Digital Repository DOCS@RWU Can Do

by Mary Wu, Digital Scholarship and Metadata Librarian

 

Did you know that the Library has had a digital repository called DOCS@RWU since 2006? DOCS@RWU is a library service that provides open access to an online collection of scholarly and creative works produced by faculty, students and other members of the RWU community. It currently hosts 3,049 papers and other materials in multi-media formats, including but not limited to online journals, faculty publications, student theses, and image galleries. Thanks to its rich and interesting content, DOCS@RWU has yielded 400,894 full-text downloads to date since its inauguration. As a matter of fact, there are many ways for DOCS@RWU to boost scholarly communication and to showcase your research as well as academic achievements. We will introduce to you one amazing thing about DOCS@RWU every month this year to demonstrate why DOCS@RWU should matter to you!

 

#3 DOCS@RWU: A Journal Publishing Platform

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Designed to foster knowledge creation and dissemination, DOCS@RWU is equipped with full-fledged journal publishing capabilities and can serve as a platform for online journal publishing programs.  The topic, scope, and frequency of these journals are determined by their editorial boards, generally consisting of RWU faculty and students.  Creative and literary works, student research projects, and conference proceedings are some examples of possible journal content.  In addition, DOCS@RWU can be utilized as an online publishing platform for established RWU journals and journals affiliated with RWU faculty, but not currently based at RWU.  Considering the amount of time and technical skills required to set up and maintain an online journal, the Library provides assistance in the management of journals published on DOCS@RWU according to each journal’s specifications, including journal homepage design, implementing a submission and review process, and installing an RSS feed. We believe that a library-based publishing service will expand the scholarly communication channel by providing alternatives to traditional publishing services.  More importantly, our students will gain first-hand experience in the full range of the scholarly production cycle, from conducting research to publishing its results. Currently there are three live journals on DOCS@RWU. They are:

 

 

Many academic libraries across the country are hosting journals on their digital repository platforms and even extending the service further in the form of library presses. Below are a few examples that demonstrate how DOCS@RWU can help make high quality professional publishing more efficient and affordable:

 

Journal of the Civil War Era publishes annually undergraduate papers, including academic essays, public history essays, and book reviews on the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College.

 

Res Publica is a journal of undergraduate research published by the Political Science Honorary Society and funded by the Student Senate at Illinois Wesleyan University.

 

Zea e-books is a digital and print-on-demand publishing service provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries.

 

If you would like to include your work in DOCS@RWU, or use the platform to publish, please contact Mary Wu (mwu@rwu.edu), the Digital Scholarship/Metadata Librarian.

 

Stay tuned for the next cool thing that DOCS@RWU can do for you! Also check out the February Connections for #2 DOCS@RWU: A Showcase for RWU Faculty Work.

 

Research Appointments Available at the Library

Research paper due this semester? Having trouble finding scholarly information? Don’t know the right keywords to use? Can’t figure out what database resource to search? Please don’t waste time Googling! Call, email, or stop by the library today and make an appointment with a librarian. They can help you refine your research question, lead you to the most appropriate resources, and discover the keywords that will locate the most relevant and important articles on your topic.

You can choose to meet with the library liaison to your discipline, simply email the library at libref@rwu.edu or call x3375 and ask for a research consultation with a librarian.

Library liaisons can be found at http://library.rwu.edu/lib/library-info/people/liaisons.