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February 2016

Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Morgan Cottrell



Interview with Ms. Morgan Cottrell

by Alexis den Boggende, Connections Intern


Q: What is your favorite part about working with Roger Williams students?

A: Seeing their potential, and having a bit of a hand in helping them understand what their potential is–helping them realize how Roger Williams is going to help them achieve that potential. My most satisfying moments here, by far, are those when I can bring a student from a place of stress, anxiety or fear, or some negative emotion, and watch them leave my office feeling relieved. I like seeing them realize that they have options that they perhaps didn’t think they had before. I love seeing them hopeful about the future and new opportunities.



Q: If someone asked what Student Advising and Advocacy is all about, what would you tell them?

A: Our main focus is to help students who are facing some type of challenge. We have programs to help students who are facing challenges–which a lot of times includes new students. We realize that the transition from high school to college is very challenging, so one of our biggest programs is the peer mentor program. In that program, each new student gets a peer mentor. We also have programs for students who are undeclared. We make sure, in addition to our faculty advisors, we are meeting with them to check in on their options. We have various outreach to all students throughout the semester, including students who may have warning grades, haven’t registered for classes, and students whose faculty are reporting that they aren’t going to class. We just want to help.


Q: What advice would you give to students, especially incoming freshmen and transfers?

A: Make connections. That is the number one priority. Make strong, positive connections, and realize where their resources are, whether it be an Orientation Advisor, their Peer Mentor, or their faculty members. Let people know what their goals are. Let people know what they’re excited about.


Q: What’s a typical day like in the Advising and Advocacy office?

A: There’s no typical day! It’s always a different day. Everyday I’m learning something new–that’s what makes this job so much fun, and what makes this office so much fun. The Peer Mentors are always in the office during their office hours, and the nature of the appointments we have throughout the year change. A couple of weeks from now, our main focus is going to be recruitment for Peer Mentors. Applications to become a Peer Mentor are available now in our office, and the deadline is February 15.


Q: What inspired you to go into working in advising and advocacy?

A: I am a first generation college student, myself. I never really knew the significance of that while I was in college. I didn’t realize it until my junior and senior year. I had a great college experience, but I did the FASFA by myself, and I moved myself onto campus. Whenever I faced a challenge on campus, I always figured it out on my own. Some of my friends, who were also first generation college students, struggled. They didn’t know who to turn to or go to if something went wrong. I felt lucky that I knew what I had to do. It helped a lot. I’ve always been somebody who just wants to help. I know that higher education is the ticket and the key to help a person succeed, and I know first generation college students do face their struggles along the way. I want people to be treated in an equitable way and given the right opportunities. I feel like higher education will open you up to great opportunities in life. I wanted to be in a position where I could help, where students really needed me.


Q: What is your favorite book?

A: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It’s all about how to live your life–it’s about love and relationships. It’s very simple and I find that no matter where I am in life, I find pieces of that book that my life relates to.


Q: Who is your favorite author? Have you read anything else by this person?

A: Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote Lean In. She writes about how women are treated in the workplace and how they have to reach the same potential as men. It talks about how, as a woman, you can become a role model for other women as well as taking care of yourself. But really, my favorite author kind of depends on the latest book I’ve read and liked.


Q: What book do you think everybody should read at least once?

A: Definitely The Prophet.


Q: In your free time, what are some things you like to do for fun?

A: I always joke that I’m such a nerd! I love it. Right now, me, my partner, his fourteen-year-old son and I like playing these complicated board games. Carcassonne is one of them, as well as Stone Age and Agricola. They’re really complicated and they take over the whole table, and you’ve got to play the game several times in order to truly understand it. I also love binge-watching Netflix.


American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference

This January, New England Librarians were very fortunate to have the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference in Boston. Highly motivating and energizing, this conference offered 11,700 attendees from across the country hundreds of venues for engaging in a conversation centered around ALA’s new public awareness campaign, Libraries Transform ™ . Workshops, programs, discussion groups and speakers focused on the many ways that libraries transform lives in the communities they serve with an emphasis on what libraries do for and with people. Sessions included topics on diversity and inclusion, digital content and ebooks, innovation, leadership, trends, changes in facilities and services, library advocacy, and community engagement. In the exhibit hall, more than 450 exhibitors demonstrated the latest technologies, products, and services for providing innovation in our libraries.

The Speakers and Lecture series was a conference highlight. The Authors Forum featured documentarian Ken Burns and authors Mark Kurlansky and Terry Tempest Williams. The Speaker Series offered impassioned talks from Senator Cory Booker, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, designer Isaac Mizrahi, bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez, civil rights activist Mary Frances Berry, and Chelsea Clinton.

Talking in the Library – Derek Nikitas Image Gallery

Derek Nikitas came to speak in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center at Roger Williams University on Tuesday, February 16, 2016. Here are a few photos from his talk.






16th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Exhibition, “In Cold Blood and Truman Capote”



The 16th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Exhibition, “In Cold Blood and Truman Capote” commemorates the 50th anniversary of this major work of literature.

When In Cold Blood was published in 1966 it was an instant bestseller, having been serialized in The New Yorker during the fall of 1965. Capote labored over this “non-fiction” novel, as he labeled it, for almost six years. He meticulously documented the Clutter murders, including the background, investigation, trial and eventual execution of the convicted killers. Capote’s unique fictional style of telling a true story, including dialogue, engages the reader in a unique and unparalleled manner.

The exhibition is open daily through March 31 during the library’s operating hours.

Featured items include:

  • First edition of “In Cold Blood” published by Random House (1966)
  • Serialized version of “In Cold Blood” in four issues of The New Yorker (September 25, October 2, 9, 16, 1965)
  • Facsimile book reviews from The New York Times and The Observer (London)
  • Facsimile local news coverage in The Hutchinson News at the time of the murders, trial and execution
  • Facsimile Kansas Bureau of Investigation report of the critical interview with Floyd Wells, which was the first clue leading to the capture of the murder suspects
  • Issue of Life (May 12, 1967) that includes a feature article on the making of the film, “In Cold Blood,” in the town where the murders took place
  • Facsimile portraits of Capote by Carl Van Vechten, Roger Higgins of New York World-Telegram and Sun, and others
  • Facsimile photographs of the Black and White Ball held by Truman Capote at the Plaza Hotel on November 28, 1966

Artifacts on display are courtesy of: Douglas and Judith Krupp Library, Bryant University, Smithfield, Rhode Island; Providence Public Library, Providence, Rhode Island; Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC; Redwood Library, Newport, Rhode Island.

Winter Break Staff Picks from the RWU Library

compiled by Hannah Goodall, Learning Commons Coordinator



Megan Lessard, Archives and Digital Services Specialist

The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

It’s a fantasy novel about a young man who attends a magic college in New York. It’s being made into a television series on the SyFy network so I wanted to read it before the premiere.


Liz Hanes, Acquisitions Assistant

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

“Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to ‘aging out’ out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse… As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both.”   –Amazon.com




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Shawn Platt, Academic Technology Coordinator

Rider Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, Newport Daily News, Florida Today

Florida Today was my most popular and entertaining daily, it gave a wonderful weather report that met my expectations–usually sunny and warm–and an inside scoop on what was happening at the beaches–Santa surfing, fishing reports, etc.



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Heidi Benedict, University Archivist

Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz

This book describes the people living and working in Cairo’s fictional Midaq Alley, with its two shops, a café, a bakery, an office, and two houses. Mahfouz wonderfully describes 1940s Egyptian life through the dreams and hardships of his characters.


The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black

Part of a mystery series about an Irish pathologist named Quirke. The book begins when a friend from long ago asks Quirke that he not do an autopsy on his wife who supposedly committed suicide. Benjamin Black more frequently writes under the name John Banville. One of his most well-known book is the Booker Prize winning novel The Sea. 



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Lindsey Gumb, Instructional Technology Librarian

A Small Country About to Vanish by Victoria Avilan

Purge by Sofi Oksanen

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of literary fiction, and this winter break I read two real gems.  A Small Country About to Vanish by Victoria Avilan is a beautiful novel set in Israel, depicting the very real daily struggles that define what it means to be human: broken friendships, cheating spouses, financial struggles and childrearing.  In addition, the characters in this book also live under the constant threat of suicide bombers and staunch religious conflict sending their children off to protect the Israeli borders.  The two main characters, Shelli and Rona, alternate sharing their points of views on how their childhood relationship with one another both destroyed and liberated their notions of self-worth and identity.  Avilan’s writing is crisp and illustrative, and engaging on multiple levels.  Definitely recommended!


The other book I read over winter break was Purge by Sofi Oksanen.  The narration of this novel alternates between Zara, a young sex-trafficking victim who has risked her life to flee her abusive captors, and Aliide Truu, an older widow living alone in the Estonian countryside.  Aliide offers Zara temporary shelter with reservation, and together the two women divulge and uncover “the culmination of a tragic family drama of rival, lust, and loss that played out during the worst years of Estonia’s Soviet occupation.”  The story opened my eyes to not only the atrocities that were committed to women during the Soviet occupation of Estonia during the 1940s and 1950s, but also to the same level of shame and abuse that victims of sex trafficking endure today.  While not a heart-warming book, I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates learning about historical movements through the lens of the lives of average citizens.




Hannah Goodall, Learning Commons Coordinator

Room by Emma Donoghue


“Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where she’s been held since she was nineteen—for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space.” –Amazon.com




John Fobert, Electronic Resources Librarian

The Bark Before Christmas by Laurien Berenson


I picked up an advance copy of this book at the American Library Association conference in June 2015. It was the perfect book to read over the holiday break. It was set in Connecticut so references to the area were familiar adding to the pleasure of the book. It was a “light” read and perfect for people involved with dog shows.




President’s Day and the race to the White House



The 2016 presidential election cycle is one of the most unusual in many years, with a large field of Republican contenders, including a multibillionaire celebrity businessman and a neurosurgeon, and a Democratic field with an avowed democratic socialist and a former governor of Rhode Island–and women on each side of the partisan divide.  The fields are narrowing as we move towards spring, but all predictions are that the nominees will not be determined until early summer.   And, although all eyes are on the presidential race, there will be a lot going on at the congressional, state and local level as congressmembers, state legislators and local town council and school committee contests will be on the November ballot.   Members of the RWU community can get involved by staying informed (check out the Libguide), registering to vote, voting in the primary and general elections, working with the College Republicans or College Democrats, or helping out a campaign.


THANK YOU- #NewHampshire #TrumpTrain #Trump2016

A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on


Make sure to take part in our mock vote via the Libguide! http://rwu.libguides.com/PresRace2016



New Hampshire, are you ready for a political revolution? #nhprimary #politics

A photo posted by Bernie Sanders (@berniesanders) on



We’re coalescing courageous conservatives in the countdown to caucus. Join us: tedcruz.org #CruzinToCaucus

A photo posted by Ted Cruz (@cruzforpresident) on

Tech News – Faculty Spotlight: Anthony Hollingsworth

Faculty Innovation & Learning Lab

The Department of Instructional Design and Technologies is pleased to announce a newly-configured Faculty Innovation & Learning Lab located on the first floor of the University Library via card-access. The lab contains two computer workstations – one Windows and one Mac, along with web camera, microphone, and color printer. There is also a small conference table with a wall-mounted screen along with power and data options for laptops and tablets. These resources will allow for individual and small group consultation and learning sessions with the ID team and other Learning Commons partners.

Thanks to the generosity of the University, the lab now also contains a powerful video editing station that will be used to increase the quality of the videos produced by both the ID team as well as interested faculty and staff.

Anyone interested in this new work space may contact the Instructional Design & Technologies team via email at: id@rwu.edu or phone 401-254-3187.

Web and Digital Services Demonstrations



Come by the second floor of the library, Monday and Wednesday from 1 pm to 4 pm, outside the elevator to see 3d printing demonstrations, product teardowns, and electronics projects take shape. Want to get more involved? Interested in printing your own board game pieces, investigating solar energy, making a visual aid for class, working on an experiment, or building/programming a robot? Talk with our staff for help/ideas and build something today.