One of the University Library’s longest serving staff members, Mary Lou Leocadio, Borrowing Services Coordinator, will be retiring June 2nd after 35 years of service to the University. We celebrated Mary Lou’s new beginning by giving her a farewell reception on Wednesday, May 10th in the library’s Mary Tefft White Cultural Center.
Mary Lou Leocadio and Betsy Peck Learned, Dean of University Libraries
Mary Lou Leocadio
Mary Lou Leocadio celebrates with her family
Mary Lou Leocadio and Betsy Peck Learned, Dean of University Libraries
By Betsy Learned, Dean of University Libraries
Former Dean of Libraries, Peter Deekle, referred to the 2015-16 academic year, the year he turned over the leadership of the library to me, as a “perfect storm.” At Peter’s retirement, the library was in the midst of the University’s 10-year NEASC accreditation; had just begun the first book deselection project; lost three member libraries in the HELIN Consortium, leaving the remaining HELIN members with a giant construction loan and almost one third less income; and the task of finding a new library system to reduce our costs. The library staff came together to right the ship over the past year and deserve my utmost appreciation for their hard work and perseverance.
Achievements of this academic year include John Fobert’s application of his sabbatical research to identify a new library system, World Management Services (WMS) and his leadership on both the HELIN team that selected the system, and the library’s implementation team. Christine Fagan has fearlessly led the deselection project with help from technical services staff Liz Hanes, Jackie Katz and Phil Williams (and other staff as needed) while at the same time bringing up the new acquisitions system as part of WMS. The Web and Digital Services team—Barbara Kenney, Heidi Benedict, Chris Truszkowski, and Megan Lessard are nearing completion of the library’s first digital project, Ferrycliffe: From Farm to University, featuring archival materials from the Fulton/Howe collection about the land on which we work, formerly Ferrycliffe Farm.
All of our staff have contributed to these projects and have participated in countless meetings, demos, and difficult discussions, in an effort to provide the highest level of service to our university community. They have bolstered me in my new position as Dean in more ways than I can describe. Many thanks to Cindy Jones and Adam Braver for keeping me sane, and to all in the library for keeping us afloat, approaching ever calmer waters.
Computers in Libraries 2017
Conference Report by Mary Wu, Digital Scholarship and Metadata Librarian
The 32nd annual Computers in Libraries, the most comprehensive North American conference and exhibition on all aspects of library and information delivery technology, was held March 28-30 in Arlington, VA. Approximately 1500 people around the world attended the conference.
The opening keynote was by Gina Millsap, CEO, Topeka & Shawnee County Library in Kansas, who described how her library was chosen by Library Journal as the Library of the Year in 2016. She said that everyone in the community has a relationship with the library. They are the readers, and the library is a place where they can live, read, and play. The library serves about 550,000 people and has only one building — no branches. The staff members have worked hard to become community leaders. One of their most impressive programs is the Learn and Play Bus, an early education mobile classroom that enables children ages birth to five to have 60 books in their home libraries and a shared experience of knowing and loving the same stories. The program plays a very important role in making sure that children are ready for kindergarten because in the Topeka school district alone, fifty five percent of school age children don’t possess the skills necessary to begin school. They are behind in cognitive and language development, basic skills, and even potty training. The program has been made possible by working with United Way on fund raising, and the implementation of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library book give-away program. They have hit their first fund raising goal, and now have enough funding to operate for four years. Their next goal is to raise a million dollars to ensure that the program is sustainable. She concluded her keynote by acknowledging that “libraries will change if librarians change. It has never been a better time to be a librarian. A great librarian knows team and project planning, data analysis, how to do research and community analysis, and how to initiate and manage partnerships. The ability to adapt and learn is critical.”
In her keynote talk on the second day of the conference, author and cultural analyst Patricia Martin spoke about “Right place; Right time.” She believes that it’s the perfect time to be a librarian. Digitization is changing who we are as librarians, and is affecting the role of libraries in the community. Her research discovered that our institutions are losing their impact. Job status, family, location, and organized religion are losing relevance, which puts us into a situation of role ambiguity. She believes that the new relationship between ambitions and identity has three parts: rope, edgepart, and muster. Our identity today is more like a rope of many strands than a linear yardstick. As we change jobs, move around, and try different personas, we are adding strands to our ropes. Edgepart makes us good at change so we can survive. Muster encourages us to start small in order to achieve big goals. She suggested that librarians should concentrate on who we want our patrons to be. Our job is not about providing information anymore since nobody needs more information. Instead, our job is about growing and building a community. She thinks that we should see the user experience as a path to discovery and that the library should be seen as a community. She said that librarians don’t have a job; they have a platform for change. People need to be inspired and imaginations raised and expanded through this platform.
Lee Rainie, the Director of Internet, Science, and Technology Research, for the Pew Research Center, presented the final day’s keynote address: “Where technology fits with library patrons’ needs”. She posited that there is a deep decline in trust in many organizations, but that libraries have been immune to this trend. People like and trust librarians, and think that libraries are important, especially for communities. They think that libraries are particularly beneficial for those without vast resources. Libraries have re-branded themselves as technology hubs and are deeply appreciative of these changes. People still read books and prefer printed books to e-books, by a 3 to 1 margin. Below is some of Pew’s latest data on libraries from its 2016 study:
- Over 40% of users used a library or bookmobile in the last 12 months. About 1/3 of them–more women than men and younger people–used the library’s website.
- Traditional activities like borrowing books or reading dominate library use, but people are also attending classes or other programs (class use was the activity that increased the most from 2015 to 2016).
- Doing research or checking email are the most frequent uses of library technology resources, but more people are using them to take classes online than last year.
Libraries are curators of quality information and people overwhelmingly report that the library helps them. Finding trustworthy information is highly important to most library users, followed by learning new things, personal growth, and getting information to help in making decisions. Fifty-six percent of people polled say it would have a major impact on the community if the library closed. The data also demonstrated that nobody has had to reinvent themselves more than libraries have in the past few years. Libraries have assiduously reconfigured and re-purposed themselves to remain relevant. In the future, libraries should embrace the Internet of Things, become the “first place” to meet, fill in “market holes” or niches in the information marketplace, and become innovation test beds. They should also strive to position themselves as trusted institutions advocating for free information and open access, work to close digital divides, and continue to act as privacy and algorithm watchdogs.
Each day, followed by the keynote, there were numerous programs to attend in five tracks of different themes. The two programs highlighted here are particularly relevant to academic libraries:
Deirdre Costello, the Principal UX Researcher at EBSCO, researched user experience (UX) practices to assess how students and faculty interact with library databases to help shape the products they bring to the campus marketplace. Students feel more trusting, confident, and competent with Google than with faculty. Google is like “breathing” during the stressful process of starting a new project, looking for relevant information, and providing explanations to students. Search results are no longer a portal to discover further information, but are a platform themselves for answering questions. She cautioned that we must be aware that students are using the same type of search techniques that they use on the open web when searching their academic library websites. As indicated by their emphasis on efficiency, time is an incredibly valuable resource to this audience. Students are constantly shifting and recalibrating priorities and competing deadlines. Because the anxiety students start to associate with research in high school is compounded when they get to college, research often ends up losing out in those calculations, and is squeezed into as little time as possible. College students find their motivation at different times in different ways. While research can feel like a negative experience, many college students are actually internally motivated to hone those skills as they understand that such skills will hold value for them in the future. There are colleges and universities using this sense of investment to their advantage to teach research skills. MIT library staff partner with professors to teach course-specific research skills through activities such as scavenger hunts, and the University of San Francisco is considering major-specific training because faculty know that students’ investment in that subject—in and beyond school—will help them absorb advanced research skills relevant to them. However, despite understanding the value of research, the library is not the first place college students turn to when struggling with an assignment. They usually go to their peers and to teachers with whom they have a personal connection. This is possibly because students don’t often get the chance to develop that same kind of trusting, personal relationship with librarians. One student had a required one-on-one session with a librarian as part of a freshman year research assignment. This experience helped her understand that the librarian was there to help her, and she has since met with a subject librarian for every subsequent assignment. In many ways, the obstacles students face when they conduct research are the same as they’ve always been—trouble with topics and search strategies, fear of being graded down for citation errors, and the belief that the librarian doesn’t want to be bothered. When students learn that the librarian is there to help them succeed, they become much more likely to think of the library as a go-to research resource.
Analyzing Collections for Decision making was presented by Lutgarda Barnachea, the Assessment Coordinator at the University of Maryland Libraries. She shared the process used to weed their collection. The main triggering points for the weeding project were the changing concepts of library as a place as well as overflowing shelves. The act of entering the library building had become akin to entering a warehouse of books. This is a result of the fact that the collections were becoming disorganized. “Lost” materials were not really lost but were likely somewhere on the shelves. The result was a slowing of foot traffic in the library. The concept of the library as a space is changing. In a series of interviews, students listed their needs and wants: quiet reading areas, areas for collaboration, and technology rich areas. In content analysis, they looked at the big picture using OCLC WorldShare to see the uniqueness of the collection and found that only about 15% of the items held are truly unique to their library. Studies of publication dates and subjects were also conducted. Usage statistics were generated using ALEPH (the ILS) report function based on call numbers and shelf list. Collection development librarians marked items to be removed. Strategies used were: withdraw duplicate copies, withdraw items based on publication year, and target collections in selected spaces. The results of this exercise were that a makerspace was created, rooms with laptops were set up, and that now some rooms have furniture that can be rearranged by users. Lessons learned are: don’t be hindered by limited money, and listen to users’ concerns. The use of analytics to evaluate the collection’s uniqueness and usage demonstrates practical applications of quantitative data to make informed decisions. For anyone facing the need to reduce holdings (print or electronic), these shared lessons offers some useful insight.
By Lindsey Gumb, Instructional Technology Librarian
If you’ve read any of my articles here on the library’s blog, you may have noticed a theme of openness. I’ve been interested in this movement for the last several years and have worked hard to nudge Roger Williams University in the direction that the rest of the world seems to have already moved. Local support for open education and open educational resources (OER) is finally gaining momentum, but I knew that in order to best serve RWU, I needed a broader perspective and deeper understanding of the topic aside from the overstated “what is OER and why should we encourage faculty to incorporate it into their curriculum” spiel. So in early March I journeyed to Cape Town, South Africa to attend the 10th annual Open Education Global conference. Every year the conference hosts an intimate international gathering of minds to share new research, practices and theory behind the movement of open education. This conference provided me with exactly what I was looking for: a fresh outlook on the research of open education that pushed beyond the tangible financial savings to students. What I had hoped would be an informative and “worthwhile” few days abroad turned into the most inspiring week of my life. The friends who I met at and outside of the conference and the experiences we shared together will not soon be forgotten. This blog post will give you a brief insight into both my personal and professional experiences, because without one the other would have been far less substantial.
After flying 13 hours to Ethiopia and then another 8 to Cape Town, I found myself standing at the gate of my beautiful Airbnb nestled among the tropical coastline. I was renting a room in a large house in Bantry Bay and after ringing the bell was welcomed with open arms (quite literally) by the housekeeper, Ronel, a beautiful woman with kind eyes and a shy smile. Ronel and I immediately hit it off and shared a cup of delicious tea on the balcony overlooking the splendor of the Atlantic Ocean. I was exhausted from my trip, but the two of us spent hours sharing story after story, evoking laughter and tears over the struggles and joys that bond all of us together in this world, regardless of race, class or geography. She reflected on the harsh realities of growing up as a black woman during Apartheid, about the daily emotional and physical abuse from her ex-boyfriend that led her to miscarry 4 children before she was even 25 years old, and how most recently the South African government has denied her Congolese husband re-entry into the country because his ID expired while he was teaching out of the country: it’s been three long years of separation. The racial injustices, heartbreaks, and disappointments this woman has endured in her 60 years is enough to break a person’s spirit, and yet she perseveres – no, she flourishes. This one cherished evening that I spent with Ronel set the tone for my week abroad and encouraged me to push my normally introverted-self to engage with as many people as I could. I wanted to experience more meaningful connections with strangers like the one I had just been privy to. I went to bed that night pondering why I had to travel half way around the world to share such a personal experience with a stranger, when I could just as easily knock on my neighbor’s door. Better late than never?
Carrying Ronel’s spirit and energy with me to the conference, I made it a point to introduce myself to others during all of the coffee and lunch breaks. If you know me, being social in these situations is intimidating. Not because I don’t like people, but because I’m an introvert, and while I love interacting with others, I tend to shy away from initiating conversations. Peter was the first person I met. While I was wandering around the Civic Center looking for the keynote session, I noticed a man with a similar confused and desperate look on his face. “Are you looking for the keynote?” I asked. “Yes! Please tell me you can help me,” he replied. I laughed and shook my head. “I’m afraid I’ve been searching for the last ten minutes myself with no luck – I’m Lindsey, nice to meet you.” Peter and I eventually found our place, but we also found a friend each other, and he introduced me to a number of fascinating individuals over the course of the week. Such a mundane and humorous situation brought us together, but I know we’ll keep in touch forever. I met Joe in the espresso line. He was in front of me and we shared a quick, acknowledging smile. At the cream and sugar station we met again, and I noticed him looking for a spoon. I reacted by handing him mine– accompanied by a big smile. We talked throughout the break and I learned that he works for the UN, lives in Paris with his wife and boys, but that he was born in Boston and his sister currently works in Providence. During lunch, I met Jasmine: a brilliant and friendly young woman who teaches Communications at Ohio State. I was inspired by her enthusiasm for teaching and learned that she had just written her first open text book. That night for dinner, Jasmine, Joe and I ventured to the waterfront and had a delicious dinner under the stars and learned more about one another’s lives. It was wonderful feeling so at ease with these two individuals who were strangers only hours before. Each day afterward was similar in spirit: new adventures in learning and meeting interesting people from all over the world and being inspired by their stories.
Throughout the conference, I observed that while the United States is still heavily focused on the financial benefits of implementing OER, much of the rest of the world has moved on to identifying a deeper understanding of the intersection between pedagogy and OER. It was interesting for me to hear the phrase “open pedagogy” used in nearly every presentation, because prior to my arrival in Cape Town I had only (maybe naively) been in tune with the dialogue about saving our students money as opposed to focusing on the pedagogical innovation that can accompany open resources. I wouldn’t say that the US is “behind” the rest of the world but rather that our higher education system is structured so that we simply have different (financial) priorities at the moment. After some back and forth discussion with my fellow American veteran-conference attendees, I learned that they too noticed a shift in the dialogue from OER to open education practices (OEP), more so now than ever before. It was fascinating for me to see where the potential lies in this movement, and how as an OER advocate I can encourage our local community to participate in manageable and meaningful ways now, regardless of what the rest of the world is doing. Many invested in this community, such as Robin DeRosa argue that they “… don’t want to be part of a movement that is focused on replacing static, over-priced textbooks with static, free textbooks,” however, as one of my new acquaintances, Rajiv Jhangiani, said during his presentation, it’s all about knowing one’s audience (faculty) and engaging them in ways that will work for them and their students. If that’s just adopting an open textbook right now and saving students money, then that’s a step in the right direction. In my opinion, there is no defined right or wrong approach to this, and my role as a librarian and educator is to help guide faculty through the process of identifying and evaluating relevant content and resources that will best suit their pedagogy and the defined student learning outcomes!
I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to travel abroad to this incredible conference and incredible country, where I was able to coax myself out of my shell and meet so many wonderful people. I came back inspired to redistribute the passion and energy I gathered in Cape Town to our own campus here at Roger Williams University. My hope is that I can take steps to continue to interweave my personal experiences with the professional, because I truly believe that when we open ourselves to sharing experiences in our personal lives, it’s easier to translate that openness in our pedagogy, which in turn benefits our students. Stay tuned for more of my involvement in this exciting movement!
CSALT2 has added a couple of new 3D hardware options to the resources in the Faculty Innovation and Learning Lab (FILL) on the first floor of the University Library for interested faculty to explore.
The da Vinci Mini 3D Printer
A 3D printer allows a user to construct a three-dimensional solid object from a digital file. The object can be anything from a water molecule to a sculpture. The technology heats plastic fiber and then “prints” the design by applying layer after layer to build the product.
Watch a review of some 3D printed student projects made by Brandeis University students. Possibilities are endless!
Scribbler 3D Pen
The 3D pen replaces ink with plastic which melts at high temperatures. Use the pen to draw in the air or on a surface to create 3D objects. The pen can also be used as a type of “welding tool” on objects made using the larger 3D printer to attach multiple pieces. Watch the 3D pen in action
Anyone interested in either of these technologies is encouraged to contact the CSALT2 Instructional Design team via email at email@example.com or phone 401-254-3187.
The Bridges/Sakai learning management system will be upgraded on Monday, May 22, 2017. During the upgrade process the system will be unavailable. Some of the enhancements include:
- A new mobile-friendly interface that provides an optimized user experience on any device
- New Gradebook that provides a faster, easier grade-entry capability in a spreadsheet-style interface
- More powerful and flexible Lessons tool that allows for multi-column layouts
- Improved Tests & Quizzes tool with over 30 enhancements including the ability to include image maps, allows for group and individual-specific settings and delivery, and a new side panel that allows students to track question progress
- Mathematical Notation that can display LaTeX equations as mathematical notation on most pages.
- Contact Us tool that provides feedback functionality for every course and project site
See more details on these features
Review a comparison of the current Bridges with the upgraded version.
View this short video introduction to Bridges/Sakai 11 (2:32 minutes)
Interview conducted by Brittany Parziale ’17, Connections Intern
Professor Roxanne O’Connell is Professor of Communication, teaching Visual Communication and Media Ecology. She has been with Roger Williams University since 2003.
Dr. O’Connell is currently reading a collection of detective mysteries by Margery Allingham. Finding her stories similar to that of Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh, O’Connell most admires how they “read as a puzzle.” Reading them is “a great way to disconnect— transforming oneself to a different time and place. I eat these stories up like candy.”
To satisfy her thirst for nonfiction, O’Connell is also reading Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee, the account of the harsh lives of tenant farmers during the Great Depression. Alternating between prose and poetry, this book is “a very moving account full of anger regarding the lack of social justice in America.”
The eldest girl in her family, O’Connell had a fantasy of what life would be like as an only child left alone with her book. For Dr. O’Connell, Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins fulfilled this fantasy. Eight Cousins is the story of Rose Campbell, a recently orphaned child living with her great aunts, and finding a place of belonging amongst her seven male cousins and numerous aunts and uncles.
Simon Garfield’s On The Map and Just My Type are O’Connell’s memorable nonfiction reads. Garfield taught her a lot about the art of storytelling by beginning his chapters with a story about a person who is “pulling you into their discovery or observations or the unbelievable mistakes they make.”
From her childhood, she recalls reading Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books. His works consist of the original telling of fairy tales such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Nightingale,” each teaching lessons on how to live in the world.
Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, is on Dr. O’Connell’s list of upcoming reads. This story of Odysseus told from Penelope’s point of view imagines what it was like to be the wife of the great warrior, now left behind during the Trojan War. O’Connell is “waiting for a sunny hammock weekend where I can curl up and read uninterrupted.” O’Connell has many other books on her nightstand waiting to be read, as she fears “it being a Sunday and there being nothing left to read.”
O’Connell believes there are two kinds of essential reads – “the timeless kind and the one that is a must read right now.” An “eternal essential” would be Par Lagerkvist’s The Sibyl as it “examines a person’s life and relationship with things they believe are predestined to provide an alternate realm of thinking.” The “right now read” would be Douglas Rushkoff’s Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus. Dr. O’Connell finds that its importance is in its thesis that the present is moving so fast that there “is no time to get over the shock of the new thing before being thrown into the next new thing–which is unsettling.” O’Connell believes that one reads to discover and that both of these books allow one to do just that.
Graduation day is quickly approaching, and although it is an exciting time, it can also be bittersweet as we say goodbye. Four of the library’s student staff, Bettina, Lois, Nicole, and Sandro will be graduating this May. It has been our distinct pleasure to work with these fine young people and watch them grow over the past few years. We’d like to thank them for their dedication and hard work and wish them much happiness and joy as they begin a new chapter in their lives!
Nicole has worked at the library for four years and is hardworking, ambitious, punctual, and dependable.
Sandro has worked at the library for four years and is likeable, friendly, and cooperative.
Bettina has worked at the library for one year and is an assertive, mature, and positive young lady.
Lois has worked at the library for four years and is determined, helpful, and capable.