Home » The Learning Commons

The Learning Commons

Thank you and Good Luck to our Graduating Student Employees

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.

Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Philip Williams

Philip Williams is the Technical Services Specialist for the University Library. He was interviewed by Mary Wu, Digital Scholarship and Metadata Librarian.

Photo: Megan Lessard/University Libraries/Roger Williams University

How did you get your start in libraries?

I began working in libraries as a student assistant in the Phillips Memorial Library at Providence College. After graduating, I decided to continue working in libraries because of my positive experiences in them, and because I wanted to learn more about the field.

What do you like best about working in the library? 

I really like being surrounded by books and other library resources, and I enjoy working in an academic environment.

What drew you to RWU?

I saw the position of Technical Services Specialist at RWU as a unique opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of libraries. I’m excited to be able to assist the University Library behind the scenes in the Technical Services Department.

What does a Technical Services Specialist do in the library?

As the Technical Services Specialist, I help facilitate the Cataloging Department workflow through the cataloging and processing of new acquisitions and I assist with library digital services in areas of metadata creation, digitization, and digital asset management.

Do you have a favorite genre of books or media that you enjoy the most?

 I like to read fiction, history, philosophy, and religion. I’ve recently read the Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, and I subscribe to National Geographic.

What book are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Zen in the Art of Archery, by Eugen Herrigel.

Outside of work, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

I really enjoy reading, playing the guitar, cooking, and walking.



New Faces at the Desk


Name: Kelly A. LeMeur

Title: Learning Commons Librarian

Department: University Library

Where can you be found on campus? I can be found at the library or in the pool!

Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself or a unique hobby?  I love to do yoga, work in my beautiful garden, and travel the world.



Name: Jess Clarke

Title: Access Services Assistant

Department: University Library

Where can you be found on campus? My office is on the first floor of the library.

Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself or a unique hobby?  I grew up in England and I play the trumpet.



Name:  Samantha R. Marshall

Title: Classroom Support Specialist

Department: Information Technology

Where can you be found on campus? Library Basement

Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself or a unique hobby?  I have been providing technical support to the Higher Ed community for the past 16 years. About 5 years ago I moved to Bristol, and have enjoyed becoming a part of the community.  I feel very fortunate to now be able to work here, too.



Name:  Bruce Glazer

Title:  Technical Services Specialist

Department:  Information Technology

Where can you be found on campus? Media Tech Help Desk, in the University Library

Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself or a unique hobby?  I enjoy sporting events, both live and on TV, old movies, and announcing high school basketball and football play-by-play for Dover-Sherborn Cable TV.

Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Karen Johnson

Karen Johnson is Senior Academic Advisor in the Center for Student Academic Success. She was interviewed by Thelma Dzialo, Library Operations Manager.

How long have you worked at RWU?

I’ve worked at RWU for 8 years. I started in the Academic Advising Center doing strictly academic advising and now work within the Center for Student Academic Success (CSAS). Our office is open to any student who needs academic assistance or academic advising. I also work with students who are withdrawing from the university, reinstating, or who are on probation.



What drew you to RWU?

  I’ve worked at several local universities in various capacities. I worked at Salve Regina University doing academic advising with graduate students and moved from there to CCRI to work with GED students transitioning to college. After a year of doing that, I realized that I wanted to get back to more traditional academic advising. An opportunity presented itself at RWU, I applied and was lucky enough to be hired.



I noticed in your online bio that you have a graduate certificate in expressive arts from Salve Regina University. What exactly does that training entail? 

 I have a Master’s degree in Humanities with a concentration in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University. The graduate certificate in expressive arts was part of that training. I learned techniques that can help people get through life’s difficult times by using journaling, music and sound, and drawing. These techniques help people develop emotional literacy and resilience, and are a way for me as a counselor to bring heart and the act of service into my work.


What do you like best about your job?

 I love being able to help students figure out what will make them happy in life. I recently completed a StrengthsFinder training in Atlanta and it confirmed what I already knew–that I am doing work that inspires me and is suited to my personality. I found that my top five strengths are empathy, maximizer (the ability to make things happen for people), positivity, adaptability, and woo (winning others over–the ability to inspire and motivate others).



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

 Figure out what you like to do! Meet with me and I’ll use all the tools at my disposal to explore different areas of study with you and help you figure out how you can use your education to do what you love. Once you have an idea of what you are interested in, I would highly recommend that you explore internships in that area. The earlier you get an internship, the better.


What book are you currently reading? Do you have a favorite genre?

  I just read Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, and enjoyed it tremendously. I don’t read a particular genre. I’ve gotten into the habit of asking the librarians on campus for book recommendations so I’m always reading something new.


Outside of work, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

 I took a class at Norman Bird Sanctuary on soap-making several years ago and fell in love with the process. I make scented soaps, and have found that most people love the soothing scent of lavender.


Meet The Learning Commons: Advising and Peer Mentorship – Where exploration and supported self-advocacy happens!

Written by Morgan Cottrell, Associate Director, Advising and Peer Mentorship Office

Did you know that 75% of undergraduate students change their majors at least once?  Did you know that RWU has an entire office ready to help students make the right decision about their major?  A student’s choice of course of study is ideally based on personal interests, skills, values and future goals.  At the Advising and Peer Mentorship Office, professional advisors and a team of Peer Mentors meet regularly with students who are deciding their major or considering changing majors to guide them and ensure that helpful resources are readily available.  Students at RWU are uniquely positioned to be exploratory learners.  What does that mean?  It means students can graduate with job ready skills and be prepared for a meaningful career no matter the major, so taking the time to explore your options is very important!


Here are some interesting facts related to major choice

  • Only 27% of college educated people currently in the workforce are employed in jobs directly related to their college major.
  • This data supports that no matter the major, you can use your college experience to gain the skills that employers desire.
  • What are those skills? They are teamwork, communication, critical thinking and a good work ethic.
  • A 4 year degree has value regardless of major. Among all majors, the median income difference between someone with no education and someone with a 4 year college degree is $17,500 per year. Statistically, it is clear that after working several years, a college education will offer a solid return on investment no matter the major.
  • Many folks have the misconception that certain majors offer drastic differences in income. While this is sometimes true, incomes across majors begin to even out over time and with professional experience.  Research based on recent census data shows that many mid-career professionals with a liberal arts degree surpass the income level of their peers who have professional degrees.

What does this all mean?  It means that students can and should use their 4 years in college to explore.  It also means that students shouldn’t let the pressure of employability and projected income be the sole or primary determining factor in their choice of major.  A job is something adults spend most of their waking hours doing, so it needs to be something that is enjoyable, fulfilling and draws upon a person’s natural strengths and interests. Students at RWU are uniquely positioned to change their mind about their major and take the time they need to make the right decision.  Students can be a philosophy major, a writing major, a business major (and many others) and still gain the valuable competencies that will support a long and rewarding professional career after graduation.


Let the Advising and Peer Mentorship Office help you by visiting us on the 2nd floor of the library, or calling us for an appointment at 401-254-3456.


The office also supports students in the following ways:

-Every new student at RWU is provided a trained and experienced Peer Mentor.

-Professional staff meet with students about maintaining academic good standing and/or meeting scholarship requirements.

-Professional advisors meet with students to educate them about available resources on campus and to help them navigate university policies, systems and processes.

-Professional staff field concerns from faculty and staff about students who need academic assistance and reach out directly to students to provide support.

-Professional advisors help students navigate warning grades and prepare for registration and advisement.

-Sometime it is appropriate for students to consider taking time away from college.  Students in this situation should visit the office to speak with an advisor.

Meet Dan Neal

by Barbara Kenney, Instructional Services and Campus initiatives Librarian



This fall the library has had the opportunity to host a graduate student from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. Dan Neal, who holds Master’s Degrees in both Religious Studies and History from Providence College, spends 10-12 hours a week in a Professional Field Experience, the goal of which is to learn all aspects of academic librarianship. In a profession that has seen rapid changes, it is important for students in the program to move beyond the classroom and into the environment they hope to join. When designing Dan’s PFE, we built in opportunities for him to teach, participate in librarians’ meetings, interview staff members, and begin exploring areas of scholarship he might pursue.



above: Dan Neal collaborates with Lindsey Gumb, Instructional Technology Librarian


While a PFE offers terrific opportunities for the student, it also provides a new lens through which the librarians can view ourselves and our work. From Digital Scholarship to Open Access initiatives, our ongoing conversations enable us to explore what gaps may exist between the academic program and the front lines of librarianship. The library staff is actively engaged in the education of a new library professional. His questions and insights help us reflect on what we do and how we do it. Collaboration is the foundation of librarianship today. It helps us improve what we do, and in this case, it helps the student gain a better working understanding of the challenges facing academic libraries today. Thanks, Dan, for joining us this semester!


Photos by: Megan Lessard/Roger Williams University Library

Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Thelma Dzialo

Thelma Dzialo is our newest full-time staff member in the University Library, joining the staff in August, 2016 as the Library Operations Manager. She was interviewed by Cindy Jones, Assistant to the Dean of University Libraries.


Q:        Thelma, you’ve worked in several positions at RWU over the past 20 years. What about RWU makes you continue to stay?

I enjoy working with the students and watching them develop and grow in confidence and self-assurance during their time here. It’s gratifying to me to help them find what they need for their coursework. The natural beauty of the campus is also a large part of why I love working at RWU.

Q:        How did you get your start in libraries?  What do you like best about working in them? 

My very first job was as a page in my local public library.  I was very young, and it was an unpaid position. The only librarian that worked in that branch, Mrs. Grace Snell, was also my school librarian. She was a wonderful mentor to me, and taught me a lot about librarianship and also about our town. I love books and grew to appreciate the quiet and order of a library while working there.


Q:        What does a Library Operations Manager do?

I am responsible for the management of the daytime support staff for the Information Desk, and oversee desk services during daytime hours. This is a new positon, and is still evolving. All of my new colleagues have been warm and welcoming, and I am very excited to be a part of such a dynamic team.


Q:        You have grown children of your own–what advice would you give to students, especially incoming freshmen and transfers?

I would encourage them to take full advantage of their time here.  Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone! Experience new things and get involved. You will learn a lot about yourself and will make lasting relationships and friendships during your time here. Enjoy yourself, but also work hard.


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

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni     


Q:        Do you have a favorite genre of books or media that you enjoy the most?

           I read mostly fiction, and have recently discovered that I enjoy audiobooks, too.


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

I like to ride my bike on the Bristol bike path, and practice yoga.


Meet The Learning Commons: Three Libraries

By Alexis den Boggende, Connections Intern



Roger Williams University has a vast collection of books and journals which are kept in the three libraries on campus: Architecture, Law and the University Library. Each library has something special to offer, whether it is through its collections, or the knowledge and help that our librarians have to offer Roger Williams students.


The Architecture Library is a beautiful library open to all students, not just Architecture and Historic Preservation students. It’s a good study space, located across from the Main Library. The library houses more than 24,000 books, and computers that allow everyone access to the collections. Students may also be interested in the periodicals and journals that the Architecture Library has to offer, which totals more than 200 titles. Additionally, students may use the online databases from the University Libraries website. Here, they will discover links to databases by major, which includes Architecture and Urban Design, Art and Architectural History, and Historic Preservation. These databases provide a multitude of scholarly articles and academic databases that students may access easily. The Architecture Library is open all week and has extended hours during finals.


The University Library is the center of all things literary on campus. It is open daily and has extended hours during finals. With a new Information Desk and a separate MediaTech desk for technology help, there are a lot of great resources at the University Library. MediaTech will help you with technical issues with your laptop, phone, and more and has a small collection of equipment for check-out. If a student needs a desktop computer, the University Library can help–there are many computers on all three floors that any student may use, along with printing, scanning, and copy services. The many talented librarians at the University Library will help you locate appropriate books and periodicals for your research assignment. There are more than 220,000 books in the University Library. The library has three levels: first floor, for group collaboration on projects that may require talking and socializing. The second floor is for quiet study sessions, with minimal talking. The third floor is reserved for silence, which provides a great place to sit down and get work done, whether it be reading for class or writing a paper. Each floor offers incredible study spaces, like private cubicles, couches and private study rooms for group projects. The new Mary Tefft White Cultural Center is a beautiful addition to the University Library, where distinguished speakers often come and give lectures. Often, the library holds exhibits, with past exhibits of Truman Capote and Nathaniel Philbrick including archival materials and their work. Like the Architecture Library, students may also search the library catalog online and explore its many databases.



The Law Library is open to all, not just law students. It is a great spot for legal research, with over 200,000 volumes that are open for students to use, along with a online databases that may also be of help. The Law Library offers more than 10 study rooms that students may use for individual study or group projects, along with computers that they can access research on as well. The library houses multitude of legal documents that students should take advantage of, including state and federal documents and reports, documents and records from the Supreme Court and other government documents.

Meet the Learning Commons: Architecture Library

by John Schlinke, Architecture Librarian 

architecture tulips

You can find the Architecture Library in the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation (SAAHP) at the south end of the main corridor. It is a branch of the University Libraries and its collections are focused on the built environment – architecture, urbanism, and historic preservation. The two-story library space contains about 24,000 books as well as holdings for about 360 journals. Despite being a smaller library with a special focus, the Architecture Library is open to everyone at RWU. There are a variety of seating options–soft seating, carrels, small tables, and larger tables for group study. There are nine thin-client computers available, two flat-bed scanners, a KIC bookeye scanner (very popular), and a combination photocopier/printer (black & white only). Especially at the end of the semester, when study space is at a premium, students may want to come to the Architecture Library for a quiet place to focus.




The members of the Architecture Library staff are:


John Schlinke, Architecture/Art Librarian – jschlinke@rwu.edu, 401-254-3833

LearningCommonsPortraits2014_DeAlmeidaClaudia_0004Claudia DeAlmeida, Circulation Coordinator – cdealmeida@rwu.edu, 401-254-3679


Madeline Dalessio, Evening Circulation Monitor – mdalessio@rwu.edu, 401-254-3679


Along with a complement of friendly and dedicated student employees, all the staff members are more than happy to help you. Please stop by and see us when you get a chance.


Meet the Learning Commons Staff: Claudia DeAlmeida

Interview by Hannah Goodall, Learning Commons Coordinator


How long have you worked at RWU Architecture Library?

I’ve been the Circulation Coordinator at the Architecture Library since March of 2007. My responsibilities include working with faculty and students with their questions and searches, taking care of faculty reserves, supervising and training work study students and helping to maintain the Architecture Library collection equipment.


What drew you to working in the Architecture Library?

When this position became available I was working in the Cataloging Department at the University Library. It was an interesting opportunity with regards to learning the detail that goes into an item record and what is needed to process an item. However, I missed the daily interaction with patrons and helping with their research. I thought it would be a right fit for me.


Have you always worked in a library?

I actually have my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. I was a teacher for a few years in a Catholic school. I taught third graders and then kindergarten. From there I moved on to the Fall River Public Library where I was hired as a Circulation Supervisor. In 2001, I came to work at the University Library.


Besides books about architecture, what books are located in the Architecture Library that students might like?

Our collection has approximately 20,000 books. The majority is Architecture books but we also have an interesting collection of books that touch a number of topics such as art, engineering, and sustainability. Based on my experience with helping students, it all depends on how they want to approach their research. We’ve had Psychology and Education majors browse our collection to see how these fields can relate to architecture. I believe it all depends on how they approach a topic and can associate it to their interests.


What do you like best about your job?

There’s a lot that I like about my job. I love the environment of the Architecture Library. The fact that we are located right in the SAAHP building is a wonderful asset for our patrons as well as for the library. We are able to be very familiar with the materials in our collection. We also have the opportunity to really get to know our patrons. It’s a very rewarding feeling when you help someone find something they need. It’s great to see how students mature through their years here. Some are here for six years for the Master’s program so you really get to know them. I’ve also developed a greater appreciation of architecture.


What book are you currently reading?

I actually just started the book The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth. I just finished reading The Good Girl and Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. My tendency is once I find an author whose work I enjoy reading, I tend to go through their material.


I’ve noticed that you like to watch a lot of movies, what is your favorite genre and what is the best movie you’ve seen recently?

When given the opportunity, I tend to go for a good thriller. Something that will capture the viewer’s attention and keep us guessing until the end. I just watched True Story and really enjoyed it.


Outside of work, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

I’m not a professional by any means, but I really enjoy photography. I’m always the one at parties or family events taking pictures. That led me to develop an interest in scrapbooking which I find very relaxing. My husband and I love to travel. We enjoy going on cruises and getting a peek at different places we’d like to return and someday spending more time there. We also spend a lot of weekends watching and attending New England Revolution or Patriots games with family and friends. We love the excitement of being at a game.


60320008 (002)

flowers (002)


Photos: Claudia DeAlmeida