Library summer readers are invited to rate or review the St. Mary’s College Staff Book Club titles, Ender’s Game, The Likeness, The Fault in Our Stars and The Dog Stars from May 28 – June 2, 2013. You may use the submit a review form or follow the links to rate the book. All four titles are held by the SMCM Library. Include your name and email with your review to be entered into the preview round raffle. (Updated to correct review links.)
The Summer Reading program is open to all members of the SMCM Library community including students, staff, faculty, alumni and residents of the Tri-County area (St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties.) You may read anything you like as long as a copy is available at the SMCM Library or via the USMAI or public library (COSMOS) catalogs. You do not need to check the book out of the library. To get points you must post a review on the blog.
New for this year we have a Preview Round. Staring on May 28 you can rate or review the books the St. Mary’s Staff Book Club read this Spring. The more books you review the more chances you have to win.
See About Summer Reading for more information.
The staff book club has selected Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card for May. This Nebula and Hugo Award winning novel is the first in Card’s Ender’s Game series and is considered by many to be a classic in the science fiction genre.
Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender’s childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battleschool. Among elite recruits, Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses.”
Looking for more than a blurb? Check out the SparkNotes.
At this time you are more likely to find reviews of the film trailer as it is about to become a major motion picture. There is a lot of enthusiasm from fans eagerly anticipating the film’s opening in November as well as concerns about bad press related to Orson Scott Card’s politics.
— Pamela Mann
Sous-Bois by Paul Cezanne, courtesy of the LACMA digital collection
Earlier this year the Los Angeles County Art Museum revamped their website to include a searchable collection of over 20,000 downloadable images of artwork in their collection that are in the public domain. These are high resolution images, folks! The quality is outstanding and the search interface is fantastic. In just 5 minutes I’ve manage to pull up Magritte’s The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe), Renoir’s Two Girls Reading, and examples of 15th century Islamic calligraphy.
This is an excellent resource for art students, researchers, or simply art enthusiasts. Enjoy!
The library’s summer hours are now in effect. You can continue to stop by the library during the summer months Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. We’re closed on Saturday and Sunday. After the mad rush of finals the library is now calm, cool, and filled with awesome librarians, library staff, computers, and books.
We will be closed for the following holidays:
Memorial Day (Monday, May 27)
Independence Day (Thursday, July 4)
Stop by and see us. We’re not at the beach yet!
April 18, 2013, marked the debut of the DPLA, the Digital Public Library of America. You’ve never heard of the DPLA? You’re not alone. Lots of librarians have been reading and hearing about it since October 2010 when a group of 40 leaders from libraries, universities and foundations met to try to make the dream of a free, digital public library a reality.
The DPLA has ambitious goals to create “an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that would draw on the nation’s living heritage from libraries, universities, archives, and museums in order to educate, inform, and empower everyone in current and future generations.” Did they succeed?
The DPLA received important grant funding and formed important partnerships with organizations like the National Archives, the N.Y. Public Library, and the Smithsonian Institute to name a few. That means you can search the DPLA website to access digital collections at all of the partner institutions. Search by exhibit collection, place, timeline, or date.
Check out an exhibit on Activism in the USA or Parks and Public Spaces. Check out how many items are dated from the year you were born by using the timeline (11,750 from my birth year – see if you can find it).
Is the DPLA finished? Does it have “everything”? Even if we could figure out what “everything” is that wouldn’t be likely. And not everything accessible through searches in the DPLA is in the public domain so user still have to be sure they comply with copyright laws. But – it is the auspicious beginning of portal to a wide variety of important, historical, and really interesting books, historical records, images, and audiovisual materials. It might lead you to materials that can help you with that next project . . . or help you find a way to send a rainy afternoon. Check it out.
Well, they’re not quite here, but they’re coming up quickly. As always, the SMCM Library is ready to help you finish out the year on a high note.
For starters, the Reference & Instruction librarians (and myself, from behind the circulation desk) are available to provide research assistance on any and all subjects. If there isn’t anyone at the reference desk, we have an “open door” policy here – if a door is open, come on in! Beyond that, you can email any of the librarians to set up an appointment. Beyond THAT, we often have someone available to chat live, in real-time, at the Research Help page on the library website. Finally, there is an online knowledge base of frequently asked questions for you to search – or you can ask your own question and get a response within 24 hours.
What’s that you say? You don’t necessarily need research help, you just want a place where you can kip down and study? Well, you are in luck! The SMCM Library has lots of accommodations – tables, individual study carrels and comfy chairs can be found in abundance on the first and second floors of the library. If you need to use a computer, we have about two dozen of them loaded with Microsoft Office software and other goodies such as SPSS and Adobe Reader. Room 112 in the Library Annex has another 16 computers, and it is available 24/7 for night owls and early birds. The circulation desk also has laptops available. If you want a bit of privacy, we have five group study rooms, three of which can be reserved online for up to three hours at a time (the other two are first-come, first-served). These rooms all have tables/chairs, ethernet ports, power outlets, and whiteboards. One study room even has a 55″ flat screen TV with a computer connection for your laptop!
If it’s gear you need, then the circulation desk has almost certainly got what you’re looking for. We’ll loan you a laptop, headphones, dry erase markers, ethernet cables, extension cords, laptop chargers (Mac & PC), and lots of other stuff to help you make the most of your time here. By the way, I should mention that NONE of these items are subject to overdue fines 😀
In addition to all of the above, we’re offering extended hours from Tuesday, April 23 through Tuesday, May 7. Be sure to thank Carol, Reneé, and the rest of the late-night staff for helping keep us open late!
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to let a library staff member know. If they can’t help you directly, they can put you in touch with someone who can.
If there’s one word that can easily give most college and university faculty the chills, it’s assessment. It typically conjures up notions of standardized tests, bureaucrats meddling in the classroom, and legions of zombie-like students who only know how to answer multiple-choice questions. Kenneth Bernstein’s article on The Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet blog struck a cord with educators frustrated by the K-12 classroom experiences created by the No Child Left Behind Act and served as a warning for those in higher education: Watch out. The bureaucrats are coming for you too.
Indeed there are very vocal politicians riding the wave of economic uncertainty, unemployment, and increasing student loan debt who demand that institutions of higher education and those who teach in them demonstrate their impact on their students and the nation’s economy. Rick Perry’s continuing crusade in Texas is a prime example of government officials delving into the operations of their flagship universities, demanding changes, and even calculating professors worth.
Libraries are no strangers to this kind of top-down assessment. We’ve always been subject to outside scrutiny and have often been asked by library board of trustees, academic administrators, faculty, and the general public to prove our worth. Much of this pressure has resulted in rarely read statistical reports on library use and the dreaded “Return on Investment” (ROI) calculators that were all the rage in public libraries a few years ago.
Given the climate of accusation-based accountability that accompanies most assessment practices, it’s no wonder that assessment has turned into academia’s newest obscenity. Assessment is what gets forced on you and your classroom when tuition bills increase, jobs are scarce, and students can’t write a short paragraph without grammatical errors. Whenever the word is mentioned, people’s postures change, eyes narrow, and hands are ready to write a well-researched rebuttal.
Assessment has been claimed by the powerful, when really it’s a practice that should give educators the power to evaluate student learning in their classrooms and and inform their teaching. In academic library circles, Dr. Debra Gilchrist (Vice President of Learning and Student Success at Pierce College) is the assessment guru. After attending the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Immersion Program in 2008 and hearing Deb speak, my entire view of assessment changed. Here’s Deb in her own words:
…assessment is much more than gathering data. Assessment is a thoughtful and intentional process by which faculty and administrators collectively, as a community of learners, derive meaning and take action to improve…Assessment is about telling a story–the story of our students’ learning, the story of our instruction program, the story of our contributions to overall student success.
(from A Twenty Year Path: Learning about Assessment, Learning from Assessment in Communications in Information Literacy, vol. 3, no. 2, 2009)
Assessment is not research. The ultimate goal of assessing student learning is not to prove a return on investment, justify an increase in salary or defend a job. That may be where assessment has been taken in the past, but we still have the opportunity to take back assessment and make it our own.
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Value of Academic Libraries Initiative is an excellent example of higher education educators using assessment in the right way: to tell a story about student learning. As a part of this initiative, ACRL was awarded a $250,000 grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop the Assessment in Action (AiA) Program, which provides training and support to teams of librarians and campus collaborators (faculty, administrators, etc.) who will undertake an assessment project at their home colleges and universities. The goal of each project is to examine the relationship between the library and student learning.
St. Mary’s was selected as one of the 75 institutional teams to take part in the first cohort of the AiA Program. Our focus will be on librarians’ involvement in the First Year Seminar (FYS) and whether or not it makes an impact on students’ information literacy skill development. We have excellent survey information from the Office of the Core Curriculum on students’ self-reported skill development and faculty’s opinions on students’ skill development which we hope to incorporate into our own assessment plan. One of the recommendations from the AiA Program facilitators was that our assessment project be folded into our everyday workflow so that assessment would be authentic and not burdensome on those involved. We work with FYS faculty every year and hope that some will take an interest in our assessment project this year.
As a member of this first AiA Program cohort, our team will benefit from the assessment knowledge of several ACRL l facilitators, including Dr. Gilchrist. We’re excited to begin this project, and hope that by the end of it we can at least convince a few people in higher education that assessment can be done at a micro-level, rather than be mandated from the top. Our assessment project is ultimately for the greater good. We want to find out if the way we teach information literacy is working and how we can improve our efforts to help our students, which is all assessment should ever really be about: Helping students learn.
Last semester our library gave me the amazing opportunity to work as the Instructional Media Fellow. When I began, I certainly did not know what kind of journey I would be embarking on or that I would be turning the Media Center into my second home. I knew that the library staff wanted to begin producing a series of short tutorial and informational videos about the library, and as a film and media major, I was beyond excited to gain hands-on experience creating videos.
Because this was a new project, I was given full creative range of the videos. I spent many hours watching Youtube videos produced by other libraries to try and get an idea of what techniques or ideas were successful, what ideas really did not work, and what kind of information students were interested in. After many brainstorming sessions and several failed logo designs the “SMCM Library in 60 Seconds” was created.
The “SMCM Library in 60 Seconds” videos are meant to be short videos that clearly highlight a resource/feature of the library or present a quick tutorial on how to use different services within the library. We want students to be able to use our videos as a way to make their experiences and time in the library more enjoyable and efficient.
In my position, I conceptualize, design, film, and edit (and then delete, film and edit a few more times) each video. Not every video topic can be approached in the same manner, so each video needs to be created, filmed and edited differently. I’ve learned that my first idea is never my best idea, and that even after many hours of editing, I might still have to start over. But thanks to an amazing support team and an extremely cooperative student body (thank you to everyone who has let me film them!) I have been beyond thrilled with this experience. I have learned more than I ever expected and am looking forward to everything that I still get to learn.
Keep an eye out for new videos on the SMCM library Youtube channel, and if you haven’t already, take a minute to watch your fellow students in our first video, This is My Library!
The staff book club has selected Tana French’s The Likeness for April. In The Likeness Detective Cassie Maddox goes undercover as a graduate student at Trinity College in Dublin. Her cover, a murder victim who looks just like her. Even her new housemates think she’s the victim. The novel is more psychological thriller than police procedural. It’s the relationships and tensions between the characters that drive the book. Kate Ward of EW is impressed with “the author’s ability to convey the distinct eccentricities of Lexie’s literature-loving roommates, particularly Rafe, a messy, musically inclined, heavy-drinking rageaholic calmed only by a good joke.” NPR likes French’s “snappy dialogue and crisp prose.”
Although The Likeness is the second in French’s murder squad mystery series, don’t worry if you haven’t read the first, In the Woods. Despite what the New York Times says, each title in the series works as a stand-alone. The Likeness was the first one I read and I was blissfully unaware it was a sequel. Each book in the series focuses on a different member of the squad so you don’t need to read them in order.