What do a couple of stolen trout flies have in common with two bodies buried up in the Gravelly Range near Ennis, Montana? That's for Sean Stranahan, part-time artist, fly fisherman, private detective and river guide to find out.
Last week marked the grand opening of the new Wilson Library Sustainability Wall. A collaborative project between Western Libraries, the Office of Sustainability and the AS Environmental Center, this wall provides Western with a central and public location where the campus community can find out about environmental and sustainability events. The Sustainability Wall is located near the north entrance to the Wilson Library between Zoe’s bagels and the Tutoring Center. The wall which previously just held a water fountain, an unused radiator, and an AED station (which was relocated around the corner), now incorporates a non-electric water bottle refill station, a Western Sustainability calendar, an environmental and sustainability bulletin board, and a bookshelf highlighting various sustainability themes throughout the academic year.
The idea for the wall came from a team composed of two students from the Students for Sustainable Water (SSW) club, and two Western Libraries staff. Together, they submitted a Green Energy Fee Grant Program proposal to install a water bottle refilling station and educational kiosk in the Wilson Library to educate campus on the use of reusable water bottles as well as general information on sustainability at Western. “Western's commitment towards the environment and sustainability is strongly ingrained in our campus culture, but up until this point it's been difficult to find an accessible resource for students to get involved and stay engaged. I'm excited for ‘The Sustainability Wall’ to be that hub of information, located in the heart of resources at WWU: the Wilson Library,” said Carolyn Bowie, student lead on the project. The proposal was funded in the spring of 2013 and installation was completed in the spring quarter of this year.
The project team is excited about the opportunity to educate campus on the value of Lake Whatcom as a water resource. A sign above the water bottle refill station includes a stunning aerial photograph of Lake Whatcom and provides information on the value and issues with Lake Whatcom. Both of the student team members were also involved in the campaign to remove water bottle usage from campus. “This project also serves the need of students to fill their water bottles on campus, especially after our recent victory in ending bottled water sales. I've heard that employees at Zoe's are already directing students to make use of the newly installed refill station!” said Bowie.
The Green Energy Fee (GEF) Grant Program exists to promote experiential learning opportunities and sustainable practices at Western Washington University. The GEF is funded by Western students, managed by the Office of Sustainability, and grants are chosen by the Green Energy Fee Committee, composed of students, staff, and faculty representatives.
For more information on the Green Energy Fee Grant Program, visit wwu.edu/gef
(This press release was written by and courtesy of Regan Clover, Green Energy Fee Grant Program Coordinator, Office of Sustainability. Photo by Patrick Schmidt; featured in photo are GEF Team Members Rob Lopresti, Clarissa Mansfield, Gerald Kitsis and Carolyn Bowie).
Professor Katie Vulić has been bringing her medieval literature classes to Western Libraries Special Collections ever since she first began teaching at Western. For the first several years, Vulić taught students exclusively from copies of original works; Special Collections owns a number of facsimile reproductions of medieval manuscripts that helped her students gain an understanding of the original context and culture of their class texts.
At the same time that she was using these facsimile materials, Vulić was also very interested in finding an opportunity to introduce original materials into her courses so that her students could engage directly with original manuscripts and learn from them firsthand about medieval literary culture.
“One of the goals in using original manuscripts is for students to recognize how hugely different their reading practices are between reading mass-produced, cheap, clean texts versus hard-to-produce medieval luxury goods, the kind where every letter written is its own work of art,” explained Vulić. "Additionally, with the facsimile materials, I could say ‘Here is what is known, here is what has already been discovered.’ With the original materials, I can do that too, but then I can also come back and ask, ‘What can we learn from these materials that is not yet known? What are the differences between medieval reading practices and our own?’”
Last year, Vulić was able to pose these questions to some of her graduate students after she made arrangements to borrow some original manuscript fragments and incunables (early printed books) from Washington State University’s Special Collections for her class to use. These materials were kept in Western Libraries Special Collections, and her graduate students were then able to spend a number of hours over a two-week period working directly with the borrowed materials.
“I had them go the whole nine yards with the manuscript fragments: transcribe passages, prepare a thorough description of their features, and check the existing databases in order to identify what they were. Students did say it was a lot of work but they also really enjoyed it and said I should keep the project going,” stated Vulić.
Though all of the medieval items loaned from Washington State were just individual leaves of parchment separated from their full original manuscripts, students can learn a lot from scraps and fragments. “If a book was taken apart like that, it was often because it was considered commonplace, outdated, or not valuable. Old manuscripts could be used for scrap, or for reinforcing the binding of other more current books. What that means is most of the scraps we can afford and that we see tend to be in Latin and church-related, but one advantage of that is they also tend to be searchable,” explained Vulić.
While some of the manuscript fragments have cataloged information as part of their records, other fragments have very little documented information accompanying them. However, for the fragments that are not searchable, there is still a lot that can be discovered.
“It’s hard to make a huge discovery in just one day, but sometimes we could use context clues to figure things out. And students come away with a real appreciation for the unique methods, challenges and experiences of this profession. They also gain firsthand experience with archival practices and discovering something ‘new’ in an archive, sometimes even contributing quite a lot to existing knowledge. Students are surprised by how hard these materials are to read, but they seem to have a lot of fun with it, as if they are working out puzzles. It’s an opportunity that undergraduates don’t usually have—a chance for them to see and interact with materials that are usually kept behind glass.”
This experience with her graduate students made her think of piloting a similar project in her undergraduate classes, and one year later, Dean of Western Libraries Mark Greenberg helped facilitate another loan of original materials from a rare book dealer with whom he has worked in the past.
Vulić has since used these original manuscript fragments this past quarter in two of her undergraduate classes. She synthesized the highlights of what her graduate class did over a two week period into two days, and Vulić thinks her classes have enjoyed the experience. She noted that access to these materials gives students an enhanced sense of the culture, can correct misinformation from movies, video games, and popular culture, and can help students become more grounded in the time period from which the pieces were produced, while simultaneously creating opportunities for interaction with the original materials about which there might not be a lot of known information.
Vulić explained that while she wished Western Libraries would someday have its own collection of original manuscripts, she also wanted her colleagues to know about the resources available to them that Western Libraries can help provide. She stated that she is always surprised when she meets someone who teaches at Western who has not visited Special Collections.
“It would be lovely if more of our colleagues would take advantage of these resources. I have found it to be fantastic working with library staff. They are always so willing to work with me and to meet my teaching needs. They have always been the best partners in just the best possible ways. I cannot say enough good things about them. For faculty thinking about setting up a new class and using some of these resources, it may take a little work to get things going, but it will be worth it in the long run, and you will always get the support you need from the library!”
In February 2014, Western Washington University’s Learning Commons announced a tagline contest in which Western students, faculty, and staff were asked to help create a memorable and positive phrase that captured the Learning Commons mission. The Learning Commons brings together resources and programs to advance teaching and learning, online and across the physical space of Western Libraries. As added incentive and as a show of appreciation, it was also established that the winner of the contest would be awarded a $100 gift card to the A.S. Bookstore.
After reviewing over 60 submissions, the winning tagline of: “Connect, Communicate, Create” was selected. The Learning Commons partners agreed that each of the three key words in that phrase successfully captured the Learning Commons’ essence. Unbeknownst to the Learning Commons partners when they chose the winning entry, creator of the tagline, student Kathryn Jensen, also happens to be employed as a Writing Center Assistant.
As Learning Commons Director Carmen Werder stated, “I was delighted to find out that Kathryn is one of our very own student staff in her role as a Writing Center Assistant – no wonder she really gets the Learning Commons. We are very grateful to her for helping us find a phrase that captures the Learning Commons dream.”
Jensen explained how she came up with the tagline after she began thinking about the mission of the Learning Commons during a discussion in her first-year intern seminar at the Writing Center.
“We had been talking about how to establish it as a place students know they can go for all kinds of peer collaboration from working on group projects to writing assistance to math/science tutoring. I realized that the idea of 'connecting' with others was sort of the core of the Learning Commons, and created a tagline that emphasized that,” said Jensen.
Werder, who also directs the Teaching Learning Academy (TLA), and Writing Instruction Support (WIS), mentioned how the word “communicate” represents another significant component of the tagline.
“We also want everyone to think of the Learning Commons as a place to communicate in genuinely human ways – not only to gain information, but to engage in spirited dialogue about topics that matter most,” stated Werder. For example, “Conversations in Common,” a program that began during winter quarter 2014, is one way the Learning Commons offers the Western community opportunities for both making connections and communicating ideas.
Such programs and activities hosted in the Learning Commons naturally lead to the third component of the tagline, which is the word “create.” Werder noted how she and other Learning Commons partners were “especially thrilled” to see how the winning tagline emphasized “the Learning Commons as a place to create new knowledge, and to create it together.”
In addition to Jensen’s winning submission, Carly Roberts, who is also President of Western’s Associated Students (AS), submitted a tagline suggestion that grabbed the attention of the Learning Commons partners. Learning Commons Program Coordinator Shevell Thibou stated that all of the partners were pleased with Roberts’ emphasis on the Learning Commons as a physical gathering space.
“We also liked how the phrase ‘gather here’ was both an explanation and an invitation, welcoming everyone into this collaborative space available for connecting, communicating, and creating knowledge,” explained Thibou. Because of this emphasis, the Learning Commons partners expressed their appreciation to Roberts for her valuable contribution, acknowledging that the tagline and other future marketing materials will also incorporate the part of Roberts’ submission that includes the phrase “Gather Here.” The Learning Commons partners would also like to thank everyone else who participated in the tagline naming contest for offering their submissions.
Western Libraries is pleased to announce the 2014 winners of the Undergraduate Research Award, which is an annual award given to Western Washington University undergraduate students who demonstrate outstanding library research in the writing of papers for courses taught across the colleges.
It recognizes excellence in undergraduate research papers based on significant inquiry using library resources and collections, and learning about the research discovery and information synthesizing process.
Members of the 2014 award review committee included: Jeanne Armstrong (Libraries), Margaret Fast (Libraries), Carol Janson (Art), James Inverarity (Sociology), Tilmann Glimm (Math).
The 2014 Award Winners who will receive a cash award of $500.00 and an award certificate are:
- Kristine Farwell (Economics), “The Impact of the Recent Global Financial Crisis on Microfinance Sustainability.”
- Audrey Marsh (Biology), “Evolution of the Y-Chromosome in Primates.”
- Celina Muñoz (History), “The Plague, the Poor, and the Problem of Medicine.”
The 2014 Honorable Mention recipient who will receive an honorable mention certificate is:
Jenna Wilson (American Cultural Studies), “Race Representations in Children’s Picture Books and Its Impact on the Development of Racial Identity and Attitudes.”
Check out this online six-week summer course that gives you the opportunity to learn about visual, cultural, and information litearcies through graphic novels and comix. Regsitration for this course is open now! For more information, contact Rebecca.Marrall@wwu.edu.
Western Libraries is pleased to announce we are currently hosting selections from the work of artist Patty Bover in Galleries 2 and 3, (located on the third floor of Wilson Library in the area overlooking the Skybridge, and then also in the east hallway near the Children's Collection). Patty Bover is an ATUS staff member here at Western who will be retiring in June and devoting her time to her art on a full-time basis. Patty's husband David, who also works here at Western as the Associate Dean of the College of Sciences and Technology, makes all of the wooden frames for her artwork from reclaimed wood he either salvages or obtains from The ReStore.
Patty Bover paint with acrylics and her technique involves creating depth with layers of paint while relying on her intuition to discover what she will paint. As she explains:
"I mostly paint abstracts with whimsy tossed in occasionally. For the most part, I paint intuitively. I don’t plan paintings (when I do, they usually don’t turn out the way I planned anyway). I put multiple layers of paint on a canvas or other substrate, making random marks as I go. Eventually, one or more images appear. I might keep those images or paint over them and continue. Many layers of paint add a nice depth to the paintings, which definitely adds interest. Big and bold are my favorite ways of creating art."
Patty also states that she paints because she feels compelled to paint, and that acrylic painting has become her passion.
"I love to share my artwork with others and find out what they see in the paintings and what feelings they evoke," said Patty, explaining that she appreciates the chance to show her work in the Libraries' galleries. Patty's work will be on display from now through May 26th.
Many students and grads spend ample time in Western Libraries, unaware that it is home to a Rare Book Collection with some rather eclectic treasures lingering on the uppermost floor. Rare Books are housed in a climate-controlled storage facility on the 6th floor of the Wilson Library, adjacent to a well-lit, comfortable reading and research room.
Western Libraries seeks to increase both size and awareness of the collection, and has recently formed an advisory group comprised of faculty from the library and several other departments. This group will guide future purchases and acquisitions, assist in identifying donors, and perhaps most importantly, help integrate the collection into the University’s curriculum. The collection’s scope includes art books, regional letterpress and small press, 19th century women’s literature and children’s literature.
Recent acquisitions include an edition of Jorge Luis Borges Book of Sand with woodcuts by local artist Tom Wood. The uniqueness and multidimensionality (book as text, book as object, book as art) of works like this make them rich in teaching and research opportunities. The Rare Book Collection also boasts a luxurious facsimile of Ellesmere’s Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, original journals of Vancouver, Cook and Lewis and Clark, and numerous rare works of art and literature.
Western Washington is home to several nationally renowned letterpresses that produce books of exceptional quality. Presses like Copper Canyon, Co-op, Brooding Heron, Grey Spider, Wood Works, Egress Studio Press and others are creating books that by their choice of paper, type, binding, size, and content are themselves works of art. Western’s evolving rare book criteria have been enhanced to include vigorous collection of such items. These are often extremely small print runs that go out of stock quickly, and are often poorly preserved. Preserving these books and making them available for instruction are two of the primary goals.
Rare books located in the general circulating shelves are being discovered and relocated into the Rare Book Collection where handling and climate can be regulated. Anyone who would like to help grow this collection either through gifts that include books that fit our collecting criteria, or through monetary donations may contact Paul Piper at 360-650-3097 or email@example.com.
TODAY (4/7) is the first of several workshops and drop-in sessions where you can learn more about Zotero. What is Zotero? It's a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. Zotero collects all your research in a single searchable interface and automatically indexes the full-text content of your research, enabling you to find out exactly what you're looking for with just a few keystrokes. Join us in the Writing Center today from 4:00pm to 5:30pm for "Getting Ready with Zotero," or check out these other great sessions coming soon!
What do you know about the “speed of trust?” In Stephen Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust, he states:
“Nothing is as inspiring as an offering of trust. Trust truly is the one thing that changes everything. And there has never been a more vital time for people to establish, restore, and extend trust at all levels than in today’s new global society.”
With that said, the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) would like to welcome faculty, staff, students, and community members to join in on this quarter’s dialogue surrounding trust on our campus and within our community. The spring 2014 dialogue group options include Wednesdays@12 or Wednesdays@2 on these dates: Apr. 9, 23, May 7, 21. Also on Thursdays@12 and Thursdays@2 on these dates: Apr. 10, 24, May 8, 22. TLA begins meeting the second week of the quarter and continues every other week after that for a total of four sessions. All sessions are held in Wilson Library 2 West.
Fall quarter’s TLA members crafted the big study question for the rest of this year: How do we ignite passion, purpose, and potential to co-create a culture of trust? To sign up for a dialogue group and get on the list serve, please email Shevell.Thibou@wwu.edu.