Western Libraries - Spring 2013 Issue 1

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Welcome to this issue of 3 Things! Western Libraries' Learning Commons continues to evolve physically and virtually. Below you'll find out about new service models, changes afoot in Learning Commons space itself, and how the virtual commons, Viking Village, can be so much more than just a social space for students.

  Something New!

A New Face For the Learning Commons!

By Caroline Dallstream & Simon Bakke, LC Liaisons

Caroline Dallstream

Whether you’re entering the Library through the Wilson entrance or crossing the Skybridge into the Wilson wing, two friendly faces sitting behind a small station known as the Learning Commons Info Desk will be there to greet you.

The student staff is available during all regular library hours and can assist in locating places in the Library as well as in connecting people with appropriate resources.

Simon Bakke

Behind the Info Desk, you’ll also see that the Library Learning Commons has put on a new face by creating an open space for collaboration including having Library resources available. An on-call research librarian waits at the ready for research consultations, Writing Center Assistants are near-by for conferencing, and all the other Learning Commons program partners across the main floor are poised and ready to support patrons’ needs.

Though the look of this space is new, the concept of having a studio-like environment in the Library is not. Mabel Zoe Wilson (our first librarian) once called the library a “student’s workshop” where learners could “double and magnify their creative work” (The Weekly Messenger, 1927). Now thanks, in part, to a $75,000 donation received from Dave and Ann Mann, the Learning Commons is moving forward with creating this “workshop” space in Wilson Library.

While the Library and Learning Commons staff supports learning and scholarship, this area in the Wilson wing is designed to facilitate collaboration in a central location, making many of the Library’s resources easily accessible. Besides the all-important human resources available, the space also features a media-scape table with a split screen that enables groups (up to six at a time) to work together.

There’s no need to worry while the Wilson wing is getting this face lift. On the Haggard side Circulation staff continues to provide their regular friendly services, while the Student Technology Center now handles laptop checkouts and support.

As students, we’re very excited about these changes to the Learning Commons, and hope you will find them useful, too. Between now and the beginning of fall quarter, there will be more Learning Commons upgrades including new furniture. Until then, stop by to work with others and get help from your always-eager-to-help Library staff.

  This Issue's Great Tip

Research Help is on the Way!

By Julene Sodt, Research & Information Specialist

Julene Sodt

If you are looking for resources for course assignments, the new Learning Commons Information Desk on the main floor of Wilson is the place to begin! 

On-call research help is just a few steps away at the Research Consultation area. Save time and stress by asking for help early in your research process.

A librarian can help you brainstorm search terms, find the best databases for your topic, and show you tricks to using them more effectively. With our experience and expertise can help locate resources you can’t find with Google! 

We are also collaborating with our Learning Commons partner the Writing Center so that you can seamlessly integrate your writing and research in a final product.

Collaboration in the new-look Learning Commons

And, did you know that you don’t have to be in the library to ask a librarian your questions?  Contact us directly through live chat, text message (360-797-5910), and Twitter (@Ask_WWU_Lib), or you can search our growing database of past Q & A’s to recycle an answer. 

Find Ask Us by clicking on the button to the left side of most library pages, or go to http://askus.library.wwu.edu/.

On-call research help and chat services are available during the following hours:

Monday – Friday from 9:00 to 9:00pm

Friday from 9-5pm

Saturday from 1-6pm

Sunday from 12-9pm

Another great option is to schedule a research consultation with a subject specialist, a librarian with expertise in your area of study.

Appointments are usually scheduled Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 5:00pm.

  Did You Know?

Viking Village: It’s Not Just a Student Space

By J.T. Williams, Viking Village Coordinator

J.T. Williams

Viking Village, Western Washington University’s online forum, is a wonderful little corner of the internet. It offers (yes; this is a shameless plug) a venue for students to socialize, discuss and debate, find rides to and from Bellingham, buy and sell stuff, show off their art, find events, find friends, and even create the occasional crowd sourced poem or short story. It’s a robust environment.

But you know this. Or, at least, you should.

What you may not know is that Viking Village, as the online component of the Learning Commons, is a great (although underutilized) academic resource, too. Students frequently use Viking Village to ask for homework help, find tutors, and form peer workshops. Faculty sometimes require students to respond to discussion threads on our forum—it’s a good way to make online discussion assignments feel a bit less arbitrary by including the greater campus community. Once in a while, something even cooler happens.

Last fall quarter, I was approached by Dr. Cathy McDonald, a Senior Instructor of English. As she prepared to pilot a course exploring writing in “real-world” situations, Cathy decided that she wanted her students to not only study the subject, but do it. Viking Village came to mind as a good option for that. It was.

As Dr. McDonald’s class progressed I provided technical help to her students, as well as insights into our forum community. I set up a Facebook group for communication between her students, myself, and Viking Village moderators, and visited her classroom frequently. Those students who decided to experiment with Viking Village tried everything from starting academic discussions to derailing an inflammatory thread about yoga pants (the latter required great creativity, and the student responsible felt “empowered” by her success). The resulting classroom discussions were nothing short of lively: Viking Village helped students see how the composition theory they were learning was meaningful and useful in an everyday space.

These sorts of interactions between classes and Viking Village should happen more often—they’re enriching for everyone involved. Once again, it’s a wonderful little corner of the internet, and it’s something unique to Western. It’s also what you make of it, and considering that it grants classrooms access to thousands of students of varying academic, cultural, and personal backgrounds, and opportunities to apply new material in meaningful ways, the possibilities are endless.

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