Western Libraries - Winter 2014 Issue 1

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The Learning Commons is becoming hub of activity! In this issue Shevell Thibou introduces, "Conversations in Common." It's a wonderful new initiative that provides campus & community groups with LC space in which to connect with the wider Western community! Next, tipster Gabe Gossett talks about the Libraries' enthusiasm and support for Zotero. And, in our "Did You Know" piece, Paul Piper introduces a recent Special Collection's acquisition illustrated by local artist Tom Wood, and encourages faculty to explore how Heritage Resources staff can help integrate other unique materials into your curriculum.

  Something New!

Start Your Conversation At The Commons 

By Shevell Thibou,  LC Program Coordinator

Shevell Thibou

There are so many reasons why you should visit the Western Libraries and Learning Commons – great study spaces, wonderful resources, enriching collections, friendly staff, and the list goes on.

Another reason for you to come might be the “Conversations in Common,” a new initiative sponsored by the Western Libraries and the Learning Commons for individuals, departments, and programs to share information on resources available across Western’s campus. Resulting from an idea that emerged from the Teaching-Learning Academy last year when they explored how to cultivate more positive communities, these Conversations afford an opportunity to learn more about campus-wide resources as well as to engage in informal dialogue in a centrally located space that has been deliberately designed for interaction and collaboration. A space within the recently remodeled Learning Commons (in the Wilson wing next to the Info Desk) is currently available for scheduling “Conversations.” Programs that have already signed on to host a Conversation include the Western Sustainability Green Energy Fee grant program, Academic Advising, and the Career Center. 

Green Energy Free Grant Program

The “Conversations” will also involve the Bellingham community, so for example, the Whatcom Volunteer Center is scheduled to host regular hours in the Learning Commons each Thursday from 12-4 pm during winter quarter. As a partner with the Center for Service-Learning, the Whatcom Volunteer Center has held hours in the Library’s Learning Commons in the past, however, within the first five minutes of their very first “Conversations in Common” hour, they received a line of interested students and future volunteers. The Bellingham Stir Center is also interested in partnering with the Conversations in Commons in the near future.

We hope you can participate in these rich Conversations! If you’re interested in hosting a Conversation in the space or would like more information, please contact Shevell.Thibou@wwu.edu.


  This Issue's Great Tip

Managing Your Research With Zotero 

By Gabe Gossett, Librarian for Extended Education

Gabe Gossett

Do you have a beastly research project that’s not coming together? Are you interested in a tool that can help generate citations for your academic papers?

Maybe you’re interested in building a personal database of research that you get to customize and take with you, even after you are no longer at Western? If any of those questions resonate with you we recommend you check out Zotero. 

Zotero logo

Zotero is a powerful tool that allows you to collect research resources, typically in PDF or web snapshot format, annotate and organize those sources in a way that makes sense to you, and export citations for those sources either by dragging and dropping a citation into a document or embedding citations via a word processor plugin.

Because Zotero is sophisticated, and there are not many other applications like it, it can help to have training and support. Fortunately for you, librarians are happy to fill that role!

We provide support in a couple of ways:

  • We provide a guide with tutorials and documentation (with thanks to Zotero expert Jason Puckett for the template)
  • We provide workshops (check out the WWU Training site for the latest drop-in workshops or contact us to schedule one for your class)
  • We offer drop-in support at the Research Consultation Desk
  • Finally, we are happy to schedule a time to meet with you and provide individualized advice on how Zotero might best be integrated into your existing research process

Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know if you would like to learn more about Zotero. If you are already using Zotero, let us know how you use it or contact gabe.gossett@wwu.edu.

  Did You Know?

Heritage Resources and Instruction 

By Paul Piper, Special Collections Librarian

Paul Piper

Many Library users have no idea what Heritage Resources (Special Collections, The Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, and University Archives) is, and if they do, they view it as a few rooms containing books and documents locked away from easy access. NOT TRUE!! While the collection and preservation of books and other rare or specialized materials is certainly an important component of our mission, instruction is primary to our mission, and we are continuously looking for ways to integrate our materials into courses and the University curriculum.

A case in point is our newly acquired copy of an art book rendering of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges’ story The Book of Sand, with woodcuts by local artist Thomas Wood. The book was reviewed by our Rare Book Advisory group, comprised of faculty from several departments, with an eye on how the text could integrate with and enhance instruction.

The Book of Sand

Being an art book, and featuring a local artist’s work, the connections to community and art could be integrated easily into art or local anthropology/culture classes. As a bilingual story, Spanish and English, the text could be used by Modern and Classical Languages. And as a story by a renowned Argentine writer, the connections to South American and/or international literature are obvious. But there are also the spatial, moral and philosophical themes (particularly that of infinity and fate) of both the story and the art that have application in philosophy, physics, and other disciplines.

And this is just the story of one book. Between our three collections we have thousands of other materials that are begging to be integrated into classes. We’ve even designed a flexible module that can easily be inserted into a curriculum.

If you would like to find out more, please contact me at paul.piper@wwu.edu or stop by Special Collections.

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