Western Libraries News

Archives, Media, and Identity

Using Archives to Enhance Teaching & Learning

How can media history inform our understanding of our current moment? What is the role of media in the construction of identity, social hierarchies, and our understanding of power? Recognizing that archival and primary source materials provide evidence that can help answer these kinds of questions, Professor Helen Morgan Parmett decided to experiment by integrating an upper-class research and writing assignment with resources at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS), a division of Western Libraries Heritage Resources.

 

Last quarter students from Professor Morgan Parmett’s Communications Studies 416 class, “Cultural History of Media and Identity,” spent several hours at the CPNWS to review a variety of primary source archival materials in their consideration of the intersections between cultural history, media, and identity formation.

This was the first time many of these students had ever worked directly with archival materials, and CPNWS staff sought to provide contrasting examples of locally-produced media by also including materials that spoke to the experiences, interests, and voices of traditionally under-represented individuals and groups. For example, in addition to exploring historic issues of more mainstream publications such as the Bellingham Herald, students also examined the Northwest Passage, an alternative newspaper produced from 1969-1986, as well as a range of newsletters and educational materials produced by women’s organizations and LGBTA+ advocacy groups.

Heritage Resources Assistant Archivist for Outreach and Instruction Roz Koester helped facilitate the inquiry process by asking students to consider not just the materials in front of them, but to also think about what was not kept.

 

"Since we so often rely on written documentation to provide evidence of our shared cultural heritage, it's important to be aware that there are stories and experiences that remain untold,” explained Koester. “A lot of records don't get preserved, so, as researchers, you need to not only be thinking about the information that's available in the resources you're using, but also what might be missing. And we should all be thinking about how we can engage those hidden voices in order to preserve a more complete picture of our history."

As a required component of their research and writing assignment, students were expected to contribute to the scholarship of media history and identity found in secondary literature by constructing an original argument based on archival evidence of media influence on the construction Pacific Northwest identities.

 

Professor Morgan Parmett hopes that through this assignment, her students will develop a greater understanding not only of media history, but also of where we are now and how we are currently using media. She emphasized how we can learn much about today by considering the media histories of the past:

 

“For one, they disillusion us from the idea that things have always been a certain way by demonstrating the conflicts, debates, and struggles out of which our current moment emerged,” explained Professor Morgan Parmett. “These histories illuminate the fact that many of the debates we currently have about media and its societal effects are, in fact, not new. Seeing how these debates were resolved in earlier periods may provide insights for how we might move forward into our media futures in more socially just ways.”

Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes Special Collections, the University Archives & Records Management, and the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. Together these units provide for the responsible stewardship of unique and archival materials in support of teaching, learning, and research.  For more information about how Heritage Resources supports the research needs of students and educators, contact Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu.

 

Babylonian cuneiform terracotta tablet: 2nd millennium B.C.

Publication Information: 
Iraq: publisher not identified, 3300-1200 B.C.
Location: 
Special Collections Rare Book Collection
Call Number: 
PJ4075.B33
March, 2016

Cuneiform is a system of writing first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia c. 3500-3000 BCE. It is considered the most significant among the many cultural contributions of the Sumerians. The "writing" consists of "wedge-shaped" characters, or pictographs, that represent a language.

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In Memoriam: Raymond George McInnis

Western Libraries Remembers Ray McInnis

Raymond George McInnis passed away peacefully at Whatcom Hospice House on February 25th, 2016 after spending many months being cared for at his home. Ray was a beloved retired faculty member of Western Libraries at Western Washington University, and will be greatly missed by all of his friends and colleagues.

 

Ray was a librarian at Wilson Library from 1965 until he retired in 2001. During his 36 years at Western, he taught and published extensively. An avid scholar with a passion for both instruction and research, Ray wrote numerous articles, served as the editor of many reference volumes in a variety of disciplines, and taught not only library instruction courses, but also served as an adjunct professor of history.

 

Ray published his first book in 1967, and went on to write numerous texts related to academic research. He also gained a very rewarding Editorship for a ten-volume set of “concept dictionaries” in the humanities and social sciences for Greenwood Press.

 

After his retirement in 2001, Ray continued to be a frequent visitor to the library as he actively continued his scholarship.  He combined his interest in woodworking and his love of research to begin building a website which delves into the cultural history of woodworking.  The website is still in use today.  

 

During his last few years at the Libraries, Ray chose to spend the majority of his time working with students at the reference desk.  He was known for his unparalleled familiarity with the reference collection, and would go to great lengths to find an answer or a resource for a researcher.

 

Ray’s contributions to scholarship, to teaching and learning, and to Western Libraries were significant.  He will be remembered with great fondness and gratitude for his service to his students, to his friends and colleagues, and to Western.

 

[Note: This article is offered on behalf of Western Libraries. Ray McInnis’ official obituary can be found at this link: http://whatcomcremationandfuneral.com/obituary/raymond-george-mcinnis ]

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Magnificent Miss Wilson

Magnificent Miss Wilson's Library Hide-and-Seek

 

Mabel Zoe Wilson was born on March 3, 1878. She was a strong advocate for the library and worked as a librarian from 1902-1945. Her legacy lives on here at Western Libraries.

 

During the month of March we are celebrating the birthday of Mabel Zoe Wilson, Wilson Library's namesake, with the launch of  “Magnificent Miss Wilson’s Library Hide and Seek.” Check out the Library display cases (located throughout the second floor of both Haggard and Wilson) to see if you can find Magnificent Miss Wilson’s cameo image.  If you do find her, stop by the Circulation Desk to tell the staff where you saw her and they just might have a special treat for you!

 

“Magnificent Miss Wilson’s Library Hide and Seek” will continue even after her birthday  month of March ends as we relocate her cameo image to a new display case each month.  We hope you will partake in the search and find some time to enjoy the engaging displays here in the library!

 

And while we are on the subject of displays in the library, did you know Western Libraries provides access to our display cases to departments and organizations at Western as part of its service to the academic community?  Exhibit cases are available to any Western-affiliated organization, and may be reserved for one to two months.  Exhibits in the Libraries are created to direct attention to the materials, services, and aims of the Libraries, or to reflect the aims, goals, and services of departments and organizations at Western.  

 

If you are interested in making a request for a display, please make your reservation by submitting the online application form at least one month before the date you wish to begin your exhibit. Request approval is subject to case availability. For more information about current exhibits or exhibit policies, see the Display Case Exhibits web page

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Mezuzah Scroll

Publication Information: 
[Place of manufacture not identified: publisher not identified, no date]
Location: 
Special Collections Rare Book Collection
Call Number: 
BM657.M4 M49
February, 2016

The Mezuzah scroll, tucked in a case and posted on a doorway, designates a home or business as Jewish. It follow the biblical command found in Deuteronomy 6:9 and 11:20 to "write them (the commandments) on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." 

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Wallie V. Funk & Community Journalism

When Local Becomes National

On Tuesday, February 2, 2016 in Special Collections we were honored to host the very special event "When local becomes national," during which panelists spoke about community journalism and the impact of the work of noted and prolific photographer, Wallie V. Funk. Wallie was also in attendance along with members of his family, and he made the event even more meaningful by sharing some of his memories enriching the conversation with his perspective.

 

Between 75 and 80 people were in attendance to listen to tales of Wallie's contributions and their place in the history of local and national photojournalism.

 

During his long career as a photographer, journalist and co-owner of the Anacortes American, the Whidbey News-Times, and the South Whidbey Record, Wallie V. Funk photographed a diverse and eclectic range of subjects, including several U.S. presidential visits to the state of Washington; the Beatles’ and Rolling Stones’ concerts in Seattle; the 1970 Penn Cove whale capture; local and regional accidents and disasters (both natural and man-made); and community events and military activities on Fidalgo and Whidbey islands.

 

 

Panelists spoke about the impact of Wallie's work on his community and its surrounding area, and talked about how he used his photography and storytelling talents to draw attention to important matters in order to benefit and improve the lives of those around him. Each panelist had personal ties to Wallie, having worked closely with him while developing an enduring friendship.

 

 

Panelists were Theresa Trebon, Swinomish Indian Tribal community and local historian; Paul Cocke, Director of Western’s Office of Communications and Marketing and former news editor of the Anacortes American; Elaine Walker, curator of collections at the Anacortes Museum and former news editor of the Anacortes American; and Scott Terrell, photojournalist for the Skagit Valley Herald and WWU journalism instructor.

 

 

The presentation was sponsored by Western Libraries Heritage Resources, the WWU Department of Journalism and Western’s Office of Communications and Marketing.

 

A photographic exhibit featuring Funk's images is available for viewing weekdays in Special Colelctions between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., (excluding weekends and holidays).  The photographs on display in the exhibit represent a small sample from a far larger collection of papers, prints, and negatives donated by Walle V. Funk to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies in 2003. If you are interested in learning more about this collection, please contact Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu.

 

 

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Usability Study Participants Wanted

Western Libraries Usability Activity

Western Libraries Usability & Design Working Group is currently evaluating how the Library website organizes information about services and materials – and we would love your input! We are seeking participants for a brief usability exercise; the purpose of this exercise is to identify new ways to organize information and services on our website. Undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate. This activity shouldn’t take longer than 10-15 minutes.
 
Description & Purpose: Through an electronic sorting exercise, participant responses will help Western Libraries identify new ways to organize information and services on our website.
 
Duration: The activity shouldn't take longer than 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
 
Intended Audience: Undergraduates, graduates, faculty, and staff from outside of the Libraries are invited to participate.
 
Questions about the usability study? Please contact us via our website, or call Rebecca Marrall, Discovery Services Librarian (360-650-4493).
 
Ready to get started? You can participate in the study now.
 
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Equity, Inclusivity, & Dialogue

Using Dialogue to Achieve Equity & Inclusivity at Western

What is the difference between “dialogue,” and “discussion,” and does this distinction matter? Carmen Werder, Director of the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) at Western Libraries, explained that understanding these different modes of communication is a fundamental part of the TLA.

 

“Dialogue is collaborative and requires participants to be aware of their assumptions and to arrive at a deeper understanding, which means the emphasis is on opening up the conversation to as many views as possible. People engaged in dialogue try to find a shared connection, and to do this they need to really listen and try to understand,” said Werder.

 

“Dialogue consists of asking questions and sharing insight; it’s an exploratory process,” said Learning Commons Coordinator Shevell Thibou, who has been helping facilitate the TLA since 2012. “Because dialogue isn’t about being ‘right,’ and because it requires us to suspend judgment and really explore our own assumptions, it can be challenging,” Thibou added.

 

Throughout fall quarter, faculty, staff, community members, and more than 70 students in the TLA participated in a series of dialogues to collectively to identify and formulate this year’s “BIG” question, which is: “How do we move beyond conversation to achieve self-sustaining equity and inclusivity at Western?”

 

Since its inception nearly sixteen years ago, participants in the TLA have been meeting regularly to engage in dialogue around a variety of topics related to improving teaching and learning at Western, and this year’s dialogue sessions are significant for a number of reasons, including the alignment of the 2015-2016 “BIG” question with important conversations occurring throughout Western. Werder noted that since she is retiring this year, this question also has special significance to her personally.

 

 “I’ve seen some version of this question come up as long as I have been at Western, but I really feel like we are at an important place with this particular question, this year, right now,” said Werder, noting the emergence of this question early in fall quarter.

 

“The issues of equity and inclusion came up before the unfortunate and disturbing incident that happened just before Thanksgiving,” explained Werder, “and I think we can really we can use this as a chance to think about how important it is to talk about these things. And we can also use TLA as a mechanism for connecting people with other broader conversations happening across the University on this topic.”

 

During the first week of winter quarter’s TLA sessions, participants introduced themselves, and spoke about the benefits of engaging in the dialogue groups.  They shared what interested them about this year’s “BIG” question, and spoke about what they hoped their work would bring. Jordan Blevins, a TLA student facilitator, talked about how TLA’s “flattened hierarchy” makes it easier for participants to share unique perspectives.

 

“We all want to participate. We all want to have our voices heard,” said Blevins, “TLA is our opportunity to do that. This is a great time and an open space, where everyone is welcome.”

Hoping to arrive at some sort of shared definition which would aid them in the exploration of the “BIG” question, participants broke groups to try and define the terms “equity” and “inclusivity” before returning to the larger group to share their results.

 

Many common themes and questions emerged, such as: “What is fairness?” and “What is difference?” Equity, equality, and privilege were each considered and explored. Some participants noted out how every person brings a different perspective to conceptualizing each of these words, and while “diversity” is not explicitly stated in the “BIG” question, it is implicit in each of these considerations.

 

Werder pointed out that when engaging in dialogue and discussion, often it is through asking questions rather than thinking we have the answers that we are able to arrive closer to understanding the complexities of these words. 

 

“What is inclusivity? Is it a ‘welcoming’? Is it an attitude? Is it a set of practices? Is it recognizing and appreciating differences? And what does ‘recognizing differences’ mean?” asked Werder.

 

Your Chance to Participate!

While the TLA dialogue sessions for this quarter began Jan. 13 and 14th, it’s still not too late for you to get involved. As part of their work this quarter, the TLA will host two focus groups on February 17th from 12-1pm and 2-3 pm in the Learning Commons to explore the questions that must be answered in order to achieve self-sustaining equity and inclusivity here at Western. You can also still join a regular TLA session for this quarter.  The TLA meets every other week for a total of five meetings for the quarter, and there are four group options:

 

·        Wednesdays from noon to 1:20 p.m. (Jan 13, 27; Feb 10, 24; Mar 9)

·        Wednesdays from 2 to 3:20 p.m. (Jan 13, 27; Feb 10, 24; Mar 9)

·        Thursdays from noon to 1:20 p.m. (Jan 14, 28; Feb 11, 25; Mar 10)

·        Thursdays from 2 to 3:20 p.m. (Jan 14, 28; Feb 11, 25; Mar 10)

 

While the sessions run for approximately 80 minutes, attendees are welcome to stop by based on their availability. All dialogue groups meet in the Learning Commons in Wilson 2 West. Students can also participate for Communication practicum credit. If you are interested in learning more about the TLA, or to sign up for a dialogue session, email TLA@wwu.edu.

 

The Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) at Western Libraries is a Learning Commons partner and the central forum for the scholarship of teaching and learning at Western Washington University.  Engaged in studying the intersections between teaching and learning, TLA members include faculty, students, administrators, and staff from across the University, as well as several alumni and community members. Grounded in the scholarship of teaching and learning, the TLA's central mission is to create a community of scholars who work together to better understand the existing learning culture, to share that understanding with others, and to enhance the learning environment for everyone.

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The Library of Julio Santo Domingo

Author: 
Peter Watts
Publication Information: 
New York: Yolanda Cuomo Design
Location: 
Special Collections Rare Book Collection
Call Number: 
HM647.W38 2013
January, 2016

The Library of Julio Santo Domingo, now on loan to Harvard's Houghton Library adn the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is possibly the greatest collection of books, posters, pamphlets, letters, photographs, ephemera and realia dedicated to altered states of consciousness achieved through drugs, art, sex, magic and rock and roll.

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Studio Growth & Success

Increased Use & Future Growth of the Research-Writing Studio

The Research-Writing Studio at Western Libraries experienced record-breaking usage throughout fall quarter 2015, recording at least 7,500 visits, over 10 times higher than the number of visits received by the Writing Center at its former site. These numbers are all the more impressive given early concerns that students would not be able to find the new Research-Writing Studio after the Writing Center and Research Consultation merged services and re-located to Haggard Hall last spring.

 

“After nearly 30 years with the Writing Center, I thought I would get misty-eyed about leaving my Writing Center identity behind. But no such thing. At no time in my history here have I seen students this engaged, forming community, taking charge of the space and their learning,” explained Roberta Kjesrud, the studio’s director of writing.

 

Fully staffed by a mix of both professional and student staff members who offer expertise to support the student research and writing experience, there are typically between one and four research and writing Studio Assistants available at any given time during the hours the Studio is open.  Involving student studio staff in the teaching and learning process also has its own benefits.

 

“One of the great things about having student staff as Studio Assistants is the unique perspective they bring.  They know what it’s like to take the courses and complete the types of assignments that we often see represented in the Studio, and they’ve struggled with the same academic and personal challenges that students using the Studio face,” explained Kelly Helms, the Studio’s assistant director of writing. “They also know what strategies and feedback are most helpful to students, and this peer-based teaching and learning environment builds a community of scholars that would not possible without our dedicated student staff.”

 

Centrally located on the second floor of Haggard Hall in a very bright and open space, the inviting atmosphere of the Studio offers students a dedicated place for writing and for obtaining research and writing assistance. Students are encouraged to collaborate with each other, with Studio staff, or to work on their own.  The studio is designed to support students at all levels and across all disciplines.

 

“The research and writing process is almost always intertwined,”  said Gabe Gossett, Head of Research Consultation and part of the studio leadership team. "Where at one moment a researcher is trying to make sense of the ideas they are trying to explore in writing, at another moment a writer is looking for sources that speak to the topic they want to write about. [The studio approach] offers as-needed support to build towards learning outcomes that will ultimately leave students better able to take charge of their own inquiry process, with on-hand support to make it possible.”  

 

The Studio’s immediate and extraordinary reception by students, faculty, and university administrators, makes abundantly clear the importance and value of this project, and Western Libraries is pleased to share the exciting news that the final phase of the Research-Writing Studio project has been fully funded thanks to the tremendous generosity of donors Cindy, Don, and Adam Hacherl.

 

Cindy Hacherl is an alumna of Western and a graduate of the English Department with long-standing connections to Western. Together, the Hacherls are passionately committed to making the vision of the Research-Writing Studio a reality, and they recognize the benefit of this project for both current and future students.  

 

Not only did the Hacherls make possible the creation of a collaborative workshop space in Haggard Hall 222 and the Studio’s current transformation, but their ongoing generosity mean that the full vision of the Studio project can be completed.  This last phase will expand the Studio toward the building’s entryway, increasing both its visibility and capacity. New furniture, access to electricity and technology, glass and acoustical accents, and clear signage will also contribute to the completion of this expanded area.

 

Additionally, just as the Libraries face unprecedented demand for collaborative and individual work spaces, so too have they received increased requests for class workshops. Students using the Studio on their own regularly request that their professor schedule a formal workshop, and professors who do, routinely encourage new students to connect with the Studio staff for follow-up work. Since individual work and workshops are mutually reinforcing, there is a clear need for a second workshop and group instruction space. Plans call for creating an inviting, glass-enclosed teaching space with moveable tables and chairs and an instructor’s station with A/V equipment. Having this additional space will better equip the Studio staff to help meet the needs of students engaging in research and writing work.

 

University faculty have repeatedly identified the development of student research and writing skills as an important role of the Libraries. Integrating the practices of research and writing is one way Western Libraries and the Learning Commons are working together to address this identified need, and it is through the generosity of the Hacherl family that the Research-Writing Studio will continue to grow in strength and ability to positively impact students engaged in research and writing here at Western.

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