Monthly Archives: June 2019

Experiential Learning in the Library

Intern Cynthia Arends with special collections

At Illinois Wesleyan, we are committed to providing experiences that “blur the line between the learning that takes place in the classroom and outside the classroom,” and The Ames Library and its faculty have supported these experiences for years, e.g., through information literacy instruction that supports undergraduate research projects, and partnerships with other units with a focus on “engaged learning,” including the Writing Center and the Action Research Center. But, the library can also be the site for research, internships, and community projects that demonstrate our commitment to engaged learning, both for our undergraduate students and for graduate students working toward a future in library work.

The Tate Archives and Special Collections, for example, has hosted Library and Information Science (LIS) students from the University of Illinois School of Information Sciences as part of that program’s Alternative Spring Break. This summer, Associate Professor and University Archivist Meg Miner is serving as intern supervisor for Cynthia O’Neill, a student in the Kent State University Master of Library and Information Studies program pursuing a concentration in Archives and Special Collections. Ms. O’Neill comes to her internship at Ames with experience in both the museum and public library fields.

“There are similarities in the missions of libraries, archives, and museums,” Professor Miner notes, “but also subtle differences in the ways we go about achieving our shared goal of preserving and providing access to cultural heritage materials in our communities today and into the future.” This internship, Miner continued, “will provide Cynthia with hands-on experience with these distinctions, and with strategies for applying both archival theory and her past experience to archival work in the academic environment.” 

In her IWU internship, Ms. O’Neill is learning about the management of archival collections, as a whole, and about the management of the archives as a research environment. She will do this in the context of completing a number of specific projects:

  • assessing, organizing, and describing a collection of materials donated by Marjorie Kouns (’79);
  • conducting a preservation assessment of the Leslie Arends Congressional Collection; and,
  • creating a tutorial on historical book construction techniques and their preservation needs.

“Everything I’ve learned in my classes is coming together [in this internship]”, O’Neill says, and the field experience “is especially beneficial as I am gaining experience both with university records management and with the personal collections of regional residents and organizations.”

Both as a resource for experiential education and an opportunity for experiential education, The Ames Library reflects the university’s commitment to engaged learning. We expect this to only grow with the launch of the Center for Engaged Learning in the library in the coming year. If you or your students have questions about opportunities for pursuing undergraduate research or other engaged learning experiences under the supervision of library faculty, please contact Scott Walter, University Librarian.

Welcoming Titan Parents to the Library

Turning Titant Parent logo

Turning Titant Parent logo

On June 22, 2019, The Ames Library will join partners including Academic Advising, Career Center, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Information Technology, Study Abroad, and others at the “Experience IWU” Parent Orientation’s “Titan Fair.”

Parents will have the opportunity to learn more about the services available to their students in the library, and across campus, as part of our commitment to student success. We will also highlight expert services provided by our librarians, and ways in which we can help students to achieve their goals in the classroom and out while taking advantage of academic opportunities including internships, study abroad, undergraduate research, and more.

Research has shown that parents can be powerful partners with librarians and other student success professionals to ensure that students learn about, and take advantage of, all of the resources available to them as they make the successful transition to college life. We look forward to meeting our students and their families this summer as they continue the process of “Turning Titan“!

Librarians Participate in Training for International Study of Teaching with Primary Sources

students studying archives

students studying archives

Earlier this month, IWU librarians Meg Miner and Scott Walter took part in a two-day workshop hosted by Ithaka S&R for institutions participating in the upcoming, international study of teaching with primary sources.

In this study, participating institutions, including IWU, Williams College, Brown University, Dartmouth College, University of Virginia, Indiana University, University of Sheffield (U.K.), Lafayette College, Yale University, and others, will explore how “[teaching] undergraduates with primary sources promotes student engagement and critical thinking skills and is a key ingredient in the current pedagogical push toward ‘inquiry-based’ or ‘research-led’ learning.” Given the history of instructional collaboration among Ames Library faculty and colleagues in academic programs across the curriculum in information literacy instruction, writing-intensive instruction, and service learning, IWU is in an excellent position both to learn from local research set within this global context, and to provide examples of “best practice” to colleagues who will employ the results of this international study to inform their own teaching and learning programs, especially around media literacy, digital literacy, and artifactual (or “primary-source”) literacy.

During Fall 2019, the IWU research team will be conducting interviews with a small number of campus faculty (tenure-system, visiting, or adjunct) who make effective use of, or take innovative approaches to the use of, primary source materials in their teaching. While the focus for the study is in the humanities and social sciences, our team will consider faculty from any department who wish to participate in the study when making our final selection about who to include in the participant pool (according to guidelines provided to all participating institutions by Ithaka).

If you would like to learn more about this study, or to add your name to the list of potential participants in the study currently being reviewed for inclusion, please contact Meg Miner, University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian. Invitations to participate in this study will be issued in August 2019.

“The Place to Ask for Help”: New Video Tour of The Ames Library

Student Seeking Research Help

With our ongoing review of library spaces, and innovation in library services and campus services available through the library, 2019 was a perfect time to update and enhance our video introduction to The Ames Library. Library staff collaborated with Curtis Kelch, Director of Web Services and IWU students; Justin Piotrowski ’21, Rachel McCarthy ’21, and Will Mueller ’19 to produce this new introduction to the library.

Student Seeking Research Help
Click here to watch the orientation video.

Whether you (or your students) want to know about the range of materials you can borrow from the library, the ways librarians can help you to answer the most complex research questions or integrate information and digital literacy skills into your assignments, or the unique spaces and resources available in our circulating and special collections, this video will give you a place to start. And, if you would like to learn more about how to make videos like this one for your own classes, you can also find out more about IT resources in the library, including the One-Button Studio. Whether you are new to campus or simply new to our expanding array of spaces and services, we hope you will enjoy (and share) our new orientation video!

If you would like to learn more about library services or to further explore library spaces, please visit the Ames Library web site or contact your liaison librarian.

Action Research at the Library

ARC Logo
ARC Logo


For more than a decade, the Action Research Center (ARC) has been a hub for service learning and community engagement initiatives across the curriculum and co-curriculum at Illinois Wesleyan University, and a platform for bringing IWU students, faculty, and staff together with community partners to “[pursue] innovative ideas that transform communities.”  Offering credit-bearing courses, workshops, independent study projects, internships, and innovative programs like the Citizen Scholars First-Year Experience, and the Weir Fellowship, ARC routinely supports more than 40,000 hours of volunteer service and community engagement activities each year. A long-time relationship between ARC and library focused on information literacy instruction for field-based research and experiential learning is set to take a big step forward with the relocation of the Action Research Center to the Ames Library in Summer 2019.

As part of the “Center for Engaged Learning” initiative, ARC is joining other core program partners already housed in the Ames Library, including the Writing Center and the Thorpe Center to bring together expert resources and services for faculty wishing to integrate information literacy, writing, information technology, and/or service learning into their teaching and scholarship, and to make it easier for students to discover, and make use of, student success programs housed across campus. The co-location of ARC and the Library, in particular, has promise both to integrate the research-based and field-based aspects of service-learning initiatives, but also to further explore the potential for collaboration among libraries in the community, including public libraries, school libraries, special libraries, and museums. Reflecting on her experience with the library to date, and the new opportunities that may come with this move, ARC Director Deborah Halperin said, “Ames Library is a dynamic hub of ideas and resources. We are excited to be in this space and to have greater opportunities to interface with students, staff, librarians, and other faculty. This move will create new partnerships on and off campus that will enhance the student experience, build stronger connections among faculty colleagues, and strengthen the university’s position as a community leader.”

ARC student interns have already joined staff to begin work on community-centered research projects, including an analysis of Westside neighborhood revitalization focused on housing data from 2008-2018. The project requires a literature review of revitalization and community development theories, analysis of GIS maps for the area, and interviews with a wide variety of community leaders and stakeholders. We look forward to seeing additional opportunities for community engagement and field-based undergraduate research continue to develop as the Center for Engaged Learning takes shape in the coming year.

The Action Research Center was founded in 2003 with a focus on providing greater opportunities for students to engage in meaningful, community-based internships demonstrating a shared commitment to improving communities in the spirit of social justice. Major community projects originally sponsored by ARC include Radio Latina (2009), LINK at the Farmers’ Market (2010), IWU Peace Garden (2012), Tool Library (2013), and Veggie Oasis (2014). For more information on the Action Research Center, please contact Deborah Halperin, Director. For more information on library services or the Center for Engaged Learning initiative, please contact Scott Walter, University Librarian.

Celebrate Pride Month with Some Awesome Films!

With Pride Month upon us and summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to catch up on some films. If you’re looking for recommendations, Kanopy has put together a collection of LGBTQ-centric films.

Kanopy is proudly celebrating Pride Month and honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising by highlighting some of the incredible, award-winning LGBTQ cinema available to stream right now. From moving and groundbreaking narratives to eye-opening documentaries about the historical and ongoing struggles that the community has endured, we’re thrilled to showcase some of the most unique, compelling, and essential voices in filmmaking. Browse our picks below and discover more essential LGBTQ films on Kanopy.

As we frequently remind our readers, Kanopy is like Netflix for foreign, independent, documentary, and classic films, and is free for all Illinois Wesleyan faculty, staff, and students. You can watch off-campus, too—just make sure to log in via proxy. (Hint: Go to the A-Z Resources tab on our main page and find Kanopy there.)

Secrets of the Librarians: Free Black Women’s Library

If you’re looking for a great new read, Book Marks has started a weekly series called Secrets of the Librarians. Every week, they interview a librarian (“be they Academic, Public, School, or Special”) about “their inspirations, most-recommended titles, thoughts on the role of the library in contemporary society, favorite fictional librarians, and more.”

In mid-May, they interviewed OlaRonke Akinmowo, who is the founder of a social-justice initiative called the Free Black Women’s Library.

Says Akinmowo:

I have to say that I do not have a master’s degree in Library Sciences or any official training and did not go to school to become a librarian, I started the Free Black Women’s Library as a social art project to because I wanted to do something that smashed together the things I am passionate about: books, black womanhood, and community. I wanted to explore the idea of using books by black women to build community, create change, educate, heal, inspire spread joy. I wanted to do something that centered black women but in a way that didn’t feel tragic, traumatic or pathological, something that showed our brilliance, imagination, strength and diversity. I love books and I love libraries, they feel like one of the few safe places on earth (depending on who is running the space).

Akinmowo recommends readers check out Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, and The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. Though the Free Black Women’s Library is in Brooklyn, NY, you can can a head start on this recommended reading by checking out Sister Outsider from The Ames Library! We have both a physical copy and an e-book. There are also several books by black women writers in our free lending Social Justice & Diversity Room collection on the main floor.

Image courtesy Book Marks.