Monthly Archives: August 2022

Self Care in the Library

The fall semester is underway. For many of us, it’s the first time since 2020 that we’re sitting in full, in-person classrooms. The past several years have been challenging and we are not the same.

Open, honest conversations about mental health have helped reduce stigma – sometimes we need help from others, and we always need to take care of ourselves and our communities. Self care is something most of us could practice more often and The Ames Library is committed to creating a community of care at Illinois Wesleyan. One such way is through our new Self Care Station.

Visit our Self Care Station on the entry level (vending machine room) to grab a snack, play a board game, read tips from Ames, find some fun or self-care reading, and learn about some resources available on campus. Or take a look at our Self Care LibGuide where you can learn about resources in Ames, tips for evaluating mental health information online, and find links to campus partners.

For the first half of September, we are highlighting BIPOC authors from our Popular Reading Collection in the Self Care Station. September is National Literacy Month and reading for fun is an excellent way to practice self care. Reading has been shown to improve memory, reduce stress, build self-esteem, and allow an individual to develop or improve skills.

BIPOC authored books available to borrow in the Self Care Station

The following Community of Care statement was suggested by the the Mental Health Policy Task Force, which was convened in the summer of 2022 to respond to the Student Senate Mental Health resolution. While student attendance in class isn’t our top concern, The Ames Library is committed to connecting to and sharing campus and local resources that promote mental and physical health. Through the Self Care Station, we will connect the library and information literacy to campus conversations related to mental and physical health.

“Mental health and physical health are key components of student wellness, and IWU faculty and staff recognize our role in providing an academically rigorous environment that supports wellness while also providing resources. As a campus community it is important for us to establish mental and physical health promotion practices, destigmatize mental health challenges, normalize care seeking, and provide access to qualified, licensed practitioners that can assist in early identification of and assistance with mental health challenges, whether acute or chronic. We recognize that we live in an ever changing world that has caused more stress on college students than ever before. Information on Arnold Health Services and Counseling & Consultation Services can be found at”

Welcome Class of 2026!

Welcome to our new students, Class of 2026 and transfers, and welcome back to our returning Titans! We have news to share!

Our most exciting news is that we have two new library faculty colleagues, Professors Laura Spradlin and Crystal Boyce-Gudat. Laura serves as our Electronic Resources & Systems Librarian. Crystal serves as liaison to students and faculty in Accounting & Finance, Business Administration & Marketing, Environmental Studies, History, Kinesiology, Sports & Wellness, Political Science, and Sociology & Anthropology.

We’re also excited to welcome Professor Billie Jarvis-Freeman, Interim Director of the Writing Center. In addition to working with Writing and Student Success Tutors, she’s teaching a Gateway course this fall: Vampires, Ghosts, and Others.

If you’ve been in the library recently, you’ve seen some of the paintings exhibited on the entry level. They’re part of a larger exhibit “Resistance and Resilience: 21st Century Burmese artists envision Myanmar’s future,” co-exhibited in the Wakeley Gallery at the School of Art. Read more about the works and the public talk related to them here.

We’ve enjoyed two events welcoming faculty back to campus – the Scholarship & Creative Work Celebration, and the New Faculty Orientation. The Center for Engaged Learning can be reserved and the finishing touches are being put on the new Thorpe Center for Curricular and Faculty Development, located on the third floor. Thorpe Center programs will encourage reflective discourse and the sharing of views and experiences among faculty, as they relate to issues involving the theory and practice of teaching, course development, academic program design, and scholarly inquiry.

Our services have returned to pre-COVID operations – white board markers are freely available and typically live near a white board. If you can’t find any, check with the Library Services Desk on the entry level. All our seats have returned as well.

Myanmar in Transition Art Displayed in Ames

The IWU Annual Theme, “Power of Place,” invites the IWU community to reflect on how our thoughts, values, perceptions, and actions are influenced by how we conceptualize place and our place in the world.

If you’ve been in Ames Library recently, you may have noticed a number of new art pieces on the walls of our entry level. Displayed here and in the Wakeley Gallery in the Ames School of Art is “Resistance and Resilience: 21st Century Burmese artists envision Myanmar’s future.”

This powerful, 36 piece exhibit features paintings from Thukhuma. Thukhuma is a collection exploring art, culture, education, and politics in Myanmar, with a focus on transition in the 2010s. Thukhuma means art or culture in Pali, the liturgical language of Myanmar’s dominant Theravada Buddhist tradition. It also connotes uniqueness.

Paintings from Thukuma will be on display until 13 October 2022. Additionally, Dr. Catherine Raymond, Director, Center for Burma Studies and Professor of Art History, at Northern Illinois University will speak in The Ames Library’s Beckman Auditorium on September 13th at 4pm. Following her talk, “Art and Politics in Contemporary Myanmar,” at approximately 4:20 she will lead a gallery walk through the works exhibited on the Entry Level and then in the School of Art’s Wakeley Gallery. There will be a reception in the School of Art’s foyer afterwards. There will also be a Reception at the School of Art for Homecoming, September 24, 2-4PM. 

Consider the place in time that these works were created: artists such as Aung Htet Lwin and Shine Lu painted what they saw and how they felt as their country, Myanmar – previously known as Burma – began transitioning from military rule to a military-backed civilian government in the 2010s – the military retook control in 2021. The paintings in this collection, all produced between 2012 and 2015, touch on the diverse dimensions of contemporary society, reflecting rural and urban life, religious beliefs and practices, disparate ethnic groups and identities, and openly political stands. The artists draw inspiration both from traditional motifs and modern artistic styles, demonstrating the power of place and how it evolves over time.

With a history stretching back some 8,500 years, the nation began to emerge in the 9th century when the Kingdom of Pagan unified the regions which would become modern day Myanmar. Borders expanded and contracted over the centuries; the third Anglo-Burmese War saw the total annexation of Burma to British rule, where it was made a province of India in 1886. Burma achieved independence on 4 January 1948 at 4:20am (chosen for its auspiciousness), opting not to join the British Commonwealth. The name was performatively changed to Myanmar in 1989.

Names of places are as much a reflection of place as physical elements of a place. While you enjoy the paintings in Ames Library and in the Wakeley Gallery, consider how traumatizing the changing of a country’s name might be to its people. Learn more about the history of Myanmar, its politics and culture, and look anew at the paintings. Do you see them differently?

Digital Humanities Fellows Share Interdisciplinary Research

The front doors may have been closed this summer, but that didn’t stop students in the inaugural Digital Humanities Fellows program. Over the past several weeks, twelve students with diverse backgrounds came together to learn about the digital humanities and apply a suite of new skills and tools to research projects with the guidance of faculty mentors.

The fellows developed their own research questions around data sets provided by faculty mentors, analyzed data relevant to those questions, and created digital stories to accompany their work.

Faculty mentors Michelle Gibbs (School of Theatre Arts) and Joshua Lowe (School of Art) led a team working on Zora Neale Hurston’s intellectual circles and networks. Mishwa Bhavsar (Computer Science), Leah Rosen (Greek & Roman Studies; Creating Writing minor), Julia McMahon (Political Science and English Literature), and Ellie Kurtz (History and Sociology) explored the question “how did Zora Neale Hurston’s anthropological and ethnographic research impact her play writing?” They sought to connect Hurston’s research to her plays and present it in ways inviting to all, from high schoolers encountering her work for the first time to dramaturges producing one of her works. Explore their website here.

Digital Humanities Fellows Mishwa Bhavsar, Leah Rosen, Julia McMahon and Ellie Kurtz stand in front of a screen with their project's website projected on it.

Greg Shaw (Political Science) and Allison Serraes (English) led a team looking at health policy in Bloomington-Normal. Leah Matlin (Psychology and English – Writing), Alex Dawson (Psychology; Anthropology minor), Amanda Balaba (Accounting; Political Science and Data Science minors), and Amber Anderson (Political Science) had the broad goal of implementing digital tools to convey information that will aid organizations focused on community health in the Bloomington-Normal area. They used textual analysis to generate keywords to identify possible health initiatives for the community based on needs expressed by the community itself. Read more about their project here.

Leah Matlin, Alex Dawson, Amanda Balaba, and Amber Anderson stand in front of a screen with the project's website projected behind them.

Leah Nillas (Education) led a team looking at international educational attainment measures. Kacie Moore (Sociology; Hispanic Studies minor), Zoe Hodve (Political Science; Hispanic Studies minor), and Josh Reed (Computer Science and History; Greek & Roman Studies minor) challenged their own assumptions about the relationship between international educational outcomes and national spending on education. They sorted through multiple factors and data sets seeking correlations between socio-cultural-environmental factors and educational attainment scores. See their results and infographics here.

Kacie Moore, Zoe Hodve, and Josh Reed stand in front of a screen with their project's website showing behind them.

Reflecting on the Digital Humanities Fellowship, Kacie Moore noted that she felt a lot of academic scholarship is gatekept and that digital humanities are a great tool for making that information more available to broader audiences. In speaking about the digital humanities, Online Learning Librarian Abby Mann – who led the program – said, “It’s a great way for our students to think about how they can bring the strengths of their liberal arts education to their future careers with an emphasis on effective and ethical communication in all sorts of professional settings, from academia to business to public service.” Explore other IWU digital humanities and digital scholarship projects here.

The Ames Library was very fortunate to receive seed money for this program through the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The Provost’s Office, The Ames Library, The Cargill Foundation, and the Faculty Development Committee provided additional funding for the inaugural program.

New Plaza and New Faces

A hand holds the outer most center door open, welcoming people into The Ames Library
Come in!

Our front doors are open! Welcome in!

Over the summer, construction crews have been working hard to redo the plaza and library steps. Many thanks to our colleagues in Physical Plant for their work on this project, and for installing a ramp and lighting outside our west entrance!

Laura Spradlin

The library, and our front doors, will be open Monday-Friday from 8:00am – 4:00pm until August 19th, after which our hours shift as campus ramps up for the fall semester. More information about library hours is available on our website.

We’re also excited to welcome a few new faces in Ames Library. Joining the library faculty are Laura Spradlin and Crystal Boyce-Gudat. Laura, IWU class of 2010, joins us from Milner Library at ISU, and is our Electronic Resources & Systems Librarian. Crystal returns as a Visiting Librarian, having previously served in Ames as the Sciences Librarian, before moving to Hawai’i with her family.

Crystal Boyce-Gudat

Both Crystal and Laura look forward to working with students and faculty – get in touch today!

Also joining the campus and taking up residence in Ames is Billie Jarvis-Freeman, Interim Director of the Writing Center. The Writing Center is located on the east side of the our first floor, just beyond the Library Services Desk and is a part of the multitude of student support services offered by campus.