Category Archives: Library News

We’re Celebrating Banned Books Week

Record numbers of challenges to books in schools, libraries, and book stores across the country were tracked by the American Library Association (ALA) in 2021. Over 729 challenges to materials and services were made, accounting for more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals.

It’s hard to think of celebrating Banned Books Week when staff in Montana are resigning after bullet-ridden books were returned to the library. Or when a library director in Idaho resigned over the extremism she faced in her community. Libraries are being defunded in Michigan and teachers dismissed in Oklahoma, while fallout from the Don’t Say Gay bill racks Florida and challenged materials are separated from general collections in Texas.

It’s recent cases like those in Virginia, though, and the reality that most challenges don’t result in a ban that give us reason to celebrate Banned Books Week. This week celebrates the freedom to read and shines a spotlight on current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

For over 40 years, the ALA and libraries have celebrated Banned Books week with displays, read ins, collection highlights, and, more recently, social media campaigns. Follow #BannedBooksWeek on your platform of choice and see what people are saying. Have you read any of the books that have been challenged? Why do you think someone would challenge it? What does it mean to you to hear that someone challenged something you read?

The theme for Banned Books Week 2022 is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship, and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities.

The conversation around intellectual freedom, the right to read freely, and censorship is, of course, not limited to this week or to just libraries. Our freedom to read means little without a culture of conversation that allows us to discuss our freedoms openly, work through issues that books raise for our readers, and wrestle with the challenging balance between freedom and responsibility.

Read more about the history of Banned Books Week here and this year’s honorary Banned Books Week Chair here.

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?

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.

Welcome to Fall Semester, 2021!

Abby Mann, Online Learning Librarian

Welcome to our new students, Class of 2025, and welcome back to our returning Titans! We have news to share!

Our most exciting news is that we have a new library faculty colleague, Professor Abby Mann, who joins us as our new Online Learning Librarian. Abby will be working with the departments of English, Women’s and Gender Studies, World Languages & Cultures, and the School of Art, School of Music, School of Theatre Arts. She joins us from UNC-Pembroke, where she was an associate professor of English. Welcome, Abby!

Another welcome addition to the library is several of our colleagues from Information Technology Services, including our new CIO Leon Lewis, have moved into the library’s lower level offices. More to come about the location of the ITS Help Desk!

If you’ve been in the library recently, you’ve seen some of the changes we’ve made over the past year on the entry level to establish the Center for Engaged Learning on the east side of the entry level. New paint and new carpet were installed in early summer, and new furniture is in the process of being installed as I type. To highlight student art, we’ve moved several works of art from our Art Purchase Award collection to the entry level as well. I am hopeful we can have a celebration for the space later in September, when the furniture installation is complete.It’s been repainted and new carpet installed, and the library acquired “The Corner Office” from Lizette Toto, ’21 for the west side of the entry level. It is gorgeous, and complements the space perfectly.

We’ve enjoyed two events welcoming faculty back to campus – the Scholarship & Creative Work Celebration, and the New Faculty Orientation. It was great to see our colleagues, catch up, and not say “You’re on mute” during our conversations. We’re also planning a faculty panel that will feature the faculty who received Open Educational Resources (OER) Exploration Grants last summer, and the reports detailing their work will be available on Digital Commons soon.

A few services have returned to pre-COVID operations – print reserves are available again, we are open our regular hours, and we no longer quarantine materials after they are returned. We chose to retain access to several ebook and streaming video resources acquired through our consortium since they proved to be useful and valuable additions to our suite of resources.

The Ames Library Announces Open Educational Resources (OER) Exploratory Grants

The Ames Library OER Exploration Grants

The Ames Library will fund five, two-hundred dollar grants for faculty to explore Open Educational resources (OER) for their class(es). OER are defined as learning resources, teaching practices, and  education policies that use the flexibility of OER to provide learners with high quality educational experiences. OER are either in the public domain or licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities – retaining, remixing, revising, reusing and redistributing the resources. There is increasing OER interest for higher education because they help to reduce educational inequality by removing (or reducing) student costs to access course materials. Large scale studies of OER show lower course drop rates, improved student grades, and better retention. For this grant, materials that are not strictly OER, but are “free” to students, such as library-owned articles, videos, digital archives, and open access materials are also acceptable.

OER can include any of the following:

  • Open textbooks
  • Public domain materials
  • Videos
  • Tutorials / modules / simulations
  • Quizzes / ancillary materials

Our goal with the OER grant is for faculty to explore OER resources, selecting and critically assessing specific materials for inclusion in their courses, and ultimately, to encourage faculty to adopt OERs. We also hope faculty will be able to use the results of these exploration grants to later propose CD grants focused on revising courses or assignments to incorporate OERs.


Faculty will be asked to select and review several OERs and/or materials that are free to students that have the potential for integration into a current or future course. OER repositories and search engines can be found on the Ames Library OER LibGuide and the CARLI Open Illinois Initiative site. Your liaison librarian is happy to assist as well. 

At the conclusion of the project, grant recipients agree to participate in a campus panel discussion about materials you discovered and how you plan to incorporate them into an assignment/course. In addition, the faculty member will submit a 2-3 page (single spaced) written report which will include the following:

  • Summary and evaluation of specific OER or free-to-students resources that you discovered 
  • How these materials support your pedagogical goals
  • The class or classes these materials could be incorporated into
  • Reflection on the evolving role of OER in higher education and/or your discipline

Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served, basis and the grant disbursements will occur after the receipt of your written report. Reports are due within five months from initial approval.

If you would like to secure one of these grants, or have any questions, please contact Chris Sweet in the Ames Library (, x3984).

Newspaper archive database to explore

newspaperarchive promo

newspaperarchive promo

Extra! Extra!

The Ames Library has acquired temporary access to a collection of historical newspapers from the

Dating from 1607-2020, the database contains more than 15,495+ different titles from every US state and twenty-eight other countries around the world. Every newspaper in the archive is fully searchable by keyword, date, place, and title making it easy for you to quickly see if we have the article you’re seeking.

Test it out and let us know what you think!


Being a Successful Online Student webinar!

Interested in learning how to manage your time, boost your study skills, and engage thoughtfully in your online courses?

As we prepare for a semester with many online and hybrid classes, we know that learning and engaging electronically can require different skills and strategies. In light of that, we hope you’ll attend this one hour webinar “Being a Successful Online Student.” This webinar will cover study, organization and engagement strategies to help you get the most out of your online class. You’ll also hear more about one-on-one tutoring for academic skills being offered this year by new Student Success Tutors.

Register online, and join us on Aug 16, 2020 at 2:00 PM Central Time in Zoom!

Questions? Contact Bevin Choban at for more information or for access to the recording!

Stephanie Davis-Kahl Named University Librarian

Stephanie Davis-Kahl, currently Collections and Scholarly Communications Librarian, and Professor, The Ames Library, has been named University Librarian and Copyright Officer, effective July 20, 2020. Ms. Davis-Kahl will succeed Scott Walter, who has been named Dean of Library and Information Access at San Diego State University.

A member of the library faculty since 2004, Stephanie is an active researcher in the field, drawing inspiration for many of her projects, including her two co-edited collections, Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices (2017), and Common Ground at the Nexus of Information Literacy and Scholarly Communication (2013) from her work with faculty and students at IWU. She has served on Curriculum Council, the Promotion and Tenure Committee, the Council for University Programs and Policies, and the Undergraduate Research Committee. She coordinated efforts to collect and archive exemplary student research and faculty scholarship in Digital Commons @ IWU, earning the “IR All Star Award” from bepress in 2013. She is active in the Association for College & Research Libraries, her professional home, and received the “Distinguished Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian” award from the Association of College and Research Libraries’ Education and Behavioral Sciences Section in 2014.

Over the past several weeks, Stephanie has provided leadership for the strategic acquisition of digital content designed to support IWU faculty and students as they have adapted to the “online-only” model for teaching and learning during the coronavirus crisis, and is leading the planning and coordination to re-open the Ames Library for public services at the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester.

New Library Catalog (and More) Launched

With help from our colleagues at the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), we have completed our migration to the new Ames Library catalog, I-Share catalog, and article databases, also known as “MegaSearch.” Launched on June 24th across the state, our new system provides enhanced searching, requesting, and delivery options for library users, and new tools for management of library resources for library faculty and staff.

While requests for materials from other library collections, both through I-Share and interlibrary loan, remain limited owing to the impact of the coronavirus on library services across the world, you can still use the new MegaSearch to discover and gain access to materials in the Ames Library collection (including curbside delivery, beginning July 7th), and to access digital resources including electronic journal articles, e-books, and streaming media. If you would like an introduction to the new system, please review this tutorial.

The migration to the new library catalog has been ongoing for over a year, and would not have been possible without the concerted efforts of library faculty and staff preparing materials, updating records, and trouble-shooting data and workflows. We look forward to introducing you and your students to the new system in the Fall. If you have any questions, please contact your liaison librarian.