Top 10 Library Stories of 2019

The Ames Library looks back each December on some of its most significant activities of the previous year, especially as those relate to library collections, services, and people, and their contribution to teaching, learning, scholarship, and community engagement at Illinois Wesleyan University. 2019 was another year of great change here at Ames, and one during which we set the stage for even more exciting work in 2020. While no list could capture everything library faculty, staff, and students do for our campus and community, here are the “Top 10 Ames Library Stories” for 2019.

(10) Leadership Changes

University Librarian Karen Schmidt retired after more than a decade leading The Ames Library. During her time at IWU, Dr. Schmidt was a leader on campus, established critical partnerships with Information Technology Services and The Writing Center, and demonstrated the potential for libraries as an opportunity for addressing issues in the community through her leadership in collaborative work with the McLean County Museum of History, West Bloomington Revitalization Project, and others. Following a national search, Scott Walter came to campus as our new University Librarian and University Copyright Officer in May.

(9) New Artwork in the Library

The Ames Library is not only a center for books and journals on campus, but also one of our largest showplaces for the university’s art collection. Following his 2018 appearance on campus, we acquired a set of prints by cartoonist Keith Knight that added not only to the art collection, but also to our ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive library collection and to allow the library to serve as a center for campus discussion of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Also in 2019, library staff continued work on a comprehensive inventory and digital collection of university art work that we hope to make available for use in 2020. Until then, you can get a sample of what the digital collection will look like in the Ames Library Art Collection (which includes all the winners of the Ames Library Student Art Purchase Award).

(8) Grant Explores Scholarly Publishing at IWU

Illinois Wesleyan was one of a dozen institutions joining the Library Publishing Coalition in a Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant to study journal publishing workflows in library-based publishing programs. The Ames Library was selected for inclusion in this project based on its leadership in supporting scholarly journal publishing, including the publication of undergraduate research journals, in the small liberal arts college environment.

(7) Native Voices Exhibition and Programs

In collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Student Nurses Association, and others, The Ames Library hosted the national touring exhibition from the National Library of Medicine and American Library Association, “Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health in Illness.” More than 300 people attended library programs associated with the exhibition, including a large opening event, and an instructional program on the “medicine wheel.” With a focus on exploring how members of native communities combine traditional and Western practices in support of community health, the exhibition provided an opportunity for discussions across the curriculum and co-curriculum of health and society, and provides a valuable starting point for library engagement with our Annual Intellectual Theme for 2020-21, “Health, Healing, and Humanity.”

(6) The Kindred Collection

The Dave Kindred Papers were opened for public use in Fall 2019, providing access to the research and working materials of award-winning sports writer Dave Kindred (’63). With reporter notebooks, Olympic scrapbooks, and research materials and correspondence related to Kindred’s many published works, the Kindred collection will support teaching, learning, and research in areas such as journalism, sports management, history and sociology of sports, and more.

(5) The Light Board Studio Opens

The library collaborated with Information Technology Services to open the Light Board Studio in Fall 2019, a technology-enhanced learning space equipped with an illuminated glass board designed for use in digital capture of lectures, student presentations, and more. The Light Board Studio joins the One-Button Studio, opened in 2018, as one of the new media and digital teaching and learning spaces available in the Thorpe Center. The Light Board Studio has been employed extensively by faculty and students in the Department of Biology in its inaugural term, and sets the stage for the launch of additional, technology-enhanced learning spaces in the library in 2020, including the Sound Stage and the Podcast Studio (coming soon!).

(4) Experiential Education at the Library

Ames Library faculty and staff support a number of high-impact educational practices employed at Illinois Wesleyan, including first-year experience programs, writing-intensive courses, undergraduate research, and community engagement (see below). The latter practices, in particular, demonstrate the impact on student learning of experiential education, or educational activities that allow students to “learn by doing.” 2019 was a banner year, not only for library contributions to these campus-wide programs, but for the provision of experiential education experiences in the library itself. During the Summer, we provided an internship site for a student from the Kent State University Master of Library and Information Studies program pursuing a concentration in Archives and Special Collections who, among other projects, helped to organize and describe a collection of materials donated by Marjorie Kouns (’79), and conducted a preservation assessment of the Leslie Arends Congressional Collection. During the Fall, we collaborated with faculty members in the departments of English and World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, to work with students preparing public exhibitions of library materials as part of their coursework. As the university continues in 2020 to promote campus-wide efforts supporting high-impact educational practices through initiatives such as the Center for Engaged Learning, the library is poised not only to continue as an essential support for these programs, but to continue growing as a site for experiential education.

Image credit: Carmela Ferradans

(3) Action Research Center Moves into the Library

In June, the Action Research Center moved into The Ames Library, following the path blazed by other campus partners, including Information Technology Services and The Writing Center. The Library and ARC have collaborated for years around course-integrated and community-based projects at the intersection of information literacy, data literacy, and community engagement, and, with this change, the stage is set for even greater collaboration around high-impact educational practices across the curriculum and co-curriculum in 2020.

(2) Titan Central

Throughout the summer, colleagues from the library and partners across campus planned and piloted the launch of Titan Central, a student information service modeling a new commitment to campus-wide collaboration in support of student success. With initial programming and data collection for the “soft launch” this Fall, Titan Central will be a model for continuing library leadership in the development of the university’s “Center for Engaged Learning” initiative in 2020.

(1) Fact or Fiction?

While the Ames Library has supported the IWU Annual Intellectual Theme since its inception, the nature of this year’s theme – Fact or Fiction?–  provided an unusually robust opportunity to engage students and faculty across the curriculum is issues related to information literacy, media literacy, data literacy, and the contributions each make to efforts in the classroom and in daily life to construct new knowledge and evaluate claims made in the contemporary political environment. While our engagement with the theme will continue in 2020, a high point for the year came with the Course Cluster Open House, where more than 100 students from 15 different classes presented their work in the Ames Library (and to our colleagues from the Pantagraph).

Image Credit: David Proeber, The Pantagraph

2019 was an exciting year, as we engaged new partners, piloted new programs, and laid the foundation for library engagement with the university’s emergent strategic planning process. We look forward to even more opportunities to work with the IWU community in 2020 to demonstrate the critical contributions that libraries and librarians make to the distinctive mission of the liberal arts college.

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