Illinois College Updates

What is a GIS Lab and Why is it in My Library?

By Guest Blogger Danielle Trierweiler

Sometime between the Spring Semester and Fall, a new space worked its way into the Hilltop’s beloved Schewe Library: enter the Geospatial Information Systems or GIS Lab.

The GIS Lab arrives at the library in pursuit of the same mission that the Digital Learning Center or DLC initiated roughly a year ago: get students and faculty access to the digital tools and software they need to explore, interrogate, and produce digital projects. As the Digital Services Librarian, I am biased, but these 4 seats to Esri ArcGIS Desktop 10.3 , an industrial-strength mapping tool, are pretty exciting. Here’s why:

Newly finished GIS Lab April 2015

Newly finished GIS Lab @ Illinois College Schewe Library April,  2015

  • Visualizing and sharing data such as population distribution or regional income
  • Mapping definitive routes (such as a river or highway) or more rapidly changing phenomena (like cloud cover or water toxicity)
  • Collaborating with other GIS data producers, analysts, and curators to reveal findings otherwise impossible to view
  • Data management is a large part of GIS, since the attractive map visualizations are comprised of an aggregation of one or more data sources.
  • Using GIS will boost your vocabulary (raster data anyone?) and technical awareness (I get .PDF, but what exactly is a .shp- shapefile?!)

Understanding what GIS is broadly and being able using it the way you want to use it does take some time. Like any skill or sport, it is what you put into it- practice (and time) makes perfect. I can verify that in only a few months of viewing online videos and using textbooks and courses that provide dummy-data to complete basic exercises, I am fascinated by GIS and enjoy looking for new open data sources to map.

About a year ago, Outreach Librarian, Luke Beatty mused on the then-prospect GIS in Schewe back when it was only a sparkle in the Library Director’s eye: “Personally, I’d like to see a GIS-lite tool with a focus on demographic, business, or social data.” he wrote. Sorry Luke! ArcGIS can handle spatial analysis for all of these, but it is strictly BYOD (Bring [downloand] Your Own Data!) Not necessarily a bad thing, but ArcGIS users, especially ArcGIS desktop users should be up for the management challenges that comes with freedom to structure and customize your data.

To help get you started understanding and using the GIS Resources available to the IC campus, check out the *NEW* GIS page on the Schewe Library website or visit the lab next time you’re in the library to see for yourself.

I’d like to close this entry with one of my personal favorite video Overviews of GIS  *not* found on the library website: a rather long but solid overview published, created, and produced by Mr. Jere Folgert, owner and trainer of an online professional GIS training firm, http://www.KnowGIS.com: here is his Introduction to Cartography and Making Maps with ArcGIS Desktop 10X

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Honors Theses & Celebration of Excellence 2015

What a fantastic week we’ve just had at IC!  As students near exams, and Faculty begin to wind down the term, the campus came together for three exceptional events.  The first such event was a series of capstone course presentations and theses defenses.  I attended the Modern Language theses defenses, and each defense featured a probing, insightful, and unique take on the material under question.  Of the four presenters, I’d guess at least two will go on to make tremendous academics should they so choose.

Honors Defense Thesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second event of the week was the presentation of our Masters of Education students’ final research projects.  This one was especially close to my heart, as I myself earned an M.Ed., and to this day I remember the sweat equity poured into that degree.  Most of the research projects focused on some aspect of K-8 education, and maintained a strong practical bent to their research.  The Masters at IC is still a new venture, and I’m sure there were growing pains, but the presentations themselves were spirited and informed.  Good job, folks!

Masters Thesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final big event of the week was our annual Celebration of Excellence, which featured a variety student presentations across campus.  Here in Schewe, we hosted a number of great individual presentations during the morning, and in the afternoon we hosted Jeff Garland’s Contemporary Art Class, who did a bang-up group presentation on various “currents” of art.  The day was capped off by a wonderful art show in the Woodcock Gallery, which was impressive to newcomer and afficionado alike!

AR 346 Presentation

Welcome Schewe’s Newest Librarian: Danielle Trierweiler

Hello!

My name is Danielle Trierweiler and I am the new Digital Services Librarian at IC’s Schewe Library. In January 2015, I moved cross-country from Seattle, Washington, the land of coffee and moisture where I graduated from the Masters of Library and Information Science program at the University of Washington. I have a 7-month old miniature dachshund puppy, Monty, and when I’m not playing with him I enjoy running, cooking, listening to music, and reading.

I am still pretty new to the IC campus and the greater Jacksonville area- so far I am digging the newly re-opened Soap Co. Coffeehouse and its adjoining Our Town Bookstore! Seeing the sun during winter, somewhat of a rarity in the Pacific Northwest, is nice too 😉

What does a digital services librarian do?

To the untrained eye, I sit at a desk with headphones, staring at my computer while I chug coffee. True.

 I also:

  • Offer information management consultation and project management as needed to students, faculty, and staff
  • Keep current on emerging trends in information and digital technology especially regarding libraries, higher education, and scholarly communications
  • Manage electronic databases, journals, and media (electronic/e-resources) to sustain digital access: this includes any digital scholarly content that might help you conduct research for classes
  • Assess how new e-resources, technologies, and digital content might best meet IC’s scholarly needs and advise in selection
  • Ensure the continuous development of the library’s digital initiatives by seeking grant funding sources
  • Participate in live, or view recorded instructional webinars on a variety of library tech and information literacy topics and attend relevant professional conferences
  • Collaborate with fellow library staff to prepare instructional materials and deliver the best possible library user experience…

and these are just a few aspects of my job! I am thrilled to be at Schewe.

Next time you are in at the library, take a moment to stop my first floor desk (behind the display case), and say hello 🙂 I look forward to seeing what kind of digital scholarship you are interested in, helping you troubleshoot, and most of all, meeting you!

The Textbook Kerfuffle, Part II

Yesterday, Schewe Library was the site of a student protest.  Approximately 150 students flooded the Library — many carrying signs and placards — to protest the addition of a “textbook fee” onto their tuition.  The forthcoming textbook fee will provide each student with the textbooks and course materials necessary for their studies, but at a cost of approximately $300 per student, per semester.  The proposed program was unpopular with students, and they chose one of IC’s tri-annual Board of Trustees meetings to voice their opposition.

Protest 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historically, student activism at IC has been modest.  In asking around campus, there appear to only have been a handful of student protests in the last 50 or so years.  Though documentary evidence is scant, the following incidents have been corroborated by multiple sources:

  • In the 1960s, students protested over the lack of cigarette machines in their dormitories.
  • In the 1970s, students protested over the fact that they were mandated to attend Chapel on a weekly basis.
  • In the 1980s, students protested over restrictions on campus liquor consumption.
  • In the 1990s, students protested over the forced closure of the Gamma Nu literary society.
  • And, in the 2010s, students are now protesting over compulsory textbook rentals/purchasing.

Protest 2

 

 

 

 

 

Whether this protest will effect changes in IC’s would-be textbook program is unclear.  To the best of my knowledge, the program has not yet been approved by the Board of Trustees, and, I suppose, were the Board to sympathize with students’ concerns, they might elect to forestall or revise the plan.  But my suspicion is that, at this juncture, the plan is a fait accompli, and the students will come up empty-handed on this particular gambit.  On a more harmonious note, however, I suspect Administration will be more willing to consult with students on “big” issues in the future, if for no other reason than to avoid the type of embarrassment they’ve suffered in the past few days over this issue.  Here’s to a closer, more productive culture of cooperation at IC!

Protest 3

The Textbook Kerfuffle

This week, Illinois College administration outlined a plan to radically change the way students purchase their textbooks and course materials.  Up until this announcement, things were done pretty traditionally at IC: professors prepared a list of the books their classes would be using for the coming year; the campus bookstore purchased said books; and students went to the bookstore and bought (some of) their books.  On the fringes of this equation were third-party retailers (Amazon.com, eBay, etc.), and Schewe Library, who often purchased a select number of textbooks to supplement their course reserve materials.  In theory, this arrangement worked, save for one caveat: the students weren’t getting their books!  Many wouldn’t purchase a portion of their books, a few wouldn’t purchase any, and with the Library having only incomplete textbook coverage (with short loan periods), the Library could only provide so much support to those who hadn’t made a purchase.

Textbooks 3

 

 

 

 

This scenario was not unique to IC, however.  Students all over the nation are purchasing textbooks at a sharply declining rate.  The reasons for this are multivariate, but uncontrolled price inflation, piracy, availability of alternatives, and good old fashioned sharing seem to be the primary drivers.  Fed up with students arriving unprepared to class, and perhaps more cynically, seeking to bolster its student retention rates by obliging unfettered access to course materials, IC has contracted the campus’ textbook-and-course-materials contract to a course materials management firm, Rafter.  For a set price, Rafter provides all students rented access to their course texts and readings, either in physical or electronic form.  Should the student wish to subsequently keep the text, they may do so at additional cost.  As best I am aware, there is no opt-out for the program.

Textbooks 2

 

 

 

 

 

Predictably, students were outraged by the program.  Putting aside the “mommy knows best” dimensions of the initiative, the most common student refrains addressed the allegedly-high-costs of the program, the lack of an opt-out, and the fact that the program did not cost-differentiate between classes of student (i.e. fourth-year versus first-year, science versus humanities, etc.).  Valid concerns, all, but also voiced too late in the process to impact the (at least initial) implementation of the program.

From a professorial and/or administrative view, this program is a win.  It relieves students of their purchasing responsibility, and also disincentivizes the students from engaging in illegal and/or time-consuming behaviour to game the system for a few bucks.  Under this arrangement, the Library also benefits as well, as we’re no longer expected to outlay scarce resources on textbooks which will not meaningfully bolster our collections.  The students, however, are resentful of the program’s mandated costs, and also feel patronized by the implication that they can’t manage their own education.  Where this goes from here is anyone’s guess, but I think we can all agree we’re entering a new era at IC.  Comments?

Other Libraries on Campus

Though IC only has one dedicated library (this one, Schewe Library), we occasionally get questions about the “other libraries” on campus.  For reasons of signage, this is an entirely understandable question.  In fact, if you went by campus signage alone, you’d think IC had three libraries in operation.  Let’s talk about the two “false libraries” for a moment.

The first “false library” on campus is to be found in Tanner Hall, which, in spite of its exterior signage (“Tanner Library”), is not in any way a library.  Confusing, yes, but at one time accurate.  Tanner Library was IC’s first Library, and was initially constructed for IC’s Centennial in 1929.  Though Tanner Hall now houses IC’s Administration and various sub-departments, the building ceased to be a base of library operations in 1973 with the construction of Schewe Library.  For reasons not entirely known — though surely not ones of practicality — the building’s existing signage was retained.

TannerHall

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second “false library” is the Khalaf al Habtoor Leadership Library, located in Whipple Hall.  As succinctly stated in the Illinois College Catalog 2014-2015, the “Khalaf Al Habtoor Leadership Library supports the programming of the Khalaf Al Habtoor Leadership Center… The Library also features artifacts from Abraham Lincoln and Edward Beecher (p. 187).”  Practically, the Khalaf al Habtoor Leadership Library is a conference room, with a select number of publications which feed into the mission of the Leadership Center, and which also contains the aforementioned items from Lincoln and Beecher (amongst them, Lincoln’s law library couch).  What material the Leadership Library has does not circulate.

224303_10150175128361767_1431355_n

 

 

 

 

 

And that, briefly, is the story of IC’s two pretenders to the Library crown.  Let there be confusion no more!

IC Commencement 2014

As Schewe’s numbers thin out for the summer, we library folk often take a moment to reflect on events past.  A recurrent theme in these reflections has to do with our role in student success.  We know we help, but how much, exactly?  What could we have done better?  What could we have done differently?  Suffice it to say, these questions have no easy answers.  But one thing which is easy is enjoying IC’s annual Commencement ceremony, which was held last weekend.  For those few hours, the Library (and, indeed, the entire campus) saw the tangible, positive difference we’ve made in the lives of our graduating students (this year, 221).  It was truly a gratifying experience.

DSC_016900583

In honor of our past graduates, Schewe has created a small slideshow of IC Commencements through the years:

http://www.photosnack.com/97BB8B5C5A8/ptumwjmm

The photos were scanned from past issues of our Illinois College Quarterly.