A yellow jacket sticker on the spines of books in the library indicates that the work was written by a member of the Randolph-Macon College community. The McGraw-Page Library has nearly 1000 works written by current and former R-MC students, faculty, and staff. Books by Randolph-Macon College writers are found in the College Archives and the Juvenile and Popular Reading collections, as well as in the circulating collection on the second floor.
Generations of Sunday school classes and churchgoers were educated by Magic Lantern slide shows. These shows, popular in the 19th century and into the mid 20th century, were replaced with newer technology such as slide projectors, film strips, powerpoint presentations and online videos. The two projectors shown here are part of the Methodist Collection housed in Special Collections and Archives. For more information on Magic Lanterns, see: http://library.sdsu.edu/pdf/scua/ML_Gazette/MLGvol27no04.pdf
I Was Told to Come Alone
by Souad Mekhennet
The journalist who broke the “Jihadi John” story draws on her personal experience to bridge the gap between the Muslim world and the West and explain the rise of Islamic radicalism. Souad Mekhennet has lived her entire life between worlds. The daughter of a Turkish mother and a Moroccan father, she was born and educated in Germany and has worked for several American newspapers. Since the 9/11 attacks she has reported stories among the most dangerous members of her religion. When she is told to come alone to an interview, she never knows what awaits at her destination. In this book, Mekhennet seeks to answer the question, “What is in the minds of these young jihadists, and how can we understand and defuse it?” She has unique and exclusive access into the world of jihad and sometimes her reporting has put her life in danger. We accompany her from Germany to the heart of the Muslim world — from the Middle East to North Africa, from Sunni Pakistan to Shia Iran, and the Turkish/ Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner “Jihadi John,” and then in Paris and Brussels, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilization. Too often we find ourselves unable to see the human stories behind the headlines, and so Mekhennet — with a foot in many different camps — is the ideal guide to take us where no Western reporter can go.
HV 6433 .I722 I8562 2017 Catalog Link – I was told to come alone
Boys Among Men
by Jonathan Abrams
When Kevin Garnett shocked the world by announcing that he would not be attending college — as young basketball prodigies were expected to do — but instead enter the 1995 NBA draft directly from high school, he blazed a trail for a generation of teenage basketball players to head straight for the pros. That trend would continue until the NBA instituted an age limit in 2005, requiring all players to attend college or another developmental program for at least one year. Over that decade-plus period, the list of players who made that difficult leap includes some of the most celebrated players of the modern era — Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, and numerous other stars. It also includes notable “busts” who either physically or mentally proved unable to handle the transition. But for better or for worse, the face of the NBA was forever changed by the prep-to-pro generation.
POP GV 885.514 .A37 2016 Catalog Link – Boys Among Men
I Can’t Make This Up
by Kevin Hart
Actor and comedian Kevin Hart grew up in North Philadelphia. His father was a drug addict who was in and out of jail. His brother was a crack dealer and petty thief. And his mother was overwhelmingly strict, beating him with belts, frying pans, and his own toys. In his literary debut, he takes the reader on a journey through what his life was, what it is today, and how he’s overcome each challenge to become the man he is today. Hart sees life as a collection of chapters that each person gets to write for himself or herself. “Not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter,” he says. “So why not choose the interpretation that serves your life the best?”
POP PN 2287 .H26 A3 2017 Catalog Link – I Can’t Make This Up
The video below (highlighted by the Scholarly Kitchen blog last week) discusses the success of independent bookstore in spite of online retailers such as Amazon.com.
If we see our product as books, and what we compete on as price, we lose. If we see our product as a service and a community, of which books are one piece, then we can compete. –David Sandberg
As is the case for independent bookstores, the “product” of an academic library has changed. It is no longer just a warehouse of books and the other resources. Rather the academic library provides a place for the community of scholars that exists on the college campus, and the resources are a piece of that community.
Like any community, a community of scholars includes experts (the faculty) and newbies (undergraduates). Courses, readings, research papers, and projects help to bring undergraduates into the community they are choosing to join, be it political science, business, English literature, or education, and moves them ever-closer to being experts themselves.
The academic library is the “intellectual hub” that supports that endeavor, providing the resources, people, services, and tools that make it possible. It has been almost twenty years since academic libraries functioned primarily as warehouses for resources, yet we’re still battling out-dated perceptions of what we do. I look forward to changing the conversation on R-MC’s campus.
is a database of over 800 great, reliable reference sources. Covering all subject areas, over 3.5 million articles in reference books and sets are full text searchable in Credo Reference.
You can search across all of the sources by keyword, or limit to sources in a particular subject area such as History, Technology & Engineering, or psychology, or even search in a single source such as Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers or Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink.
Although the Library has many great reference sources in print, online sources offer advantages in addition to full text access, such as 24/7 availability and off-campus access. Try this one next time you need to look something up!
This month our Four on the Fourth series focuses on Graphic Novels. All items are brand new to our collection.
Born in Philadelphia in 1915, and dead too early in New York in 1959, Billie Holiday became a legendary jazz singer, even mythical. With her voice even now managing to touch so many people, we follow a reporter on the trail of the artist on behalf of a New York daily. Beyond the public scandals that marred the life of the star (alcohol, drugs, violence…), he seeks to restore the truth, revisiting the memory of Billie. Through this investigation, Muñoz and Sampayo trace, through the undertones of racism, and in the wake of the blues, the slow drift of a singer who expressed the deepest emotions in jazz.
ML420.H58 S26 2017 Catalog Link – Billie Holiday
In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe André was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, André was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world. Close to twenty years later, award-winning cartoonist Guy Delisle… recounts André’s harrowing experience in Hostage, a book that attests to the power of one man’s determination in the face of a hopeless situation.
HV6604.C282 D5413 2017 Catalog Link – Hostage
Audubon: On the Wings of the World
At the start of the 19th century, John James Audubon embarked upon an epic ornithological quest across America with nothing but his artist’s materials, an assistant and a gun. Driving him on through terrible storms, encounters with ferocious bears and dangerous people, Audubon’s all-consuming passion for birds came to define his entire life – but what would the world make of his expressive and distinctly unscientific illustrations upon return?
QL31.A9 G7613 2016 Catalog Link – Audubon
Poppies of Iraq Brigitte Findakly
Poppies of Iraq is Brigitte Findakly’s nuanced tender chronicle of her relationship with her homeland Iraq, co-written and drawn by her husband, the acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim. In spare and elegant detail, they share memories of her middle class childhood touching on cultural practices, the education system, Saddam Hussein’s state control, and her family’s history as Orthodox Christians in the arab world. Poppies of Iraq is intimate and wide-ranging; the story of how one can become separated from one’s homeland and still feel intimately connected yet ultimately estranged. Signs of an oppressive regime permeate a seemingly normal life: magazines arrive edited by customs; the color red is banned after the execution of General Kassim; Baathist militiamen are publicly hanged and school kids are bussed past them to bear witness. As conditions in Mosul worsen over her childhood, Brigitte’s father is always hopeful that life in Iraq will return to being secular and prosperous. The family eventually feels compelled to move to Paris, however, where Brigitte finds herself not quite belonging to either culture. Trondheim brings to life Findakly’s memories to create a poignant family portrait that covers loss, tragedy, love, and the loneliness of exile.
DS70.62 .F56 2017 Catalog Link – Poppies of Iraq
[Adapted from a Faculty/Staff Luncheon presentation, November 7, 2017.]
Last month’s post discussed the ways in which the 21st-century academic library is similar and different from academic libraries of the past. This month we’re going to look at how many 21st-century libraries are adapting to these changes.
Paper to Digital
Many libraries, including McGraw-Page, are shifting more and more toward digital resources, and this trend is likely to continue. The culture of the library and the institution of which it is a part plays a huge role in determining what digital resources are purchased, how they are integrated into the rest of the collection, and how quickly this shift takes place. A medical library will likely shift more quickly to digital resources than will a residential liberal arts college. Space constraints encourage the acquisition of digital resources, while financial constraints can limit their acquisition. Usage patterns and preferences of faculty and students also come into play. The technology itself continues to develop, requiring libraries to be flexible in their approach. Some resources are not available digitally at all. One advantage to a major shift from print to digital resources can be a gain in space that can be repurposed to meet other needs.
Collections to Users
Libraries are also shifting away from their collections to become more focused on users and their needs. Because so much is available online, and because there are many (fast!) options for getting resources not available locally (e.g., document delivery, interlibrary loan, Amazon), developing a collection that will anticipate the needs of a college or university is no longer as essential as it once was.
The library has become more important as a place on campus. Several studies have confirmed that students view libraries as sacred spaces—that being in a library, even if not using library resources, makes students feel more “academic,” closer to the educational mission of the college 1. Which perhaps why using a library is positively associated with student success and retention.
The library is now a place that is expected to meet the space needs of the entire population. Students value the library as a place where it is possible to study without distraction. But it is also a place where the space and technology facilitate and encourage collaboration. It should inspire creativity and academic success as an intellectual center of campus, and be both a sacred space, that connects students to the academic mission of the college, as well as comfortable, a place where students can fall asleep on the couch.
This need to be everything to everyone creates obvious challenges, as the library tries to provide a variety of space, seating, and working options to meet those needs.
Passive to Proactive
Libraries are also shifting from passively waiting for users to come to them, to proactively reaching out. In some ways, this is a direct results of the competition that libraries now face. But it also comes from the teaching role that more and more libraries are embracing. Many academic libraries are now actively involved in:
Making the community aware of available resources
Connecting the community with those resources
Supporting the use of those resources
Recognizing that students frequently struggle to know how to research, and that even faculty can easily forget about newly acquired resources, libraries are becoming more and more outward-facing with what they provide, accepting their role as educators on campus. The goal is to raise awareness of available resources and services, so that if a student encounters an issue they know where to go for the support they need.
So how does the learning commons fit into this? The idea of a learning commons, or an information commons, has been a part of library conversations for almost 20 years. I see it as a natural extension of the shifts that libraries are making as they adjust to the new reality. The library used to focus almost exclusively on information seeking needs–collecting, finding, and helping the community use information of various kinds and in various formats. If students in a particular major don’t write many research papers, there’s no real need to come to the library. In reality, the library is crucial to the entire academic process. It’s not just about finding information, it’s about what you do with that information, and how you communicate what you’ve learned. Creating a product that communicates learning is integral to the educational process, and the library provides the technology, tools, and support to make that happen.
A learning commons can facilitate library involvement in student academic work by helping to combat the artificial divisions that exist among the elements of the academic endeavor. Class work, research, reading, writing and presentation creation, editing, and publication (here meant less formally as simply publicly sharing information) all work together to facilitate learning. Research is often best if grounded in the classwork that has already been done. But a trip to the library is seen as a separate event that isn’t really related to the classes that a student has been attending all semester. Tutoring is a natural part of going to classes, taking tests, writing papers, and pushing the boundaries of one’s knowledge. Career services is in many ways the culmination of what we do. Most students expect to get a job at some point after college. Why do we pretend that the education process and the process of getting a job are somehow unrelated?
It’s good for students to see the all elements of the academic endeavor together, to see their research, tutoring, writing, and creating in a similar context with The Edge, and what they hope to do when they graduate. Visualizing how the pieces are supposed to fit together in the end gives meaning to each step in the journey.
Ultimately, a learning commons would significantly improve R-MC’s academic support for students. It would bring almost all of their academic resources together into a single location, making support more coordinated and coherent.
Who would be involved?
A learning commons at Randolph-Macon College would include the McGraw-Page Library, the Higgins Academic Center (HAC), which is already located in the library building, the EDGE career center, the Office of International Education, the Honors program, and I.T.S.
The goal is not to simply co-locate these services, but to integrate them so that students can seamlessly move from one office to the next without realizing that they are interacting with separate organizations within the library.
What have we done so far?
Below is the timeline for what has taken place thus far:
Oct. 2015 – CREDO report suggests moving HAC services into the library
Feb. 2016 – Site visits
Mar. 2016 – Memo regarding creating a learning commons, based
Sum. 2016 – HAC moves into the library
Dec. 2016 – 4 architecture firms gather information and submit proposals
Feb. 2017 – Presentations and selection of architecture firm VMDO
Apr. 2017 – Workshops, focus groups, data collection
May 2017 – Presentation of findings and initial recommendations
Aug. 2017 – Presentation of 5 possible space configurations
Oct. 2017 – Merging of attractive elements into a single version
What are the next steps?
The next steps are to create a shared vision of the learning commons space among the learning commons partners, and begin exploring funding options. We can then move forward with the details of the space renovation and addition.
If you’re interested in learning more about the learning commons project, please contact me at NancyFalcianiWhite [at] rmc.edu.
1. E.g., Jackson, H. L., & Hahn, T. B. (2011). Serving Higher Education’s Highest Goals: Assessment of the Academic Library as Place. College & Research Libraries, 72(5), 428–442.↩
During World War II, most of R-MC’s students either joined or were drafted into the military. In order to keep the school going, President Moreland lobbied for military training programs to be held on campus. Coursework was taught by College faculty as well as military instructors.
In 1942-43, 96 young men attended the Navy’s V-1 pre-flight training on campus while learning to fly at a nearby airport in Hanover County. The Navy moved the training elsewhere in 1943, so the College brought the Army to campus. R-MC was chosen to give courses designated as Basic Engineering One under the Army Specialized Training Program and was assigned 250 men who were known as the 3322nd Service Unit. Eventually, 438 men passed through the training program during 1943-44 when only 83 regular students were enrolled at the College.
After the military programs ended, 1944-45 was a lean year for the College with fewer than 100 full-time students, and a jump to only 200 the following year as the war ended left the College struggling. By the fall of 1946, the G.I. Bill brought many new students and helped the College rebound with an enrollment of over 550, 439 of whom were veterans.
[Adapted from a presentation given at a Faculty/Staff Luncheon at Randolph-Macon College on November 7, 2017.]
The academic library is a challenge to discuss in mixed company. To those in the know, the academic library is a dynamic place of innovation, the location of epic battles for information literacy, freedom of information, preservation, open access, and educational technology. To others, the academic library is an obsolete warehouse, facing inevitable decline.
Members of the Randolph-Macon College community have likely noticed emails stating that the library is discarding microfilm and microfiche in favor of new digital resources such as The New York Times Archive Online, and The Economist Archive. Many have also realized that there aren’t as many books on the shelves as there used to be, as we’re weeding our book collection and discarding resources that haven’t been used in many years. These are indicative of broader trends in academic libraries, and it seems worthwhile to explain what we’re thinking when we do that.
Primary Goals of the Library
It may be most helpful to begin by thinking about the role that the library has traditionally played on college and university campuses as the intellectual center, or the heart, of the campus. The library has always had three primary goals:
Keeping things for a long time
Providing the information that the current community needs
Helping members of the community find and use the information that was made available 1
Let’s look briefly at each of these goals.
The library preserves the heritage and traditions of an institution, keeping both qualitative and quantitative data that can tell the story not only of college life in the mid-1800s, but also the necessarily record of changes to policies or curriculum.
Information needs change regularly, and the library has always tried to be responsive, even anticipatory, to what students, faculty, and staff need, whether it’s books, journals, or data. When word processing first took off and before everyone had a personal computer, computers were available in the library. That was what was needed. As the needs of the community change, the information provided by the library changes.
The size and quality of the local collection have historically been very, very important, because it used to be more difficult to find books not held in the collection. Before Amazon, the options were scouring local new and/or used bookstores or using interlibrary loan to request the book from another academic library, an option that could take weeks or even months.
Access & Use
Making sure the community could use the information years ago really meant serving as de facto gatekeepers. Users of information almost always needed to go through the library to access the information, so there was a fair amount of control over what and how information was used. It was also possible to simply wait for students to come to the library—eventually, they had to—and then they could be helped if needed.
We now find ourselves in a period of transition. For hundreds of years, the academic library has existed in print. Papyrus, scrolls, vellum, wood pulp. These things were physical items that could be stored, retrieved, opened, read, preserved. They took up physical space, could only be in one location at a time, and would typically only be used by one person at a time (reading aloud does happen, but it is unusual for two people to independently read the same item at the same time).
Now, in the space of forty (or so) years, we find ourselves in a very different environment.
Few libraries have transitioned to a fully digital library model as of this date (Nov. 2017). Some resources fit the digital format well: encyclopedias, dictionaries, and almanacs have been quickly replaced by digital options in which it is quick and easy to look up a discrete fact. Journals have transitioned well because they are made up of many individual articles. Edited volumes are transitioning fairly well, but monographs less so. There are also distinct differences among disciplines. The sciences have shifted quickly: they rely heavily on journal articles, and many books in the sciences are edited volumes. It’s not unusual to hear of science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) libraries that are entirely paperless (e.g., UT-San Antonio, Florida Polytechnic). It’s important to note that these institutions still build libraries for their campuses, even though those libraries no longer house print books. The humanities are transitioning much less quickly, in part because of their dependence on the monograph. The transition in the social sciences falls between the two on the continuum.
There are other challenges facing the transition to a fully digital library: money to digitize and make electronically accessible material that is less in-demand, and the simple fact that some people like using and reading digital texts, while others do not. Even acknowledging that we are not fully digital, the implications of this shift have been huge.
Both the amount of available information and the amount that a given library can provide have increased significantly.
Despite what one would consider cost-saving digital publishing options, costs of one-time and subscription resources have continued to increase, often rising 6% per year or more.
Smaller libraries often need to choose between owning resources and leasing them. With many budgets continuing to shrink or plateau, it can be a difficult decision to choose between owning 50 resources versus leasing 160,000.
Scholarly communication is changing almost as quickly as the technology is. Scholarly communication is:
“The system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. The system includes both formal means of communication, such as publication in peer-reviewed journals, and informal channels, such as electronic listservs.”3
The line between formal and informal communication is blurring more and more. Disciplines are becoming more and more specialized. The role of peer‐review continues to be valuable, but is questioned frequently. How can a student learn to differentiate between a blog published by a notable scholar and a peer‐reviewed article by that same scholar? What should be collected and preserved by the library?
Within academic libraries, the topic of scholarly communication is usually discussed simultaneously with open access (OA). And this association with open access comes from the belief that scholarship is a public good that should be publicly available. As the price of formal scholarship continues to increase, putting scholarship behind paywalls that soon only elite institutions will be able to afford, academic libraries, particularly large, well-funded institutions, have been trying to break what essentially amounts to a monopoly on scholarship, by encouraging faculty to publish with OA publishers, and by devoting more resources to supporting OA publications, in some cases starting their own publishing endeavors. At institutions where the impact factor of a journal can decide whether or not a faculty member gets tenure, you can imagine that progress is slow!
Libraries are facing competition they haven’t faced before: Google, Google Scholar, Google Books, Amazon, and Wikipedia are all readily available, free, and for many students indistinguishable from resources available through their library.
Students, while in many ways the same as they have always been, are frequently:
Overconfident in their ability to search (and find)
Impatient, needing to have content available instantly
Hesitant to ask for help
Have misperceptions about libraries and librarians, and how both can help them succeed.
In part because of the changes that libraries have been undergoing in the past few decades, and because online resources both lack the dramatic appeal of physical resources and continue to become more expensive, academic libraries are being regularly asked to justify their existence. Library are more than just the books and journals they provide, of course, and they always have been. But in today’s assessment-conscious environment, research is being done to look at how libraries contribute to student success and retention.
A recent 3‐year project at over 200 post-secondary institutions looked at multiple library factors and their potential impacts on students’ academic outcomes.
Students benefit from library instruction in their initial coursework.
Library use increases student success.
Collaborative academic programs and services involving the library enhance student learning.
Information literacy instruction strengthens general education outcomes.
Library research consultations boost student learning. 4
In light of all of these changes, how have the three primary goals of the library changed?
In the digital library world, preservation of the College’s history remains an important part of the library’s mission, even as it has gotten more complex. What do we do with slides or VHS tapes as the technologies become obsolete? How do we preserve the website or the social media of the college in such a way that it can be used in a telling of the College’s history 50 years from now? For the first time, we need to make decisions about what is
worth preserving, rather than preserving everything, as has been the habit.
As more and more information is available and easily accessed, library collections, especially among similar types and sizes of institutions, will look more and more similar. The library collection at Randolph‐Macon College will not differ significantly from the collection at Hamden‐Sydney or Lynchburg. It will be the unique special collections that will really set the libraries of these institutions apart. They will provide unique research opportunities for students, and can attract faculty in a number of disciplines.
The types and nature of information needed to support research have changed. We’re still purchasing print books in addition to online archives and databases, and this isn’t a function of our size and budget. Every library director I’ve talked to recently is still doing the same. But a technological solution invented next year could change that. So as we look to the future, we need to do so in a way that can continue to accommodate change. Because change is coming.
Access & Use
Finding information is no longer a problem. Now it is a question of finding the right information. We have moved from an environment of information scarcity to an environment of information overload. Students still need to learn how to tell a book citation from an article citation from an essay citation, and they still need to understand how to evaluate the information they’re finding to be able to tell the difference between a peer‐reviewed resource and “fake news.” But now they also need to know how to navigate constantly changing interfaces, while learning how to cite a tweet in their paper.
What we may think of as the “traditional” library, full of print journals, silent book stacks, students working alone on individual paper assignments, is likely gone for good. In its place is an academic library still preserving institutional history, providing information resources for its community, and teaching students how to access and use those resources. Academic libraries are striving to navigate a complicated environment, and to succeed, they need to be discussed in a much more nuanced way among librarians, faculty, students, campus leaders, and donors.
My next post will look at some of the specific pivots libraries are making to adjust to this new environment, and how a learning commons model in the McGraw-Page Library can support those changes.
If you need a picture for a class or conference presentation and usually go to Google images or Wikimedia Commons, try the Artstor Digital Library next time! The Artstor Digital Library is a database containing over 2 million high-quality images for education and research from a wide variety of contributors around the world. As you would expect, Artstor includes images of paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, and other objects from major museum and library collections, but this database includes much more! There are medical and botanical drawings; images of clothing as well as drawings for fashion design; architectural and landscape images; photojournalism collections; maps; manuscript page images – just about anything that can be scanned or photographed, including this image of R-MC’s own Washington and Franklin Hall from ArtStor’s Historic Campus Architecture Collection. Complete information about the image or the object represented by the image is also included. Find Artstor on the Databases A-Z list available on the McGraw-Page Library website.