Student Researcher in the Library: Shang Li

Shang takes a break to talk to us about her research.
Shang takes a break to talk to us about her research.

We love to learn about what students are up to in the Mudd!

Shang Li is a government and history major hailing all the way from TianJin, China. She plans to attend graduate school after commencement this spring.

Shang kindly agreed to talk to us about what she’s been working on in the library.

Shang, what have you been researching?

The Italian Holocaust through historical film.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing this research?

The librarians at our reference desk. They are so knowledgeable, kind and patient. I am never scared to ask questions; they always have answers and sometimes, candy and cookies!

What are you hoping to learn or gain from this research?

To think more like a historian. I am gaining skills and abilities to support my passion for history for the rest of my life. Whether or not my future career will be related to history, I hope to become an independent researcher during my free time.

This is Shang's hometown!
Shang’s hometown of Tianjin in China.

Why do you think this research is important?
There has been much research on the Holocaust, but the Italian Holocaust is indeed a very special case. Exploring the Italian Holocaust through written history, but also through historical films, provides me with a unique perspective on this topic. In addition, this research has allowed me to make connections between written history and historical films, as well as the time periods during which the films were made, and to see how those factors influence the works. This is also fascinating to me.

How did you become interested in this line of research?
I took a course with Professor Paul Cohen called “History as Films, Films as History,” where we discussed historical films. I’m actually using my favorite films for my current project. I did a historiography project with Professor Peter Blitstein on “Hitler’s Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Second World War.” During this project, I developed an academic interest in studying Mussolini’s Fascist Italy. Because of my interests in both historical films and Mussolini, it was only logical for me to pursue a capstone project devoted to connecting both topics.

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

The Mudd library is very helpful! It is also in a great location- close to the Wellness Center and Andrew Commons.

Alumni Librarians: Beth Carpenter ’10

Beth CarpenterEditor’s note: We invited Lawrence alumni who have gone into library work to share with us what they do and how they got there. Here’s another in a series.

When I arrived at Lawrence in the fall of 2006, I knew that I wanted to work in the campus library – it was one of my first stops during Welcome Week. From that moment on, the Mudd became an integral part of my Lawrence experience.

Attending a small liberal arts college meant that I had the chance to get to know the faculty and staff of the college on a more personal level, outside of the classroom. The library was a place where I feel I took advantage of that most, and I found role models in the reference librarians and circulation staff that I interacted with every day.

I knew I wanted to work in libraries early on, but there was one particular reference librarian (who can remain nameless to avoid embarrassment) who truly cemented the desire to be a college librarian in my mind. She truly embodies what a librarian should be, in my mind – full of a willingness to help anyone, knowledgeable about a wide range of topics (and willing to research anything she didn’t know), and an advocate for the library and its services. Other librarians and staff of the library gave their time an energy to teach me things like basic cataloging, or reserve procedures, things that all helped me on my journey towards librarianship.

Beth was the recipient of the made-up Champion Student Worker, Most Breaks Worked award in 2010.
Beth was the recipient of the made-up, Champion Student Worker, Most Breaks Worked award in 2010.

Working at the Mudd gave me the direction and focus I needed going into my graduate program at Indiana University Bloomington. It was valuable for me to go to such a large school (about twenty times the size of Lawrence) to be able to compare library environments. In graduate school, I worked at three different libraries across the campus, all giving me a variety of experience in circulation and reference work.

I currently am the Liberal Arts Librarian at Bethany College in West Virginia. As glamorous as it sounds, part of the reason for the title is so that I’m not tied to any particular job within the library, which I actually love. I was hired for my experience in cataloging and working with student employees, but my role has grown to encompass our website maintenance, serials management and event planning. Occasionally I also get the opportunity to do some library instruction. I think the advantage of working at a small liberal arts college (and Bethany is particularly small – we have three full-time librarians and a part-time archivist) is that I get to do different things every day – when I’m tired of one project, I can work on another one (luckily, I also learned time management and prioritizing assignments at Lawrence).

If I have any advice for students looking into going for an MLS/MLIS degree, it’s that they should make sure they find a program with opportunities to learn and practice instruction, because that’s becoming an increasingly important part of academic librarianship. Also while in graduate school, make sure to get as much work experience as possible, because it is those jobs that will help bolster your resume. More often than not, those libraries are used to hiring graduate students and will help you mold the job into what you want or need it to be – I went from a reserves assistant to a circulation supervisor and reserves co-coordinator in one position because that library allowed me to grow the role I was hired for.

The best thing to know about libraries is that working in them is never going to be what you expect, but it will always be rewarding, if you have an open mind about whatever is going to come your way. I never would’ve anticipated living in small-town West Virginia, but after a year and half, I’m not sure there’s another job out there that would suit me quite as well!

By Beth Carpenter, Class of 2010

Winter Break at the Mudd Library

The Mudd Library on a sunny, green, December afternoon.

It’s winter break, which means the library has switched to break hours. The library will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through December 18th. As with the rest of campus, the library will be closed the week of December 21-25, and will reopen on Monday, December 28. See the library calendar for more details.

Now is a great time to stop in the Mudd Library and ask our reference librarians to tell you more about the new OneSearch library resource search. OneSearch allows searching of both items in the library and electronic resources from one search bar! We’ll also help you learn when OneSearch is right for your research, and when more in-depth searching in individual databases is the right choice. Off campus, but want to learn more? Take a look at our Searching Library Collections page or contact a reference librarian by email or phone.

Remember, the library has a great selection of popular movies, novels, games, and music in addition to our vast selection of scholarly materials. Now that you may have time for leisure materials, stop in and discover something fun!

Mudd User Experience Task Force

Did you know that the Seeley G. Mudd Library has its very own task force? If you use the library, this information is directly related to you and your work. In fact, the Mudd User Experience Task Force exists solely to make your experience in the Mudd better!

Have you noticed the new library work station near the copiers? The station has been stocked with various supplies to help you prepare papers, posters, and presentations. Have you ever lamented the shortage of power sources on the library’s upper floors? There have been oodles of outlets added for all of your charging needs. These are two examples of the small, simple, yet incredibly useful improvements to the library undertaken by the Mudd User Experience Task Force.

Library Director Pete Gilbert felt that the rising library trend focusing on optimal user experience was worth paying attention to. With that in mind, he allocated a small sum of money and assembled a group of library staff to spend time focusing solely on our patrons’ experiences in the Mudd, and what we can do to improve those experiences.

“We hope your day went a little better because you stopped by The Mudd.” Cindy Patterson, Mudd User Experience Task Force member

Cindy Patterson, Andrew McSorley, Angela Vanden Elzen, Susan Goeden, and Holly Roycraft have been meeting regularly to explore simple, cost-effective ways to make a big difference to our library users. The group also spends time soliciting ideas, comments, and suggestions from students, staff, and faculty on how the Mudd can be even more helpful and efficient.
AndrewAngelaHollySusanCindy

So far the task force has added some desk lamps and additional power strips throughout the building to allow for clearer reading and fully-charged devices. They’ve also done some simple projects, like rearranging the furniture on the second floor to better accommodate collaborative groups gathering to study.

With users asking for both quiet spaces, as well as spaces to let loose and have fun with a group, the task force simplified the library’s noise policy, stating clearly the first and second floors are open to collaborative, group study and therefore may be noisy, whereas the third and the fourth floors are for quiet, individual study only.

The task force, which welcomes all feedback about the library experience, worked with Gaming House over reading period to host a game day in the library, in order to draw attention to the large selection of games that we circulate.

“We have so many interesting and helpful resources, and as a group we really want to make our patrons aware of all we can do for them. From books, great spaces, an incredible selection of databases, to research assistance or video games, our users can expect a wide array of services. We are here, and we want you to be here, too! Please let us know how we can improve or expand what we offer.” Holly Roycraft, Mudd User Experience Task Force member

The task force has many ideas for further improving our patrons’ experiences in the Mudd, including even more rearranging, and perhaps some more flexible work spaces and additional comfortable spaces for relaxation.

“We really want you to feel like the library is a comfortable place to be.” Susan Goeden, Mudd User Experience Task Force member

We truly value our patrons, and we aim to continuously improve your experiences here. Please feel free to reach out to any or all members of the task force with your feedback as to how we can make the Mudd even better. We want you to have a great experience here, and we have the task force to prove it!

 

Mudd Gallery: Liam Hoy

12107864_10152965960957723_4698840188551169715_nCurrently on display in the Mudd Gallery through October 13 is “Graduation” by senior studio art and environmental science major, Liam Hoy.  Hoy’s ideas for the exhibition were influenced by the beginning of his final year in undergrad, and the uncertainty of the future post-graduation (thus the reason for the title of the show). The exhibit is comprised of original ceramic sculpture works from 2015. It features three large ceramic sculptures suspended on wooden spider legs, and a small crowd of porcelain figures. While trying to determine how to best represent the excitement and nervousness prompted by his senior year and the future, Hoy was inspired by spiders- “they seem scary at first, but if you stop to appreciate them, they do good things.” The crowd of small, curious people represent graduates, and the gallery walls are painted black to contrast with the white glazed ceramics and porcelain figures.

Be sure to stop by the Gallery on the third floor and spend some time with this wonderfully unique exhibit!

New Library System!

We’re pleased to announce that, thanks to the hard work of a lot of people, the Mudd Library will be introducing a new search system as the school year begins!

Some things to know:

1. OneSearch (its working name) allows you to search the Library’s catalog PLUS hundreds of thousands of articles, images, etc. at the same time. OneSearch combines our library catalog with a very large database of online resources and makes it all searchable at once. This is great for interdisciplinary projects or just as a starting point — kind of like Google, but more scholarly. You can cast a wide net and (if you choose) use facets (resource type, subject, author, full text availability…) to focus your results.

2. You’ll still be able to search the Library catalog by itself or link to individual specialized databases (RILM, Historical Abstracts, Biological Abstracts, etc.) the way you’ve always done.

3. We’ve been working hard on this but there’s still more to do. Please be patient as we learn how to make the most of the new system.

4. Ask! We’re here to help. Let us know about any questions you have or issues you find.

Student Research in the Library: Alex Damisch

20302858534_d9cb8e02ff_mWe love to learn more about what our students are up to in the Mudd. Yes, even over summer break we have the pleasure of welcoming and supporting industrious students. Alex Damisch requested one of our student offices over the summer in order to work more efficiently at developing some of her web applications. The mathematics and clarinet performance double-major, who plans to earn her double-degree in just four years, was quite pleased to discover that she could reserve a private, quiet office in the Mudd to use for her research.

Alex, who hails from Northbrook, Illinois, is planning to graduate in 2016, after which she hopes to enter a master’s program to pursue statistics. She graciously agreed to answer some questions about her work in the library.  Enjoy!

Alex, what are you working on in your office?

Under the supervision of Adam Loy in the Mathematics department, I’m helping create several web applications that allow people to get hands-on experience with statistical concepts like bootstrapping, permutation tests, and ANOVA. The apps create graphs and perform different calculations, many of which can be adjusted by the user, so they can see how the result changes.

There are currently three apps on Professor Loy’s website, with about a half-dozen that are in a more preliminary stage of development. Some of the operations that the apps perform “behind the scenes” are a bit complicated, so they require some fine-tuning by Professor Loy to get to a satisfactory speed before they go live.

What are you hoping to learn or gain from this research?

I’ve learned a ton about the coding languages that I’m using, of course–I had some R experience before, but not nearly at the level that I have now. Two months ago I knew almost no Shiny at all. Coding is often frustrating, but having my work out there is really satisfying.

I’ve recently started working on an app that uses a statistical test that’s new for me, too, so that’s been a challenge. It’s also been useful to revisit concepts that I learned a few years ago, which I really value because I sometimes tutor for statistics classes. Having to write code and use functions that perform certain statistical calculations has really solidified my understanding of how they work.

Why do you think this research is important?

The apps will probably get used in some of the introductory statistics classes this school year, which is great. In mathematics or statistics, as in almost any other field, the best way to learn is by doing–you have to try out problems yourself. If you can upload your own data set and play around with it and see how your histograms and confidence intervals update in real-time, hopefully it facilitates your understanding of the concepts behind them.

How did you become interested in this line of work?

I first got this book of infographics called Visual Miscellaneum for Christmas in 2009, so data visualization has been a longstanding interest of mine. I approached Professor Loy absurdly early in the 2014-2015 school year and said that I wanted to work with him over the summer. I was pretty willing to work on whatever statistics-related project he threw at me, but I’m lucky that this one is particularly interesting to me.

What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing this research?

Definitely Mathematical Statistics with Resampling and R. (Only half-joking.) Since I can code almost anywhere, it’s been nice to have my library office as a space to keep a few books and to call my own. Having a quiet, focused space and a standing desk has been really important for me. You can only sit in coffee shops or your bedroom for so long.

I also use the whiteboards almost compulsively. This is business as usual for a math major, but this summer I’ve used them to map out particularly convoluted functions.

What would you like your fellow students to know about the Mudd Library?

Between working for ITS since I was a freshman and studying frequently at the library during the school year, I always like to remind people that the third and fourth floors are the library’s quiet floors.

Also, the library staff is awesome and really helpful–definitely an under-utilized resource among most students.

We think you’re awesome, too, Alex. :)

 

Meet the Staff, Student Worker Edition: John O’Neill

005 (Small)With Welcome Week just around the corner, it’s time to celebrate the fabulous John O’Neill, who began working in the Mudd during Welcome Week two years ago, when he was a freshman. Little did we know how valuable and well-loved this horn performance and government major from Reno, Nevada would become.

Not only does John work tremendously hard balancing all of his roles during the academic year, he has also spent his summers working with us in the Mudd, doing all sorts of necessary and useful projects, from helping to manage our music scores and collections, to charmingly modeling for social media posts. Summer would not be the same without John, who is always ready to lend a hand. Read on to learn more about this wonderful and talented student worker!

What is your job title at the Mudd and what work does that entail?

I am a student shelving assistant in the score section, which means that I keep the area organized and shelve everything that circulates. I have also worked at the circulation desk over breaks and have done some cataloging work with Antoinette Powell, the music librarian.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I really love fixing up and erasing some of our “extra loved” scores because it tells me how much students use the score collection.

Share something you’ve done at work that has made you especially proud.

Very recently someone asked how many feet of CDs we would have if they were laid end-to-end. It was really fun and satisfying to figure out the answer.

As a student, where is your favorite (study/relaxation/hang-out) spot in the Mudd?

I usually head straight for the middle of the stacks on the third and fourth floors, although the “fishbowl” on the 2nd floor is also a great place to work.

What are your hobbies?

Collecting vinyls, reading, putting together puzzles, and baking when I can.

What’s the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

What are your favorite bands or performers?

The Beatles, Chicago

How about your favorite blogs and/or magazines?

The Atlantic Weekly, New York Times, the Horn Call, and the Mudd’s blog (of course!)

What groups and/or organizations are you active in (on or off campus)?

I am active with Lawrence’s Young Democrats, Lawrence’s Quizbowl Team, and several chamber groups in the conservatory.

When will you graduate? What are your post-graduation plans?

Since I will be a fifth year and I’m only a junior, I won’t graduate until 2018!

 

 

Learn About the Funding Information Network

The Mudd Library is proud to be a Funding Information Network site. This resource provides access to Foundation Center subscription databases where users can search for scholarships, fellowships, grants, and other funding opportunities for individuals as well as nonprofit organizations. Training is a joint service of the Development Office and the Mudd Library.

Multiple opportunities to learn more about this fantastic resource are coming up soon!

Wednesday, August 12: Coffeehouse- Introducing the Funding Information Network
10:00-10:40 a.m.
Seeley G. Mudd Library, first floor
Our last coffeehouse of the summer will be all about the Funding Information Network. Come get a brief introduction to these resources while enjoying coffee and treats.

Introduction to the Funding Information Network Training Sessions: (registration required)

Monday, August 24, 9:00-10:30 am
UW Oshkosh Sage Hall Computer Lab, Room 1208
Seating is limited.

Thursday, August 27, 1:00-2:30 pm
Seeley G. Mudd Library 214 (ITC)
Seating is limited.

Reserve your seat for the FREE hands-on training sessions by emailing Anna Simeth with your name and the date of the workshop you wish to attend.

Gifts to the Mudd Library

It’s that time of the year when we start gathering a variety of statistics to help us sum up the previous academic year. One such statistic is the number of items that were gifted to our library. When Director of Technical Services, Jill Thomas, compiled these numbers, she felt compelled to share and thank our donors.

A large donation of CDs we received this academic year.

This year the library faculty and staff would like to thank our many donors who have contributed to our collection. Donations are treated like new acquisitions and are evaluated by the same standards as new purchases to safeguard quality, consistency, and relevance to the needs of the Lawrence University community.  Our donors are faculty members current and retired, alumni, parents of past and current students, and Appleton community members with no ties to the university at all.

This year, from donations alone, we added into our collections over 2,000 books, DVDs, musical CDs, and journals. That number does not include two gifts we have not finished going through of over 4,000 music CDs, and over 40 boxes of books from a retired faculty member. These gifts help stretch our budget that never seems to go far enough.  If you are considering donating to the library, please check our out gift page.

So here’s to all of our donors; thank you for thinking of Lawrence and giving to the Seeley G. Mudd Library.