This week a student came to do a staff development presentation for us here in the library. He’d done his senior thesis on the history of the library building and the stylistic metaphors each incarnation used as a foundation.
I was completely captivated. I wish I’d taken notes because now the talk is receding into a mysterious and tantalizing blur of impressions and phrases. “The second building to be built on campus was the library.” … “The original library was built in what was, at the time, the quintessential library style. Anyone would have looked at that building and known it was a library.” … “The 1956 building strove for universality of style, a very modernist enterprise.” … “Two art history professors were the driving forces for bringing buildings in the modern style to Carleton.” … “The 1984 building was designed to fit with the buildings that made up its context.”
I haven’t been able to find an image of the 1956 version of our building, but what I found striking about the remodel wasn’t brought up in the talk. The 1956 building (which I can’t find an image of, sorry) had a grand “drawbridge” entrance, which was supposed to “usher students into the halls of learning” or something like that. But it also had the effect of making the library something that stood apart, something that you had to cross a long bridge to get to. The new building entrance seems to lean forward to be part of the campus rather than reserve itself as a hallowed destination.
Seniors here have to complete a Comprehensive Exercise (a senior thesis or similar project) commonly referred to as “comps.” Each major has it’s own rules and deadlines, but today was Comps Day for Econ majors. It was so fun to see them going up to the printer to collect their impressively long papers with impressively long titles and just glowing!
Most of these kids haven’t slept in about 3 weeks, they’ve been stressed to the hilt producing a paper that’s several times longer than anything they’ve ever produced before, and their graduations hang in the balance over this one project. But today they’re bursting with so much joy and so much pride that they just spontaneously come up the desk, show me their papers, and say, in wonder, “This is my comps!”
So between finding information about Korean assimilation into Japanese corporate culture, sussing out good starting points for a paper on the effects of globalization on education in inner-city Chicago high schools, and a whole bunch of citation questions for one class that has a project due tomorrow, I got to congratulate a steady stream of dazedly ecstatic Econ seniors and promise them that yes, they’ll be even happier tomorrow after they’ve eaten something and slept a little.
It’s official. Carleton College is this year’s recipient of ACRL’s Excellence in Academic Libraries award in the college library division!!!!! (press release)
I’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough: I’m so lucky to work with such a dedicated and creative bunch of co-workers, and I’m so lucky to be able to work with them in a library and on a campus like this one. Reading over the essay that my colleague, Matt, wrote for the award application, I realized yet again how much I’ve learned by working with this group and how much I value their energy, their creativity, and their friendship. They are Teh Awesome!
We’ve re-opened the search for a new (as in “additional” rather than “replacement) Social Sciences librarian.
From the job ad:
Carleton College seeks an innovative and energetic librarian to join us in our lively and imaginative program of information resources and services in a liberal arts setting. Within this dynamic library, the Reference and Instruction programs emerge out of and are informed by the skills, interest, and passions of the members of the Reference team. This is an ideal position for an individual who is 1) looking for an opportunity to work in a liberal arts institution focused on teaching, in collaboration with an unusually fine group of students, faculty, and colleagues; 2) committed to excellence in teaching and student learning; and 3) deeply rooted in and excited about a social sciences discipline.
I spent a good portion of today working out the logistics of a new pilot program we’re trying. I’m so excited to see if it works, it’s not even funny!
But first, the background. Our writing center contacts professors who will be teaching WR (“writing rich”) courses across the curriculum to see if these professors would like a writing assistant assigned specifically to their classes. So, for example, a bunch of English courses and a handful of sociology/anthropology, PoliSci, and History classes promise to provide their students with a portion of the intensive writing experience that’s required for graduation. And professors teaching these courses have the option of working closely with a single writing assistant who will shepherd enrolled students through all the writing assignments.
Well, last year the director of the our writing center and I began scheming ways to make our two operations work together more closely. I attended a writing professionals’ mini-conference with her. She invited me to start training new writing assistants. And this winter we’re taking it a step further.
She provided me with a list of courses that have a writing assistant assigned to them. Each week at our departmental meeting, I’ll check with the other librarians to see if they’ve been asked to work with any of these WR courses. If they have, they will contact the writing assistant for those courses in invite the assistants to the library session. That way the writing assistant will understand the research process and options when working with each of the enrolled students. They’ll also be encouraged to send students our way when they read drafts.
I’m going to choose one course to take this set-up one step further, just to see how it goes. I’m going to have one writing assistant take down the names of student that could use a librarian’s help and (with the students’ permission, of course) hand that list over to me. I’ll then initiate the contact with the students. I’m curious to see if overcoming that initial shyness of approaching a librarian for help makes a significant difference. On the other hand, I’m a little worried that this might be more of a workload than we can handle. Hence the pilot within a pilot… and zero publicity. It’ll just be between me and my writing assistant (and a few thousand of my closest internet buddies).
So today I got the list of courses and their corresponding assistants and spent some time creating a new section of the Moodle space we use to collaborate within my department. Hopefully with courses listed, contact information easily at hand, and spaces for noting our impressions of the process we can keep this thing moving forward smoothly and effectively. Goodness knows that if the process isn’t as easy as falling off a log by the time classes start (tomorrow, by the way), the scheme will never fly.
Wish us luck!