Putting Food on the Map in the State’s High School Geography Challenge

What country produces the most canola in the world? Where was wheat first grown? What state furthest south in the U.S. produces maple syrup? If you answered: 1) Canada 2) Mesopotamia or Iraq and 3) North Carolina you might have been able to match wits against the 80 or so Connecticut high school students who tested their knowledge about food, its history, and consumption during the Connecticut Geographic Alliance’s 24th Annual Connecticut High School Geographic Challenge in the UConn Libraries on Tuesday, May 19. Sixteen teams competed in geographic activities including orienteering, geographic problem solving, map interpretation, and a geography quiz, all centered around the theme of food. Andy Jolly-Ballantine, assistant professor in residence from UConn’s Geography department and coordinator of the Alliance, was master of ceremonies for the daylong event.

The winning team was from Bacon Academy in Colchester. Members include: Erica Boucher, Lauren Collins, Jared Kranc, Jillian Reynolds, and Nicholas Wright. Their advisor is Kristie Blanchard.

Members include:  Erica Boucher, Lauren Collins, Jared Kranc, Jillian Reynolds, and Nicholas Wright. Advisor is Kristie Blanchard.

The winning team included: Erica Boucher, Lauren Collins, Jared Kranc, Jillian Reynolds, and Nicholas Wright. Their advisor is Kristie Blanchard.

In second place was Daniel Hand High School from Madison. Members include: Connor Bondachuk, Courtney Burns, Patrick Fahey, and James O’Connor. Thomas Quirk is the advisor for the team.

Andy Jolly-Ballantine is coordinator of the Alliance.

Andy Jolly-Ballantine is coordinator of the Alliance.

Winning third place was Housatonic Valley Regional High School from Falls Village. Members are: Sam Bradway, Eric Chin, Jonathan Miller, Emily Sullivan, and Sara Van Deusen. Their advisor is Peter Vermilyea.

EO Smith's team hard at work answering questions.

EO Smith’s team hard at work answering questions.

The CT High School Geography Challenge is the only interscholastic geography competition in the state for high school students. The Connecticut High School Geography Challenge is sponsored by the Connecticut Geographic Alliance, an alliance among educational institutions and individuals in the state of Connecticut dedicated to promoting geography education in the state of Connecticut and supported with funding from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. The Connecticut High School Geography Challenge requires a high level of geographic knowledge and well-developed geography skills as well as good team work.

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The winning plaques and medals were provided by Billie and David Kapp. Prior to retiring, Billie taught in Coventry and regularly participated in the popular event. David is a former staff member from the UConn Libraries.

Congratulations to all who participated!

Finding & Using Affordable Learning Resources

As the cost of textbooks continue to rise, with estimates as high as 812% or more than three times the rate of inflation since 1978, more students are choosing not to purchase textbooks, jeopardizing their success in the classroom.

However, as more emphasis is being placed on developing and sharing high quality, low cost, and easily accessible teaching materials outside of the traditional textbook, the future landscape looks bright.

The UConn Libraries’ is hosting a workshop that will help you navigate through the choices out there and offer tools to help evaluate their value in your classroom.

Wednesday, May 13
Electronic Classroom 2
Homer Babbidge Library, Level 2

Joining us for the conversation will be two experts in the field – Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an initiative of the Association of Research Libraries and Charlotte Roh, Scholarly Communications Resident Librarian from UMass Amherst.

Registration for the workshop can be done at http://s.uconn.edu/opened



Paws to Relax is Back










The schedule for our therapy dogs for finals is below. All dogs will be on Level 1 of Homer Babbidge and the schedule is subject to change so please check back here or keep posted on Facebook or Twitter (@uconnlibraries)

Monday, May 4
1:00 – Dooley/Newfoundland
1:30 – Iggy/Portuguese Water Dog
2:00 – Lily/Shetland Sheepdog
3:00 – Cooper/German Shepherd

Tuesday, May 5
1:00 – Chase/Golden Retriever
2:00 – Bella/ Pug
3:00 – Virgil/Mini Australian Shepherd

Wednesday, May 6
1:00 – Penn/Labradoodle
2:00 – Bo/Lab Mix
3:00 – Luke/Golden Retriever

Thursday, May 7
1:00 – Sasha/Shetland Sheepdog
2:00 – Tegan
3:00 – Rosie Lee/Corgi Mix

Friday, May 8
1:00 – Coriander/Golden Retriever
2:00 – Dolly/Golden Retriever
3:00 – Vinny/English Mastiff

Babbidge Booksale – Thursday 4-30

Don’t miss the 2015 Babbidge Library Booksale this Thursday, April 30th from 9:00 – 3:00. It will be held outside under the overhang between Babbidge and the Dodd Research Center. The UConn Community (with ID) is welcome for early-bird entrance at 9:00 and the community is welcome at 11:00.

The materials cost a variety of amounts, with nothing more than $1.00.
Hardcover books & sheet music: $1.00
Paperback books & sheet music: 50¢
CDs/DVDs/VHS: $1.00 case
Maps: $1.00
Magazines and journals: free

Contact Richard Bleiler for more information

Open Textbooks Key to Curbing Costs and Increasing Student Success

Concerned about the escalating cost of traditional college textbooks, the UConn Libraries is partnering with UConnPIRG and the Undergraduate Student Government to explore “open-source” electronic textbook alternatives.

Open Textbook Image

Image derived from a graphic created by Giulia Forsythe and remixed/re-used under Creative Commons license. Courtesy of BCcampus

As commercial college textbook costs continue to rise, estimated as high as 812% or more than three times the rate of inflation since 1978 by Student PIRGs, many students are choosing to not purchase textbooks, jeopardizing their success in the classroom. A new initiative at UConn, spearheaded by students from UConnPIRG and the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), is underway to investigate ways to educate students and faculty on the value of Open Educational Resources (OER) such as open source textbooks. Unlike traditional commercial textbooks, open source textbooks are made of content gathered from various sources that are freely available online and for everyone to use.

Last fall, USG kick started the movement by voting unanimously to form a committee to explore the use of open source textbooks.  The committee is being led by UConn’s Vice Provost for Libraries Martha Bedard and UConnPIRG Textbooks Coordinator Toyin Akinnusotu.  To further strengthen their commitment, USG passed a resolution on March 11, urging faculty to submit their textbook requirements on time to the University, a requirement for all federally funded institutions. This was further supported by the University’s Provost’s Library Advisory Committee, formed to help direct the library on issues regarding scholarly information access and delivery.

“These are important resolutions for UConn students to understand,” said Hilltop Dorms Senator Daniel Byrd. “As the cost of textbooks continue to increase exponentially, it is our responsibility to do what we can to both encourage the use of open source textbooks and ensure the disclosure of information about textbook costs.”  Knowing the costs when the courses are listed is not only useful to students when considering taking a course, but also affects the buyback value of textbooks.

UConn’s Vice Provost for Libraries Martha Bedard has been involved with the Open Access movement for over a decade. “The library is a natural place to facilitate this student-centered effort regarding open textbooks,” said Bedard. “We have seen a continuous cost increase in higher education resources and much like the issues students face, libraries cannot afford to provide all the resources requested by faculty and students. There have been many advances in the amount of high quality resources freely available so I am confident the adoption of open source textbooks will not compromise a quality education and in turn will make a tremendous difference for students.”

According to a report recently released by the Student PIRGs, the soaring textbook costs is a trend across the nation. The average undergraduate student spends as much as $1,200-$1,300 for textbooks and supplies each year, one of the largest out-of-pocket expenses they face. In traditional PIRG style, members of UConnPIRG have taken a grassroots approach, talking to individual faculty and gathering support for the effort. “I am encouraged by the numerous faculty members I have spoken with who have agreed to use open source materials in their classes,” said UConnPIRG Textbooks Coordinator Toyin Akinnusotu. “We are off to a great start.”

“Much of the issue is simple education. There are dozens of open textbooks available online, for free right now that provide the same high quality information as their traditional print textbook options. It is our job to help inform faculty on the resources available to them,” said Bedard.

Learn more about some of the open educational resources available via our helpful guide.

A copy of the referenced report, “Open Textbooks: The Billion-Dollar Solution,” is available at www.studentpirgs.org/textbooks.

Shakespeare at UConn and Art in Nanochemistry Featured in Spring Exhibits

This spring the art exhibits at Homer Babbidge Library feature William Shakespeare and his influence in performance, language, scholarship and pop culture at UConn and the artistry that results when microscopic objects are magnified a billion times and photographed. The exhibits run through June 15. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, April 2, from 4-6 p.m.

In “The Play’s the Thing: Shakespeare at UConn,” Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s (CRT) Managing Director Matthew Pugliese and Assistant Professor in the Department of Dramatic Arts Lindsay Cummings show the creative work of the students and artists of the Department of Dramatic Arts and Connecticut Repertory Theatre. The scholarship of professors from English to Digital Media, highlights the many academic, social, and cultural ways we interact with Shakespeare on campus and in our lives. The University’s roots as an agricultural institution are also featured, focusing on herbs and their symbology in Shakespeare’s work.

Ten foot tall bear puppet used in a campus production of  "The Winter's Tale," on display in "The Play's the Thing: Shakespeare at UConn.

Ten foot tall polar bear puppet used in a campus production of “The Winter’s Tale,” on display in “The Play’s the Thing: Shakespeare at UConn.

Last year, UConn was invited to join the Folger Institute’s Consortium. The Folger Institute is a center for advanced study and collections-focused research in the humanities at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

The CRT will present Shakespeare’s most popular comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” from April 23 through May 3 in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre.

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Art in Nanochemistry
Using high power electron or optical microscopes, Professor Challa Vijaya Kumar, head of UConn’s Divisions of Physical and Biological Chemistry, and his Ph.D. students capture the natural world on the nano-level, creating awe inspiring images of natural materials that are as majestic as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.

This “Art in Nanochemistry” exhibit is a collection of electron micrographs of nanomaterials from Dr. Kumar’s research group, created with support from the National Science Foundation, works of his colleagues at UConn, and also from the Materials Research Society Art-in-Chemistry annual competitions. Dr. Kumar and his group are investigating how these protein-DNA nanomaterials they create in the lab can be applied in enzyme fuel cells, DNA-solar cells, and neuroprosthesis for spinal cord repair.

Two of Professor Kumar's images, left, 'Enzyme' Stained Glass, and DNA Floor Boards.

Two of Professor Kumar’s images, left, ‘Enzyme’ Stained Glass, and DNA Floor Boards.


New Library Website is Here!

Library Website on four different devicesAfter months of planning, gathering feedback, and migrating hundreds of pages of content, the Library is proud to announce our new website. The site has been redesigned and rebuilt to make it easier to find the resources and services you need.

The new lib.uconn.edu features a responsive design that has been designed to work on all devices, so whether you’re on a phone, tablet, or computer, you’ll be able to find whatever you need. The homepage features information about upcoming library events and news, and the navigation bar expands to provide quick access to key services and resources, no matter where you are at on our website.

Image of the Navigation Bar

We are incredibly excited about the release of the new lib.uconn.edu, and we want to hear what you think.

Spotlight on Researchers – Noted Historic Landscape Architect Professor Emeritus Rudy J. Favretti Has Sights on Mansfield’s Past

One might think that after teaching at UConn for 33 years, writing some 20 books and scores of journal articles on the historic restoration and preservation of landscapes, and creating master plans for such national landmarks as Jefferson’s Monticello and Washington’s Mount Vernon – not to mention having those plans placed in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens and Landscapes – Professor Emeritus Rudy J. Favretti, might be ready to sit back and rest on his proverbial laurels. That would be a reasonable assumption, if one didn’t know him.

Blessed with an abundance of energy and a “planning gene,” Favretti, 81, says much of his intellectual spadework has been done at the UConn Libraries.

Rudy Favretti in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room.

Rudy Favretti in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room.

“I use the library a lot – the art and history sections and interlibrary loan,” he notes. I have found the staff in all of these sections extremely helpful, in general, and especially as I search for odd and obscure material that is not readily available. It’s a great place!”

After earning his undergraduate degree from UConn in plant science, the Mystic, Connecticut native went on to earn advanced degrees in horticulture, landscape architecture, and regional planning from Cornell and the University of Massachusetts. At UConn, he served as an extension garden specialist and extension landscape architect from 1955-1975, and taught landscape architecture here from the late 1960s to 1988, developing the accredited landscape architect program, retiring when he was 55. During his career, he completed about 700 individual and collaborative design, master planning, and preservation projects.

In 2011, no longer actively engaged in design work, he agreed to share his personal papers with the Smithsonian. There, one can find the lion’s share of his research and work – 4,000 slides, drawings, and notes totaling some 27 linear feet. Having it housed there is a “huge honor,” he says. Some of his work can also be found in UConn’s Archives & Special Collections

Favretti made the restoration and preservation of gardens and landscapes his life’s work, appreciating not only their aesthetic value, but their value as a lens through which to view a person’s life and times. Several years ago, he shifted his focus from gardens directly to people, specifically those who lived in Mansfield, his home for close to six decades. To date, he’s written about Wormwood Hill (in concert with his friend and longtime resident of the area, veteran UConn administrator, the late Isabelle Atwood), Mansfield Four Corners, Mansfield Center (as co-author) and the Gurleyville/Hanks Hill area, which is a tribute to his friends, fellow UConn faculty members, the late Annarie and Fred Cazel, Gurleyville residents themselves, who had done some research on the area, but who died before writing a book. The couple’s bequest to the Mansfield Historical Society will allow more regional histories to be published.

Research for these histories, as well as for other undertakings including his keynote address in 2012 on the University’s iconic “Great Lawn,” has made Favretti a familiar sight in Archives & Special Collections and Homer Babbidge Library.

“Even though I’ve been on this campus for over 60 years, I didn’t realize that in 1908 President Charles L. Beach had hired prominent landscape architect Charles Lowrie, a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, to help plan the placement of the buildings surrounding the Great Lawn. The plans are here at the Dodd Center. I didn’t know they existed until I began researching the Great Lawn. Just because you retire, your academic life doesn’t end,” he contends.

He is also currently at work on a book commemorating the 50th anniversary of Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust, the largest such trust in Northeastern Connecticut, which he helped to found and whose papers are housed in UConn’s Archives & Special Collections. After completing that volume, he intends to finish his research into Mansfield Depot and produce yet another local history.

“Over the years, I’ve done all this research into local history. What would happen to it? That’s what I’m doing now – transposing it into books, which I’m enjoying very, very much.”

His enjoyment today extends well beyond Mansfield. While he continues to tend his own gardens and remain active in the greater Mansfield community, he and his wife, Joy, regularly savor performances at the Metropolitan Opera. While in New York, they stay with their son, Giovanni, keeping tabs on the garden he designed for Giovanni’s townhouse. Other pleasures come from following the activities of his two daughters, Margaret, a high school history teacher in Scarsdale, NY, and Emily, an artist in Chicago.

What hasn’t the energetic octogenarian done? “I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I’ve written so many straight-forward subject matter things like extension bulletins; when you write a novel, it’s about people.”
His training as a landscape architect, which required him to notice detail, should serve him well. “I can go to a cocktail party, come home, and describe what everyone was wearing. That kind of detail would be good for writing a novel,” he observes with a smile.