Paws to Relax this finals week with therapy dogs!

Once again, the library is bringing students the only positive aspect of finals week: dogs in the library!

Afternoons Monday through Friday, don’t be surprised if you hear the pitter patter of paws in Homer Babbidge, as humans will proudly accompany their dogs to the first floor to provide students some much needed stress release during finals week.

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Therapy dog Andy plays with students at the library.

The program, aptly named “Paws to Relax,” originated in spring of 2010, when a library staff member suggested bringing in therapy dogs for students during finals week.

Jo Ann Reynolds, the library’s Reserve Services Coordinator and self-proclaimed “dog person,” made a few calls in the canine community to help get the ball rolling, or in this case, the tail wagging.

Soon enough, registered therapy dogs from multiple organizations including Cold Noses, Warm Hearts, Allen’s Angels, and Tails of Joy were headed to Homer to help students de-stress during their exams.

On the first day of the program, Reynolds and the Laurel Rabschutz, owner of the first therapy dog Dooley, a Newfoundland, were worried about how students would know about Paws to Relax and whether it would be popular.

They soon found out that they need not worry. According to Reynolds, within minutes at least 30 to 40 students were surrounding Dooley and texting their friends to alert them to the dog’s presence.

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Therapy dog Luke getting tons of attention during finals week.

After the first semester of the program, UConn got a lot of publicity.  Newspapers, radio and television stations were all stopping by to document the dogs. Reynolds even had to institute a lottery system because so many therapy dog owners wanted the chance to visit.

The library staff is happy to offer this beneficial service for students.

“The dogs help them relax.  People tend to think of therapy dogs in nursing homes or other places, and don’t think of students as much. But they are also in an institutional situation away from their family and their pets,” said Reynolds.

Apparently, even science can back up how much we love dogs.

Reynolds continued, “Research has shown that petting an animal, even if it’s not your own, lowers blood pressure and heart rate and improves the general sense of well-being.”

Students have outwardly expressed their enjoyment of Paws to Relax. When staff put up a white board where students could write their opinions of the program, the responses were overwhelmingly positive.

“I just got out of a tough exam and seeing the dogs was the highlight of my day,” “Best idea ever!” and “I love coming here in between exams” were just a few of the many comments.

The staff also does their best to minimize the footprint of the dogs so that students who need to avoid dogs because of allergies or other issues can do so with ease.

If you want to take a study break with someone practically yelling “Pet me! Pet me!” check out this year’s schedule below.

The Spring 2016 Paws to Relax schedule is as follows:

Monday

1 p.m.: Cooper the German Shepherd and his human Nancy Benway
2 p.m.: Sophia the Goldendoodle and her human Layla Berger
3 p.m.: Iggy the Portuguese Water Dog and his human Laurel Rabschutz
3:30 p.m.: Dooley the New Foundland and his human Laurel Rabschutz

Tuesday

1 p.m.: Bella the Pug and her human Judith Pepin
2 p.m.: Tegan the Welsh Spring Spanish and human Claudia Eberly
3 p.m.: Dante or Virgil the Mini Australian Shepherds and human Linda Robinson

Wednesday

1 p.m.: Fenway the Labradoodle and human Jean Woods
2 p.m.: Suzie the German Shepherd and human Gery Bakaj
3 p.m.: Chase the Golden Retriver and his human Michelle Volz

Thursday

1 p.m.: Sebbi the American Cocker Spaniel and his human Karen Tuccitto
2 p.m.: Penn the Labradoodle and human Susan Stewart
3 p.m.: Mia the Shetland Sheepdog and her human Terrie Carpenter

Friday

1 p.m.: Meka the Keeshond and humans Diane & Ted Baricak
2 p.m.: Bo the Lab Mix and human Christine Anderson
3 p.m.: Spumoni the Great Dane and human Tracy Powell

Making students’ voices heard at the library

Two UConn students are helping to make sure their peers’ voices are heard on a very important topic: the library.

Erika Elechicon, a political science and communication double major and the USG Vice President’s Chief of Staff, is the undergraduate student representative to the Vice Provost’s Library Advisory Committee.  Michael Ambroselli represents the graduate student population.

Kelley Friedhoff, an undecided freshman, sits in the new Learning Resource Center in the library which opens for students on 11/7.

The students serving on the Provost’s Library Advisory Committee are working to represent UConn students in important library issues.

In this role, Erika and Michael sit in on important meetings with the Library’s Vice Provost, Martha Bedard, and faculty representatives from various academic departments. The committee of approximately 15 faculty, students and administrators discusses issues regarding the library and how to handle them.

“It’s important to have a voice at a meeting attended by so many big decision makers,” said Elechicon. “These decisions affect all of us and we need to represent our views.”

Elechicon is doing just that. She contributes to major discussions on library issues, such as the effects of the state’s proposed budget cuts and the adoption of open source textbooks, things that could have major consequences for students in the future.

Michael Ambroselli, the graduate student representative to the committee, agreed with Elechicon.

“Decisions made with respect to the library directly affect all students and faculty, so it is important for us to be able to provide direct feedback and input in such matters,” he said. “Since the committee advises the Vice Provost for University Libraries, this committee is the most direct route to for us to learn about all matters concerning the library, and to provide feedback.”

Both Elechicon and Ambroselli chose to participate in this committee because they realize how important the library is for all students at UConn.

“The library represents the cornerstone for all scholarly and research activity at a research institution such as UConn,” said Ambroselli.

“The library isn’t just a place to sit and study, it’s a resource for students and faculty,” said Elechicon.

 

 

Art and Activism in the Humanities

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“Trade Offs: The Reality of Working Women” by Adrienne Gutierrez, Jacqueline Pagano, Heather Norris, Emily Powers, and Ami Vasquez.

“Art and Activism in the Humanities” is student work as part of our collaboration this semester with the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program series “Feminism/s and Future/s.” These works are from students in several classes in WGSS where they were asked to consider the meanings of feminism in the future and the kinds of future they envision. Using the lens of “Art and Activism in the Humanities” to identify, interrogate, and express their thoughts on everything from marginalized bodies and household economics to sexualization in the media and changing gender expectations around the world, these students produced a close examination of utopias, dystopias, US and global movements for social justice, and the many ways in which the personal is political.

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#nofilter by Ryann Leonard, Deysha Smith-Jenkins, Sierra Cameron, Megan Reese, and Lydia Snapper (tip) and “Future Feminist Collective” by Nina Klein, Montana Fleming, Victor Vernon, Blazej Pulawski, and Chris LaTorra (bottom)

The exhibit is located on the Northwest side of Level 1 for the next few weeks. The public is invited to a reception on Monday night from 5-6:30 where you will have the opportunity to talk to the students as well as join in some gender-neutral swing dance lessons.

 

UConn Symposium-Affordable Textbooks: It starts with us

Sheila Lafferty, UConn Libraries Director of Torrington and Avery Point Libraries

Faculty members play the key role in choosing, adapting, and developing new learning materials and methods which leads to student success. This symposium will be an opportunity to enter into conversations about the pedagogical possibilities that open/affordable learning resources offer and to become inspired to explore and integrate them into your own classrooms. These resources allow a freedom to develop, reuse, and remix materials of all types to create dynamic and engaging courses, all without increasing student debt or leaving behind students who are unable to afford expensive traditional materials.

We will be joined by experts on the national stage as well as those who have had success here at UConn to lead the conversation on the challenges and rewards to this style of teaching.

The symposium is being sponsored by the UConn Affordable Textbook Initiative (ATI) Task Force through a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation and the University Student Government. Established in 2015 by the Provost’s Office, ATI is looking into best practices for excellence in teaching and learning using new, open, and/or alternative materials and methods that are more affordable for our students.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Rome Commons Ballroom, UConn, Storrs 

Registration is free and required. Lunch is included. 

Symposium Schedule:

9:15am – Registration and Reception
9:45am – Welcome
10:00am – Keynote Presentation – David Wiley

Dr. Wiley is Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning, an organization dedicated to increasing student success, reinvigorating pedagogy, and improving the affordability of education through the adoption of open educational resources by schools, community and state colleges, and universities. He is also currently the Education Fellow at Creative Commons and adjunct faculty in Brigham Young University’s graduate program in Instructional Psychology and Technology, where he leads the Open Education Group (and was previously a tenured Associate Professor).

11:30am – Tim Dzurilla, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science
12:00pm – Lunch & Table Top Discussions
1:00pm – Panel Discussion

  • Daniel Byrd, President Elect, UConn Undergraduate Student Government
  • Aynsley Diamond, Director of Faculty Development Programs, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
  • Kathy Labadorf, Project Coordinator, Affordable Textbook Initiative, UConn Libraries
  • Edward Neth, Lecturer, Department of Chemistry
  • Amit Savkar, Associate Professor in Residence, Department of Mathematics
  • Ethan Senack, Higher Education Advocate, U.S. PIRG
  • Jeremy Teitelbaum, Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

2:00-2:30 – Wrap Up

If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Labadorf.

Fine Press Art Books from Cuba on Display in Babbidge

An exhibit of handcrafted books created by members of the world-renowned Ediciones Vigía, a fine press publishing house in Cuba, is on display in UConn’s Homer Babbidge Library through May 2.

Since its creation in 1985 in the city of Matanzas, Ediciones Vigía has been internationally recognized as a unique artist’s collaborative press, whose work is included in outstanding private and public collections, such as the British National Library, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Library of Congress, and numerous universities throughout the world. Ediciones Vigía’s catalog combines limited editions by authors such as Baudelaire, Emily Dickinson, Pasternak, Tolstoy, Tagore, and Verlaine, Spanish-language authors such as Borges, Federico García Lorca, and Gabriela Mistral, and renowned Cuban writers such as José Martí, Lezama Lima, and Nancy Morejón.

Special thanks to the Libraries' Michael Bennett for photographing the materials in this exhibition.

Special thanks to the Libraries’ Michael Bennett for photographing the materials in this exhibition.


However, Ediciones Vigía’s work is especially notable because of their aesthetic value and original design, which use wood, paper and cloth scraps, and the most unimaginable objects and materials. This reflects both the artists’ creativity and the unfortunate economic crisis and resource shortages currently experienced by Cubans. Each handmade volume is a genuine piece of art, as well as a powerful testimony of struggle and artistic survival and sustainability.

Cuban bird 1234_0005“This exhibition takes place within an exceptional context,” says Professor Odette Casamayor-Cisneros, associate professor of UConn’s Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Literatures and Cultures department and co-curator of the exhibit. “Since December 2014, when U.S. and Cuban Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced their mutual intentions of reactivating the relationship between the two nations, the general interest in Cuba has unexpectedly increased. One of the result of more than 50 years of political and economic disconnection is the tremendous lack of information about today’s reality in Cuba which must be addressed.”

This exhibition about one of Cuba’s most innovative fine art publishing houses sheds light on this often misunderstood country, Casamayor-Cisneros observes.

 

“While showcasing pieces of remarkable aesthetic value, the exhibition also exposes the visitors to a little known aspect of Cuba’s cultural production,” she notes.

The UConn Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections currently owns 42 of these beautiful handcrafted books and looks forward to adding more work from the collective in the future, says co-curator Marisol Ramos, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Latino Studies, Spanish & Anthropology Librarian.

The exhibit is co-sponsored by the Department of Literatures, Cultures & Languages and the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC).
Two public receptions will be held in connection with the exhibition on March 24, from 4-6 p.m. at the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center and on April 18 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Homer Babbidge Library.

The History of Science Fiction and Social Change

Feminism-s and Future-s_March23All organizing is science fiction. A world where everyone has a home, a great education, community based transformative justice, nourishing food to eat and clean water to drink, where we are in right relation to the planet, to each other, where are free to be and love ourselves as we are, to grow together? We have never seen it; its possibility remains speculative. Yet speculative fiction, perhaps particularly science fiction, offers a powerful opportunity to speculate-into-being.

Walidah Imarisha, co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements (AK Press 2015), will facilitate a salon focused on the history of science fiction and social change, considering ways to use science fiction as a practice ground for social justice strategizing and vision.

March 23, 12:30-2 p.m. in the Rowe Building, Room 122 (please note this is a room change.)

This is the second lecture in the Feminism/s and Future/s salons sponsored by the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program in partnership with: the UConn Libraries; the UConn Humanities Institute; the UConn Reads! Program; the Department of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies; the Africana Studies Institute; the Women’s Center; and the English Department.

Library to host Art + Feminism Edit-a-thon

“We change knowledge, we change the world.”

This mantra is a guiding principle of Dr. Alexis Boylan in co-organizing UConn’s  Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon.

Founded on the weekend of International Women’s Day in 2014, this annual event called upon participants at dozens of locations worldwide to edit and create Wikipedia articles on women and the arts. The event aims to address inequalities that have existed in women’s representation on the site.

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Participants work at the Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon 2015 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (By TheDasherz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38782052)

To help fix this problem, UConn will host their own Edit-a-thon on March 6, and students, faculty and other members of the UConn community will work tirelessly for eight hours to give women artists more visibility on the web.  Boylan, who is an assistant professor of Art & Art History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) believes it is a great opportunity for members of the UConn community to make a difference.

Since Wikipedia is crowdsourced, said Boylan, it has been representative of society for a long period of time.

“And historically,” she said, “it has been important to prioritize white male creativity, knowledge and ownership.”

The Edit-a-thon is looking to have members of the UConn community do something about it.

Boylan thinks that UConn is a perfect place for the Edit-a-thon because it is “an incredibly smart campus that cares about knowledge, and people here are willing to give their time to something they care about.”

Boylan added that, especially in the past two years, members of the UConn community have been a presence in the conversation about education and diversity, and this event will be another way to demonstrate leadership in this area.

Faculty, students and anyone who is interested are invited to attend the Edit-a-thon on Sunday, March 6, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Electronic Classroom 2 at Homer Babbidge Library. In case you weren’t already tempted enough, the event is free and pizza will be provided. Participants are not required to stay for the entire Edit-a-thon, and they may bring a laptop to use if they wish, but it is not required.

No technical experience is needed, according to Kathy Labadorf, WGSS Librarian and co-organizer of the event with Boylan. A wide variety of skills are needed including research and editing, and staff will be on-hand for assistance.

Boylan and Labadorf hope that the impact of the event will reach far beyond the day itself.

“Wikipedia is a living entity, and you can still participate long after the event by editing and adding articles,” said Boylan.

“In today’s world, education is about being a contributor as well as a receiver of information, and this event promotes that,” Labadorf said.

To RSVP for the event, please visit the Storrs Edit-a-thon Wikipedia page.  There, you can register for the event as well as add suggestions to the list of articles that need improvement or expansion.Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.00.41 PM

Researchers – Get Your Data On!

Want to learn about some of the tools out there to help effectively manage and analyze your research data? Ever wondered what OpenRefine, Introduction to R, Data analysis and visualization in R and SQL for data management can do for you?

data carpentry imageJoin us for a two-day Data Carpentry workshop on Mar 7-8 from 9:00 am-4:30 pm and explore basic concepts, skills and tools for working more effectively with data. This will be focused on ecology/natural resources research data but anyone is welcome to attend. UConn participants can register for either the UConn Associate or the General seats.

Registration and laptops with specific software are required. Information on both of these be found on the Data Carpentry website.

Want to learn more?

softwarecarpentry_imageOn March 21-22 we will offer a second two-day workshop that will focus on the basic concepts and tools for your research, including program design, version control, data management, and task automation. This will also be focused on ecology/natural resources research data. UConn participants can register for either the UConn Associate or the General seats.

Registration and laptops with specific software are required. Information can be found on the Software Carpentry website.

Feminism/s And Future/s Salons

The UConn Libraries is pleased to be partnering with the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program on their upcoming discussion this March.

“The Politics of the Post-Apocalypse: Race, Gender, and Sexuality After the End”
March 2, 4 to 5:30pm, Class of 1947, Homer Babbidge Library

Race,Gender & Sexuality Book CoverThe very meanings of race, of gender, of sexuality, of labor and reproduction, of power, justice, and even of survival itself might not change after the apocalypse; then again, they might. Dr. Stacy Missari (Quinnipiac University) and Dr. Mary Burke (University of Vermont) will join Dr. Barbara Gurr (UConn) for a salon that focuses on what popular culture teaches us about post-apocalyptic politics and the human imagination. They will consider the ways in which post-apocalyptic narratives organize and possibly limit our abilities to imagine a different world, but also potentially create ruptures in hegemonic notions of “progress”, “civility”, relationship, and social change, particularly around concerns of race, gender and sexuality.

 

The second salon in the series is titled

“The History of Science Fiction and Social Change”
date tbd

octavias_brood_postcard_front_final_revAll organizing is science fiction. A world where everyone has a home, a great education, community based transformative justice, nourishing food to eat and clean water to drink, where we are in right relation to the planet, to each other, where are free to be and love ourselves as we are, to grow together? We have never seen it; its possibility remains speculative. Yet speculative fiction, perhaps particularly science fiction, offers a powerful opportunity to speculate-into-being. Adrienne Maree Brown, co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements (AK Press 2015), will facilitate a salon focused on the history of science fiction and social change, considering ways to use science fiction as a practice ground for social justice strategizing and vision.

Both salons are sponsored by the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program in partnership with: the UConn Libraries; the UConn Humanities Institute; the UConn Reads! Program; the Department of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies; the Africana Studies Institute; the Women’s Center; and the English Department.