Library continues community engagement virtually with Story Time and Finals Week Therapy Animals

Recently, I reported how Milligan Libraries successfully pivoted to holding its 10th Annual Edible Books Festival virtually after the campus was closed and classes were moved online better than halfway through Spring semester, in response to shelter-in-place orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. We are a library that highly values opportunities to engage with our user community. We have very much missed meeting students and faculty in the library buildings.

We talked as a staff about how we could maintain library services and community engagement during this time. We felt pretty good that we were prepared to deliver needed information resources through a wide array of electronic content accessible from the library website, and we regularly monitor our communication channels (telephone, email, and chat) to respond in a timely way to requests for research assistance. But we knew more informal engagement would require some creativity.

Library Story Time

In addition to the aforementioned virtual Edible Books Festival, we were pleased to invite members of the faculty to record readings of favorite children’s story books and post them in the Library Story Time course on Canvas. We collected 10 readings (with the permission of the publishers) and posted these throughout the month of April. These included:

  • Are You ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems, read by Research and Instruction Librarian Mary Jackson
  • Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester, read by Associate Professor of Counseling Christine Browning
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, read by Associate Professor of Counseling Shauna Nefos-Webb
  • What Do You Do With a Chance? by Kobi Yamada, read by Professor of Music Kellie Brown
  • Inside, Outside, Upside Down by Stan and Jan Berenstain, read by Associate Professor of Nursing Mary Fabick
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, read by Professor of History and Humanities Tim Dillon
  • Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, read by Professor of Psychology Lori Mills
  • The Old Woman and The Pig an Old English tale retold by Assistant Professor of Business Administration Kristal Dove
  • El Arbol Generoso (The Giving Tree) by Shel Silverstein, read in Spanish by Associate Professor of Spanish and Humanities Allysha Martin
  • Voyage to the Bunny Planet by Rosemary Wells, read by Associate Professor of Bible and Humanities John Jackson

Virtual Therapy Animals

At the end of every semester since Fall 2013 the Welshimer Library has received special guests during Final Exam Week. Therapy dogs and their owner/trainers — and occasionally kittens, too — would come in to help students cope with this stressful time. Obviously, this wouldn’t be possible this semester. Though not the same, perhaps, we thought we could still deliver the experience of animal visits to students virtually. User Services Librarian Catherine Hammer assembled several video playlists on our YouTube channel, featuring, therapy dogs and cats, cute baby animals, and videos that are relaxing by virtue of their satisfaction they provide while viewing.

Finals Week is winding down — along with the semester and the school year — but there is always time to watch dog, cat, and cute baby animal videos, right?

Milligan Libraries hopes you had a great year, even though the last part was disruptive and a little strange. We hope you have a good summer. Please stay healthy and safe. If you are not graduating, we look forward to seeing you in the Fall!

10th Annual Edible Books Festival goes virtual!

Planning was underway for Milligan Libraries’ 10th Annual Edible Books Festival when the word came down that Spring Break was to be extended for another week and then the campus was to be closed due to the growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. With available time shortened, and then with classes moving online for the rest of the semester, what was to become of Edible Books on this auspicious anniversary? Would we have to cancel? No! We would just move the festival online along with classes! “Most folks will be home and close to their kitchens,” reasoned Research and Instruction Librarian Mary Jackson. “In some ways it will be easier for them to bake something up at home than if they were on campus.”

As the name suggests, the simple idea behind the Edible Books Festival is that persons create and submit an edible treat with a book theme. Beyond this there aren’t many rules. The idea originated with the founding of the International Edible Books Festival around 2000. We held our first festival at Welshimer Library in April of 2011. Since then, it has become a Spring tradition — a special event to engage with the Milligan College community.

In normal years, Milligan students, faculty, staff, and family members would submit their entries in person to the Welshimer Room at the Library. On the first day folks would cast votes for Most Creative, Funniest/Punniest, and Overall Favorite. Then on the morning of the second day library staff would sample from the entries to determine the Tastiest entry before the Milligan community was invited back to Welshimer to taste from all the entries. Winning entries each receive a prize.

This year, beginning on Monday, March 30, folks submitted photos of their entry/ies via email along with their name and book title(s). Entries were received through Monday, April 13. We received 28 entries — the most we’ve ever had.

On the days leading up to the submission deadline, highlights from the previous nine Edible Books Festivals were featured on our Instagram channel. An album of entries was created on our Facebook channel, and voting commenced on Tuesday and Wednesday. Using unique emojis, folks voted for their Most Creative, Funniest/Punniest, and Overall Favorite. Unfortunately, this year we could not award a Tastiest entry — though it appears Katherine and her brother are enjoying her entry:

Though not as uniform as when folks voted in person, online voting was still pretty brisk. And the winners are:

Most Creative, awarded a $5 Dunkin’ gift card, went to Katherine Eldridge for How the Grinch Stole Graduation! by Dr. Seuss (receiving 65 total votes)

Funniest/Punniest, also awarded a $5 Dunkin’ gift card, went to Mary Jackson for Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver (receiving 40 total votes)

Overall Favorite, awarded a $10 Dunkin’ gift card, went to Jenny Simonsen for Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (receiving 107 total votes)

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to everyone who participated in our 10th Edible Books Festival! “I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” said Mary Jackson. “But we had the highest number of entries we have ever had! There was a lot voting and sharing on Facebook. I am very pleased with how it turned out.” If you haven’t already done so, be sure to take a look at all the entries on our Facebook event photo album.

Milligan Libraries links to Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library

Milligan Libraries has created a link to Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library from our website homepage. The National Emergency Library was launched to support student learning at home, as schools and libraries have been forced to closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the over 2.5 million openly available public domain texts that reside on Internet Archive’s servers, the National Emergency Library contains over 1.4 million digitized books that are still under copyright protection—including nearly 480,000 titles published since 2000.

The National Emergency Library is built on Internet Archive’s Open Library, which makes single copies of books in this collection available to be borrowed for a 14-day checkout period. As an analogy to a physical book that gets checked out from a physical library, a checked out book is not available for anyone else to borrow until the copy is “returned.” Persons wanting a book that is checked out must join a waitlist.

What Internet Archive has done for this national emergency is suspend the waitlist limitation until at least June 30, 2020. This effectively means that there are now an unlimited number of copies for each book in the collection. Here is a screenshot of the National Emergency Library’s homepage:

Borrowing books is a simple process. Search for titles, authors, or subjects from the search box in the left sidebar. When you find a book of interest, click the “Borrow” button under the book cover. This brings up the Internet Archive book viewer and bibliographic record information. Initially, the viewer shows you a limited preview. You need to create a user account to actually borrow the book.

Once your account is created, log in, and click the “Borrow” button on any book to borrow it for 14 days. The book can be read in the browser viewer online, or downloaded as an encrypted PDF or EPUB and read offline using Adobe Digital Editions on your computer or mobile device (Internet Archive provides prompts for setting up offline reading). When you are finished with the book you can click a “Return” button, or just allow the time to expire. Downloaded files also expire after 14 days. This is an important safeguard against unauthorized duplication and distribution of these otherwise copyrighted books.

Internet Archive has been getting some pushback from authors and publishers about whether suspending the waitlist (much less the very notion of the Open Library) is legal from a copyright standpoint (see for example, recent stories here and here). Conversely, numerous educational institutions, libraries, and individuals have issued a public statement endorsing Internet Archive’s action during this time, noting that Internet Archive has taken steps to restrict unlawful redistribution, and stating: “These actions will support emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries are closed.” Milligan Libraries supports this mission and will continue to host the link to the National Emergency Library, though we will also follow any developments in this story.

Own a piece of Milligan Library history!

How do you go about finding a book in the Welshimer or Emmanuel Seminary Library? If you are like most Milligan College or Seminary students or faculty today, the answer is obvious: you fire up your computer, launch your web browser and point it to the Milligan Libraries website, pull down the “Resources” menu, select “Books/Media Catalog” and then select “Milligan & Libraries Worldwide” to launch the online catalog. Search for the title. If we have the book in print or electronic (ebook) format, the record will pop up in your search results. The record will show you where the book can be found (library and call number location), and it even tells you if the book is currently available.

The card catalog

This wasn’t always the case, however. If you can believe it, once upon a time book records were typed on physical 3 x 5 inch cardboard cards (Title, Author/Editor, and Subject cards were created for each book) which were then arranged in wooden cabinets, collectively called the card catalog.

Here is a card that instructed students and faculty on the use of the card catalog.

The Holloway Archives at Milligan College, located in the basement of the Welshimer Library, still has one of the library’s old card catalog cabinets.

The Milligan College Library used a physical card catalog until the first online catalog went into service in the Fall of 1995. As it happens, the library was at the forefront of implementing computer technology on campus. The library implemented its first computerized library management system in 1988. Of course this was before the internet was (commonly) a thing, and the system was not networked. In a Stampede editorial from March 1988, then library director Steven Preston noted that the library system was used to print catalog cards.

In 1992, a collaboration between Milligan College, Emory & Henry College, King College (now King University), and (since closed) Virginia Intermont College resulted in the receipt of a 5-year United States Department of Education Title III grant that would be used to computerize the library catalog and create a barcode checkout system. Also during this time the Milligan College IT Department was installing fiber optic cable to create a campus-wide computer network that would be connected to the internet. Of interest, in an article from the September 30, 1992 issue of the Stampede, Steven Preston mused that “in the future, students and faculty will be able to link into the [library] system from their rooms and offices.” A Stampede article from May 3, 1996 covering Spring Board of Trustees meetings made specific reference to the newly implemented online catalog when it reported “[library] information is now easier to find due to the computerization of the card catalogs.”

What to do with all those card catalog record cards?

The transition from a physical card catalog to a computerized online catalog was a labor intensive process, as all the library’s catalog records needed to be translated into computer readable format. This process was outsourced to a company called Western Library Network (WLN) utilizing our card catalog record cards. The long and the short of this process was that after the records were computerized, boxes and boxes of catalog cards were returned to us to dispose of, or use as we saw fit. Since the old record cards were only printed on a single side, what ended up happening was that they were used around the library as scrap note cards. Ironically, a common use was that students or faculty would search the online catalog for a book and write the book’s call number on an old card catalog record card before heading to the stacks.

The library had so many boxes of these cards that it seemed as though they would last forever. But as it turns out, we recently reduced our backlog to a single box. We started to put the cards out next to the catalog computer as usual. But it then occurred to us that these cards were a part of Milligan Library history — a history we wanted to share with our users. So we’ve put this box at the Circulation Desk of Welshimer Library. Come by and take a card or two as a memento — a piece of Milligan Library history for you to own. But don’t wait too long. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Belated Report: Therapy Dog visits and January Escape from Welshimer event

As I write, we’re at the end of the fifth week of Spring Semester 2020. What?! Seems like the semester just got started! Before the time totally gets away from me I was reminded to report on two recent events at Welshimer Library — therapy dog visits during Fall 2019 Finals Week, and the Escape from Welshimer event held in late January.

Local therapy dogs and their owners have been visiting Milligan students at Welshimer Library every semester during Finals Week since Fall 2013 to provide much needed stress relief. (We’ve also had kittens visit off and on in the past thanks to the efforts of Occupational Therapy students.) This last Fall semester, we had visits from Burton and his owner, former Milligan Biology professor Julie Wade, and Will with his owner, Mr. Bill Powley. Both Burton and Will are Golden Retrievers that are trained and certified as therapy dogs. Thanks so much Burton and Will for spending time with our students. We look forward to seeing you again in the Spring!

In January 2019, we held the first Escape from Welshimer event designed by Research and Instruction Librarian Mary Jackson to teach Milligan students, faculty, and their families about the library. The event was such a great success that we decided to run it again this year on Friday evening, January 24. Turn-out was not as great this year, but it was every bit as fun.

Participants were divided into teams that were variously tasked with solving a series of puzzles on topics from the 1970s, 80s, or 90s using clues located in the physical library and on the Milligan Libraries website. Librarians were on hand to offer a hint or two. Solving the puzzles enabled team members to unlock a treasure chest that was filled with small prizes. Though mildly competitive in terms of which team could finish first, every team and every team member was declared a winner once they successfully unlocked their chest, and were awarded with a large candy treat.

The library hasn’t decided yet whether to make Escape from Welshimer an on-going annual event, but January seems like an ideal time. I’m certain it will return in some form.

Speaking of annual events at Milligan Libraries, stay tuned later today for the announcement of the winner of our 9th Annual February Madness Library Pen Tournament, and be on the lookout for details of our 10th Anniversary Edible Books Festival coming in early April.