Engineering students create Library floor plans for real-world experience and application

Project simulation is an effective skills learning strategy for engineering students. But sometimes the best learning experience is gained from a project where students have to work with an actual client and produce an actual product with real-world application. The latter describes a project recently completed for Milligan Libraries by students in Dr. Landon Holbrook’s Engineering Fundamentals (FENG 102) course.

Left to right: Sophomore Ian Kelly, Dr. Landon Holbrook, Freshmen Erin Forgety and Yonas Sorri, and Library Director Gary Daught

In Fall, Director of Libraries, Gary F. Daught approached Dr. Greg Harrell, Director of Engineering Programs, about the prospect of having Engineering students produce a set of revised floor plans of the P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library and the Seminary Library, located in the west wing of the B.D. Phillips Memorial Building on Emmanuel Hill. “Milligan College is preparing for its re-accreditation with The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC),” explained Daught. “The Library has to submit a narrative describing its facilities, resources, staffing, and services as part of this process. Having up-to-date floor plans of the Library’s physical facilities would greatly aid my description. We had digitized copies of the original building blueprints. But they weren’t very clean or well labeled, and they didn’t show all current library spaces. I would definitely benefit from a new set of library floor plans to include in my SACSCOC narrative.”

Dr. Harrell put Daught in touch with Dr. Landon Holbrook, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, who teaches the first year Engineering Fundamentals (FENG 102) course. It turns out that in this course students learn about taking space measurements and mapping physical spaces using computer aided drawing programs like AutoCAD. Holbrook was pleased to put his students on this project as it would give them a real-world application for the skills they were learning. Students were divided into teams, with a project manager, and they were assigned various sections of the Library buildings to measure and then translate into complete drawings using AutoCAD.

Drawing of the Main Floor of P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library completed by Engineering Fundamentals (FENG 102) students

Project manager Erin Forgety spoke about the importance of teamwork and communication. Second project manager Yonas Sorri admitted that lots of mistakes were made. “Our first attempt was a disaster! But we learned by our failures.” Professor Landon confirmed that a whole lot of mistakes were made. But a whole lot of learning also happened as a result of those mistakes. Sophomore Ian Kelly worked with the teams as project engineer, helping with error checking and formatting in AutoCAD.

In early March, Dr. Landon presented digital files of completed student floor plan drawings of the Welshimer and Seminary Library buildings to Gary Daught. “Wow!,” exclaimed Daught. “These drawings are great, and exactly what I was after. The students did an excellent job! I am really pleased to have had this opportunity to collaborate with the Engineering Department on this project.” Engineering Director, Dr. Greg Harrell indicated that this is exactly the kind of project that engineering students can expect to perform on a first job site internship. So it was a very relevant experience for the students. He also confirmed that they did a good job.

Daught wanted to express appreciation on behalf of Milligan Libraries to the Engineering Fundamentals students. So he invited Drs. Landon Holbrook and Greg Harrell, and several of the project team leaders to the Welshimer Library on Wednesday afternoon. There he presented the students with a new laser measure tool. “I know you use these tools in your coursework because I saw you in here several times over the semester with them to measure the Library. I want to present this laser measure to the Engineering Department as a small way to say Thank you! for a job well done on this project!” Daught also invited subsequent FENG 102 students to use the Library buildings to complete this project assignment in the future.

Laser measure tool gifted to the Engineering Department by Milligan Libraries

9th Annual Edible Books Festival: Creative, Funny-Punny & Tasty!

“I think this was easily one of our best Edible Books Festivals!” That was the opinion of Research and Instruction Librarian Mary Jackson, a regular planner of Milligan Libraries’ annual Spring Semester event, now in its ninth year. Milligan College’s Edible Book Festival is based on an international festival that was first held in 2000. The Library adopted the book-themed event in 2011 to engage with the College community in a fun, creative, and tasty way. The festival continues successfully to the present.

This year’s Edible Books Festival was held on Monday-Tuesday, April 15-16. We had nineteen entries, including student entries from the Humanities Creativity Project, Psi Chi Honor Society, and Professor Cosco’s Engaging Children Through Diverse Teaching Strategies course. Librarians, professors, and family members of professors also participated. Voting commenced on Monday for Most Creative, Funniest-Punniest, and Overall Favorite. 160 people voted.

On Tuesday morning, librarians and a student worker did an initial taste-test to declare the winner of the Tastiest entry before opening the Welshimer Room for folks to sample from all the entries.

And the winners are…

Most Creative: “In the Phlegethon River” from Dante’s Inferno by Madison Harris (also a Humanities Creativity Project entry)

Funniest/Punniest: “A Sprinkle in Thyme” by Mary Jackson

Tastiest: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Ella Edmondson

Overall Favorite: Dragons Love Tacos by Kristy Lundholm

The winners receive Dunkin’ gift cards. We also want to extend a special thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s festival! I think there’s still time to get a taste. But you better hurry…

First “Escape from Welshimer” event a breakout success!

Wikipedia defines an escape room as “a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objectives at hand.” Escape rooms have become a popular form of entertainment in the 2010s, developed from and often incorporating elements from long familiar group activities such as scavenger hunts and haunted houses.

Inspired by a presentation at Mars Hill University (North Carolina) where the escape room concept was used as a first-year student experience to instruct about the library, Research and Instruction Librarian Mary Jackson sought to develop a similar experience here at Milligan College but open it to all students, faculty, staff, and their families. “It is difficult to educate faculty, staff and students about some of the more unique aspects of the library and its collections,” says Jackson. “Students really enjoy having faculty participate with them at campus events. The escape room would allow the library staff to educate and interact with participants, including faculty, staff and students in a fun and entertaining way.”

Escape from Welshimer was the result. The event was held in the evening on Friday, January 18 at the P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library. Advanced signups were encouraged as news of the event was posted on campus bulletin boards, Milligan Libraries’ social media channels, and Milligan Today. 51 participants, which included 34 undergraduate students, 3 graduate students, 10 faculty/staff adults, and 4 children, were divided into 11 groups of 4 or 5 persons arrayed at tables on the main floor of the library supplied with a large packet of items, a laptop computer, and a locked wooden treasure chest. Each group was given a challenge to identify a Milligan College personage and several popular culture references from either the 1970s, 80s, or 90s using Welshimer Library books, media, and archival materials.

The challenges required each group to move throughout the building to collect items, respond to clues, and solve puzzles that would enable them to successfully unlock their treasure chests. Inside the chests were custom created Escape from Welshimer buttons, Milligan Buffalo stickers, and prize redemption coupons. As each group successfully completed their challenge, they were directed to the circulation desk where each person was asked to fill out a brief survey of their experience. They could then use their coupon to receive either a full-size candy bar or (especially popular) Airheads Xtremes as a prize.

As a final activity, group photos were taken to document the event. Everyone successfully “escaped” in under an hour’s time.

Based on survey results, Escape from Welshimer was a breakout success. One participant, sophomore student Audrey Johns said, “It was really fun. I liked solving the puzzles. What an inventive way to learn where things are located in the library!” Mary Jackson added, “The best part was seeing everyone having so much fun moving around the library, working together with friends, and just having a great time. I think it says a lot that several people said the only negative was that it was too short. That is success in my book.”

All Welshimer Library staff were involved in making this event a success through brainstorming, offering feedback, and providing advanced testing. But special shout-outs go to Research and Instruction Librarian Mary Jackson for carrying the lion’s share of planning and logistics, User Services Librarian Jude Morrissey for creating the wonderful event graphics, and Archivist Katie Banks for constructing the buttons and serving as event photographer. Director of Libraries Gary Daught strongly endorsed this event. He was (is!) appreciative of the brilliant creativity and hard work of his library colleagues, and very pleased by the turn-out. “Events like this highlight Milligan Libraries’ active engagement with our learning community. We want to be known by students and faculty as skilled academic professionals who are both competent and trustworthy. But we also want to be known as real people who are approachable and like to have fun. I think the latter serves and strengthens the former. We are looking forward to doing another library escape room in the future.”

Materials and prizes were paid for from an IDEO Grant that Milligan Libraries received from the Bowen Central Library of Appalachia at the Appalachian College Association (ACA). The IDEO, or Innovation & Enrichment Development Opportunities Grant is designed “to assist libraries in partnering with campus constituencies in creative and innovative ways for [the] campus to expand knowledge about library services.” Milligan Libraries thanks the ACA for this award that helped make Escape from Welshimer possible.

Buffs, Buttons & Brownies at Your Library!

“What?! They’re not doing The Game this year? How are we going to get new students into Welshimer Library to meet staff, and learn about our spaces and services?” That was the initial reaction of librarians to changes to the new student orientation day resulting from this year’s later start of the school year.

The Game, which had new students running around campus in small groups to visit various buildings was an ideal way for library staff to showcase the Welshimer Library. “Participating in The Game as a regular stop along the way was a simple and fun way for us to get new students into the library building right away,” says Director of Libraries Gary Daught. “By removing some of that initial intimidation and creating a positive impression of the library for new students through this event, we were fairly certain they would come to make the library a regular study spot during the school year.” With the loss of The Game to provide that early introduction, the library staff knew they needed to get creative and find an alternative.

As it happens, Daught had read an article in a library publication over the summer about a university library that teamed-up with their university archives to create a pop-up button-making space as a library outreach event. That was the answer! “We could combine a button-making space, with a self-guided tour of the Welshimer Library building, and pans of Instruction Librarian Mary Jackson’s famous brownies. The name for our new event presented itself almost immediately–Buffs, Buttons & Brownies!

The event was held during the day on Monday, August 27 from 9 am to 4 pm. By all accounts Buffs, Buttons & Brownies! was a success, with over 90 buttons made (the pop-up space continues into Tuesday) and nearly 200 brownies consumed! Mary Jackson expressed well the very positive take-away from the day: “It was a really fun event that gave us a chance to meet and connect with many new students and reacquaint ourselves with returning students. The self-guided tour was low-key and helped students familiarize themselves with the library building and staff. Everyone was very excited for the chance to make a button.” (Picture choices for the buttons were selected by College Archivist Katie Banks from archival holdings.)

Special thanks to Mary Jackson for the delicious brownies, and to Professor John Jackson for lending us his button maker. “I think this could easily become a new regular event for Welshimer Library,” says Daught. “Though I suppose we should probably buy our own button maker.”

Five Years of Therapy Dog visits to Welshimer Library

Since December 2013, the Welshimer Library has played host to visits from local therapy dogs and their owner/trainers to provide some much needed stress relief to students during Finals Week. “It is hard to believe that this last week marked the fifth year since we began inviting therapy dogs into the library,” noted Library Director Gary Daught. The tradition began after Daught was approached by retired biology professor Dr. Julie Wade who offered to bring her certified therapy dog, a Golden Retriever named “Jake”, to the library. In the years since, the library has had several dogs and owners come to visit. A couple times, we have also had “Kitten Cuddle Puddles” set up in the library by students from Milligan’s Occupational Therapy department.

This semester the library would like to extend “Thank Yous!” to retired Julie Wade with her Golden Retriever “Burton”, Bill Powley with his Golden Retriever “Will”, Mr. Lou Pesch with his twin Weimaraners “Indy” and “Lily”, and Lou’s sister-in-law, Ms. Molly Smolko with her Toy Fox Terrier “Rudy”.