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Crèches, Career Camp ... and Friends to Write With

By Maureen Schlangen

Students weren’t back yet, and classes hadn’t begun, but traffic in the library during the first full week of January was almost as brisk as a regular day during the academic term.

Crèche enthusiasm continues

The perennially popular At the Manger exhibit continued to draw more than 100 visitors per day in its final week, having received nationwide publicity before Christmas through the Catholic News Service and a feature on CBS Sunday Morning. The exhibit of Nativity scenes drew more than 5,000 visitors since its opening Dec. 2.

Career Camp

The second floor was abuzz Wednesday through Friday as 34 sophomores and juniors returned to campus early for Career Camp, a project of the College of Arts and Sciences and Career Services to introduce professional skills such as writing resumes and cover letters, effective interviewing, pursuing internships, preparing for graduate school, communicating professionally, writing action plans, discerning vocations and translating the value of liberal arts in careers.

Writing with Friends

As students learned from experts and practiced their new skills in the Gathering Place and the Collab — the library’s large, technology-rich classroom — about 17 faculty and staff from across the disciplines gathered in the adjacent Scholars’ Commons Thursday and Friday for Writing with Friends, a Learning Teaching Center program that provides participants large blocks of uninterrupted time for writing, whether they are working on articles, conference papers, book chapters, stories, novels, poems, dissertations or grant proposals.

“While research and writing are largely solitary, private activities, writers often find comfort and encouragement by working with and around other writers,” says Steve Wilhoit, associate director of the LTC and an English professor.

Writing with Friends is typically held in January and May; because sessions are consistently booked with a full waiting list, the LTC added midterm evening sessions in the fall of 2019 and will do so again in the winter 2020 term. Details are forthcoming on the Writing with Friends page on the LTC website.

Library spaces designed with purpose

This was WWF’s first time in the Scholars’ Commons, a spacious room on the second floor open to all faculty and doctoral students. The idea for the Scholars’ Commons came about in focus groups and input sessions about Roesch Refresh, the renovation and re-visioning of the first two floors of Roesch Library. Faculty had expressed a need for a semi-private space away from their offices to read, to meet with colleagues or to write without distraction. With variable lighting, coffee tables, partitions and upholstered seating, the large space can comfortably accommodate up to six small parties for conversation, research consultation or casual work. It also can be configured for scholarly assemblies such as seminars and workshops for up to 25 people.

“It’s the first space of its kind on campus,” said Kathleen Webb, dean of the University Libraries. “Scholarly communication is an important pillar of any academic library, but we see it as much more than just publishing research. Academic libraries can support scholarship with literature and materials, but also with services and spaces designed around scholarly needs.”

It's your library; book its spaces

The Gathering Place, the Collab and the Scholars' Commons are among the many spaces in Roesch Library available for scholarly, professional and cultural engagement and other activities. Space descriptions are available on the University Libraries website; email library faculty and staff for more information or to inquire about booking the spaces. 

Library: More popular than ever

Once classes start Monday, usage of Roesch Library is unlikely to subside, Webb says. Since the first floor reopened in August 2019, traffic has increased at least 20 percent from pre-renovation levels to an average of almost 2,000 people daily.

— Maureen Schlangen is the e-scholarship and communications manager in the University Libraries.

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