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WSU Joins ACM Open-Access Publishing Model

WSU has joined an open-access publishing model with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society. The agreement will ensure that articles and proceedings papers authored by WSU-affiliated personnel are published under an open-access license.

ACM delivers resources that advance computing as a science and a profession, according to its website. ACM provides the computing field’s premier Digital Library and serves its members and the computing profession with leading-edge publications, conferences and career resources.

The publishing model, called ACM OPEN, has been adopted by more than 30 other institutions around the world to date. Under the ACM OPEN agreement, faculty and students will continue to receive unlimited access to all articles in the ACM Digital Library.

For more information, please contact Joel Cummings, WSU Libraries head of collection development, at

New Library Guide Offers Anti-Racism Resources

WSU Libraries offers a new library guide that serves as a starting point for resources to learn about and engage in anti-racism, compiled by librarian Erica Nicol. Patrons will find reading lists, as well as a list of books and more from the WSU Libraries’ collections.

Closeup of Erica Nicol
Erica Nicol

Nicol pulled titles for the guide from some recommended reading lists that circulated after the May 25 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, including author Ibram X. Kendi’s The Anti-Racist Reading List as a base. In addition, WSU Libraries Dean Jay Starratt purchased 15 eBooks to add to WSU Libraries’ collections. Getting eBooks makes it possible for more people to access the books in our current social-distancing world, she said.

“The guide largely came about because, in the wake of May 25, I wanted the libraries to do something to support Black Lives Matter and WSU’s work on eradicating institutionalized racism,” Nicol said. “A library guide doesn’t feel like much, but it does highlight what we in the libraries are especially good at—facilitating and promoting access to good information.”

One notable title that Nicol added to the guide is “Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva.

“It’s a fantastic book for white people who want to be better and more active allies,” she said, “and it really resonates with me as someone who was brought up in a time and place when being color blind was so heavily promoted.”

As a librarian, Nicol is also drawn to Safiya Noble’s “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism,” which looks at how racism is embedded in online search results.

“It’s fascinating and really important to keep in mind when talking with students about searching and looking at information critically,” she said.

The library guide is a work in progress and will be updated frequently, Nicol said. While its focus is on anti-Black racism now, the guide will be expanded in the future to include more and different types of resources, and to look at racism that affects different groups.

Libraries Continue to Serve During COVID-19 Pullman Campus Closure

Gone are the students walking through Holland and Terrell Libraries, mixed conversations and footsteps and the tantalizing smell of fries trailing in their wake. Also gone are the in-person exchanges between librarians and students searching for research help and answers, or the pleasant reverie that comes with handling an old text in Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections. Closed physically since March 21 out of concern for COVID-19, WSU Libraries, like libraries around the country, have changed their brick-and-mortar interactions with patrons to a largely digital-only realm, transforming services and operations.

A vacant study area in Terrell Library. Photo courtesy of Sue Shipman.

Humanities librarian Erin Hvizdak doesn’t see the increased reliance on digital resources changing any time soon, which has necessitated a change in the role of academic libraries during the pandemic’s duration and beyond. An American Library Association survey in May and a June Inside Higher Ed opinion piece echo Hvizdak’s observations.

“We will have to re-examine our workflows, digital resource quality, costs and more,” she said. “We’re already in the midst of this and have been ramping this up for years, but if classes continue to be largely online for the foreseeable future, if researchers aren’t traveling as much or if people just start to expect or want that more, I think that all libraries and archives will have to think more creatively about the delivery of resources.”

Virtual reference on the rise

Email and other virtual communications filled the void left when librarians and patrons could no longer meet physically. Access services manager Sue Shipman and Marsha Yim, library and archives paraprofessional, have answered the bulk of email queries.

“Sue Shipman and Marsha Yim are fielding three times as many questions as they did in the past,” Hvizdak said. “In the weeks prior to the library closure, Sue and Marsha were averaging about 10 questions a week; now they are averaging more than 30 a week.”

WSU librarians have answered nearly three times as many email questions than at the same time last year, Hvizdak added. Librarians also responded to twice as many LibAnswers questions as last year. The questions tended to be more involved: walking patrons through databases, finding and obtaining resources for their research, and more. In addition, there was an increase in questions regarding online access to resources.

Workstations in the Dimensions Lab in Holland Library adhere to the six-foot social distancing requirement. Photo courtesy of Jason Anderson.

“This obviously isn’t surprising, but it demonstrates that patrons are increasingly going to be asking these types of questions, and the libraries are also shifting in this direction,” she said. “The libraries’ main mission is access to resources to support research and teaching, and as these are increasingly done from a distance, we are shifting our mindset to make sure that more things are immediately accessible online.”

Hvizdak noted a slight increase in WSU patron questions over 24/7 chat, but librarians are answering a higher number of questions from other schools (part of a reciprocal service through “Ask-WA,” run by the Washington State Library), demonstrating that “all libraries are increasingly collaborating to provide services to their patrons, no matter where they come from.”

Hvizdak has also spoken to faculty recently about how to increase student access to electronic materials for research this summer and into fall as WSU prepares for possible new types of course delivery and a likely increase in online delivery.

“I expect these requests to continue,” she said.

Video tutorials, research guides and instruction trends

Patrons sought information through other forms of library media during the latter part of spring semester. From March 1-May 8, WSU Libraries recorded 463 views of video tutorials, embedded in library research guides and the “How Do I…?” webpages. “How Do I…?” tutorials were visited 2,714 times during the same time period. The libraries continue to see consistent use of their other online research tools, such as LibGuides, which curate disciplinary resources for easy access.

“The majority of our top videos was course-related (Roots of Contemporary Issues specifically) and showed users how to use Chicago Manual of Style formatting in Word, search specific databases like JSTOR and Proquest Newsstream, and find primary sources in Search It,” said Jen Saulnier, online learning librarian. “The other top videos during this time period had to do with remote access: using the proxy bookmarklet, checking due dates and renewing items, and requesting full-text articles.

“Our tutorials are being used consistently, and we’ve been seeing a lot of the ones that cover off-campus access being used most frequently,” she said.

Library tutorials can be linked to in course spaces. If faculty/staff want course-specific tutorials or see a need to cover a certain topic, they can request a library tutorial be made.

The Animal Health Library removed its familiar yellow circulation desk, opening up space for social distancing. Photo courtesy of Ed Odell.

Although most library instruction was completed before the libraries’ closure, first-year experience librarian Erica England still delivered more than 30 sessions, about one quarter of what was remaining from overall spring instruction numbers for English composition. Instruction and assessment librarian Corey Johnson recorded eight sessions for Roots of Contemporary Issues courses.

“Just like everything else—collections, materials, reference delivery, etc.—library instruction had to quickly adapt to the world changing so dramatically in such a short time,” England said, “and even though it was in a much different format than ‘normal’ library instruction, students and instructors both still found it beneficial. Students received the foundational research skills necessary to complete assignments and have a successful semester.

“Most importantly, we are still here for students, we still want to help them and they’re not alone when it comes to research,” she added. “We are going to do everything possible to help them become successful researchers.”

“It is great that we can continue to do a lot of public services functions online during this COVID-19 period,” Johnson said. “It is my hope that we get back fully to pre-COVID-19 operations by summer 2021.”

Going the extra mile

According to university archivist Mark O’English, MASC staff helped several classes and responded to requests remotely even as use of the physical archives by patrons came to a halt. Instead, users relied more on MASC’s digital collections. O’English, manuscripts librarian Gayle O’Hara and Trevor Bond, associate dean for digital initiatives and special collections, found themselves delving into the archives and scanning requested resources for absent scholars, something the researchers would normally do themselves.

“We are going the extra mile and doing more research for others,” O’English said. “I would not be surprised to find I was spending nearly as much time as I normally do for reference, albeit for what feels like fewer questions.”

O’English is more interested in the DIY spirit of users of MASC’s digital collections for various projects: reporter Maggie Quinlan researched recordings for a Spokesman-Review article about Washington State College student soldiers dying during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic; a Spokane sports broadcaster explored MASC collections for historical WSU sports stories; and an individual looking for Grand Coulee Dam information happily discovered the collection of Clifford R. Koester, an engineer on the dam’s construction in the 1930s and 1940s.

MASC’s Trevor Bond and graduate fellow Kathryn Manis at a MASC letterpress workshop. Photo courtesy of Trevor Bond.

“The patron had seen the Banks digital collection, but he was unaware of Koester and was really excited to have that digital collection to work through,” O’English said.

For her part, O’Hara has noticed an uptick in requests from international researchers in Germany, France and British Columbia. For another researcher of a Kenyan runners’ project who was unable to visit MASC, O’Hara reviewed materials from the WSU Athletics Department records and the WSU News Subject files, went over them with him on the phone and then made the scans herself.

“I think with everyone on lockdown, there is more time to look into things that were maybe on the backburner for them,” she said. “I do have a couple of folks that have expressed interest in coming to look at materials once we are open to the public. They go into my ‘COVID follow-up’ email folder, and I will touch base with them again once we are open and have clarity about visiting MASC.”

And finally, a last MASC reference oddity during the library closure involved animal skins mailed to MASC. O’English learned that they are called “Victory Skins,” where the fraternities of one school would bet the opposing school for the skins before a big game.

“The fraternity members that I got in touch with had literally been trying to figure out what happened to all of theirs, and lamenting that none of them remained,” he said. “They are very excited to hear about these; I gave their two back to them, and they’re going to end up framed and on the fraternity wall. I love finally having an answer as to what these are and the enthusiasm from these alums.”

What’s the new normal for WSU Libraries?

By and large, the answer to that question is uncertain, at least until more information and support is available.

“I think Access Services’ ideas of a new normal will vary greatly over the summer as we learn what our colleagues in other institutions are doing to keep their patrons and staff safe and how they will respond to requests for information,” Shipman said.

Book drop outside of Terrell Library. Photo courtesy of Sue Shipman.

She suggests several possible changes. The libraries may see an upswing in their document delivery service, such as requests by WSU patrons for scans of chapters and articles from WSU-owned physical collections, as people may want to limit the amount of time they spend in public. That could also translate to fewer patrons onsite in general, as well as more requests from Global students if more people opt to use online learning instead of being on campus.

Some institutions are looking at using their booking systems to reserve seating and computers, since these will be scarcer with social-distancing restrictions, Shipman said.

“We are looking at how to limit our proximity to patrons as we check out material to them,” she added. “We most likely will have them swipe their own cards, for instance, and we are looking at self-checkout machines for some material.”

Other institutions are having to reconfigure how they get physical course reserves into their students’ hands, Shipman noted. But that leads to more questions, like how to quarantine and sanitize two-hour loans. In addition, sanitization protocols will need to be developed and put in place for public computers and surfaces.

Libraries associate dean Beth Blakesley said until the university makes final decisions and provides signage, supplies and protocols, it is impossible to know what’s in store for WSU Libraries. The university is taking a centralized approach so that all buildings are outfitted and signed consistently.

“[Facilities Services employees] are doing a campus walkthrough because there are many differences in buildings,” she said. “But the consistent approach is the plan, and I think it’s a good one. The signage in the libraries will be the same signage in Lighty, the CUB, classrooms, everywhere. It’s probably a good technique for getting the message across.”

A darkened and empty Terrell Library Atrium. Photo courtesy of Trevor Bond.

Saulnier said she believes it will be important to continue to be vocal about the work library employees are doing to provide help and access to patrons if they can’t come into the libraries.

“Even as things slowly open back up, there are going to be a lot of people who may not feel comfortable coming in, so continuing to make sure that people know we offer research help through chat or have tutorials that can help them use the library will be crucial,” she said.

In MASC, Bond said more flexibility will be needed to meet scholars’ requests. For example, staff members are digitizing more collections on demand to facilitate research and using technology to evaluate archival collections with researchers, such as looking through boxes during Zoom calls. When MASC eventually opens again, limits will be placed on the number of researchers in the reading room to maintain a safe environment. Next year may even see MASC instruction given in new ways, such as small group activities in the Terrell Atrium or in other larger and more open spaces.

“Long term, I think that we will continue to work together in person for the activities where that is essential, but for meetings and other activities where it’s not, we will use technology,” he said. “As an institution, I think that all of us in the libraries care about community and making our patrons feel welcome, so we will continue to value that and look for ways to accommodate it.”

Perhaps the greatest challenge for campus libraries during the pandemic closure is restoring the lost sense of community from pre-COVID-19 days.

“This is especially true for public libraries, but it helps people to meet in person, to feel like they have a relationship with a librarian, to feel like they are being heard,” Hvizdak said. “This is hard sometimes over email or chat. You can better gauge and work around something like library anxiety in person. How do you re-create that same sense of connection when you can’t meet in person?”

—Story by Nella Letizia

Kanopy Film Service to Transition to Request-Based Format

In response to budget concerns, WSU Libraries will transition from the Kanopy on-demand streaming film service to a request-based format. While the pay-per-view Kanopy program has been well used, it has become increasingly difficult to financially sustain.

“The current budget uncertainties keep us from offering unlimited access to Kanopy at this time,” said Beth Blakesley, WSU Libraries associate dean. “However, we are looking at the easiest ways to streamline the process while better controlling our costs to make sure that classes and researchers have access to the films they need.”

Faculty can request a Kanopy film by filling out a purchase request form for any title they plan to use in class or for educational purposes. The WSU Libraries will then work to make sure the film is licensed in time for the assignment and/or that a currently licensed title is not about to expire.

Kanopy films are licensed for one year. If faculty members will use a film beyond this time period, they must make a new media request for the title prior to the semester they plan to use the film to ensure that it is licensed again. Please give libraries’ staff ample lead time to fulfill requests for streaming media.

For more information about the change and Kanopy resources, visit the libraries’ streaming video guide.

Note: This change does not apply to the Vancouver Kanopy program.

Online Museum Exhibition Highlights Founding Collections of Holland, Orton

In 1935, Washington State College President Ernest O. Holland wrote to Charles Duveneck, the brother of American figure and portrait painter Frank Duveneck, who created a portrait of Charles in 1890. Holland had acquired the portrait for his personal collection. “I am fortunate to have been able to purchase the pastel portrait of yourself; and I shall be grateful to have you tell me if you know of some paintings by your brother which I might obtain…at a reasonable price,” wrote Holland.

“Pastel Portrait of Young Man,” Frank Duveneck

With such gently persuasive letters, Holland was able to acquire close to 100 artworks that eventually became a founding collection for the future university’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. In addition, 325 boxes of Holland’s correspondence found their way to WSU’s Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC), archived along with Holland’s books for future researchers to find and study.

These artworks, letters and books form the foundation of an online exhibition opening this week through the museum. Titled “Follow the Sun: The Holland and Orton Collections,” the exhibition will become a physical installation at the museum when it reopens to the public.

The exhibition is the culmination of a semester-long internship for three WSU students minoring in exhibition studies and working with the museum and Ryan Hardesty, curator of exhibitions and collection. This semester, he based the curriculum of his FA 490 Museum Procedures course entirely around the exhibition’s research and development. Seniors Eleanor Albrecht, Madison Levesque and Kimberly Lick were tasked with developing exhibition themes, researching artists and artworks, and presenting potential gallery design.

They also collaborated with Trevor Bond, WSU Libraries’ associate dean of digital initiatives and special collections, to delve into Holland’s archival resources.

“This project is a wonderful partnership between the WSU Libraries and museum,” Bond said. “The libraries hold key archives that inform the interpretation and provenance of these paintings.”

“Gloucester Coast,” Frank Duveneck

“The exhibition has been an opportunity to research again and present for a new audience the museum’s founding collections assembled by President Ernest O. Holland during his 30‑year tenure at Washington State College from 1916 to 1945,” Hardesty said. “Contemporary art during Holland’s time, these works demonstrate Holland’s perseverance to acquire paintings of great quality by some of the most significant artists of his day.

“In the end, the old adage ‘we can do more together than apart’ rings true, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the students’ contributions and the experience they received,” he said.

Consummate negotiator

Levesque, who also worked on the Kimble Northwest History Project, focused most of her research on Holland’s art-collecting legacy as well as the historical background of the Great Depression and Works Progress Administration projects that allowed many of the paintings to be made. She worked closely with Bond to go through some of the hundreds of thousands of letters Holland had written, some to art dealers and some to artists themselves.

“When looking at the letters, you can see just how great of a negotiator Holland was, obtaining most paintings for only a fraction of the appraised price,” Levesque said. “Holland worked hard to obtain as many paintings for as little as possible so he was able to present the students of Washington State College with as much artist exposure as possible.”

“Snow and Stubble,” Z. Vanessa Helder

In Holland’s will, she learned, the president donated his collection of paintings to the school under the condition that one day the collection would be displayed properly in an exhibition setting.

“Starting soon, this dream of his will come true as his own collection will be displayed at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,” Levesque said. “I hope to be able to return once social distancing is over to see this amazing collection once more.”

Impressionism moves west

According to the museum website, the Holland and Orton Collections contain a fascinating array of artistic themes and approaches, from the romanticism of the Hudson River School to the social concerns of American Realism and American Scene Painting. The largest areas of focus, however, are works of American Impressionism, illustrating a dynamic evolution of influence from Europe to America to the Pacific Northwest. Throughout it all, the landscape endured as a favorite subject, representing ideal beauty as well as westward ambition and migration.

“Road to Albion,” William Thomas McDermitt

Financial support for the collections came from Regent Charles W. Orton, who contributed funds to support Holland’s ambitious collecting efforts at a time when resources were scarce.

Levesque said the American scene is extremely important within the collection, as a good amount of the paintings depict American life at the time.

“Many of the paintings were created during the Great Depression and commissioned to be created by the WPA to depict other New Deal resolutions, such as Grand Coulee Dam,” she said.

Other student contributions

Two other themes of the exhibition, researched by fellow student and former MASC temporary employee Eleanor Albrecht, were making the European landscape the American landscape, as well as Worth D. Griffin and his painting projects.

“The title of this exhibition is ‘Follow the Sun’ with the idea that the spread of impressionist and post-impressionist landscapes went from the east in Europe to the west in America,” Levesque said.

Griffin was a tenured professor in the fine arts department who was commissioned to paint on behalf of the school. He first focused on portraits of pioneers and settlers and soon transitioned to painting portraits of American Indian tribal leaders and members.

“Some of these were a part of the Holland and Orton collections, as they believed these cultures were endangered,” Levesque said. “Over 50 paintings were created of American Indians by Griffin and his students.”

The third student that worked on the exhibition, Kimberly Lick, is experienced with design, so she was put in charge of the design and placement of the paintings.

“She created several different models for us to view each week, which only got better as the semester carried on,” Levesque said. “My favorite part that she designed would be the salon-style wall that will be the highlight of the design. This will be her modern take on what a salon-style wall can be.”

Highlighting more of the museum’s permanent collection

Since the opening of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in April 2018, Hardesty has made a curatorial goal to feature the museum’s permanent collection through a series of collection-based exhibitions.

Formed in 1973, the museum’s permanent collection has grown from collections of 19th‑ and 20th‑century American Impressionism to holdings now totaling 3,800 unique objects.

“The collection is many things: a repository of carefully selected artworks and documents, preserved and made accessible; a historical record of visual culture; but most importantly, a tool toward learning and enriched experience,” he said.

—Story by Nella Letizia

WSU Libraries to Receive Emergency Temporary Access to HathiTrust Collections

To alleviate impacts following library closures in March, Washington State University Libraries will receive emergency temporary access to specific collections of the HathiTrust Digital Library, a nonprofit collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving more than 17 million digitized items.

Based on WSU Libraries’ most recent print holdings, faculty, staff and students will have reading access to 1.3 million in-copyright items through HathiTrust’s Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS). This is in addition to 6.7 million public-domain items that were already accessible to WSU Libraries. Of these, 554,590 match to print holdings. Altogether, 61.41 percent of WSU Libraries’ print collection is now accessible through the ETAS.

University patrons can learn more about accessing the ETAS through the HathiTrust website.

“We are pleased that HathiTrust has made this provision in this difficult time,” said WSU Libraries Dean Jay Starratt. “We will be able to provide over a million digital books safely and quickly.”

“This service will add online access to a tremendous collection for faculty and students during the time that the physical libraries are closed,” said Joel Cummings, WSU Libraries’ head of collection development.

Several WSU Libraries’ employees, including Blake Galbreath, Sue Shipman and Debra Spidal, collaborated to provide temporary access from SearchIt, the WSU library catalog, to approximately 480,000 digitized versions of WSU Libraries’ print books in the HathiTrust Digital Library collections. This electronic access provided immediate service for library patrons while the physical buildings were closed, Cummings said.

The ETAS permits special access for HathiTrust member libraries that suffer an unexpected or involuntary, temporary disruption to normal operations, such as closure for a public health emergency, requiring the library to be closed to its patrons or otherwise restrict print collection access services.

The service makes it possible for member library patrons to obtain lawful access to specific digital materials in HathiTrust that correspond to physical books held by their own library. The ETAS enables many HathiTrust member libraries to continue supporting the teaching, learning and research mission of their institutions during these disruptions in service.

For information about all WSU Libraries’ services during this time, visit the Libraries website.

CDSC Archivist Anastasia Tucker Earns Mellon Fellowship

CDSC education and outreach archivist Anastasia Tucker

Anastasia Tucker, education and outreach archivist in the Washington State University Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation (CDSC), has been chosen from among more than 60 candidates for an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Heritage. Fellows will participate in a three-year program that includes an orientation, coursework through award sponsor Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, community symposia and other activities relating to multicultural collections and trainings.

Tucker provides support for several ongoing projects administered by the CDSC, a center jointly run by the WSU Libraries and WSU College of Arts and Sciences. She coordinates content on the Sustainable Heritage Network (SHN), a repository of resources with a focus on the preservation of cultural heritage items in tribal archives, libraries and museums. Tucker also plans and orchestrates the Tribal Digital Stewardship Cohort Program (TDSCP), a 12-month program for tribal archivists, librarians and museum professionals across the United States to learn the skills necessary for managing and caring for cultural materials, emphasizing local tribal needs and values. Other roles Tucker fulfills within the CDSC include designing and implementing curricula for workshops focused on digital scholarship, providing classroom instruction and organizing special events.

“I am delighted that Annie Tucker received this highly competitive fellowship,” said Trevor Bond, WSU Libraries’ associate dean of digital initiatives and special collections. “She cares deeply about the communities that she works with and is always willing to tackle new challenges.”

“I have observed how deeply important and inspiring it can be to connect with professionals with similar goals and challenges while honoring that each organization and individual brings a unique perspective,” Tucker said. “I very much hope to experience something similar through interacting with fellows in this program, and I would hope to contribute to other fellows by forming reciprocal relationships.

“To me, this fellowship provides unique opportunities to cultivate long-term connections with representatives from multicultural institutions, to deepen my understanding of how they are enacting and advocating for responsible curation, and to learn how I might respectfully contribute to this dialogue throughout my professional career,” she added.

Through her work in the CDSC, Tucker said she has come to deeply value the opportunity to learn from representatives in tribal archives, libraries and museums. For one of her ongoing projects, she collaborates with speakers at the annual International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries and Museums to capture its sessions. The resulting educational resources are made freely available on the SHN.

“I feel very fortunate to partake in, and learn from, this iterative process,” she said.

According to Mellon Fellowship Program Manager Vanesa Evers, selected fellows identify with diverse racial or ethnic communities and/or work primarily with collections that document minority, immigrant and non-Western cultural traditions. They will strive to raise awareness about multicultural collections within their profession while also building bridges with local community members and the broader public.

For more information about the fellowship, visit the Rare Book School website.

—Story by Nella Letizia

Library Guide Provides Open-Access Gardening Resources

Amid a global pandemic, it’s still spring, time for new life and especially gardening to begin. WSU agricultural sciences librarian David Luftig has created a library guide of open-access gardening and horticulture resources to help people make the most of their growing efforts this year.

Harter cousins in garden near Colfax, Wash., circa 1914. Photo courtesy of the Washington Rural Heritage Collection.

“I’m actually new to the area, and I wanted to learn about gardening in the Palouse,” he said. “Also, I’ve read a few articles stating that with the current pandemic and self-isolation, there is a rise of interest in gardening.”

The resources listed on the guide range from more advanced research (such as the “Find Open-Access Journals” page) to more basic how-to guides (like the “Find Easy-to-Use Guides and Resources” page).

Why open access?

Closeup of David Luftig
David Luftig

Luftig said he wanted to focus on open access for several reasons. As the land-grant university in the state and the home of fantastic Extension programs, WSU has a responsibility to share some of these resources with everyone in the state.

“Additionally, not everyone can access our paid resources, so I wanted to allow them to find important and useful information, especially as it pertains to local gardening,” he said. “Also, the Extensions have produced so many great open resources and publications. I just wanted to offer another access point to a lot of that great information.”

Luftig created another library guide on the history of agriculture and land use on the Palouse for more resources for the curious.

“I love the local history. The Extension programs and community members have been building a knowledge network going back over 100 years, and its legacy is fascinating,” he said. “I am also amazed by the important and dedicated research being created by Washington researchers and community members.”

More interest in local gardening too

A New York Times article on the return of victory gardens and another on how community gardens are responding to the COVID-19 epidemic show that interest in gardening is growing across the nation even as people are practicing social distancing and other actions to flatten the curve of the epidemic’s spread.

Tim Paulitz, plot coordinator for Pullman Community Garden at Koppel Farm, has seen an increase in local gardening interest the last few weeks. Even so, open plots are still available for this year; to rent a plot, visit the organization’s website.

A board member of Pullman Community Garden for the last 20 years, Paulitz remembers another time when people sought to garden at Koppel Farm.

“When the 2008-2009 Great Recession hit, we had a huge spike in demand and added about 15 more plots to the garden by using some of the border areas,” he said. “For the next three or four years, we had waiting lists and were pretty full. But in the last few years, we have had about 25 percent of the plots vacant.”

In terms of a COVID-19 response, Pullman Community Garden plans on being open this season and asks gardeners to maintain social distance, use their own tools if possible, and wear gloves.

“We will set up some kind of hand-washing station once the water is turned on,” Paulitz said. “We have cancelled all our work parties, socials, and our main event, the Spring Fair, Open House and Plant Sale.”

—Story by Nella Letizia

Twenty Minute Trainings: Thursdays in April, 12:10-12:30

This series of 20-minute workshops will show you how to get the most out of your library resources. All workshops will be held online. Workshops are open to students, faculty, and staff. No need to pre-register! Just click on the Zoom link of the webinar you’d like to attend. If you miss one, you can watch the recordings later. For more information, see the Spokane Research Guide page.

Introduction to Collaborative Web Annotation

April 2nd 12:10-12:30 Web Annotation Zoom

This webinar will introduce you to collaborative web annotation (think “social remote reading” and threaded discussions attached to online newspaper articles, online scholarly articles, web pages, and more). This relatively easy-to-implement technology is a great way to have students critically engage with the source text, you, and each other in an asynchronous format. Questions? Contact Lorena O’English.

Beyond Fair Use: Teaching with Copyleft and Public Domain Content

April 16th 12:10-12:30 Fair Use Zoom

The Fair Use exception in copyright law allows limited, transformative copying of works even if they are under copyright–but some works can be used much more freely, because some or all copyright protections do not apply. This webinar will show you how to identify materials that can be copied or adapted with few or no restrictions, including materials in the public domain and Creative Commons licensed materials, which can be used in open educational resources, course materials, and more. Questions? Contact Sam Lohmann.

Using DMPTool to easily create data management plans

April 23rd 12:10-12:30 DMPTool Zoom

When applying for NSF or NIH grants the Federal Government requires that the principle investigator complete a data management plan (DMP) that provides information regarding how and where the research data will be archived and shared. Perhaps the easiest way to make a compliant DMP is by utilizing the open-source application, DMPTool. DMPTool provides an navigable system to create discipline and funding agency specific DMPs. Questions? Contact David Luftig.

Creating Accessible Learning Materials: Document Accessibility

April 30th 12:10-12:30 Accessibility Zoom

This webinar will give a brief overview of the application of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines applicable to learning materials (PDFs and slides) and their importance for Universal Design for Learning. Questions? Contact Ben Rearick.

A Coronavirus Reading List

During this season of coronavirus and isolation, Jerry Becker is rereading P.G. Wodehouse’s “A Bounty of Blandings,” an English tale of an earl, his prize-winning pig and his demanding family.

The WSU Libraries system administrator takes comfort from Wodehouse’s trusted humor and the words of fellow author Evelyn Waugh: “Wodehouse is an anodyne to annoyances. He’s a tonic for those suffering from bearable but burdensome loads of boredom, from jadedness of outlook and dinginess of soul.”

“What I like most is his use of language, comic turn of phrase, whimsical point of view and ability to find humor in the everyday life of the early 20th century,” Becker said. “When reading his stuff, I find myself applying Wodehouse quotes and ‘isms’ to circumstances in our daily life here at home with my wife. It makes us laugh!”

For many now, a reading journey can bring much-needed laughter; feed a hunger to understand; and create an allowable human connection amid the restrictions of social distancing. Here, then, is a reading list from WSU Libraries faculty and staff that can’t help but be influenced by these strange, anxious, lonely times.

We have been here before

Several of those polled about their reading pursuits found themselves delving, not surprisingly, into pandemics of the past. Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections rare books cataloger Julie King is reading “A Journal of the Plague Year” by Daniel Defoe; the novel, published in 1722, concerns the plague epidemic in London in 1665.

Other possibilities, courtesy of scholarly communication librarian Talea Anderson, are the 1947 novel “The Plague” by Albert Camus and the 1992 science fiction novel “Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis. “‘Doomsday Book’ is an especially haunting retelling of how people experienced loss on its most intimate level during the spread of the bubonic plague,” Anderson said.

Erica England, first-year experience librarian, chose “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” (2012) by Carol Rifka Brunt. The book is set in 1987 during the AIDS scare and tells the story of how a young teenage girl mourns the loss of her gay uncle to AIDS, while learning to accept who she is and who he was.

“Although I’ve read this book before, it’s been a few years, and I thought now would be the perfect time for another reading of it,” England said. “Ultimately, it’s about profound loss and the giant grief that accompanies it. But it’s also about finding yourself in that loss and finding your way through it. Above all, it shows how compassion can make us whole again. And I think during this time, we need compassion more than anything else in the world.”

Special collections librarian Greg Matthews said he read a review of “Florence Under Siege” (2019) by John Henderson about a month ago. The book details how the city of Florence handled plague for a year in the early 17th century.

The city health department, the Sanita, consulted with peers in other cities such as Milan and Venice to contain the plague by closing the city; establishing lazzarettos, or quarantine stations, in civic and church spaces; and providing daily rations of food and drink for the entire populace.

But the picture wasn’t entirely sunny, Matthews said. One of the more appalling dimensions of life during plague in Florence was the perception that poor people were too selfish and stupid to discourage the spread of disease to their betters. Also, Jews were suspected of being plague vectors, maybe malicious ones.

“So it’s not as though people were behaving at their best,” he said. “People carried on, insisted upon living their lives by dancing, gossiping and courting.

“The book uses contemporary eyewitness accounts to tremendous effect, describing the empty streets of the city and how certain citizens were taken into custody for (being accused of) endangering their neighbors by talking to passers-by through windows or staying with friends,” Matthews said. “It’s been illuminating and affirming. For a book about death and dying, it is filled with life. If the story it tells has heroes, then they are compassion and human ingenuity.”

Comforting and humorous reads

Comfort takes many forms during times like these. Trevor Bond, associate dean of digital initiatives and special collections, is reading WSU English professor Buddy Levy’s 2019 book “Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition.” Bond bought a copy at a local reading Levy gave shortly before coronavirus concerns halted campus activities.

“The vivid descriptions of men living in close quarters in subzero temperatures in months of complete darkness somehow bring me comfort in this period of social distancing and isolation,” Bond said. “Buddy is a terrific writer and a great colleague.”

For Talea Anderson, our current circumstances remind her of a similar experience of isolation when she taught for four months in Costa Rica—and the books that helped her.

“I experienced an incredibly lonely time when all I really had for comfort were books,” she said. “Two books that resonated with me were ‘Refuge’ [1991, by Terry Tempest Williams] and ‘Crossing to Safety’ [1987, by Wallace Stegner].”

Neither of them is explicitly about quarantine or isolation, but the characters in both novels are struggling to come to terms with the deaths of loved ones (and in Williams’ case, the added loss of reliable comfort in natural settings). Both books are pretty melancholy, but the writing is beautiful—comforting in itself—and I found it cathartic as well to see characters grappling with the same emotions I was feeling.”

Development director Dawn Butler suffered an initial disappointment in her reading journey. (“I can say with a high degree of confidence the 2019 sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ would likely make anyone of conscience more anxious—not the best decision I’ve made.”) But she has since downloaded “Three Men in a Boat,” a humorous account of a two-week boating holiday on the River Thames by English writer Jerome K. Jerome, published in 1889.

“I’ve also started ‘The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna’ [2019, by Juliet Grames] and like it,” Butler said. “One sentence that resonated with me is ‘… I will offer my opinion that it is the moral responsibility of the incompetent to identify their own weaknesses and not accept positions of power.’”

A few final selections

Owen Science and Engineering Library evening lead Libby McKeighen suggests any nonfiction book by Sam Kean. He is the author of such books as “The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements” (2010) and “The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of The Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness and Recovery” (2014).

“They are science/history and really informative, but they are also engaging and funny,” McKeighen said. “I myself have had them distract me during particularly hard times in my life.”

Jen Saulnier, undergraduate services librarian, recommends the 2019 book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb. “This is a great read for anyone interested in mental health, humanity and empathy—all extremely important topics at the moment,” she said.

Human resource coordinator Bonny Boyan suggests “Not Tonight Josephine” (2016) by George Mahood. “It would be an especially great read for someone who wishes they could be traveling instead of stuck at home,” she said. “It is laugh-out-loud funny. I might just need to read it again.”

A last suggestion comes from yours truly: “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death” (2019) by funeral director Caitlin Doughty. The author of two other bestsellers, creator of the “Ask a Mortician” web series and founder of The Order of the Good Death answers questions from children about death, dead bodies and decomposition.

As Doughty writes in the book, “All death questions are good death questions, but the most direct and most provocative questions come from kids.”

—Story by Nella Letizia

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