Spencer is a Senior English major at Framingham State with a concentration in journalism. He has worked at The Gatepost, FSU’s weekly independent student newspaper, since his Freshman year, and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief. Spencer worked as an editorial intern at both the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham and the Metro Halifax newspaper in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He’s interested in great books, new media, international politics and civic engagement, and wants to help you get the most out of FSU and your library! Follow him on Twitter @spencerbuell.
Category Archives: guest blogger
Blogs are a very popular and effective way of exchanging information for both readers and writers. During this past spring, our Computer Applications in Nutrition class created blogs on our favorite topics in the field of food and nutrition. In class, we learned how to use WordPress and how to create blogs. Later, we were given a blog assignment which was to plan, manage and actively blog on a selected nutrition topic. We also presented our projects in class where we had the chance to learn what our classmates had worked on. The blog assignment was a very productive project and it allowed students to share their interests and personal thoughts with each other and their readers. The presentations were fascinating and it was great to see the variety of nutrition-related topics. I would like to highlight three of our course blogs and share some information about what they focused on.
Heather Waxman’s blog titled “For the love of Kale” will definitely attract the attention of vegetarians. Her blog gives different vegetarian recipes and options in addition to scientific information and research about the nutritious benefits of vegetables, such as kale. I was especially interested by kale, as I was not familiar with this vegetable before and this blog introduced it to me. Once you read about Heather in the “about the blogger” section it becomes obvious why she has much knowledge about being a vegetarian and how she is able to share this knowledge with others in such a good way.
“Healthy Intuitions” by Jeanne Reilly focuses on simple and sensible health care. If you would like to get tips on food, fitness and wellness for a happy and healthy life style, you may want to follow this blog! Jeanne took a course through the Cambridge for Adult Education—“Have your Cake and Eat it too”—where she became familiar with the term, intuitive eating which aims to help people create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body. In her blog, she suggests interesting books about this subject. If you don’t have the time to read a book, she also has a podcast where she gives an introduction to the topic and summarizes what it stands for.
Jeremiah Xavier has created a blog called “Tip Top Shape” where he gives information on ways to improve the body through exercise, nutrition and different types of workouts. It is a very professional blog with a variety of pictures, photos, and links to articles and his blogging style is captivating. He provides unique tips on ways to exercise and stresses the importance of hydration during exercise. Have a look at the blog if you are tired of doing the same exercises at the gym as it gives very interesting alternatives.
Btw: My blog called “Light Side of Dark Chocolate” is worth a look too! =)
Blue Wrap Group: Design Competition (Exhibit: April 13-20)
Tuesday, April 17, Opening Reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Whittemore Library, FSU
Students will compete in design using recycled materials known as “Blue Wrap,” a durable, sterile
protective cover made of polypropylene used to wrap surgical instruments. Designs will be evaluated
by a panel of judges on the creative use of Blue Wrap, design concept, and the design process.
The competition is open to all faculty, staff and students and is being done in collaboration with
MetroWest Hospital, Natick.
For more information, please contact: email@example.com.
Exhibition Dates: April 30-May 4, 2012
Exhibition location: Henry Whittemore Library (Lower Reading Room)
Contact: Professor Erika Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the first time, students in Art History Professor Erika Schneider’s biannual Museum Studies course will exhibit their final projects to the public. On Tuesday, May 1 from 4-5 p.m. in the Henry Whittemore Library (LM), the class will host an opening reception for their exhibits. The nine students will present their individual museum exhibitions to culminate the semester’s exploration of museum research. Students represent the Art & Music, History, and Consumer Sciences departments. Guests will see a wide variety of exhibit topics such as trench warfare, instant cameras, Harry Potter, and Monopoly. Refreshments will be served.
Museum Studies is an interdisciplinary minor consisting of courses in anthropology, art history, history, and fashion. This interdepartmental minor requires that students take a minimum of five courses outside of their major department. Students are strongly encouraged to complete a museum internship to complement the minor. To complete the minor, four of the five courses must be taken outside the student’s major department.
I’m a big fan of Eoin Colfer. When asked what my favorite book series is, I always answer, without hesitation, Colfer’s young adult book Artemis Fowl. That particular book has spawned a seven (soon to be eight) part series, detailing the adventures of a boy genius and the fantastical creatures he encounters along the way. The fun characters, brisk pace, and sharp humor are what first attracted me to the series, and are what keep me coming back for more. However, just last week, I was browsing the McNaughton section at our library, and I found a new book by Colfer, called Plugged. Its cover read “If you liked Artemis Fowl, it’s time to grow up.”
Needless to say, I dropped everything and dove right in.
As the title implies, this is not the kid-friendly world of Artemis Fowl. Readers are thrust almost immediately in the dark, hard and grimy world of Slotz, a seedy and run-down casino in New Jersey. Readers experience this world through the eyes of Daniel McEvoy, a doorman for this particular establishment. Things are business as usual for McEvoy, he begins the book beating up a particularly rowdy customer (who licked one of the bartenders). When one of McEvoy’s friends is found murdered, however, McEvoy can’t help but get involved. Along the way he meets a group of incredibly colorful characters, and attempts to piece together the puzzle before he finds himself dead as well.
Colfer injects his work with his trademark humor. Things are raunchier now than Artemis Fowl, but the humor is still there. The situations the characters find themselves in (you’ll never look at a plate of lasagna the same way) are so bizarre, yet you can’t help but keep reading to see how Colfer tops his last sequence. Looking back, the scenes are almost cartoonish in quality, which does clash with the (somewhat) realistic and dirty world the characters inhabit. But Colfer’s text is so sharp, and so quick, that when you’re reading it, you don’t notice. You just get swept up for the ride.
Characters are very strong all around. McEvoy is good company for the whole text, and his narration reminds of other iconic characters such as James Patterson’s Alex Cross. The people McEvoy range from realistic and sympathetic (Connie, who manages to make an impression in only a few pages) to the cartoonish lawyer Faber, who jabs his finger around his scenes and puts on a big show.
The plot is tight and never slows down, with plenty of action and laughs to keep you going. I don’t think the book will be exploding off the charts, because at its core, it’s a fairly typical detective story. However, it’s in Colfer’s voice that the text comes alive, and becomes something above the norm. If you like Artemis Fowl, or are just looking for a fun and creative take on a well-worn genre, give Plugged a look. It’s quick, funny, and a good ride. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel.
There’s no use denying it. We live in the age of digital information. Smart-phones, iPods, iPads, laptops, and many other devices ensure that we are never disconnected, for better or for worse. Everything is becoming digitized in the name of ease, and now many things that were staples of the home have become quaint novelties of a bygone era. And, unfortunately, books seem to be falling into this same trap.
I’ll admit it. I am riding the e-reader bandwagon. I was fortunate to receive an Amazon Kindle for Christmas, and I have to admit, I’m a believer in the digital age. While I don’t feel that the Kindle can replace the feel of a good book in my hands, the ease surrounding the small device cannot be denied. I read three gigantic books over the summer, each close to one thousands pages long, and my back thanked me when it didn’t have to lug around those behemoths everywhere I went.
Of course, this is a Library’s Blog, not a personal one. How are these e-readers going to affect the libraries? Are they also doomed to vanish from this world? How do they keep up with this new technology?
It’s a problem that has already been written off by some. But, as a lot of people know, libraries are no strangers to technology. Instead of shunning e-books, they have embraced the new medium, and are offering a new method of digital book distribution, thanks to something called Overdrive.
Overdrive is basically a fancy way of saying “Online E-Book Library.” And it works just as the same, with few headaches. You go to a special section of the Minuteman Library Website, where a listing of all the digital books are displayed. You can search through them, or display them in a full list. When you find a book you want, you click it, select the format you want it in, and then download it. It’s really that simple, with only a few tweaks depending on your e-reader of choice. You then have the book on your device (or even your laptop!) and can start reading right away.
But they don’t stop at just e-books. They have a large selection of audiobooks as well, along with the potential for videos as well. These are just as easy to obtain, following the same process described above. Select, download, and enjoy.
Of course, there are limitations. Firstly, the selection, while constantly growing, is still limited. It is likely that a book you want just won’t be available, however the library is happily accepting requests. Secondly, the library can only loan out a certain number of copies of most books. Like the physical thing, if someone has the only copy checked out, you have to wait for it to be returned before you can take it. That, and there’s no way for the book to be renewed. After the loan period passes, you have to check the book out again, which is a minor issue, but one that should be noted.
However, there are a number of books that are “available anytime,” as it states on the website. This is exactly what it sounds like; the books can be checked out by an unlimited number of patrons. Of course, these are likely not “best-sellers,” and instead tend to be classics.
With that said, Overdrive is already a great service and only has potential to grow better with time. It’s somewhat limited now, yes, but what is there is very easy to use and surprisingly robust. Once the selection grows, I think it will become a staple of libraries everywhere. Unfortunately, it’s not quite there yet. But, I know if I see a book on there I want, or need for a class, you can bet I’ll be using Overdrive to check it out!
Did you know that the Whittemore Library not only has e-books available, but they also have three different e-readers available for checkout? Neither did I!
Yes, it’s true! And it’s one of the library’s most interesting secrets. Behind the circulation desk rests these three e-readers, available for checkout to any of the University’s students or affiliates. I recently had a chance to take one of these e-readers for a test drive, and will tell you my thoughts below.
The e-reader, to my surprise, was not of the more well known brands like Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s Nook. Instead, it is a Sony e-reader, but that should not deter you. This one is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen, and also one of the heavier. This gives the e-reader itself a very sturdy quality that feels good in the hands. It doesn’t feel easily breakable, which is good, as library technology tends to take a beating over time.
The e-reader comes with a wall-charger and some directions to help get you started. Finding the power button was a little tricky, but after turning it on, everything was smooth sailing. The menus are clear and easily readable, though the touch screen isn’t quite as responsive to the touch of my finger as I would’ve liked. Thankfully, after a quick glance at the directions, I found a stylus hidden on the side of the device, and using that made the menus much more responsive. I recommend using the stylus at all times, both for the menus and to keep fingerprints off the screen.
There is a small learning curve that comes with every e-reader, and this often catches new readers off guard. When you turn the page, the screen has to refresh itself before the next page can be shown. During this refresh period, the screen quickly turns solid black, before loading the next set of text. This sounds intrusive, but it’s not as bad as it sounds, as the whole process takes less than a second. But it does require some getting used to at first, and can be quite distracting. Having had my own e-reader for close to a year, however, I can say that this doesn’t bother me at all.
Turning pages, however, took me a few tries to figure out. Since the screen itself is a touch screen, I assumed that to turn the page I would tap on the edges of the screen. Not so. You can turn the pages two ways. Either by swiping the stylus across the screen right or left, or by pressing the buttons on the bottom of the device. I found the buttons to be a more reliable method of page-turning, as the swipe didn’t feel as responsive to me.
The e-reader comes preloaded with sixty-six full texts, all of which are “classics” available in the public domain. A student checking out the device cannot purchase or rent new texts, as that feature has been blocked. The librarian can add new texts to the device, and is always accepting requests. The books are all formatted properly, and read fine.
The e-reader does some have restrictions. It can only be checked out for two weeks, with a high late fee of $10 a day. It also cannot be renewed, and has to be back to the library with all parts in tact in order to be checked out again.
With that said, if you are looking for one specific book, it might be better to just get that book itself rather than e-reader, if nothing else than to avoid the chance of high-late fees. However, if you read books quickly, or are planning a trip, the e-reader would make a worthwhile option. It’s certainly a good device, works well, and offers a good selection of books. Just be careful of the late fees!
It’s true! Well, not exactly the same, but pretty darn close.
There’s this thing called “interlibrary loan” and it’s about to become your new best friend. If you want a book (for fun or for school) but cannot find it in our collection at Whittemore, you can order it from any library in the entire Minuteman Library network. Not only that, but you can also order movies and video games as well. All you need is a library card. They’ll ship it straight here.
And yes, it’s free!
You can either go online or come into the library itself to request a book (or game or movie). The process itself is painless either way, only requiring a few clicks and the creation of a PIN.
Interlibrary loan is a great, if imperfect service. Firstly, while the selection of books is huge, it can take a while to receive the items you request. It generally takes about a week, but if the book is in high demand, or hard to find, it can take much longer. I’ve personally never had to wait more than a few weeks for a book to come in, but that can be a problem if you need it for a class. Order early, just to be on the safe side.
The selection for DVDs is also quite good, with a number of both new releases and old classics available. My taste in films is varying to say the least, but I’ve always been able to find the film I’m looking for. I’ve rented things like The Hangover, Paranormal Activity, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and have always been able to find a copy. You can even order complete seasons of many TV shows. You get all the disks in the boxed set at once too, unlike Netflix where you get one disk at a time. However, the quality of the DVDs themselves is a little suspect. They tend to take a lot of punishment, and I have received a few DVDs that were unplayable. It’s easy enough to order another DVD if the one you receive is defective, but it is something you should take into account.
I actually had no idea that you could order video games through this service as well, and judging by the amount of games that actually are ordered, not many students know either. I found out by chance, but have since used it numerous times. The selection is, in a word, surprising, as the mix of choices contains some new releases and some older ones as well. The selection is not huge, so finding a game is somewhat unlikely, but it’s always worth a quick search. I myself just realized that a library has a copy of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, a game that was just released on the 15th of November! However, the games are not as readily available as DVDs or movies, so expect to wait a longer time for them to arrive. Also, they can take a beating the same way DVDs can.
Overall, interlibrary loan would a decent service if you had to pay for it. The fact that it’s free just makes the deal all the sweeter. Give it a try sometime!
If you haven’t been in the library lately, then you haven’t seen the big changes that have occurred.
And when I say big, I really mean it!
If you go down the stairs (or take the elevator) to the Lower Mezzanine (LM), you will find the new IT Help Desk, just finished construction early in the fall. No longer will you have to trek over to the basement of Hemenway Hall (though it’s still open if you prefer it) to have your laptop fixed; now you can have your troubles solved right in the library.
When you first come down the stairs, you will see the two newly built study rooms. They are fairly good sized, with comfortable chairs and a big table in the center. Inside each are two large flat-screen TVs, that can be hooked up to a laptop for group discussions. These TVs sound good, but unfortunately I feel that they have more use for slacking than studying. I have, however, seen a few groups in the room using them for presentations, so hopefully my fears are unfounded. While the rooms cannot be signed out yet, in the future that will become an option for groups who want to schedule study parties.
To your left from the study rooms is the IT desk itself. It’s brand new, and offers much more in the ways of both student comfort and ease of use. Instead of sitting behind a table in Hemenway, the IT workers sit behind a large desk with computer monitors that face the student, not the worker. These monitors can be hooked up to the laptop the worker is fixing, so the student can see what is going on, or for demonstration purposes. No longer do you have to sit awkwardly while the worker clicks around on your laptop!
There are a number of comfortable chairs spread around the desk itself along with desks for study, and a few more TVs scattered around the area. It gives the place a feeling of comfort and relaxation, rather than just a spot to get your computer fixed. The desk itself is also far more welcoming than the room in Hemenway, with warm paneling and a clean exterior. It makes the desk a place that you actually want to visit, rather than a place to avoid.
The IT Desk has also made my life as a Circulation Desk Attendant (which is a fancy way of saying I check out books) much easier. Now, whenever a student has a laptop problem, often with printing, I can point them toward the desk. Not only that, but whenever a printer goes down in the library, someone from the IT Desk is always available to fix it. This means more working printers and less problems, which is always a good thing when you’re a college student.
With the addition of the IT Help Desk, the library is becoming far more of a one-stop-shop rather than just a holder of books. You can get some coffee, find a book to read, and get your laptop fixed without having to brave the great outdoors.
My name is Derek Pietras, and I’m taking over the internship position for Elizabeth. I’m a senior here at Framingham, studying English with a concentration in Writing and a minor in Communication arts. I’m also a writer, currently working on the third draft of my first full-length manuscript. After college, I hope to either sell my manuscript and make tons of money, or become a technical writer.
I look forward to working with everyone here!