Strategic Directions: 2016 – 2017 Progress Report

The 21st century liberal arts library is a teaching organization that collaborates with faculty to prepare students for life-long learning.

Strategic Goals

  • Expand library integration and participation in the curriculum and in student learning outcomes
  • Collaborate with faculty and students in creating, designing, and maintaining research-oriented Digital Humanities initiatives
  • Enhance library skills for data management and teaching visual and quantitative literacy
  • Develop digital and print collections that support the curriculum and independent learning
  • Strengthen special collections in instruction, outreach, access, and preservation
  • Enhance library technology for discovery and scholarly communication.
  • Revitalize the lower levels of Leyburn to offer modern learning spaces as well as shelving for the collection

Progress towards Strategic Goals

The following outlines the ways the library strategically endeavored to meet its outlined goals during the 2016-17 academic year through course creation, curricular integration, assessment, outreach, innovation, collection maintenance, and physical improvement. Although the library realized its goals for this period, it plans to build upon these successes and continue to work toward its overall mission: collaborating with faculty to prepare students for life-long learning as informed global citizens.

2016-17 Highlights:

  • Library faculty taught or co-taught nine for-credit classes
  • Six faculty- and student-curated exhibits were sponsored in Leyburn
  • DH 101 Introduction to the Digital Humanities was revised to DH 102 Data in the Humanities and earned the SC designation for the course
  • The library sponsored five faculty author talks
  • The first WRIT 100 class taught by a member of the library faculty was offered during the winter term
  • The library completed the Request for Proposals process for a new Integrated Library System and signed the contract for the ExLibris Alma/Primo system in December
  • Special Collections completed the installation of compact shelving in the vault
  • The library obtained the required funding to renovate the Northen Lobby and reception area
  • The library established the Digital Humanities office and collaboration space

The Library, the Curriculum, and Student Learning Outcomes

In 2016-17, library faculty taught or co-taught nine for-credit classes. This is up from 2015-16 when they taught eight classes and 2014-15 when they taught three. Most of these courses were related to the digital humanities initiative, but this year marked the first time a member of the library faculty taught a Writing 100 seminar. This level of participation in the Writing 100 program further integrates information literacy into the first-year experience. A full listing of the courses taught by library faculty is provided below.

Credit Bearing Courses Taught/Co-taught by Library Faculty

Courses on digital humanities methodologies, resources, and tools:

DH 102: Data in the Humanities (3) Fall 2016 (Brooks)
This course introduces students to the creation and visualization of data in humanities research. The course is predicated on the fact that the digital turn of the last several decades has drastically changed the nature of knowledge production and distribution. The community and set of practices that is digital humanities (DH) encourages fluency in media beyond the printed word, including skills such as text mining, digital curation, data visualization, and spatial analysis. Readings and discussion of theory complement hands-on application of digital methods and computational thinking. While the objects of our study come primarily from the humanities, the methods of analysis are widely applicable to the social and natural sciences. Three unit-long collaborative projects explore the creation, structure, and visualization of humanities data. This course meets in two-hour blocks to accommodate a lab component.
DH 110: Web Programming for Non-Programmers (4) Winter 2017 (Mickel)
Computer science and IT graduates are no longer the only people expected to have some knowledge of how to program. Humanities and social science majors can greatly increase their job prospects by understanding the fundamentals of writing computer code, not only through the ability itself but also by being better able to communicate with programming professionals and comprehending the software development and design process as a whole. The most centralized and simple platform for learning is the Web. This course starts with a brief introduction to/review of HTML and CSS and then focuses on using JavaScript to write basic code and implement preexisting libraries to analyze and visualize data. Students become familiar with building a complete Web page that showcases all three languages.

Disciplinary Courses Taught or Co-taught by Library Faculty:

BUS 310: Management Information Systems (3) Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 (Mickel)
The objective is to build an understanding of the value and uses of information systems for business operations, management decision making, and strategic advantage. Topics include basic systems concepts and major roles of information systems; computer, telecommunications, and database management concepts; and management issues in the implementation of information systems, including international, security, and ethical considerations.
HIST 211 Scandal, Crime, and Spectacle in the 19th Century (3) Fall 2016 (Walsh & Horowitz)
This course examines the intersection between scandal, crime, and spectacle in 19th-century France and Britain. We discuss the nature of scandals, the connection between scandals and political change, and how scandals and ideas about crime were used to articulate new ideas about class, gender, and sexuality. In addition, this class covers the rise of new theories of criminality in the 19th century and the popular fascination with crime and violence. Crime and scandal also became interwoven into the fabric of the city as sources of urban spectacle. Students are introduced to text analysis and data mining for the humanities.
JOUR 190: Beyond Google and Wikipedia: Finding and Evaluating Information Sources in the Digital Age (1) Fall 2016 (Grefe & Luecke) and Winter 2017 (Grefe & Locy)
An introduction to information sources that academic researchers, journalists, and public relations and advertising professionals rely on increasingly in the digital age to conduct scholarly research, report and write news stories, and to find, analyze, and present research on trends in mass communications. Students learn how to evaluate sources of information for credibility and quality while they strengthen their basic research skills to go beyond Google and dig below the surface of today’s high-tech world.
JOUR 341: Multimedia Storytelling Design (3) Winter 2017 (Barry & Locy)
Have you ever wondered how news organizations put together their Pulitzer Prize-winning interactive stories? This course introduces students to tools that help them imagine, design, and create powerful interactive features with audio, video, graphics, and words on the cutting edge of journalism and mass communications. Students learn Web design and programming skills using HTML CSS and JavaScript. This course is for students with little or no coding experience but who want to know, “How they did that.”
o WRIT 100 Writing Seminar for First Years: Writing in the Age of Digital Surveillance (3) Winter 2017 (Walsh)
Concentrated work in composition with readings ranging across modes, forms, and genres in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences. The sections vary in thematic focus across disciplines, but all students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. All sections stress active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style. In this section, we examine the legal, social, and economic pressures regularly exercised on us by various groups, not all of them benign, as we live our digital lives. In particular, we explore writing as a means of taking back control in a world that is increasingly surveilled and policed. How can we become not only responsible digital consumers but also active contributors to publicly unfolding humanist pursuits on the Internet? A variety of sources, journalistic, public, and academic, frame course discussions. In addition to extensive practice with critical writing, the course also offers an option for pitching and crafting a piece of writing for a public venue.

Research/Scholarly Communication Instruction

  • Beginning in the fall of 2014, the library has used the HEDS Research Practices Survey to gather quantitative data on the information literacy skills of entering first-year students. Completing the survey is not mandatory for students, and the response rate has been low. To increase the participation rate, stations to complete the survey were located in the dining hall and other areas of the Elrod Commons as well as in the library. Food and other enticements were also used to increase participation. The first cohort of respondents is graduating in the spring of 2018, and a longitudinal assessment of how information literacy skills have developed between the first year and senior year will be conducted at that time, but the survey of incoming first-year students will not be conducted in 2017-18. The library will determine the future use of the HEDS survey following the analysis of the survey results from the graduating class.
  • In 2016-17, librarians made 127 presentations to classes (compared to 121 presentations in 2015-16 and 98 in 2014-15).
  • The library continued its collaboration with Physics 114 to help students develop “digital posters” to present research findings. This included in-class instruction, website creation and maintenance, and the collaborative creation of discipline-appropriate peer-review rubrics. Differing from previous years, the library moved away from the delivery of “one-shot” instruction sessions and instead embedded in the class through repeated visits to lab sections.
  • Building on the visual literacy initiative’s previous expansion into the realm of copyright, visual literacy instruction continued to grow beyond its initial focus on academic poster development to cover image-specific research practices, blog creation, and exhibit curation. In relation to visual literacy instruction, librarians have attempted to move beyond generic workshops in preparing academic posters to develop a more focused approach integrated with classes that include poster presentations (primarily capstone courses), image analysis, and multimedia creation. Library instruction in these courses often includes a discussion of effective visual presentation of research and the legal parameters associated with the creation and reuse of intellectual property. Library faculty and staff led 11 class-integrated visual literacy workshops in 2016-17.
  • During the 2016-17 academic year, library faculty revised the Honors Thesis Workshops by offering 7 sessions (up from 4 in the 2015-16 academic year) focusing on practical topics such as bibliographic management software, copyright considerations, and visual literacy.
  • Teaching with University Collections of Art and History (UCAH): In 2016, members of the University Library in conjunction with Dr. Andrea Lepage from the Art History Department, received a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) for developing lesson plans for teaching with UCAH in subjects outside of art and art history. Library faculty created toolkit lessons ranging from a discussion of copyright law to the history of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Library faculty, together with Professor Lepage, presented the project at ACRL 2017. The title of their panel discussion was Librarian and Faculty Collaborations: Building a Toolkit for Interdisciplinary Teaching from University Art Collections. In this session, participants learned how to develop a multi-disciplinary curricular program that employs toolkit lessons that prepare faculty and librarians to teach with art from university collections. The program promotes inter-departmental collaboration and harnesses the expertise and enthusiasm of many individuals to develop content related directly to curricular needs and information literacy objectives.

Events & Activities Connected to Scholarship, University Curriculum, and Student Life


  • “Design/Build/Fly” exhibit, co-curated with W&L Physics and Engineering (Fall 2016)
  • “The Changing University Landscape” exhibit, co-curated with Truman Payne of University Facilities (Nov 2016)
  • “The Senshin’an Japanese Tea Room” exhibit, co-curated by W&L’s Chanoyu Tea Society (Feb – Mar 2017)
  • Trump Administration Nominees/Cabinet Officials poster exhibit, curated by W&L’s College Democrats (Feb 27 – Mar 3, 2017)
  • “Women of Afghanistan” poster exhibit, curated by W&L’s Amnesty International (Mar 2017)
  • Exhibit of the winning entries in the library’s student photo contest (Mar 2017)
  • “For the Love of Art: A True Collector’s Passion” exhibit, curated by Museum Studies Seminar, (May – Summer 2017)

Author Talks Series

  • Ellen Mayock, Sep 20, 2016, Book: Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace
  • H. Thomas Williams, Oct 20, 2016, Book: Discrete Quantum Mechanics
  • Michelle D. Brock, Feb 15, 2017, Book: Satan and the Scots: The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland, c.1560-1700
  • Alecia Swasy, Mar 21, 2017, Book: How Journalists use Twitter: The Changing Landscape of U.S. Newsrooms
  • George Bent, Apr 5, 2017, Book: Public Painting and Visual Culture in Early Republican Florence

Academic Events and Poster Sessions in Leyburn

  • October 24, 2016: Open Access Discussion Panel in the Book Nook on the main floor of Leyburn Library
  • February 13, 2017: Dean’s Office Annual Fellowships Fair on the main floor of Leyburn Library
  • March 9 and 14, 2017: Financial Aid Work-Study Job Fair on the main floor of Leyburn Library
  • March 17, 2017: Science, Society, and the Arts Poster Session on the main floor of Leyburn Library
  • March 28, 2017: TechnoProjects Poster Session (Physics 114) on the main floor of Leyburn Library
  • April 3, 2017: Annual Edible Book Event on the main floor of Leyburn Library
  • April 6, 2017: Latin and American and Caribbean Studies Poster Session on the main floor of Leyburn Library
  • April 10 & 12, 2017: Shepherd Poverty Program Poster Session on the main floor of Leyburn Library
  • May 19, 2017: Spring Term Festival Poster Session on the main floor of Leyburn Library

Digital Humanities, Technology, and Scholarship

The Digital Humanities Action Team (DHAT)

In 2016-17, library faculty, as members of DHAT, conducted more than 80 training and consultation sessions in digital research methods for faculty in more than 15 disciplines.

Mellon Undergraduate Digital Humanities Fellows

As part of the Mellon Undergraduate Digital Humanities Fellowship program, 9 student fellows attended 33 training and consultation sessions. Some of these fellows went on to share their skills and experiences in other courses, at professional conferences, or with local high school students. Five of the fellows worked as research assistants on faculty-led DH projects during the academic year, with three continuing their work in the summer as recipients of Mellon Summer Research Grants. One fellow is now pursuing graduate studies in Digital Humanities.

Staff Changes

Brandon Walsh, the Library’s Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow, left at the end of the winter term to become the new Head of Graduate Programs at the University of Virginia Library’s Scholars’ Lab. To replace Dr. Walsh, the library hired Dr. Sydney Bufkin, who received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin with a specialization in 19th-century American literature and reception studies. Sydney has taught a range of courses in the English Department and Writing Program at W&L. She specializes in digital approaches to pedagogy and received a DH incentive grant for her multi-modal writing assignments. Her interest in computational approaches to literature manifests itself in her own research on a corpus of reviews of 19th-century purpose fiction and hopefully in future DH courses. Her focus will also be on DH outreach to faculty and students.

Following the retirement of Carol Karsch, the Library’s Data Support Specialist, in January 2017, the position was redefined with faculty status. The new position, Director of Data Education, will establish a program to:

  • engage faculty and students in incorporating statistical and computational data analysis methods (data science) into the undergraduate curriculum and scholarship
  • provide guidance for students in finding data sets as well as teaching students how to clean and manipulate data for use in analytical and statistical applications
  • offer peer tutoring to students who need assistance with data and statistical applications.

The program will make a significant contribution toward meeting the increasing demand for data-intensive courses as well as promoting data and statistical literacy across the curriculum. The new position should be filled by January 2018.

Faculty Publications Database

Now containing more than 2,000 records, the publications database continues to grow quickly. 160 publications were added in 2016, and 83 were added in the first half of 2017. Limitations in the Bibapp software, and the fact that it is no longer actively maintained by its creators, has encouraged the library to undertake redesigning the application in-house using Bibapp as a template. The future system will allow faculty to self-enter information, draw automatically from external sources, and help guide decisions for storing works in the digital archive through easy access to journal archiving policies. Work has begun on this project and will continue through 2017-18.

Grant Participation

Library faculty participated in two grant projects from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities. The Ancient Graffiti Project: Tools for Analyzing Personal Communication required metadata and linked data consultation from Mackenzie Brooks. Both Brandon Walsh and Mackenzie Brooks contributed to Edition and Translation of Huon d’Auvergne, Pre-Modern Franco-Italian Epic in the development of a digital edition platform.

Collections and Services for Learning & Research

Digital collections licensed

The library added several noted digital collections (2016-17 – the second and final payment for these resources):

  • Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture 1790-1920: Supporting courses like Professor Horowitz’s Crime and Scandal and Professor Senechal’s History of Violence, this database includes more than two million primary documents from books, periodicals, manuscripts, and broadsheets.
  • Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive: Containing 5.4 million documents with a global perspective on the slave trade, the Archive includes collections published in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Amistad Research Center, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the National Archives of the UK, and many others.
  • 19th Century British Newspapers: Provides a great resource for introducing students to primary source articles with more than two million newspaper pages including national and regional newspapers from 1800-1900. The database reproduces the newspaper in its original form, providing a more true-to-life research experience than transcribed text.
  • The Economist Historical Archive: This venerable British magazine presents “timely reporting, concise commentary and comprehensive analysis of global news every week.” This database enables users to view, search, and browse every article and issue dating back to 1843.
  • The Times Literary Supplement Digital Archive: The Archive contains every page of every copy of the Times Literary Supplement published from 1902 to 2010.
  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online Part II: In the most ambitious single digitization project ever undertaken, more than 180,000 titles and editions published between 1701 and 1800 have been digitized. Eighteenth Century Collections Online allows the user to search the complete text of more than 33 million pages of material; in essence, every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom, along with thousands of important works from the Americas.


The library acquired EEBO-TCP in October 2016. This product provides highly accurate, fully searchable, SGML/XML-encoded texts corresponding to books from the Early English Books Online Database. While EEBO has been available at W&L for several years, EEBO-TCP greatly expands how the database can be searched and used in research.

Data/Text Mining

The library purchased additional text analysis tools for some of these digital archives, allowing us to further our strategic vision of joining collections with curricular goals. In particular, data files for the Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture archive were immediately put to use in Professor Sarah Horowitz’s course Scandal, Crime, and Spectacle in the Nineteenth Century.

Demand-Driven Acquisition of E-Books

Since 2014 library has utilized this model of presenting potential e-books to users with costs based on actual use (i.e., demand driven) rather than the just-in-case model of print books. This model provides W&L with a pool of approximately 60,000 scholarly e-books that support W&L’s curriculum. Data analysis allows us to track use, and use of DDA for e-books has resulted in dramatic savings. While average cost per volume for an e-book single purchase in the 2015/16 fiscal year was $146, the cost per loan using DDA was $21. This year, there were 475 short-term loans, with 30 purchases triggered through the program, and the average cost for the 475 short-term loans was lower, at $18 per loan.

Streaming Video

With a few initial streaming media single-title purchases in 2014-2016, and database trials of streaming platforms, library staff anxiously awaited VIVA negotiations with Kanopy, a fast-growing film streaming platform highly popular among academic libraries in our peer group. A six-month DDA pilot program agreement with VIVA was launched in January 2017, and use is expected to flourish with promotion. This program should allow the library to move funds from the purchase of physical DVDs (and replacement costs of missing or damaged items) to support this multi-viewer, demand-driven platform. All films within Kanopy have public performance rights, which is paramount in a college environment.

Next-generation integrated library system

Investigated the viability of systems to replace the Millennium integrated library system, which was installed in 2001 and is now nearing the end of software support (Millennium provided a new interface and some additional functionality to the Innopac system installed in 1991). The library identified and selected the best and most appropriate system able to meet the library’s needs to manage collections and resources, streamline business operations, and improve public access to library resources. The library staff collaborated with the law library and ITS to issue a rigorous Request for Proposals process in the summer and fall of 2016 and then finalized contract negotiations at close of 2016. The migration process will launch in August with an expected completed implementation of the new system at end of 2017.

New Interlibrary Loan System

Tipasa is a cloud-based product that facilitates the lending and borrowing of materials from libraries all over the world. Tipasa also includes a patron interface for the requesting of materials. Access Services staff spent the early part of the spring of 2017 attending virtual training sessions in order to prepare for this move. With the help of W&L ITS (Instructional Technology Services), the Library went fully live with Tipasa in June of 2017.

Because of the University Library’s early adopter status, Elizabeth Teaff, Head of Access Services has been asked to speak at several regional conferences regarding our implementation of Tipasa. Also, because of our early adopter status, staff have been able to provide feedback to OCLC about needed changes and improvements to this product in order to strengthen the utility of the software as it is being developed and updated.

Outsourced Cataloging

The addition of MARCIVE as a contract service allowed staff to load Government Document records in bulk to our discovery service monthly rather than individually loading each bibliographic record into our Integrated Library System. That 4,296 MARCIVE records were added in 2016-17 marks a huge leap in staff efficiency. When the new system is implemented, MARCIVE’s import process will gain even greater efficiency as all records will automatically import as they become available without staff intervention.

Staff Changes

After the retirement of a Senior Library Assistant, the library revised and upgraded this position to better address current needs, resulting in the University’s first professional Electronic Resources Librarian position. The new librarian, Kaci Resau, started work in December of 2016, and she has already made significant improvements in the management and assessment of the library’s electronic resources.

Special Collections and Archives

Compact shelving, installed in July and August 2016, has alleviated the shortage of shelf space in the vault for the next two to four years. Now the top priority in Special Collections is the critical need for dedicated teaching and processing space. Currently, the only teaching space available for Special Collections is the Boatwright Room, which is the public reading room. Researchers must be moved to the staff processing areas when classes are taught, and the number of classes continues to increase dramatically. Dedicated staff processing space would provide much better security for materials and increase the efficiency of processing materials. These issues must be a priority in the next Strategic Plan.

The other critical issue is staffing. Increased demand on all of Special Collections staff, particularly in regards to the history of the institution, has left a growing backlog of unattended processing and cataloging. The need for a University Archivist (or at the very least a dedicated processing archivist) is acute. As outreach to the faculty and students increases, more and more demand is made for access to materials that are not fully inventoried, processed, and cataloged. While the staff does not deny access to those materials on an as-needed basis, it is a security concern and requires a serious investment of staff time to identify appropriate materials and make them available. Many individuals are interested in doing volunteer work in Special Collections, and students often ask if employment is available. Unfortunately, due to the lack of processing/work space and the added staff burden of supervising such individuals, we are unable to increase the current level of workers in those areas.

The Library as a Learning Space

Completed improvements in Leyburn

In response to the goals of the Strategic Directions, the library has made strides towards modernizing the lower levels of Leyburn Library by focusing on the renovation of learning spaces for students rather than storage of the print collection.

  • Northen Lobby Renovation Project: Taking advantage of gifts from two alumni and matching them with University capital budget funds, a small grant from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, and funds from the Friends of the Library, the staff planned for the renovation of Lower Level 1’s Northen Lobby to start in the summer of 2017. This area is a popular study and event space, but it had not been renovated since Leyburn opened in 1979. It is dark and has limited electrical connections. The furniture is old and much of it severely worn. This planned project adds a new ceiling with new lighting and includes Steelcase’s Thread product, which adds convenient electrical outlets. New furniture will complete the renovation project. Students were consulted as planners made decisions about the project, including the selection of carpet and furniture. The project should be completed before the start of the fall term 2017.
  • Digital Humanities Collaboration Space: The expanding digital humanities program was hampered by the lack of a defined consultation area with enough room for project teams to meet regularly. In the fall of 2016, the Digital Humanities Librarian relocated to a new office area that was large enough for project teams to meet. Large whiteboards were added as well as a large monitor for groups to develop projects using various approaches.

    The first year of the digital humanities office space was successful. It provided a convenient and functional space for consultation and small group meetings, quickly becoming the default space for anything digital humanities related. It hosted grant project team meetings, social events, technology training and served as a hub for the undergraduate fellowship program. As the digital humanities initiative continues to grow, the library seeks to expand this collaborative space into the nearby study area that previously contained large wooden carrels. Modern furniture, electricity, and technology will facilitate team-based work on digital scholarship projects – work that can continue beyond the hours of the digital humanities office. Comfortable seating, movable tables, and monitors will allow the space to adjust easily to the size of the group or the nature of the gathering. Since digital scholarship projects are collaborative and inter-disciplinary, it is crucial that library spaces accommodate the dynamic and evolving nature of this work. Improvements to this area are planned, and the space will be developed over 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years.

Library Photo Contest

In conjunction with visiting Professor Meg Griffith, the library initiated a student photo contest. The winning photos will be cataloged, added to the library’s collection, and hung on the lower floors Leyburn Library. The winning entries were exhibited and a reception for the photo contest winners was held in March of 2017.

The library staff worked with the University’s General Counsel to ensure that participating students retained copyright to their artistic work. Students were asked to license their work for the use and benefit of the University Library, enabling the library to print, frame and hang their photographs on the lower floors of Leyburn Library. In addition, the library can use the images for non-commercial use in promoting the university’s educational mission. With announcements on social media and the University Library’s website, current W&L students were encouraged to submit photos they had taken of the outdoors. The library received more than 60 entries by the deadline in late January. Every submission was printed in thumbnail format and displayed in the library for a week, during which time the W&L community was asked to vote for their five favorite images. The three prize winners received gift certificates. Twelve honorable mentions were identified as well. Each of the winning and honorable mention photographs has been professionally printed and framed.

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