Keeping you up to date with Library teaching and outreach activities.
In this issue, we bring you four articles from across the Dartmouth libraries. First, learn about the Software Carpentry workshops and how students are creating usable software. Next, staff from paddock Music Library bring us a snapshot of the "Sing-In" events. Then, learn more about the "On Solid Ground" exhibit. Finally, a sneak peek into our new blog series, "Talk with a TA."
Software Carpentry @ Dartmouth By Lora Leligdon and James Adams
Data-driven research has become ubiquitous across most disciplines, and researchers spend more and more time building and using software. However, little formal training has been provided to researchers on the fundamental skills needed to produce reliable and reproducible computationally intensive scholarship. To bridge this gap, the Library and ITC partnered with New England Software Carpentry Library Consortium (NESCLiC) to bring Software Carpentry (SWC) workshops to Dartmouth.
Software Carpentry workshops teach researchers the fundamental skills that will help them be more productive while producing more reproducible, higher quality work. During a two-day workshop, concentrating on either Python or R, students learn how to write software that is readable, reusable, and reliable, along with using the Unix shell to automate their tasks and Git to track and share code. The workshops are taught with openly available lessons and use evidence-based best teaching practices, including live coding, collaborative note taking, and immediate feedback. They are designed to serve as introductions to these tools and concepts, and are approachable for researchers with any level of experience. Feedback from students has highlighted the “hands-on, collaborative environment” as a major strength, and referred to Software Carpentry as “fun” and “confidence-building.”
To date, four SWC workshops have been held on campus, training over 150 researchers! SWC events are open to all members of the Dartmouth community, and participants from all schools (A&S, Tuck, Thayer, TDI, and Geisel) across campus have attended. As workshop registrations fill quickly, three more workshops are planned for this year. Registration dates are announced in advance, so keep an eye on the Vox Daily for news about upcoming Software Carpentry workshops!
For more information, please email email@example.com.
"On Solid Ground": The First of Four By Jay Satterfield and Joshua Dacey
It is Monday morning at 9 o'clock in Baker Main hall. The line for KAF is long and you need something to get your mind off that Economics quiz this afternoon. Glancing around the sunlit mezzanine, the glare off of the glass of an exhibit case catches your eye. As the glare fades, the text becomes clear, "On Solid Ground." Upon further investigation (because the KAF line still hasn't moved!) you discover a six panel series detailing "how the physical, social and intellectual spaces that make up Dartmouth have been shaped over time." According to the exhibit's co-curator, Jay Satterfield, the inspiration for the exhibit is rooted in Dartmouth's 250th Anniversary celebrations. At this time of celebration and reflection, the curator's decided that "an exploration of the solid, yet shifting, landscape of the institution seemed like a good way to think about continuity and change." Indeed, a foundation of texts, images, and artifacts, allow visitors to stand on equal footing with figures such as Eleazar Wheelock, Fred Harris, and John Kemeny. Even with a cursory glance, you find an intellectual and cultural common ground where a dialogue of how the campus has evolved unfolds.
How the historical expansion of Dartmouth's campus remains relevant to a modern audience might seem like a big question. Yet, within the exhibitions panels, the answer is found. That is the power of an exhibit. We absorb and interpret the content as individuals, making our own meaning of the stories and objects presented to us by the curators. Each visitor has the opportunity to find that one object or historical figure to connect with. For Jay Satterfield, two objects of note resonate deeply, "the Clifford Orr letter to his mother and the photograph of Gail Borden's dorm room in Mass Hall." Each of these artifacts provide an avenue by which to access the daily life of Dartmouth students in the early 20th Century. The stark differences confronting visitors in the displays invite an introspective moment of reflection. Compare the lives of Dartmouth students past to your own. How have they changed in the one hundred years since Clifford wrote to his mother on a sunny September day in 1918? Now consider the campus. In 250 years, how has the campus changed? What outside forces have created these changes? Students, faculty, and staff have shaped the physical and culture environments of Dartmouth through their efforts to exclude, include, expand, and effect change. Therein lies the answer to the question of relevance and the curator's message:
"Schools like Dartmouth can seem so entrenched in tradition that it is hard to imagine shifting their culture. but institutions change, and the change can come from many different directions. We are empowered more than we know."
Find Your Voice at the "Sing-Ins" By Memory Apata
The Friday Night Sing-Ins in the Paddock Music Library are an opportunity for the Dartmouth community to collaborate with Upper Valley community members through music and discussion. The Sing-Ins, now in their third year, occur every Friday during the month of January. Attendees sing five to six songs whose themes center on the American civil rights movement and other social issues. Some favorite tunes of the group are “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine.”
The event is about an hour and a half long. Attendees are not expected to know the songs before they arrive, nor are they expected to have a high level of musical ability. The leaders of the event (usually the librarian and a group of student musicians) demonstrate a song, inviting the participants to join in after the first demonstration. If participants catch on to the tune quickly, musicality is explored by adding dynamic contrasts and harmony. Once most of the group has learned their parts, there is a pause for a discussion of the song’s historical context. Inevitably, this leads to dialogue on the relevant social issue’s depiction in the music. It isn’t uncommon for disagreements to arise, in which case the librarian steps in to guide the conversation in a productive way. It is not necessary for the group to reach a consensus, but it is necessary that varying perspectives are acknowledged, examined, and sometimes challenged. After five or ten minutes of discussion, we sing through the piece one last time, integrating the information learned during discussion into our final interpretation. The music is, in many ways, an excuse to facilitate community conversation.
Over the past three years, the event has grown from fewer than ten attendees per session to more than thirty attendees per session. Many singers attend more than one event each year and have expressed a desire for more frequent events of a similar quality. Most singers come for the music, but stay for the conversation. In the future, the library hopes to give more leadership to regular attendees, rather than coordinating the events entirely on our own.
Teaser “Talk with a TA” By Yilin Huo and Joshua Dacey
Have you ever wondered what it is like to work in one of Dartmouth’s seven libraries? Surprisingly, some of the best sources to describe the experience are students. The library employs Teaching Assistants throughout the year, providing valuable work experience and a tidy paycheck to offset the cost of coffee trips to King Arthur Café. Over the next several months, we will interview our library Teaching Assistants in a new blog series entitled “Talk with a TA.” Our first interview was with Yilin Huo ’22. Here is a sample of the upcoming post:
“I was excited to share my experience with everyone in the class to encourage more responses and participation from all the students.”
Contributors: Lora Leligdon and James Adams (Software Carpentry @ Dartmouth), Jay Satterfield and Joshua Dacey ("On Solid Ground": The First of Four), Memory Apata (Find Your Voice at the "Sing-Ins"), Yilin Huo (Teaser “Talk with a TA”)
Editors: Joshua Dacey