Day of Common Learning 2014

On Wednesday, October 22nd, SPU canceled all classes so faculty, staff, and students could attend Day of Common Learning, where talks and sessions were based on the theme of power. Below are the thoughts of some of our Library staff who attended lectures and taught sessions.

Keynote: The Good News About Power
Andy Crouch

Andy Crouch began his keynote address about power by addressing the problem that conversations about power are usually either cynical or naive, and asked the question of whether it was possible to have a talk that was both honest and hopeful. Crouch felt that was possible with some reframing of the grammar and definition of power. He then offered some descriptions of power, including Nietzsche’s concept that all people wants to individually exert their power as widely as possible, forcing them into conflict with others who try and exert their own power. Crouch offered an alternative view of power from First Genesis, saying that our power comes from our ability as image bearers of Christ to make things that are “very good.” Crouch then offered several examples of this in physics, art, and music – showing how scientists and artists can use their ability to effect change to increase power for everyone. For example Henry Ossawa Tanner’s painting The Banjo Player – which took an instrument and music style that was being caricaturized and oppressed, and gave it a fuller expression in showing the importance of the banjo as part of African-American culture and community. Finally, he gave a two by two chart (for the business majors, he teased) showing a cross of authority – defined as the ability to effect change (authority), and vulnerability – to show the amount of risk one is exposed to. Crouch believes that low authority and high vulnerability results in poverty; low authority and low vulnerability is safety; high authority and low vulnerability is idolatry and injustice; and only with high authority and high vulnerability can we be image bearers.

- Carrie Fry

Session 1: Re-thinking Power and Powerlessness: Listening to Iraqi Voices in Blogs from Baghdad
Kimberly Segall

Dr. Segall’s talk yesterday focused on ways that the Western world tends looks at conflict in the Middle East. The ways in which our media tends to portray the Middle East as one homogenous region, whose religions and beliefs are all blurred into one. We talked about looking at the stories we hear from both sides of a conflict. For example, some of us may see the veil as forced upon women, as a sign of oppression. Dr. Segall pointed out that yes, there is oppression and power when forcing women to wear the veil, but there is also power when women make their own choice to wear it. She spoke about her own experiences of daily life from recently living in Iraq with her daughter. One of the main messages that I came out of this talk with was to remember to look to other sources of information for a clearer picture of the individuals living in conflict.

- Jo Krogh

Session 2: Technology and Power
Ryan Ingersoll, Michael Paulus, and David Wicks

David Wicks started the session sharing about the new Digital Education Leadership M.Ed. program. Wicks stressed the program’s intentional flexibility, as it is built around a unique sandboxed learning environment with team-taught courses, project-based learning, beta tests technology tools, and a preference towards using open access educational resources. Wicks touched on some of the important issues K-12 and higher education technologists, teachers, and students are navigating. Michael Paulus spoke next, reminding us of the long history of technology and invited us on journey to the past. Paulus shared about the different views of technology as liberator, oppressor, and instrument. To that end, Paulus introduced the need for attention and framed it by the Ten Commandments through the love of God and neighbor. Ryan Ingersoll closed the session with reflections about course topics on digital citizenship, mindfulness, multitasking, digital identity, and vocation. As a group we discussed Facebook’s mood manipulation project and reflected together on power and privacy dynamics. Ryan encouraged a need to focus on relationships in digital spaces by integrating love of God and neighbor, mindfulness, and a balanced approach to life based on the rhythm of Sabbath. Finally, he discussed how we should expand on Andy Crouch’s call towards being image bearers and implement that action of authority and vulnerability in digital spaces we inhabit.

- Ryan Ingersoll

Book Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

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Winner of 2014 Pulitzer Prize, The Goldfinch tells the life story of Theo Decker. A New York resident with a beautiful mother and an absent father, Theo is just 13 when his mother dies in a terrorist attack on the Metropolitan Museum of Art during an exhibition of Dutch masterpieces, including Carel Fabritius’ The Goldfinch. In the confusion surrounding the attack, an elderly man implores Theo to take a family-heirloom ring and gives him an urgent message to deliver to his partner. Believing the old man was also pointing at The Goldfinch, Theo takes the painting as well. These three events: losing his mother, gaining the ring, and his theft of the painting, will influence the trajectory of his life.
Theo, narrating in the first-person over a period of about 15 years, takes the reader on his journey in the aftermath of that day. Many of his experiences seem to be directed by fate or left to chance. From being taken in by a school friend’s wealthy family, to falling in love with a mysterious red-headed girl who also survived the attack, to chance meetings with people who will become life-long friends and lovers, to welcoming his deadbeat dad back into his life only to have his heart broken again, a cycle of addiction and recovery, moving to Las Vegas, and his slow descent into international antique and art forgery and theft.

Without spoiling too much, every aspect of Theo’s life comes full circle in startlingly different ways. Theo finally reflects on his life, wondering how much of his experiences were unavoidable due to fate or due to his choices and character.

Donna Tartt is a master storyteller and took over a decade to write The Goldfinch. The book is long, with a few critics saying the book would have better been split into a trilogy but it is an epic, exciting, stay-up-all-night-reading book full of richly developed characters that also manages to reflect on sadness and survival, chance and fate, and the role of art in life. Tartt is a master at conveying emotion and describing experiences and telling a story where everything, no matter how small, is connected. Recommended for art lovers, anybody who has ever wondered about how much choice or chance shapes our lives, observers of human nature, and all lovers of literary fiction.

I also highly recommend Tartt’s previous two novels: The Secret History, an inverted mystery, and The Little Friend which is technically a mystery but also an incredible study of good vs evil. Both books are available through Summit.

- Christina Nofziger

Need a room? Book it instantly.

Tech updates in study rooms.

Reserving a room just got easier! In the Spring, SPU introduced Room Finder to replace the old reservations system – now putting all of SPU’s available spaces across campus on the same page. You can now book small conference, study rooms, and media rooms at the Library instantly.

There are several ways you can reserve a room. Here’s how:

  • Use the QR code posted on the room window to reserve a room instantly or check the room’s availability with your mobile device.
  • From your dorm room or home, use your laptop to reserve a room for your next study group through the link on the library webpage.
  • The library Seminar Room is a mediated room and requires approval, so be sure to submit your request well in advance of the date needed and make sure your request meets the policies of the room.

Keep in mind that midterms and finals are an especially busy time for library study rooms. By planning ahead and anticipating your study requirements, this system will allow you to reserve your room in advance so you can beat the last minute rush for rooms.

We’re here to help with your research and academic needs. If you ever need assistance in reserving a room at the Library, or need to discuss the availability of the seminar room or other spaces in the Library, please contact Jo Krough at 206-281-2413 or email libraryrooms@spu.edu.

Welcome back!

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Welcome back students, faculty, and staff! We are excited to begin a new academic year with you and help support you in any way we can.

Here is brief overview of some of the services we offer:

The SPU Collection
Books, journals, online articles, DVDs, and more – our general collection, reference collection, and special collections are home to an extensive number of resources that are readily available to you. Items are organized according to the Library of Congress system, which means they are shelved alphabetically based on their call number (the combination of numbers and letters located on the lower spine of an item). Call numbers A-J are located on the second floor and call numbers K-Z are located on the third floor. The Work and Faith collection is located in the graduate study room on the third floor, and the Popular Fiction Collection is located in the reading room on the main level – along with recent issues of magazines and newspapers. Locate any of our items by typing keywords, titles, or known call numbers in Primo – the online library catalog found at the top of the Library home page in the blue box.

Summit
An item that cannot be located in our collection can be ordered through Summit. Summit is a shared library system run by an alliance known as the Orbis Cascade Alliance, which includes 37 libraries from across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. An item ordered through Summit (you may also discover items by searching Primo) will be delivered to SPU within five business days.

Liaison Librarians
Each Librarian at the SPU Library is affiliated with specific departments and schools, and is able to give students, and faculty, instructional and research assistance. The reference desk, is staffed by our librarians, is open daily and its hours can be found here.

Course Reserves
Books and DVDs that professors put on reserve for a class are located at the Circulation Desk. Look up the course in Primo, bring the call number to the Circulation Desk, and a staff member will locate the item for you. Most Reserve items need to stay in the library and have a time cap on them so that items will be available to other patrons.

Tech Desk
Located on the lower level of the Library, the Tech Desk offers laptops, cameras, video recorders, chargers, and tech help services among other things. The lower level is also home to the computer lab featuring computers equipped with double monitors, extensive software, and printing capabilities.

Printers
Printers are located on every floor of the Library. Log into a computer, open your document, send to print, log in to the printer with your SeaPac Pass, and select the documents you would like to have printed. More information on campus-wide printing can be found here.

Study Rooms
Study rooms are located throughout the building and provide private spaces for more effective individual and group study. They are equipped with tables, large monitors, and cables to connect these monitors to laptops. Rooms can be reserved through Room Finder (found on the Library home page). Library study rooms are not sound proof, so please be respectful of noise levels when using them.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have – we are always happy to help. Have a wonderful Fall quarter!

Book Review: Traffic

traffic

Recently, Travis Phelps of the Washington State Department of Transportation suggested that traffic would move more efficiently at merge points if people waited and merged late instead of lining up as soon as they saw the “merge ahead” signs.

I used to be resistant to the late merge, thinking like most critics that it is rude. However, after reading Tom Vanderbilt’s book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do and What it Says About Us when it came out in 2008, I made some observations and tried it myself. I was converted to late merging!

Also in Vanderbilt’s well-researched book, among many interesting driving facts, we learn about the traffic choreography that occurs during the Oscars and how we can improve our lives through better parking habits. One important conclusion the author draws is that we would all be better drivers if there was some way for us to receive regular praise on what we do well instead of only receiving negative feedback through road rage and traffic tickets.

– Liz Gruchala-Gilbert