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Staff Spotlight: Ariel Shirley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ariel Shirley is a Miami University alumna and former Miami University Libraries student worker who has returned to King Library as a library technician and overnight supervisor while working toward her master's degree.

Where are you originally from? What's your educational background?
I was born and raised in Oxford, Ohio. After finishing high school, I decided to continue my studies in Oxford and attend Miami University. While there, I obtained a B.A. in psychology with a minor in child studies. I am currently working on a master’s in instructional design and technology at Miami.

What's your title? How would you describe your position at the Miami Libraries?
I am a library technician and one of the overnight supervisors for the main circulation desk. I make sure that students feel safe and welcome while connecting them to the many resources King Library has to offer.

What drew you to work in a library environment? Why did you choose the Miami Libraries?
While attending MU as an undergrad, I actually worked all four years at King Library. I held student positions within the IMC, Tech Services and Special Collections. This experience helped me better understand the wide range of services libraries provide, while offering me the opportunity to better understand my academic and career goals. After graduating from Miami and working full-time in a different city, I decided to return to the Miami as a library technician. The welcoming atmosphere, as well as Miami's amazing academic offerings and career benefits drew me back to Oxford.

What's the best part of working in a library?
The opportunity to discover new books, the wonderful co-workers, and the ability to help someone finish a project or learn a new skill.

What's one thing you wish college students knew about using a library?
The library is a welcoming and supportive environment, and the library staff is here to help with projects and questions – all they need to do is ask.

What's your favorite book? What book character would you most like to be?
Right now, it is "The Last Days of Jack Sparks" by Jason Arnopp. If I could be any book character, it would be Sabriel from the Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix. She's a cool, smart and compassionate necromancer/charter mage – something I can totally get behind.

Any hobbies?
I enjoy creative writing, horseback riding, hiking, going to the movies, and spending time with my family.

What's something people don't know about you that might surprise them?
I am a huge comic book nerd! I enjoy reading DC/Vertigo comics, as well as indie comics (sorry, Marvel fans). Some of my favorite titles include:  Hellblazer, Batman:  Under the Red Hood, and the Umbrella Academy.

Investigating How Chinese Students Conduct Research

The Miami University Libraries are seeking volunteer Chinese students to participate in a study exploring how Chinese students perform research in relation to classroom assignments.

The study seeks to explore and better understand the information needs of Chinese patrons, so Libraries’ services can be enhanced to better meet those needs.

Participation is strictly voluntary, and those interested must be at least 18 years old. The study involves a 30-minute one-on-one interview, and participants have the freedom to stop the interview at any time or skip any question(s) they do not wish to answer. Anonymity is guaranteed, and only the research team will have access to participant responses.

If you would like to participate in this study or have any questions about the study, please contact one of the following librarians:

In addition, you may contact the Research Ethics and Integrity Office at Miami University, 513-529-3600 or humansubjects@MiamiOH.edu, if you have questions about the rights of research subjects.

Staff Spotlight: Gabriel Neff

Gabriel Neff joined the Miami University Libraries in November 2016 as a library technician and the evening circulation desk supervisor at King Library. He grew up in Cincinnati, graduated from Northern Kentucky University and began working in the library environment as a student worker during his college days.

Where are you originally from? What's your educational background?

I grew up in Mason, Ohio. After attending Archbishop Moeller High School, I was a student-athlete (football) at Seton Hill University for two years. I hold a B.A. in organizational leadership from Northern Kentucky University.

What's your title? How would you describe your position at the Miami Libraries? 

I am a library technician as well as the evening Circulation desk supervisor. I help ensure that everyone who comes to the circulation desk has a positive experience as well as connecting students to the resources they need. 

What drew you to work in a library environment? Why did you choose the Miami Libraries?

I first started working in libraries as a student employee at NKU. I found that I liked helping my fellow students and enjoyed the benefits of working on campus. I ended up completing my internship at NKU's Steely Library, working primarily in circulation and stack maintenance. A couple years later I moved to Morgantown, West Virginia, with a former college roommate and started working at West Virginia University. I was at WVU for two years, working in facilities management and residential education. Miami's excellent reputation as an academic institution, competitive pay and benefits, as well as the opportunity to come back home to Southwestern Ohio were all major factors in choosing the Miami University Libraries.

What's the best part of working in a library?
Being involved in the Miami community, helping students, patrons and guests. 

What's one thing you wish college students knew about using a library?
That library staff is always there to support them in any way. Never hesitate to ask for help.

What's your favorite book? 
"The Mind's Eye" by Oliver Sacks

Any hobbies?
Spending time with my fiancée. Hanging out with family around Oxford. Playing on the Libraries' broom ball team. Watching Bengals, Reds, Blue Jackets, Miami and WVU games. 

What's something people don't know about you that might surprise them?
I played the clarinet and viola as a kid.

Faculty stipend and workshop offered for exploring open textbooks

By Vince Frieden, strategic communications coordinator, University Libraries

REGISTER HERE

As the cost of textbooks attracts increasing state and national attention within the broader issue of college affordability, Miami University’s Office of the Provost and University Libraries seek to engage faculty in exploring open textbooks as an alternative to traditional textbooks.

Open textbooks are full, real textbooks already in use by many faculty across the country. They are licensed to be freely used, edited and distributed, and they provide faculty with content that can be customized to their courses. They are an emerging option for helping alleviate the burden of textbook costs for students.

To engage Miami’s faculty in learning more about open textbooks and exploring existing open textbook options in their course areas, the Provost’s Office and University Libraries are offering a $200 stipend through Miami’s Open Educational Resource Grant Program to faculty who will participate in a two-hour workshop and submit a review of an open textbook in their field.

The Open Textbook Workshop takes place from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 28, in King Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship (King 303). Afterward, faculty will submit a written review of an open textbook from within the Open Textbook Library (OTL). 

Both steps must be completed to receive the stipend. Interested faculty can apply for the workshop online by Friday, April 21. Capacity for the program is limited, and preference will be given based on OTL textbook subject area availability. Faculty who have participated in previous Tier 1 OER Grant Workshops are not eligible to participate in this cycle.

Questions about the workshop or open textbooks in general can be directed to Carla Myers, scholarly communications coordinator within the University Libraries, at 513-529-3935 or myersc2@MiamiOH.edu. Faculty can learn more about the emerging field of Open Educational Resources (OER) online via the University Libraries’ website.
 

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Nate Floyd

Where are you originally from? What's your educational background?
I am originally from Chesapeake, Ohio. I have BAs in history and political science, and MA’s in journalism and library science.  I am currently at work on my dissertation, where I focus on the development of journalism education in the United States. 
 
What's your title? How would you describe your position at the Miami Libraries?
I am an academic resident librarian for Information Services at King Library. At Miami University, I lead instructional sessions for first-year students and serve as the subject liaison for the department of media, journalism and film, and the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS). 
 
What drew you to work in a library environment? Why did you choose the Miami Libraries?
I like to work with students and faculty, and I enjoy supporting their research. Miami University has an excellent reputation for both teaching and undergraduate research, and I wanted to be part of that tradition.
 
What's the best part of working in a library?
The best part of working in a library is being exposed to fresh ideas and new perspectives. We help students and faculty with their research needs, but they also help us stay current on research trends and new areas of interest. 
 
What's one thing you wish college students knew about using a library?
I wish college students knew how eager librarians are to help them with their work.  They just have to ask. 
 
What's your favorite book?
My favorite book is Herzog, written in 1964, by Saul Bellow. 
 
Any hobbies?
I enjoy live music, and outdoor activities. 
 
What's something people don't know about you that might surprise them?
I was on PBS’s Reading Rainbow as a kid. No, I did not get to meet Levar Burton.  

Staff Spotlight: Carla Myers

 

Carla Myers joined the University Libraries in January as the Scholarly Communications Coordinator.

Where are you originally from? What's your educational background?
I grew-up in Huron, Ohio, and then moved to the Akron area for college. I received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Akron and obtained my master’s degree in library and information science from Kent State University. 

What's your title? How would you describe your position at the Miami Libraries? 
I'm the coordinator of scholarly communications for the Miami University Libraries. My responsibilities include facilitating the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) on campus, answering questions about U.S. Copyright Law, and helping faculty and students promote their scholarship and research within their professional communities and to the public.

What drew you to work in a library environment? Why did you choose the Miami Libraries?
Growing up, I loved to read. When I went to college, I applied for a job at the campus library, thinking it would be fun to be around so many books. I had intended to become a psychiatrist or physical therapist but quickly fell in love with library work and pursued that path instead. I chose the Miami Libraries because I was so impressed with the passion, dedication and enthusiasm of the library staff and with this beautiful campus.

What's the best part of working in a library?
I love seeing how excited patrons get when you are able to connect them with the information they need, especially when they have a challenging research question. 

What's one thing you wish college students knew about using a library?
Librarians love to be asked questions—ask us anything! We love to connect people with information, whether it's scholarly info for a class project, a topic you're investigating for fun, or directions to a restaurant. I once had a patron ask me about a good gift to give your mother for her birthday...I recommended flowers!

What's your favorite book? What book character would you most like to be? 
My favorite book is Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. A book character I admire is Hermione Granger...she's smart and tough.

Any hobbies? 
Reading, of course. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and rock climbing.

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Megan Hart

Where are you originally from? What's your educational background?
I am originally from Muncie, Indiana; however, I have lived in Oxford for the past five years. I graduated from Ball State University with an undergraduate degree in general studies, but focused in elementary education and library media and computer education. I am currently studying to get my MLIS and MS in information architecture from Kent State University.

What's your title? How would you describe your position at the Miami Libraries? (roles/responsibilities as you know them so far)
I am a Senior Library Technician at King Library. My job entails desk duties, such as answering patron questions, locating books and articles, directing phone calls to the right extension, as well as many others. I make the schedule for the desk, as well as help clean the computers when there is downtime. 

What drew you to work in a library environment? Why did you choose the Miami Libraries?
I have been working in libraries for the past six years. My previous experiences have been with public libraries, working in both circulation and as a shelver. I have always had a fascination with reading and a passion for learning. The Miami Libraries allow me to stay relatively close to my family and friends, but I have also enjoyed the atmosphere while coming in as a patron.

What's the best part of working in a library?
The best part of working in a library is the constant knowledge adventure. I always refer the process as "having to put my Sherlock hat on." I never know what question I might have to answer. 

What's one thing you wish college students knew about using a library?
Academic and public libraries are different in how they classify their books. If you are looking for a particular author or title and you don’t know the LC call number, you can’t browse the shelves as easily. Please ask for help or use the catalog. 

What's your favorite book? What book character would you most like to be?
My favorite would have to be The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The world building is amazing. I've read this at least once a year since high school. Sabriel, from Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series, would probably be a choice for one of my favorite book characters. I like strong female leads. 

Any hobbies?
My hobbies include the librarian standby of reading (with most selections being young adult), but I also enjoy horseback riding and crafting.

What's something people don't know about you that might surprise them?
I come from a large extended family, where Christmas can end up being over 70 of us there. Family reunions are even larger, with closer to 150. The great thing is that we all get along well. 

A man of many hats, Bricker reflects on his Miami Libraries career

By Vince Frieden, Strategic Communications Coordinator

Jim Bricker does not have big retirement plans. For the time being, he only wishes to spend some time lost in the clouds.

“I remember a day this past summer when I’d just finished mowing and was sitting in a chair watching the hummingbirds and deer and looking up at the clouds,” Bricker recalled. “It was just a perfect moment of contentment – nowhere to be, nothing to do. That and being able to spend time with my wife are what I’m looking forward to the most.”

A native of the Celina, Ohio, area, Bricker began working while still in high school and earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Wright State University. His job prospects upon graduation were not promising.

“In 1971, a bachelor’s degree in history qualified you to work in a factory,” Bricker said.

While his job at Goodyear Tire and Rubber was not all he had hoped for, he had the unexpected pleasure of meeting his wife, Connie, there. In 1978, he followed her to Lansing, Mich., where she did her postgraduate work at Michigan State University. Her career in electron microscopy later led them to the University of Vermont.

In 1986, Connie accepted a job in Miami’s botany department, relocating the couple closer to their families. Bricker, who had been a welder in Michigan and a warehouse worker in Vermont, found work as an assistant carpenter in Oxford.

His break came in January 1987, when a half-time position opened up in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections. He interviewed with Helen Ball, Frances McClure and Elizabeth Brice and was offered a paying job he would have gladly done for free.

Bricker’s entire Miami career was not spent in the special collections, though. He reached full-time status in 1988 by taking on an additional half-time role in interlibrary loan, which became full-time. A man of many hats throughout his life, Bricker later took on responsibilities at the information desk and in circulation, leaving him, at one point, trying to coordinate vacation between three different supervisors.

In 2005, Janet Stuckey, then head of special collections, encouraged him to apply for an opening back where his Miami career began. He finishes his career in that same position next month.

“I have this sense that I am blessed,” Bricker said. “There has not been a day since I came here when I didn’t want to get up and go to work. I get to look at Shakespeare folios and leafs from a Gutenberg Bible. And, it’s the people. Wherever I’ve worked here has been a fun environment.”

He has many favorite moments. During the Dalai Lama’s visit in 2010, he curated a special collections exhibit on Buddhism and still treasures a photo taken with him and a pair of visiting Buddhist monks. He also has thoroughly enjoyed working with and getting to know former NBC executive and Miami alumnus Rick Ludwin, who developed and advocated for Bricker’s favorite television show, Seinfeld.

Perhaps his greatest source of pride comes from the fact he has had the privilege of working for every Miami head of special collections, from Helen Ball to Bill Modrow.

When reflecting on his career in the Miami Libraries, Bricker recalls a defining moment in the early 1990s when he was taking library science classes and pondering his future.

“There was this moment where I realized what I really loved was just working in the library,” Bricker said. “I knew then that I had what I wanted, and anything else was going to complicate it. There’s a freedom to that. I’ve worked with the best people in the best place, and I’ve never regretted that.”

 

Grabach maps an ambitious course for retirement

By Vince Frieden, Strategic Communications Coordinator

Anyone looking for an engaging conversation can find a willing partner in Ken Grabach.

Grabach, who retires this month after 30 years in the Miami University Libraries, is a people person with an unquenchable curiosity, ranging from the natural world to international affairs and, of course, maps.

“I’m glad I don’t have to apply for continuing library borrowing privileges,” Grabach said. “I like to know at least a little about any topic. I love learning. I love reading. People are still going to see plenty of me around the Miami Libraries.”

The son of a protestant minister who moved frequently during his youth, Grabach considers his home Flint, Mich., where he attended high school and later the University of Michigan-Flint. After earning his master’s in library science from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, he served five years as a librarian for the U.S. Army before deciding he wanted to try the academic sector.

He arrived at the Miami Libraries 30 years ago in government documents and never left. He enjoyed his initial position, particularly when the Miami Libraries became a depository for the European Union, affording him opportunities to participate in conferences, including a week-long event in Brussels, Belgium.

But maps have long been a passion.

“I remember when I was eight years old our family got a world map,” Grabach said. “I would spread that map out on the living room floor and spend hours just looking at it or studying sections of it.”

He leapt at the chance to become the half-time maps librarian at Miami, a position that would later evolve to become full-time and to include liaison responsibilities with the departments of geography, geology and mathematics. To a man with collections of map ties and t-shirts, he was in his element.

“I’ve been getting paid to play with and buy maps,” Grabach said. “When we moved the Kuchler Vegetation Maps from Hughes to a welcoming home in special collections, I referred to them as ‘my children.’”

Supplementing that enjoyment are the many relationships he has formed with students and faculty. He recalls on Sept. 11, 2001, talking with one of his student workers, who arrived hours early for his shift just to talk to Grabach about the day’s happenings. He treasures those relationships and the opportunities he has had to touch lives.

“Moments like that are very personally rewarding,” Grabach said. “I wouldn’t have had those opportunities if I had not chosen academics. I’ve really enjoyed our students and faculty.”

The collective impact of Grabach’s work came full circle for him during his last Miami finals week.

In observing presentations from two student teams with whom he had worked closely on a client-based project, he shared pride in their hard work and saw the realized potential of his extensive efforts, along with those of Eric Johnson, to digitize much of Miami’s map collection. He also felt honored that one of his articles was cited in one of the presentations and appreciated that one of the closing slides thanked him and congratulated him on his retirement.

For Grabach, retirement with his wife, Patsy, and big, red cat, Clifford, will not mark a significant slowdown.

“I tell people that I’ll be able to sleep in until 7 a.m. now,” Grabach said. “I’m very excited about the Institute for Learning in Retirement and am already looking at a class in the spring. I also have a budding interest in photography. I still very much see myself as a student.”

 

Havighurst Special Collections included in $2.3 million estate gift

Walter Havighurst Special Collections included in $2.3 million estate gift 

By Josh Chapin, assistant director editorial services, university advancement
View full story at ForLoveandHonor.org

OXFORD, Ohio — Miami University today announced an estate gift of more than $2.3 million to benefit both the Department of Geography and University Libraries. The gift will support the Walter Havighurst Special Collections housed at King Library, as well as enhance the teaching and research programs for the Department of Geography.

The gift was made by the late Ruth McConnell ’46, who graduated from Miami with a bachelor’s degree in literature and later obtained her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. She retired as an administrative assistant from Stanford University in 1985. The gift is part of the Wallace and Della McConnell Memorial Fund, established by Ruth to honor her parents. Wallace McConnell was the geography chair at Miami from 1946-52 and taught and researched at the university starting in 1918.

The Walter Havighurst Special Collections are named for a writer and professor of English at Miami from 1928-69. The Havighurst Special Collections preserve and make accessible volumes and documents covering a variety of subject areas and historical periods, ranging from rare collections of Russian history and English literature to the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma’s Myaamia Collection and an extensive postcard collection.

“The Walter Havighurst Special Collections and our archival collections are laboratories for the humanities, offering our students hands-on experiences with records and treasures from the past,” said Jerome Conley, dean and university librarian. “Ms. McConnell’s gift joins the support of a long line of alumni and friends whose generosity allows us to preserve and enhance these rare and important collections that advance the liberal arts and help inspire informed citizens and lifelong learners.”