FSU’s Declassified Finals Week Survival Guide

In a university full of students, insane professors, and ‘gross’ dining halls, Amber (that’s me) will try to do the impossible: create a guide that will help you survive Finals Week.

Here are some top library resources to help you conquer those exams, projects, and what-feels-like-1000-page-long essays! Stay tuned for Finals Week Events at the end (and there’s FREE stuff!). Follow @fsulibraries on social media for the latest updates on services and events!

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Tip #1

Check out FSU library hours!

This will ensure you’ll be able to plan ahead for your study grind, and hopefully not end up having a Strozier “sleepover” (all-nighter) the night before your exam.

Library Hours: https://www.lib.fsu.edu/visit/hours

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Tip #2

Tutoring Services!

Strozier offers free tutoring for chemistry, math, and physics every Sunday – Wednesday, 8 pm to midnight in-person and via Zoom. This will def help you because there are WAY too many numbers and letters involved 😛

Tutoring Info: https://www.lib.fsu.edu/tutoring

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Tip #3

Have a study party!

Instead of heading to that (sketchy) house party down the street before finals you KNOW you have to study for, take advantage of study rooms and spaces! Invite your friends and hold each other accountable, too (despite how tempting that party may be lol). 2-hour group rooms can be booked on our website up to 3 days ahead of time. Check out a key for a 4-hour individual room at Strozier’s Scholar Support desk, or reserve one at Dirac online!

Study Rooms and Spaces Info: https://www.lib.fsu.edu/visit/rooms

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Tip #4

Check out books and technology!

Don’t be shy (I’m serious: most, if not all of us, have experienced library anxiety) to stop by the Scholar Support Desk at Dirac or Strozier to check out books, laptops, cameras, and more!

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Tip #5

Ask Us!

Need any help with finding information for a research project (that you may or may not have procrastinated on) or finding (annoying) peer-reviewed sources? The Ask Us! service provides research and reference support through live online chat. Feel free to take a look back at the Library Hours page in Tip #1 for updated chat hours!

Ask Us: https://www.lib.fsu.edu/help/ask

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CARTOON NETWORK TAKEOVER: FINALS WEEK EVENTS

FREE Study Supplies (because us college kids love free stuff)

Tuesday, 11/29, 3:00-4:30pm @ Dirac

Thursday, 12/1, 3:00-5:00pm @ Strozier

Build-Your-Own Study Snack Mix (FINALS WEEK!!!)

Monday, 12/5, 3:30-5:00pm @ Dirac

Tuesday, 12/6, 5:00-6:30pm @ Strozier

This post was written by Amber-Lynne Jensen, Distance Library Services Assistant.

Disclaimer: This blog post was prepared by an undergraduate student, the opinions expressed in this article are to make light and fun during a stressful time! Based on the popular TV show, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, this post lightly makes fun of some of our beloved campus buildings and is in no way an expression of the Libraries’ opinions.

My Experience Attending the Midwest Data Librarian Symposium

The Midwest Data Librarian Symposium (MDLS) is an annual conference aimed at providing Midwestern librarians, as well as others across the United States, the chance to network and discuss several industry issues and topics related to research data management. This year the event was co-hosted by the University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, and Miami University, as well as virtually through online Zoom conference calls and presentations. With free registration to all participants, MDLS focuses on the goal of providing low-cost networking and educational opportunities for established professionals and developing librarians of the future. Relatively new to the environment of Research Data Management, I was eager to represent FSU and the entire state of Florida at the Symposium, being the only participant in attendance at the conference from the state. While I could not travel to participate in the in-person programming, the free registration allowed me to actively engage with the virtual conference presentations and events, like many others over zoom meetings. 

Whether it was a zoom scavenger hunt or a presentation surrounding a less talked about subject, like “Making Infographics More Accessible”, I found that with each opportunity to engage I was able to learn something new and many things that I could bring back and put into practice in my own work. The presentations also left me with a lot to contemplate and consider, opening my eyes to information and concepts I had yet to broach or discover through my own work, like Digital Curation and Data Management for filmmakers and documentaries. For example, in the growing industry of filmmaking there are many times limited resources, especially for independent filmmakers, to effectively meet the costs to preserve their data. With barriers, like high memory file capacities, time constraints, and the threat of file corruption or loss of data, documentaries have a much more indirect path to successfully serve as critical sources of historical and cultural documentation. 

The vulnerability of data collected in documentaries further illustrates the broader importance to take serious measures to securely store raw data, especially with its potential relevance to guide other research. Additionally, metadata’s pertinence in other research frameworks encapsulates the expansive benefits of open science and universal accessibility. Pressures of academic viability, publishing, and performance can direct researchers’ hesitancy to relinquish ownership and control of data. This exemplifies the utility and demand to create stronger avenues to motivate the open sharing of data even when it is imperfect or incomplete. Procedurally, sharing upon request protocols have been imperfect, to say the least, as the decision to distribute that data is left at the mercy of the Primary Investigator of the original research that was conducted, who may have internal or external factors that motivate, dissuade, or even obstruct their ability to share the data in a timely or consistent manner.

While there were a variety of different topics covered during the conference, several presentations were based around the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) Data Management and Sharing (DMS) policy that will come into effect at the beginning of 2023. More specifically, there were discussions about the effects of this new policy on data management and sharing, as well as how to prepare and instruct those in need of support to navigate through these changes at a university level. For one of the main presentations on this topic the authors conducted semi-structured interviews at their university to survey the research data service needs of their constituents, as well as to gauge and collect their perspectives in relational proximity to the new governmental regulations being put into place. These interviews produced a myriad of noteworthy and interesting observations to take away. Perhaps the most surprising theme to emerge was that many of the researchers and professors were unaware of or unworried about the policy changes, believing that they’d be able to adapt their research practices and proposals when the new year began. Others wondered about how strictly the new policies would be enforced, especially with loose criteria for what might qualify submissions as exceptions and with aspects of proposals not tied to scoring to motivate researchers to put more effort into adopting practices that promote open science. Additional implications of being able to recognize and remove protected health information further supports the importance of collaboration when it comes to properly following research assurance, protocols, and proper maintenance as well as storage of data. 

These interviews revealed that many students and faculty across the country were uninformed and/or ill equipped to seamlessly handle this transitional phase that will take place in the coming months to comply with the new NIH DMS policy. Perhaps an even larger overarching takeaway that can be applied is that the general level of informational literacy is relatively low in association to student needs and the expectations that they must meet in order to perform adequately in their field. Adjustments are necessary to overcome the deficiencies in standard coursework that often operates on a foundational assumption that students will come into their academic institutions already having research skills and a working knowledge of information systems, catalogs, and databases. In most cases an established base of informational literacy is required to locate or know that library resources for these causes even exist. Libraries as well as universities more broadly must make an effort to publicly promote their services and resources more widely, while also making them more accessible to effectively address this dilemma. Without additional infrastructure to develop these skills, students have a much larger barrier to overcome the limitations embedded in the university academic framework. Taking levels of privilege into account with access to both technology and experience must also play a part in the organization of their practicum. 

As always each institution has its own individual needs as well as priorities and is equipped with different resources to be able to develop the necessary systems and resources to provide its student body with enough support to navigate through all academic challenges. Conferences typically follow a shared academic code of free exchange that open science bases itself on principle. Just look at the public accessibility of most universities’ research guides that they produce and publish and one can truly get a sense of the collaborative instruction that academic libraries strive to achieve. The symposium offers an opportunity that amplifies this ideal, allowing different institutions to come together to cooperate and exchange different ideas through dialogue with similar like-minded individuals trying to reach mutual goals. 

Preparing for the Midwest Data Librarian Symposium, my impression was that I’d simply be attending lectures where I’d experience most of the learning. However, in addition to some of the networking events and opportunities, the interconnectedness and interactive components of the entire conference made attending the symposium a much more well-balanced exchange of ideas and information. Moreover, MDLS hosted a slack channel to further promote ongoing discussions and networking, as well as archiving notes that all participants were given access to and permission to contribute as well for each presentation and event. In addition, many of the presentations that were longer than the five-minute rapid-fire “Lightning Talk” featured aspects of involvement from the audience, whether it was through discussion questions, breakout room consultations, or jam board collaborations to exchange ideas on different subjects. The integration of technology was applied seamlessly and improved the overall quality of engagement within the presentations and symposium as a whole. Attending this symposium gave me the chance to consider and discuss countless ideas to bring into practice with my own work. I am grateful for opportunities like these and experiences that enrich professionals at all stages in their careers with an academic environment of common interests and goals. 

Author Bio: Liam Wirsansky is a second-year MSI student at Florida State University and the STEM Libraries Graduate Assistant at FSU’s Dirac Library. He currently serves as the President and Artistic Director of White Mouse Theatre Productions at FSU and acts as the Director of Research and Development for the Rosenstrasse Foundation. Liam loves the academic outlet that research has provided him as well as the opportunity to educate and assist students in the development of their information literacy skills.

If you have any questions regarding the Midwest Data Librarian Symposium (MDLS), please contact the organizers at mwdatalibsym@gmail.com.

Some Helpful Resources That Were Shared at the Symposium:

Cozy Fall Reads

As the temperature finally cools off and we experience the whisper of a new season, it’s time to find that perfect book to curl up with in a big cozy chair in a coffee shop or by a fireplace, if you have one. Cozy reads are, of course, different for everyone depending on the books they prefer, but for me they should involve a happy ending, an entertaining cast of characters, a classic who-don-it, and a cat if possible (usually in the real world, curled up on my lap).

Below is a list of cozy stories with elements of love, mystery, and magic for your long and chilly evenings ahead.


The Night Circus

Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.


A Familiar Tail: A Witch’s Cat Mystery

Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky grey cat named Alastair, and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spell book full of trouble. Suddenly saddled with a witch’s wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle soon meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But they can’t prevent every wicked deed in town.


The Collector

When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence–against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened.


Magpie Murders

After working with bestselling crime writer Alan Conway for years, editor Susan Ryeland is intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries in sleepy English villages. His traditional formula has proved hugely successful, so successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job. Conway’s latest tale involves a murder at Pye Hall, with dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects. But the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.


The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

THE RULES OF BLACKHEATH: Evelyn Harcastle will be murdered at 11:00p.m. There are eight days , and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer. Understood? Then lets begin..


The Bookseller’s Secret

Now he’d fled for a second time, to a city where he believed no one would recognize him, identity secure until confronted by Sara Olson. Maintaining cover demanded he stay away from her while at the same time getting close enough to find out how much she knew. This mission impossible caused him to leave his safe zone to obtain information crucial to keeping his secret …


Intercepted

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She’s definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There’s just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.


Cats on the Prowl

Willow, the fluffy white Persian cat, gets more than she bargained for when she comes to live at the Nelson Police Station. Nat, the big tabby tom cat, takes her under his wing and starts teaching her the art of the police cat. Before she knows what hit her, Willow finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue, murder, and adventure that will take her to her limit and beyond. With the help of Nat and a curious collection of mysterious alley cats, Willow is on her way to discovering a depth of potential and excitement she never thought possible

This blog post was written by Dianna Bradley, Digital Library Center Metadata Specialist at FSU Libraries.

Top 10 Most Used Databases

Did you know that you can access more than 700 research databases through FSU Libraries? What is your favorite database? And what databases do your peers or professors use? When Google Scholar appears to be everyone’s go-to, why do you need to use research databases? Let’s talk about it.

Hello, my name is Kyung Kim. I am one of the Social Science Librarians working at FSU Libraries. An important part of my job is to inform the faculty and students about where to search for and access the literature they need for their assignments, learning, instructions, or research. I checked the stats and found the top 10 most popular databases on the Libraries’ Database A-Z page from October 2021 to September 2022- here’s what I found!

Top 10 Most Used Databases

Given the often seemingly endless hours you put into finding relevant articles or books for your research, knowing the pros and cons of the research databases and when to use which would enhance the quality of your academic life. Here are some quick tips on the top 10 databases!

Quick Tips! The Pros & Cons of the Most Used Databases

JSTOR is a good place to access peer-reviewed journal articles or books in the humanities and social sciences, but be aware that it often does not provide access to the most current issues. If you are looking for the latest research findings or the most recent publications on a topic, do not settle with JSTOR. See if the recent issues of the journal are available through the Libraries; if not, we recommend you use our Interlibrary Loan service to get the articles for free.

A multi-subject database, the Academic Search Complete is a good starting place if you do not know where to search, and the goal of your search is to select a few good ones by checking the breadth and not the depth of the literature on the topic.

If you are looking for the most cited papers or hot papers on a certain topic or in a subject area published in reputable, cream-of-the-crop scholarly journals, the Web of Science is your go-to. This premium database is also great for identifying a bibliographic network of who cites whom, but the search interface is not too intuitive. Besides, if you are an Arts and Humanities major, this might not be the database your professors use highly.

Do you want to search multiple databases all at once? This so-called “federated search” is available at the EBSCOhost and ProQuest Databases. EBSCO and ProQuest are two of the leading providers of academic research databases where you can search scholarly articles, eBooks, images, reports, etc., from Anthropology to Zoology. Through the FSU Libraries’ EBSCOhost database, you can search 86 databases simultaneously, and at the ProQuest Databases, 92 databases. Use these databases when you are in the mode of searching for everything, everywhere, all at once.

But why bother when you only need articles or books published in your subject areas? The Top 10 List shows that FSU researchers tend to search the APA PsycInfo for psychology literature; the PubMed (NLM) for biomedical literature; the Business Source Complete for business, and the ERIC (ProQuest) for education.

Not on the Top 10 List, but the Social Science Premium Collection database is something social science dissertation or thesis writers might want to try. There you can search 55 databases in various social science fields simultaneously. The Libraries subscribe to many other specialized databases for the university community. Having free access to rich scholarly content through subscription databases is one of the privileges of FSU members!

So, when in doubt, ask your subject librarian to learn where to search first, what search terms to use, and how to get and organize the materials you need! The librarian might also give you time-saving tips, such as when to use extra caution in evaluating certain sources and how to take full advantage of Google Scholar as a springboard to discover hidden gems in the library databases. You can request a one-on-one research consultation with librarians and meet them online or in person.

Good luck and happy searching!

This blog post was written by Kyung Kim, Social Sciences Librarian at FSU Libraries.





 

Who Has Access? The New OSTP Memo’s Rippling Effects on Publicly Funded Research

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) made groundbreaking progress at the end of August when they released a memorandum that updated their policy guidance to specify that data and results coming from taxpayer-supported research must be made immediately available and accessible to the public at no cost. OSTP also issued directions for agencies to update their public access policies and data sharing plans as soon as possible to make publications and the research they host publicly accessible, without an embargo or cost and in machine-readable formats to enable their full use and reuse.  

So what does this truly mean for students and researchers?

For many students, OSTP and any of the memorandums that have been released prior to the latest one (which many are calling the Nelson Memo as it was issued by Dr. Alondra Nelson, currently the acting director of the OSTP,) is mostly a foreign subject. What is OSTP and why does it matter? As a Graduate Student myself, I was surprised to learn about the strides taken by the government agency leading up to the release of this memorandum, and the historical struggle to achieve an open science framework that works for the masses and which aims to combat discrimination and structural inequalities inherent in the funding and publishing disadvantages experienced by underserved backgrounds and minorities, as well as  early-career researchers. 

Like many students at universities, it is easy to take the access we have to library resources, journals, and repositories for granted, especially when they meet our immediate needs. But looking at the world around us and the integration of advancing technology into everyday life and society, it is clear we live in a data driven world, making the availability and access of information a premium. Metadata, or data that describes other data, has become one of the most important concepts in the field of information, as it allows researchers to organize the data from their research or from other projects in a way that is meaningful and often cross-disciplinary in its application. This means that data can have unintended benefits and relevance to other researchers to inform their own work, assuming that they are able to access that data. With the Nelson Memo, access to publicly funded research has been defined and recognized as a right to the public. 

Until now there have been clear barriers set in place to promote the interests of academic journals and publishing, and while some of these will still exist even after all of the federal grant-making agencies release their plans for new policy implementation, this advancement toward open access establishes a clear standard moving forward. It sets the United States apart in this respect as global leaders of change in the field of open science. Prior to the Nelson memorandum’s release, Plan S, served as the global standard for open access policy guidance. It mandated that access to publications that have been produced through research grants must be immediately open and fully accessible without being monetized in any form, setting the stage for the standard that OSTP wanted to mirror and build upon.

“cOAlition S”, a consortium of national research agencies and funders from twelve European countries developed around the implementation of Plan S, has come out in support of the newest memorandum and OSTP. More broadly calling the guidance “fully aligned with the open access policies of many forward looking universities and research agencies who have implemented Plan S”, also acknowledging its correlation with the recent UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 41st session last November. Plan S realizes that we have the necessary elements and collective ability to produce digital content as well as public goods that can be shared to help shape the vision of a large connected community that makes up one body, rather than smaller disjointed organs that mirror each other because they cannot see what the other does. All of that is to say, essentially these paywalls of entry to access research act as hurdles that deny the very nature of science as a tool to better understand and help humanity as a whole.

Globally, we saw the power of open science at work in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing the scientific community together, as commercial journals and governments were forced to alter their typical subscription based structure in favor of providing temporary open access to COVID-19 and monkeypox related research data. This allowed for the development of a vaccine and ensured that the common masses had the most credible data driven information to inform their health-based choices and medical practice. Countries across the globe spend billions of dollars on research and experimental development. The United States is no different, with estimates conducted by National Science Foundation (NSF) totalling nearly $667 Billion dollars for the year 2019 alone, continuing to grow in size each of the following years. The expectation would be that the government funding the research would have ownership of the data collected and analyzed, however in the current copyright structure agreement, publicly funded research is often turned over to commercial journals. 

One of the largest concerns catalyzed by the newest memo is understanding how the policy changes will affect the viability of the current subscription model when considering the important role journals play in supporting research, such as peer reviews. Publishers were more circumspect about the changes, designating some amount of skepticism towards the question of how the shift to full open access would be funded. To alleviate this issue researchers can now use research grants and funds to support the publication components of the new policies put forth by OSTP. On the other side of the argument, students stand to benefit from open access journals in terms of the widened levels of exposure that their research will receive with entry points to view such articles increasing exponentially. In addition, libraries across the country suffer from the subscription based model with journals and are not in a position to subscribe to every single research journal that exists. FSU Libraries subscribes to several journals and databases to provide access for its students, but an increase in publicly funded and published research can only append the framework of available research, data, and information that student communities here and at other universities will have access to. Looking forward towards the future, this relationship with academic journals and publishing must continue to evolve and change.  

Ideally, community owned and managed public knowledge infrastructure seems to be the long term solution, but how do we get there? Creative Commons, a non-profit organization and international network devoted to open access and broadening the scope of educational as well as creative works to be made available for others to build upon and share with legal protections, believes we must work on the progression of “open licensing to ensure open re-use rights”. I believe that if we want to move beyond access and towards improved sharing of the information and data we collect, produce, and use, we must begin following these steps and supporting organizations, like Creative Commons or the ​Subcommittee on Open Science, as well as continue to expand who contributes to new knowledge. Most importantly we must stay informed with the latest policy updates and changes, guiding researchers to success from different backgrounds and at all levels of experience.

Committed to the development of open science, Florida State University Libraries is devoted to the free exchange and access of information on a global scale for the good of people everywhere. This change in policy not only reinforces our mission, but also prioritizes the need for comprehensive support and resources to support the students and research that our institution hosts. We are thrilled to continue to work alongside our researchers, offering a wide array of different services and workshops to navigate through these policy changes, as they openly share and provide increased access to their work. We will continue to develop upon this foundation and explore more ways we can champion open science at Florida State University and beyond. 

For more information about how the FSU Libraries supports open access, please visit our Research and Publishing web page here.

For more specific details or information on the Nelson Memo, please see the White House OSTP announcement, here.

Author Bio: Liam Wirsansky is a second-year MSI student at Florida State University and the STEM Libraries Graduate Assistant at FSU’s Dirac Library. He currently serves as the President and Artistic Director of White Mouse Theatre Productions at FSU and acts as the Director of Research and Development for the Rosenstrasse Foundation. Liam loves the academic outlet that research has provided him as well as the opportunity to educate and assist students in the development of their information literacy skills.

References

Ambrose, M. (2022, September 1). US moves to make federally funded research free upon publication. Physics Today. Retrieved from https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.2.20220901a/full/

Anderson, R. (2022, August 28). A new OSTP memo: Some initial observations and questions. The Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved from https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2022/08/29/a-new-ostp-memo-some-initial-observations-and-questions/

Elder, A., & O’Donnell, M. (2022, September 7). New White House OSTP memo requires federally funded research be immediately open. Iowa State University Libraries. Retrieved from https://www.lib.iastate.edu/news/new-white-house-ostp-memo-requires-federally-funded-research-be-immediately-open-%C2%A0

Green, C. (2022, August 30). A big win for Open access: United States mandates all publicly funded research be freely available with no embargo. Creative Commons. Retrieved from https://creativecommons.org/2022/08/26/a-big-win-for-open-access/

Plan S. (2022, August 26). cOAlition S welcomes the updated Open Access policy guidance from the White House Office of Science Technology and Policy. Retrieved from https://www.coalition-s.org/coalition-s-welcomes-the-updated-open-access-policy-guidance-from-the-white-house-office-of-science-technology-and-policy/

SPARC. (2022, August 25). Fact sheet: White House OSTP memo on ensuring free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research. Retrieved from https://sparcopen.org/our-work/2022-updated-ostp-policy-guidance/fact-sheet-white-house-ostp-memo-on-ensuring-free-immediate-and-equitable-access-to-federally-funded-research/

Stebbins, M. (2013, February 22). Expanding public access to the results of federally funded research. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2013/02/22/expanding-public-access-results-federally-funded-research

Thurston, A. (2022, September 7). Will new white house open access rules impact researchers? The Brink – Pioneering Research for Boston University. Retrieved from https://www.bu.edu/articles/2022/impact-of-new-white-house-open-access-rules-on-researchers/UNESCO. (2021, November 24). UNESCO recommendation on Open science. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/science-sustainable-future/open-science/recommendation

Meet the Social Sciences Librarian for Education & Psychology

As a Social Science Librarian, I address the research, instructional, and collection needs of faculty and students. Most members in my department—Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities (SSAH)—focus on specific subject areas. I focus on the areas of Education and Psychology!

I provide patrons with assistance on their research journey. This includes navigating databases on our library website, finding credible sources, performing citation chaining, and completing deductive and inductive searches. I love conducting research, and I am always excited to learn about others’ research. My research interests focus on systematic instructional design and organizational change. So, I have a lot of fun helping students in Education and Psychology with their specific research topics. It is a great way for me to learn more about current research in those areas.

I also teach dozens of instructional sessions every year. These sessions often focus on navigating the library website, writing correct APA citations, using citation management software, and locating relevant sources. I am a fan of active learning, and I provide students with an engaging learning environment where they learn by researching their desired topics. I find this creates a motivating learning environment and promotes retention!

Collection development is one of the responsibilities of librarians in SSAH. We keep the collection up to date with impactful research on current topics. Additionally, we concentrate on current trends in the field of librarianship and guarantee that our collection practices are beneficial to the research community. There are a lot of online students in Education and Psychology. I focus on purchasing online books and journals so our students and faculty can access the materials anywhere at any time.

I am always excited to chat about research and librarianship. Please feel free to contact me if you need any help!

This blog post was written by Jeff Phillips, Social Sciences Librarian at FSU Libraries.

How We Redesigned the Library Website

After months of development and user testing, we recently launched the updated Florida State University Libraries website. Intuitively organized, easier to navigate, and more user-friendly, our refreshed site offers an improved experience for accessing our library resources and services. Interested in how our team planned and implemented these changes? Learn more about how we designed and measured our improvements based on user feedback. We encourage you to complete this brief survey on the new site and look forward to your feedback.

Planning & Establishing Goals

Due to an upgrade requirement (Drupal 7 was nearing end-of-life, requiring an upgrade to Drupal 9), the website needed to be migrated to a new infrastructure. This upgrade provided an opportunity to “refresh” the website to improve user experience and advance our interface to best meet the needs of the FSU community. A small Website Refresh Working Group proposed the redesign as a Libraries’ strategic initiative with four phases: feedback gathering & user testing, content review, design & testing, and infrastructure upgrade and implementation.

FSU Libraries Purpose Statement: The FSU Libraries website seeks to provide low-barrier access to library collections and services in order to support the teaching, learning, and research activities of Florida State University as well as effective and meaningful engagement with library staff, services, and tools.

Based on the purpose statement above, our group developed (and iteratively revised) the following goals for the redesign:

  • Improve frontend experience / more efficient tools and workflows for internal content creation & editing
  • Improve pages for language / less jargon ( with user-focused content), accuracy, and clarity
  • Reduce barriers for tasks our users most want to accomplish
  • Simplify/streamline navigation & search systems (with mobile, touch-screen in mind)
  • Seamless integration of services, resources
  • Explore design principles to improve website consistency and aesthetic

Usability Testing

Our users’ input was an essential part of our website refresh. Our Refresh User Experience (UX) group, made up of librarians and staff from all over the library, sat down to discuss what was important to them and their departments when updating our website. Gathering ideas and tasks for users to try, we then interviewed our patrons about the many facets of the new (and old) website. Providing Amazon gift cards for incentives, the UX group tested over 25 users (a mix of undergrad, staff, and faculty), exposing many underlying problems with navigation, content, and accessibility. Users were asked to show us how they found materials, booked study rooms, located tutoring, and what they thought about the new look of the website (as just as a few examples). This information was very important for making decisions about the flow and feel of the new website. 

Some interesting takeaways from the testing include:

  • The old room booking system was clunky and difficult to use: Switching to a simpler (and accessible) system streamlined the entire process.
  • Walls of text made information on the old website harder to find: Using a standardized system of nested headings helped users find information at a glance, and made the website more accessible, as well.
  • Users may prefer FAQs to search or chat help: Patrons went to our FAQs for information on everything from noise complaints to late fines. Keeping these up-to-date and embedded in the new website were key.

User testing is all about making small, inclusive, and reasonable changes and testing again and again, so we’ll be repeating this process every semester into the foreseeable future. You can find more information about our user testing process and results here.

Gathering Feedback

We began our efforts in gathering feedback internally with a library employee survey in December 2021, assessing employee experiences and frustrations with the past website. Using this initial data, we planned internal department open forums, completed in February 2022. Not only did this assist us in identifying website issues, but the open dialogue allowed our website team to establish strong channels of communication and working relationships. The data coding (seen in this spreadsheet in the Open Forums tab) presented the following takeaways for our team to consider:

  • Limitations of the content editor workflow and process
  • Inconsistency in design
  • Inaccurate information
  • Issues with library jargon
  • Lack of service presentation

We supplemented the internal feedback with two other forms of data: analysis from our Ask Us chat and email virtual reference service transcripts, as well as entries from our website suggestion form. Based on these sources, we identified the following issues and barriers:

This data analysis, along with conducting an informal library website comparison, as well as a review of the past three years of our Web Advisory Group work, was critical in efficiently and effectively planning our website redesign to best meet the changing needs of our users.

Content Review

As we continued with the backend work to upgrade the infrastructure, including a feature review in Github, a Content Review Group embarked on the content review stage of the redesign process, in order to review our website content with the goal of assessing and improving our overall content for clarity, accuracy, voice & jargon, and design, as well as determining “ownership” of pages. We reviewed content with the website purpose and user goals in mind, developed the workflow to score each page to determine what should be moved, improved and retired. The review process involved:

  1. Developing scope of content and architecture review (based on main goals and purpose of the website)
  2. Reviewing content groups
  3. Using Google Analytics to create a list of highly trafficked, medium traffic, low traffic, or no traffic pages
  4. Auditing content (move, improve, retire) based on criteria; identify duplicate content
  5. Developing a list of pages to be retired, improved, or moved, as well as recommendations

In order to keep the scope of our review manageable, we did not asses our LibGuides, tutorials, digital collections, blog posts, social media, or associated applications. After hours of sprints, our group scored the top 500 pages of our website, which we documented on this spreadsheet. This work also directly lent itself to planning the new structure of our internal, cross-divisional website and online application work where we are reimagining our Web Advisory Group as a more engaging and proactive Website Coordinating Committee.

Reconsidering the Information Architecture & Navigation

Redesigning the website allowed the team to reconsider the information architecture of the library website. In short, information architecture (or IA) is the creation and organization of the structure and hierarchy of the website and its components in an intuitive and scalable way. Much like cleaning and organizing a house, this meant going through all of our content on the old site and putting it away into drawers (categories or patterns) in a way that makes it easy to get to later. This process is one of the key foundations of good UX, since a good IA helps users form their own mental model of the site without too much effort. As humans, we love to organize information, so when we go to a website our brain starts keeping track of where we are in relation to the home page and the other pages we’ve visited and how they’re all related. Our new architecture seems to be a success: we’ve heard from both students and librarians that the new site is “more intuitive” and “easy to navigate”. You can see our information architecture drafts and brainstorming here.

Based on the results of the content review stage, our team began to move content over, utilizing our improved information architecture and implementing a more intuitive navigation. We built the site from a true user-perspective, as opposed to organizing our content around our internal structure and workflows. This method guided users based on what users’ needed or sought from the website. While high-scoring content required a straight-forward move, some of our moderate- or low-scoring content required a full rethinking or redesign, providing the Website Refresh Working Group an opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders around the Libraries to improve pages and navigation. We developed the navigation and the menus based on our information architecture as we worked through the content move, creating a seamless user experience that represented the relationship and hierarchy of content and better connected our resources and services.

Designing the New Site

The last stages of the redesign process were the new website design and content move. The new site needed to align with the FSU Web Style Guidelines and Resources. We installed the Strata Three design into our Drupal 9 framework. Our next step was establishing goals for the design and feel of the redesign to ensure visual consistency. We established style parameters that allowed for content editor flexibility. Some of the past issues identified with our website design included inconsistent use of icons, line weight, and colors, non-stock images, and generally varying visual elements that were not cohesive throughout the site. A uniform color scheme was established and template page layouts were developed for different page types. Furthermore, we implemented a mobile first design strategy. All of our design improvements were optimized for mobile experience with responsive design features. All of these standards will be reflected in our Web Style Guide for internal content editors.

Redesign in Action

As we prepped to launch the redesigned site, we held internal open forums with library staff, announced the changes via campus-wide announcements, and encouraged feedback through a brief survey, making iterative changes as needed. New features and changes from our current website are based on user feedback, content assessment, and usage data. They include:

  • A streamlined homepage with quick access to OneSearch and popular links
  • An updated information architecture for improved navigation
  • Seamless integration of resources and services with redesigned pages for popular services
  • A ‘Getting Started’ page to guide you through our many services and information resources
  • Improved accessibility for a better website experience for all
  • Responsive design across the entire library website
  • Updated and simplified content throughout the site
  • An upgraded architecture and improved experience for content editors

We hope you are enjoying our refreshed site as the enhanced online experience to discover all of Florida State University Libraries’ collections and resources. As we move forward, we plan to continue our assessment and measure success through fewer reported website issues and improving success rate or task-completion in iterative user testing. We encourage you to complete this brief survey on the new site and look forward to your feedback!

Meet the Visual & Performing Arts Librarian

Leah Sherman

As the Visual & Performing Arts Librarian at Florida State University something I say often is that no two days are ever the same. And how could they be? I am the liaison to all six departments within the FSU College of Fine Arts (Art, Art Education, Art History, Dance, Interior Design, Theatre) as well as the FSU Master Craftsman Studio, the FSU Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, and the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. For these programs, I am responsible for all things arts-related such as collection development and management, library instruction, and reference. In this work, I’m always learning something new, and that’s one thing I really love about my job!

While my academic background lies in Art History, I am constantly inspired by the variety of arts topics I see throughout each semester. In the same week, I can go from acquiring forthcoming publications in medieval art history to working one-on-one with Dance majors researching the evolution of breakdancing. I might also be collaborating with our Special Collections & Archives Division to purchase rare materials like artist books and illuminated manuscript facsimiles, or even consulting on a digital scholarship project like the creation of the Open Access arts journal, Athanor.

Probably the biggest project I’ve been working on lately is the formation of FSU Libraries’ Art in the Library program. This new initiative is all about bringing the visual and performing arts into the library for the benefit of the entire Florida State community. We are a student-centered program that aims to highlight the work of artists across our campus, regardless of their major or professional aspirations.

Over time, Art in the Library programming will include student art exhibitions, pop-up performances, hands-on art-making experiences, and hopefully so much more! One project we recently finished was the reinstallation of Karl Zerbe prints on the 2nd floor of Strozier Library. Also, starting this month you can catch our first student art exhibition People I Know by Art Education graduate student William Rowe at Dirac Science Library.

If you are an artist interested in exhibiting with FSU Libraries: applications for the spring 2023 semester are being accepted now through September 30, and all the information about our exhibition program and future deadlines can be found on our website.

Found works of Karl Zerbe

Finally, when I’m not working with the Fine Arts community at FSU, I am active in several professional organizations. The Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) and its Southeast Chapter (ARLIS/SE) are two groups that have been very influential in my development as an arts librarian. These organizations have given me amazing opportunities to advance my scholarship through conference presentations and publications, grow my leadership skills by serving on committees and in executive roles, and connect with colleagues and mentors from around the world. Besides my work in the physical library, I have personally found that my ability to contribute to and shape my field of arts librarianship through such professional service is extremely rewarding.

This blog post was written by Leah Sherman, Visual & Performing Arts Librarian at FSU Libraries.

Meet the Government Information Specialist

My name is Priscilla Hunt and I am the Government Information Specialist for Florida State University Libraries. I first became involved with Strozier Library as a student here on campus desperately in need of class materials and resources.  As I became more familiar with the library, I took a student position working at the circulation desk and assisting the Associate Dean of Research & Learning Services, and then later on a staff position where I currently reside. 

As the Government Information Specialist, I handle a wide variety of tasks such as collection development of government resources from local, state, federal, and international levels. Additionally,  I help manage the government information portion of the library website, create physical and digital displays, engage in consultations with the public, and supervise Federal Work Study students. The last of which became the recipient of the 2022 FSU Mores Award

My two most recent projects include participation in  a team effort to create a research guide on gun violence, and FSU’s “The Human Library Project.” It is our goal that the research guide on gun violence will help to facilitate conversation, teaching, and scholarship on controversial social issues such as gun violence as well as serve as a valuable resource for data and key information. Meanwhile, The Human Library Project will include individuals of various backgrounds that make themselves readily available to scholars on campus, as a human “book” to be checked out and interviewed as a means of exploring diversity through open minded conversation. The goal of the Human Library Project is to provide a safe space for our scholars to gain perspective and understanding of individuals with unique experiences and stories, while promoting the library as the hub of the intellectual community. 

To tell you a little more about myself I’d say that I have a passion for helping people, and I like to see people reach their full potential whenever possible. I believe that we all benefit when we take the time to learn from one another and that when one of us succeeds, we all do.  So, should you ever find yourself in Strozier in need of assistance, please feel free to find me and I will do my best to help! 

This blog post was written by Priscilla Hunt, Government Information Specialist at FSU Libraries.

Art in the Library: 10 Questions with William Rowe

William Rowe

FSU Libraries’ Art in the Library Committee organizes visual and performing arts programming in its spaces to enrich the library as an aesthetic and academic environment. A major part of this program includes exhibiting artwork drawn from the FSU student body on a semester-long basis.

William Rowe is a current graduate student in the FSU Department of Art Education. Rowe graduated with a BFA in Art at Florida State. People I Know, featuring a collection of recent paintings by Rowe, is on view at Dirac Science Library during the Fall 2022 semester. Leah Sherman, Visual & Performing Arts Librarian, and Art in the Library Chair had the privilege of interviewing Rowe about the exhibit. Below is the full interview.

FSU Libraries (FSU): Tell us about this show- give our readers a brief introduction to the work you are exhibiting with us this semester.

William Rowe (WR): These paintings all portray people who are personally close to me or they are self-portraits. Each work depicts a specific moment in time with the sitter, capturing the atmosphere of that moment. In the portraits of others that are included in People I Know, each of the subjects is a very close friend and or is my partner.

(FSU): What is your favorite work in this show? Tell us a little more about the story behind it.

(WR): Bedroom: I finished this one very quickly – just an hour or two – so it has painterly or messy energy. This aesthetic is satisfying to paint; it gives a nice, intimate vibe through its abstract atmosphere.
Staircase: Unlike Bedroom, this one took a long time. It was not a happy accident. It is gratifying in its own way, though, after putting many hours into its creation.

(FSU): What does your artwork represent about you? What message do you want to send out into the world through your art?

(WR): My paintings say that I like to paint and they say a lot about who I care about, as revealed in their subject matter. Each work carries a lot of the artist’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings projected onto the subjects. The goal with a lot of these works is to capture a feeling – an authentic moment in the painterly medium. Clear renderings of a moment, not fabricated narratives. These works are meant to show a real person in a real moment.

(FSU): How does being a student impact your creative process?

(WR): I made a lot of this work while in the BFA program – being a student pushed me to make more work. I find less opportunity now in grad school and have painted less in recent years. However, I have found a lot of creative time in the breaks between semesters.

(FSU): Is research part of your art-making process? If so, could you give us an idea of what that process is like? Where do you do research before you start making? Are there any specific kinds of information that are critical to your work?

(WR): My version of research is constantly looking at artists I like – not only following historical movements but also artists working right now. When painting I also work from photographic references. I often capture moments in photographs to revisit later in my paintings.

(FSU): Who are your biggest artistic influences?

(WR): Salman Toor is one painter working today that I admire. His work is abstract and not very realistic. The theme of many of his paintings speaks to his background as being Middle Eastern, queer, and an immigrant. He creates very complicated, complex narratives that center on these themes.
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is a historical painter I am inspired by, especially his color palette and painterly style. I also enjoy his screen-printing and have done some screen-printing of my own as well.

(FSU): Do you have a preferred medium to work in?

(WR): Acrylic paint for sure, but I have done some work in oil. Overall I enjoy acrylic more because I find it better to work with, as a more flexible medium. I like working in gauche as well.

(FSU): How does art-making fit into your day-to-day life?

(WR): While I don’t paint for my current graduate degree, I work at Painting with a Twist and that gives me a lot of opportunity to paint outside of school. It’s a hands-on job where I practice copying and teaching. I also have my eye out for inspiration on a daily basis and I am frequently taking photos to return to later.

(FSU): What is your dream project or collaboration?

(WR): I would love to be part of a larger exhibition or project just dedicated to portraiture. I have exhibited before but not as often with many other painters, especially with painters more in dialogue with my own work around portraiture.

(FSU): Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

(WR): Find more from William Rowe on Instagram @windforder

Are you an artist or a group of artists looking to exhibit your work? Interested in sharing your art with the FSU Community? Have a curated exhibit you’re ready to share? Submit an exhibition proposal for the spring semester by Sep 30, 2022. This semester the Art in Library Committee is accepting proposals to exhibit at the Dirac Science Library, on the main floor in the hallway surrounding the central stairwell and elevators. This space is viewed by hundreds of students, staff, and faculty a day and can accommodate 10-15 hanging works depending on the size. For more information and to submit your exhibition proposal, visit this link.