Apply to participate in Re:humaities DH Conference :: Deadline: January 1, 2015

For all undergraduates interested in Digital Humanities, there is a very exciting opportunity coming up to get more involved in the field, have your work showcased, and meet other undergrads and professors who share your DH interests:

Re:Humanities is the first national digital humanities conference of, for, and by undergraduates, now in its fifth year. The conference’s theme for this year is “Save, Share, Self-Destruct.” It is orgarnized by Re:Hum Working Group, comprised of students from Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore Colleges. The group seeks undergraduates who engage with contemporary currents in digital humanities, scholars who both apply digital methodologies in traditional humanities research while posing critical questions about those technologies. As the only national DH conference run by and for students, Re:Humanities explores all aspects of digital scholarship through multimodal approaches.  The conference, this year at Swarthmore College, will take place from April 9-10, 2015.

The group invites all Penn undergrads (especially those interested in Digital Humanities) to submit a proposal on criticisms or projects at all stages. The submission deadline is January 1, 2015 (Midnight GMT).

Please come and talk to us if you need help developing or carrying out an idea.  This is a very exciting opportunity and our staff at WIC would be excited to make appointments and help you with whichever project you choose.

Proposals that are concerned with but not limited to the following are encouraged:

* Criticism of new media technologies and practices

* Archiving of personal and academic texts and literatures through new technologies and media

* Collaboration and solidarity in the digital humanities

* Hybrid practices, interdisciplinary media, and subversion of cultural and political norms

* Intersections between academic research and a public audience

* Public preservation of histories and cultures

* Risk, trial, and error in new media

* Privacy: digital footprints, cloud storage, and Big Data

* Self-destructing data and Do Not Track technology

* Identity as shaped by excessive information or data deprivation

Explore some of our resources here at WIC, on Student Work Showcase, Demystifying the Digital Humanities, Playing Games with Metadata, and the Penn Humanities Forum for ideas.

For updates, stay connected on Twitter, Facebook  and check out the video from last year’s event

Categories: Pedagogy

Hoesley Networking Mixer

Hoesley students and WIC staff gather at a networking dinner.

We learned about each other’s career aspirations at the Hoesley Networking Mixer on December 5. Students in this year’s cohort presented drafts of their professional websites, and gathered suggestions from administrators from around campus, including the WIC Program Partners Group. We reflected on the challenge of self-introductions in different contexts – What do you include? What do you emphasize? What do you skip over? How do you present yourself and judge the context you find yourself in? All these questions are important regardless of one’s age or years of experience.

Students had used WordPress and Squarespace for their sites, and experimented with photos, videos, 3D molecule models and musical interpretations. Seeing each other’s work on the big screen was inspirational! We look forward to our students publishing their websites in the months ahead.

Categories: Pedagogy

It’s Elf Week

Join us today (and, frankly, probably every day this week) in the Vitale Digital Media Lab for our annual viewing of Elf.  If you have other holiday-themed movies you’d like to watch, bring them in and we’ll do our best to add them to the queue.

This fantastic image comes from Scott Campbell’s excellent “Great Showdowns” blog.

Categories: Pedagogy

Active and Collaborative Learning

Teaching social media tools in the Collaborative Classroom

Having researched learning spaces over the past couple of years, and having taught some active and collaborative workshops of my own in Van Pelt Library’s new Collaborative Classroom, I’ve become more interested in how faculty are using active learning classrooms (ALCs) to better engage students with each other and with course material. This semester, I was lucky enough to do a number of active-learning-related things: present about Penn Libraries’ Collaborative Classroom together with Sam Kirk at a local conference, travel to another university to learn about how their ALCs work, and observe active learning right here in our own Collaborative Classroom.

In September, Sam Kirk and I presented at the annual PaLA Conference in Lancaster on the evolution of learning spaces in academic libraries. Particularly, we highlighted spaces at Penn Libraries, including WIC, the EC, and the new Collaborative Classroom. We talked about our experiences working with both technology and patrons in these spaces, and most importantly, how you can engage in active learning even if you don’t have a formal active learning space.

Our audience members hailed from both public and academic libraries alike.  They engaged in some active learning themselves in our session to imagine their own ideal library learning spaces. It was great to learn how other libraries are re-imagining traditional library spaces to accommodate new teaching and learning methodologies.

Medium-sized ALC at the University of Minnesota

Also in September, I had the special opportunity, together with staff members from all around Penn, of visiting the University of Minnesota’s Science Teaching & Student Services center (STSS), which features 14 active learning classrooms of various sizes (from those that seat 27 to those that seat 171). During just a few hours at the university, our group toured each size classroom, spoke with university administrators about classroom use, effects on student learning and engagement, ways the university has assessed student outcomes in active learning classrooms, and observed a 130-person introductory biology class.

In the biology class, about 15 tables of 9 students worked on an “inquiry,” which involved annotating a diagram of DNA replication. Each group worked together to draw the figure on their whiteboard and collectively annotate it, with certain group members assigned to transcribe, look up information on the computer, and touch base with the instructors and TAs. It was fascinating to see the groups work within their tables, across tables, and even to answer their own questions as they went through this active learning process. To finish, all groups took a picture of their diagram and emailed it to the professor, who then selected one picture to share with the class and analyze.

One of the most important takeaways from this active learning observation included students’ accountability for group work. Because group work is such a large part of each student’s grade, measured by in-class quizzes, peer-reviews, and end-of-term evaluations, students feel a collective responsibility to ensure that all work produced is of high quality. One instructor reported that students will even call each other out if anyone in the group is texting or on Facebook when they need to be paying attention (sounds like every instructor’s dream come true!).

Here at Penn Libraries, my active learning experiences this semester culminated in observing Dr. Cathy Turner’s English class, “Modern America.” My involvement in Cathy’s class started at the beginning of the semester when she requested using WIC’s iPads each week so that students could collectively edit poetry in a class Google Drive account, project it on the whiteboard walls, and annotate over it with marker (Cathy has also used our iPads for collaborative learning in past courses). This was Cathy’s first semester teaching in the classroom, and she also experimented with other collaborative text-annotation tools, including Annotation Studio, with the help of subject librarian Sam Kirk.

Students finding and projecting advice columns from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

During the class I observed, students used laptops at each table to find and then project onto the whiteboards advice columns from the Brookyln Daily Eagle in the early-1930s. Tapping into actual printed material acted as a way for the students to shed more social and cultural context on their current reading assignment, Nathanael West’s novel Miss Lonelyhearts.  Students rotated around each table reading each others’ discoveries and contemplating connections to the novel, including similarities and differences in tone, topic, language and authenticity. Then, in their groups, the students brainstormed general social/cultural/political themes that pervaded the actual Brooklyn Daily Eagle advice columns, and how these connected to issues West highlights in Miss Lonelyhearts.

I had such a great time participating in Cathy’s class and am very grateful to her and her students for inviting me! It was fantastic to see how active learning is working right here in Van Pelt Library, especially in a humanities class, and it gave me lots of ideas to incorporate into my future workshops and research. I’d say my active participating in active learning did increase my own understanding of these topics, a “meta” experience not uncommon in active learning pedagogy!

Categories: Pedagogy

Symposium 2014 Wrap-Up

This year’s Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium was a great success with over 130 attendees from all 12 schools at Penn! Our guiding question this year was: “How can technology empower our students, and us, as learners?” Students from all over Penn took our pre-Symposium “Make Your Voice Count!” survey, and their words helped guide discussions throughout the day.

Enjoying lunch in a WIC Data Diner Booth. Photo by Jaime Marie Estrada, WIC Social Media Intern.

We’ve captured the day via Storify and Flickr with lots of pictures and tweets for you to explore. Please check back soon for event videos and comments from attendants.

Thanks to everyone who made this year’s Symposium a success!

Categories: Pedagogy

The Most Important Keys on the Keyboard

Remember to Save.  

Whether you’re typing up your research paper, editing a video, or putting the final touches on a PowerPoint presentation, don’t forget to save your work.

The funny thing is, all of us have been  hearing this our entire lives, and yet never a semester goes by without a few of our users losing hours of hard work simply because they didn’t save as they worked.

Remember to Save

  • If you’re on a Mac, like the ones in the Vitale Digital Media Lab, just type CMD-S
  • If you’re on a PC, it’s CTRL-S

It takes no time at all just to tap those 2 keys as you’re typing along.

If you’re using a program that offers it (like Microsoft Word or Adobe Premiere), you might also want to set the auto-save feature to save every 5-10 minutes—just in case.

Please, please, please:  Remember to Save  (I’m hoping if I say it enough, you’ll actually do it.   :)

(It’s also a really good idea to back up your work to another location, but that’s a topic for a different post)

Categories: Pedagogy

Social Media, Privacy, and Your Brand

In September 2014, as part of many changes to come for their privacy program, Facebook began to roll out something called privacy checkups. It is a built-in feature that reminds you when you’re posting something publicly. There’s a pretty good tutorial about it here:

Read more after the jump…

This quick tutorial in using the privacy settings on individual posts may seem basic, but it’s easy to forget that you can (and probably should) be aware of who is reading your posts. Every post you make can be customized to a specific audience. You can choose to share the post with only “friends,” or a specific group of people you can choose by typing their usernames in, or you can choose to exclude specific groups of people by making a list of them. Keep in mind though that unless you use the “Only Me” feature, anyone who is in your allowed group can take a screenshot of your post and share it far and wide.

This is important to remember when working on a personal brand. Facebook may not seem like a place where you need to be concerned with what you say, specifically because it’s a closed group of friends unless you have a public profile, but anything you say can become public very quickly despite your best intentions and intelligent use of privacy settings.

For example, based on a 2012 Pew Research Study published as an infographic in 2013, teenagers are a specifically active group on social media and they don’t protect their privacy as actively as they could. 64% of teens with Twitter have public profiles. 14% of teens with Facebook have completely public profiles. 33% of teens are “friends” with people on Facebook that they’ve never met.

None of these statistics are inherently negative, but it is important to increase the literacy of students as they go to college, and then eventually are on the job market. Educating oneself about the nature of social networks and how to best utilize them early on is one way to boost your chances of success later. Everything we say and write online is stored and becomes part of our digital footprint.

Meanwhile the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse proposes five types of social networks as follows:

The folks there have a lot to say about these different types of networks and how best to use them, so click on over and read about each type in more detail. Can you guess which social media platforms belong in which category?

In addition to understanding the types of social media sites out there, you need to keep on top of how they change over time. There are many bloggers and websites that periodically review changes in social media, privacy alerts, and also discuss personal and professional branding.

One of my favorites is professional social media manager Tereza Litza. She blogs on LinkedIn about her experiences managing professional brands and a lot of her advice carries over to personal branding as well. In a recent blog post about the 9 mistakes you might be making on social media, she quotes Jason Squires and adds useful tips. I’ll echo my three favorite recommendations here, but if you want to read them in full detail, click on over to her post:

  • Focus on quality, rather than quantity
  • Focus on what works
  • Follow the rules for each network

She posted this article on We R Social Media, which I find a great source for social media tools and ways to measure your audience!

In January, I will be writing a follow-up post that goes into more detail about the Facebook changes for the new year. Keep the PennWIC Blog on lock!

Categories: Pedagogy

SketchUp Software

I have used a lot of 3D modeling tools mainly to design and develop products and to create simple scenarios. I have found SketchUp to be a great tool.

It allows you to create 3D models of everything and anything you want – it’s intuitive, fun and free for anyone to use. If you want to redecorate your living room, invent a new piece of furniture, model your city for Google Earth or make a stage for a theater production, nothing could be simpler and faster than SketchUp. It has been designed for architects, engineers as well as film makers, game developers and related professions.

The 3D warehouse makes it easy to add in commonplace objects to give the presentation a “wow” factor and the Extension Warehouse gives flexibility to pick a plugin for any specific task such as rendering, 3D printing or wood working.

I like SketchUp because it is easy to use. You can quickly make complex objects, and the basic version is free. However, the tool does get fiddly when you focus on close-up details. It doesn’t have the functionality of parametric software such as Solidworks or Pro-E (now called Creo) where you can edit feature by feature instead of changing a whole block at a time. But then again, it is the lack of complexity that makes Sketchup faster and easy.

Please join me for a workshop tomorrow, December 4, and check back here for online materials afterwards. We will explore hands-on how to give shape to your imagination.

Categories: Pedagogy

A Fab Fall for the (Digital) Humanities

As the days get shorter and the weather much chillier, I’m not only reminded of how quickly fall semester is passing, but also of the many great humanities and digital humanities events I’ve had the chance to attend over the past few months here at Penn.

It seems appropriate to kick off a discussion of the humanities at Penn with the (wonderfully and fittingly named) HAIKU Conference: The Humanities and Arts in the Integrated Knowledge University. The conference, sponsored by the Office of the Provost’s Art & Culture Initiative, offered two days of multidisciplinary presentations, discussions, and performances addressing questions such as, “What do the humanities and the arts have to offer contemporary efforts to integrate distinct bodies of knowledge within the research university?” and “How will the humanities and the arts retain their specificity within this climate of integration and is it even important that they do so?” Scholars discussed topics including (but not limited to): what “art-making” means in the 21st century and the importance of the artist in the academic community; using digital storytelling to capture the history and memory of a particular community; questions of how translation can lead to inequality in representing a culture or nation; and the trajectory of creative writing programs in US higher education, as they differ from core literary programs.  The breadth in topic diversity at HAIKU indicated the continued influence of the arts and humanities on various research disciplines and how they enlighten all of us who make up the “integrated knowledge university.”

The Penn Humanities Forum (PHF) has held many exciting discussions this semester. With a theme of “color,” PHF events have explored issues from race and diversity to visual literacy and scholarship. The kick-off event for the Humanities Forum – “The Writer’s Palette” – featured Zadie Smith, a London-born novelist and current professor of Creative Writing at NYU, in conversation with Penn’s own Professor of English, Jed Etsy.

Screen shot from the PHF event website,

Smith’s novels and stories are known for exploring complex issues of ethic and race relations, and dynamics of diversity across geographical and cultural boundaries. Smith herself is of mixed race background (her father English, her mother Jamaican); this question of identity and belonging not only has gained momentum in her writing but also featured prominently in her discussion with Prof. Etsy and the audience here at Penn. For me, the most poignant takeaway from Zadie’s talk involved an idea of “not knowing” others – that everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity, and/or outward appearance, retains a nature of opacity to others and even to the self at times. In other words, folks aren’t as transparent as we make them out to be; whether a fictional character or someone we encounter in the world, it’s ever important to realize that “knowing” a person is a complex process that involves much patience and an open mind.

In addition to the PHF, the DHF (Digital Humanities Forum) hosted fascinating discussions on using color in digital tools to visialize information. Two events featured Ryan Cordell, an assistant professor of English at Northeastern University and a Mellon Fellow in Bibliography at the Rare Book School: “Viral Texts & the Technologies of Authorship” and “Visualizing Literacy and Historical Networks with Gephi.” The Viral Texts project examines 19th-century literary texts and nonfiction prose that was circulated and freely reprinted by various newspapers and magazines (copyright wasn’t exactly an issue in the 19th century). The project uses computational linguistics and data visualization tools to analyze the connections among publications and ask new questions about public print in the 19th century.

A screen shot from the Viral Texts project, from

After presenting on the Viral Texts project, the DHF held a “Tools-and-Techniques” luncheon in which Cordell went into more detail about Gephi, the free integrative visualization platform that enables showing network connections among “nodes” (things you’re representing) and “edges” (lines that connect the nodes). Gephi is relatively intuitive and easy to use; however, Cordell did warn that there is some data cleanup necessary before jumping into the program. For me, the network connections created on Gephi made it clear which newspapers, in Cordell’s example, were important players in 19th-century print culture. I can only imagine the number of research questions (about cultural, economic, political issues, etc.) that one could ask in starting to visualize and analyze such information.

In accordance with the PHF’s “color” theme, a few of us from the Penn Libraries recently hosted the Undergraduate Humanities Forum in a workshop focused on how actual colors can enhance scholarship. Topics included: color to express information; color to assist with research; color to reveal trends and biases; and color as a creative tool. The discussion ran from creating colorful network graphs (using Gephi, for example), to creating collages of photos on Instagram, to using conditional formatting in Excel to visualize climate change, to colorblindness and issues of accessibility. It was tremendously inspiring to discuss the students’ individual projects and how much interesting work humanities undergraduates are contributing to Penn’s scholarly community.

Overall, it’s been a very exciting fall for the (digital) humanities here at Penn.  As a librarian supporting digital scholarship, I am ecstatic to see all of the projects that folks across the university are involved in, and I hope to attend many more such events next semester!

Categories: Pedagogy

Cut and Paste, Then and Now

Last week, we had the rare opportunity to chat with this year’s Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellows in the Humanities thanks to Kimberly Kolor, a fellow who is also in the Hoesley Digital Literacy Fellows Program. We prepared by brainstorming around this year’s theme of “Color”, a wonderfully flexible and creative theme indeed. Vickie Karasic, Katie Rawson and Rebecca Stuhr joined me in providing a whirlwind tour of tools (Artemis, Instagram, Gephi, Excel, PhotoShop, and more). We talked about how fast the tools are changing, and how one is never really ever up-to-date. As I was listening to the students describe individual research projects and the presenters explain how digital humanities tools make new types of inquiry possible, I was struck once again by how useful metaphors can be for sense-making across contexts and disciplines. In a recent post on the Schoenberg Institute’s blog for example, Dot Porter provides a beautifully detailed tour of reuse and adaptation over the centuries. I loved this image of medieval cut-and-paste followed swiftly by find-and-replace in XML. As we explore ways to “mashup” video and images, I wonder if future generations will look through our creations, painstakingly reconstruct the steps we took, and speculate about our motivations and logic!

Categories: Pedagogy

Stats Software Help @ WIC

At WIC, you can already get help with writing, speaking, technology, copyright and more. In addition, we’re glad to announce that Douglas Allen will begin providing assistance with statistical software. (Douglas was here last year thanks to GAPSA support.) Douglas will assist you in collaboration with our Social Sciences Data Librarian Christine Murray.

Douglas can assist you with statistical software including STATA, SPSS, R and Excel. He welcomes questions about proper commands, seeking help with compiling useful syntax files for repeated analyses, or troubleshooting issues with data processing. He cautions that his assistance is not intended to help students decide on the suitability of a given statistical method for their research, pick which datasets to use, or interpret results. Douglas  is a fourth year doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication. His research investigates how public interest journalism will survive as it transitions into the digital age and moves increasingly online where advertising support is harder to find and norms of free access discourage paying for content. He has his Bachelors in Economics and his Masters degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University, and several years of experience as an energy consultant in California.
Categories: Pedagogy

Filter beyond ‘Filter’

Filter – the little funnel shaped icon in Excel, may be one of the most frequently used functions in Excel. Tell Excel one or several conditions and let Excel return those rows that meet your criteria. It works perfectly well in one single column.

However, sometimes you may want to filter one column according to the corresponding value in another column – in such a case, Filter may not be the most convenient way.

Here is an example. One patron recently came to my Office Hours inquiring about filtering in her Excel worksheet. She has two columns here, like this:

She would like to get all values in column B if the number in B is larger than the corresponding number in A.

While Filter might seem like the best option for this problem, it cannot really help you to compare the value in the same row but in different columns.

Thus, here I introduced her an useful function – IF function.

The syntax is like this:

IF(logical_test, [value_if_true], [value_if_false])

According to the definition from the Microsoft website, the  IF function returns one value if a condition you specify evaluates to TRUE, and another value if that condition evaluates to FALSE.

So, now let’s try this out.

In cell C1, we type:


For this function, I basically tell Excel that if the value in cell A1 is smaller than the value in cell B1, then it will say “YES”, otherwise, it will say “NO”.

Then I can use AutoFill to fill the rest of the rows – thus you can get a column with “YES’s” and “NO’s.”

Now you can easily use Filter to filter out those rows with “YES’s.” Done!

If you are not familiar with AutoFill and how to input a function, you can refer to this handout here!

As a second way, you can also use Conditional Formatting to solve this problem.

Under the [HOME] tab, you can find the Conditional Formatting button in the [Styles] group.

  • Choose the range B1:B7 first, then click on Conditional Formatting
  • Choose [Highlight Cells Rules] – [Greater Than]

  • In the dialog box, put “=A1″ in the empty box, then click OK.

  • Now you will find that all the rows that meet our criteria will be highlighted with the selected style.

Conditional Formatting can use colors and styles to help you “filter” out the records you need. I found this visualization method really easy and helpful!

As always, if  you have questions about this or other aspects of Excel, please stop by the Weigle Information Commons during my Excel office hours, and I will help to troubleshoot your problem!

Categories: Pedagogy

Happy Halloween!

Awesome 3D art by Gekimura

Happy Halloween!

Be sure to stop by the lab today for a candy bar, and while you’re here stay and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas with us!

Categories: Pedagogy

Your words: Student Survey Results

Tomorrow, we expect over 220 people from all twelve schools at Penn to come together at our Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium. Our first one, in 2008, brought 48 people. Each year, the event has grown in popularity. It’s a rare opportunity to sit together, talk, and listen.

This year, we designed a survey with brainstorming sessions and launched our “Make Your Voice Count” campaign in early October. We are glad that 56 students took time to chime in! They gave us, in the 2014 Student Survey Results, fully 16 pages of ideas to mull over tomorrow.

Following opening remarks by Kim Eke, five faculty will speak on the morning faculty panel – Jeffrey Babin, Rosemary FrassoMarybeth Gasman, Jeffery Saven and  Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw. After they speak, Peter Decherney will facilitate an undergraduate student panel with Rebecca Hallac, Laura Petro, Virginia Seymour, Lucas Siegmund and Dyana Wing So.

We will live-stream the faculty panel, the student panel and the lightning round. Videos will available later on the Penn Libraries YouTube Channel. We also plan to use Canvas in many ways throughout the symposium. Looking forward to a packed day!

Categories: Pedagogy

5 Ways to Make Your iPhone Battery Last Longer

This guest post by Kelli Liu, a sophomore from southern California majoring in biology and Apple campus representative, provides some tips for maximizing your iPhone’s battery life.

“Sorry, my phone died.” This short phrase is thrown around all the time—sometimes by us and sometimes to us. While it used to start out as an excuse for not responding to someone, more often than not now, it’s actually true. The transient nature of our battery lives is an increasing issue for phone-reliant college students. Luckily, there are little tricks you can learn to help keep your battery alive a little longer, or sometimes, even a lot. Check these tips out:

1. Turn off Parallax

You may have noticed that when you are at your home screen, your background will move with the tilt of your phone. While this feature is cool for some, it is often dizzying or unnecessary to others. Don’t think you need it? Turn it off through
Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion > On, and save some battery.

2. Quit Your Apps

Most people know this feature, but if you are iOS7 or iOS8, you can double click the home button to display all the apps open. You can then proceed to “swipe up” any app that you don’t need. People often forget to quit their apps after they are done, so even if you stop using the app, if you don’t close it, it’ll keep running.

A cool new feature of iOS8 is that you can now see what apps are using the most battery under Settings > General > Usage. This helps you know which apps to quit if you need them all or simply want to have your battery last a little longer.

3. Turn Off Location Services

Some apps like maps and weather are necessary for location services, but others really aren’t; they are unnecessarily and unknowingly draining your battery life when you open them. Edit these settings under Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

4. Turn Down Your Brightness

Unless you need your screen to shine like a flashlight, turn down your screen brightness. The level of brightness on your screen may seem like no big deal, but the energy your phone expends to keep everything a little bit brighter would really surprise you. You can also turn on auto-brightness if you want your phone to help when you forget.

5. Turn Off What You Don’t Need

This is like quitting apps, but for settings like WiFi and Bluetooth. When these features are on, they are constantly searching for connectivity and searching drains your battery without you even knowing it.

Recently moved to an iPhone 6 or 6+, or from Android to iPhone? Check out this post for more tips on using iOS 8.

Categories: Pedagogy

How Do Libraries Create Services in the Electronic Age?

Libraries have been wrestling with an important issue for years: how can we (and should we) provide reserve materials in electronic formats? In print this was never an issue; if students needed to read an article, libraries could put it on reserve and students could copy it for personal study, or, alternatively, a professor could ask a copy shop to create a course pack which students could then purchase. Recently a case came up in court Cambridge U. Press et. al. vs. Patton (aka the “Georgia State Case”) which essentially is wrestling with that fundamental issue of what libraries can and cannot do with electronic reserves. Fundamentally, the answer comes down to one’s interpretation of fair use.

The courts did not exactly solve the problem for libraries (and the case is still ongoing). They have, however, affirmed some important principles to keep in mind:

  • Fair Use has to be done on a case by case basis. There are no broad rules that apply across the board to different kinds of material.
  • The four factors are not a checklist. If you have 3 of them, you may not have a fair use. If you only have one of them, you may have a fair use. It depends on the circumstances and the purpose of the use.
  • Speaking of checklists, the advice provided in various recommendations such as the Classroom Copying Guidelines and other forms of best practices are not legally binding. They can help to think about issues, but will not necessarily help you in court.
  • Library reserves (electronic or print) are not the same as coursepacks. There are certainly similarities, but the legal cases that apply to Kinkos and other companies which sell copies of articles to students do not apply to the services that libraries provide.
  • Most importantly, libraries have to pay attention to the market for reserve material. If libraries potentially affect the publishers’ ability to make money from their products, then it is even more important to look much more thoroughly at the other factors of fair use.

To that last point, there are certain questions that libraries need to consider whenever they assert fair use.

  • Does the use of the material clearly serve the purpose (pedagogical or otherwise) of the course or argument, and, perhaps more importantly, would that purpose be clear to a judge or someone from outside assessing the use?
  • Has the professor, assistant or researcher used whatever they need to make their point, but no more than is needed to make their point? Also, would an outsider (judge or publisher) agree that they used only the amount necessary to make their point?

So, as long as libraries are not causing market harm and they keep in mind those questions, then the courts have supported the rights of fair use. Nevertheless, the questions of how traditional reserve functions fit into an electronic world are still unanswered. More importantly, however, the community needs to decide its interpretation of fair use in certain contexts. Fortunately, the Association of Research Libraries’ Code of Best Practices for Fair Use provides a great deal of help in that regard, and can help individual libraries in assessing these questions.

If you’re interested in learning more, here are some further blog posts from real lawyers about these recent cases:

Categories: Pedagogy

Conference Takeaway

It is our pleasure to announce two new “Conference kits” reservable online for faculty to borrow from the Vitale Digital Media Lab at the Weigle Information Commons. The kits can be borrowed for up to eight days. Each kit contains an Apple Mac-book Air and several video adapters to make it easy to present at a conference (as well as in a classroom).

To reserve, login to WebCheckout with Pennkey, click on “Add Resource”, and look under “Presentation Aids” for the “Laptop Presenter Kits”. Please review our equipment lending guidelines for loan details. WIC provides workshops and tutorials on presentation software such as Prezi and PowerPoint, so let us know how we can help make your next conference presentation the best it can be!

Categories: Pedagogy

How to be Basic

This guest post is by Amanda Gisonni, a junior studying Psychology in the College. In this post, she describes various ways to gain basic skill sets in computer software programs by using resources in the Weigle Information Commons. 

This is not what you think it is. I am not here to instruct you on how to dress or how to act “basic.”  But I will tell you how you can gain some basic skills in certain computer software programs; in other words, boost your knowledge when it comes to Excel, PowerPoint, Illustrator, and more. Weigle Information Commons offers a variety of WICshops that demonstrate some introductory topics in a hands-on approach that will help get you started.

This is the WIC Seminar Room in which many workshops are held.

WICshops give a brief but thorough introduction to these programs. They are a starting point and meant to introduce you to the essentials of each program. You will start at the beginning, with opening the program, then you will actually get to use the program and finish by learning how to save your work. Also, these workshops are for people of all skill sets! So, if you are not so tech-savvy, these classes are great for you, and they are also great for people who have some knowledge and are looking to gain more.

Some of the ones I have tried and recommend include InDesign, Photoshop Basics, Photoshop Selection Tools, PowerPoint and more. This October and November, Weigle is offering a variety of workshops for students, some of which include:

  • Introduction to Latex: For those looking to create a scientific document, learn what Latex is and the uses for it in this class. Use various documents, page layouts, fonts and images.
  • Introduction to ArcGIS I: This workshop demonstrates the software and data behind creating maps and geographic analyses. There will be simple exercises to introduce the program to beginners.
  • Introduction to Text Mining: This class is for beginners and those who have some prior experience. “Learn the why and the how of text mining, methodology, cautionary tales, and preferred tools.”
This WICshop calendar is comprehensive and easy to use.

But why stop there? If you are too basic for these, then take some advanced classes! I recommend signing up for Advanced Illustrator Techniques and Audio and Video in PowerPoint.

Each month new WICshops are posted; check the website periodically to see if there is a workshop you are particularly interested in. I also suggest attending office hours if you have a specific question or need help with a certain program. Excel Office Hours and Copyright Office Hours are offered each week. Staff in Weigle and the Vitale Digital Media Lab will also help answer any questions you may have!



Categories: Pedagogy

Open Access Week – October 20 – 24, 2014

Open Access week is a global event for institutions around the world to discuss the ways open access is changing the worlds of publishing and scholarly communication.

Below is a schedule of events that Penn is hosting next week.  Please feel free to pass along to anyone who is interested.  You can view the full calendar of events and sign up at

These lectures, workshops, and movie screenings are open to the Penn community and all others who wish to learn more about open access.

Monday, October 20

Open Access Images
10:00am-11:00am, Goldstein Electronic Center, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
Learn to create and adapt open access images using a variety of techniques.

Tuesday, October 21

Lunch Discussion with Joshua Nicholson
12:00pm-1:00pm, Meyerson Conference Room, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
A skype discussion with Joshua Nicholson,founder of “The Winnower,” an open access online science publishing
platform .

Creative Commons: The License to Share Knowledge
4:00pm-5:00pm, Room 626, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
Creative Commons (CC): assign Creative Commons licenses to your own work and nd Creative Commons licensed works – images, texts, and other original material – that you can use in your teaching, scholarship, and creative productions.

Wednesday, October 22

The New Wave of Open Access Publishing
12:00pm-1:00pm, Meyerson Conference Room, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
A conversation about new open access publishing models including Humanities endeavors: Knowledge Unlatched
and The Open Humanities Library and Biology and medicine journal platform PeerJ. Register to receive readings
in advance.

RiP!: A Remix Manifesto Screening
6:00pm-7:30pm, Class of ‘55, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
Immerse yourself in the energetic, innovative and potentially illegal world of mash-up media with RiP: A Remix
Manifesto (2008 documentary).

Thursday, October 23

The Feedback Loop Between Open Access & Altmetrics
1:00pm-2:00pm, Class of ’54 (3rd Floor), Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center
Mike Showalter of Plum Analytics will describe and demonstrate the capabilities of using altmetrics to create your
own open access feedback loop (1 hour Webinar).

MOOCs & Beyond: An Open House Hosted by the Open Learning Initiative
4:00pm-5:30pm, Room108, ARCH Building, 3601 Locust Walk
Join the Open Learning team to learn more about creating a MOOC and what resources are available on campus.

Categories: Pedagogy

5 Must-Have Apps for Students

This guest post by Kelli Liu, a sophomore from southern California majoring in biology and Apple campus representative, provides recommendations on apps. This post reflects Kelli’s personal opinions and should not be construed as an endorsement by Penn Libraries.

With the industry for app development booming, trying to navigate the app market is overwhelming and often times exhausting. While it’s nice to have so many options, it’s easy to settle for an application even if there’s an even better option out there for you, and it’s especially easy to scroll right past an app that could change your life, or at least the way you work.

Here’s a guide to some must-have, top rated apps that are certainly worth the download, and definitely worth the price—free! So check them out, download them, and enjoy the luxuries of this generation’s application boom.

1. F.lux

Ever check your phone at night only to get blinded by the screen? Ever try to read a text in the daytime only to find your phone is too dim? Navigating your way through settings or messing around with control center isn’t a huge labor, but wouldn’t it be easier if your phone just did it for you?

My friend has been urging me to download F.lux, and being a skeptic that I am, I refrained for a long time. Two weeks ago I downloaded it, and it certainly lives up to all of its rave reviews.

2. Monolingual

With people downloading movies, textbooks, and hundreds of photos, the need for storage space is more crucial then ever. I try to clean out my computer once a month to throw out old downloads or applications that I don’t use any more just to make more space. However, these old files really aren’t the problem. Word documents and photos hardly take up any space in broad perspective. A lot of space is occupied with programs and information that your computer was pre-loaded with. One of these space stealers is the bank of languages that your computer stores just in case you want to convert your computer to Flemish, Urdu, or whatever language you will never learn how to speak.

Monolingual allows you to cut out these languages from your computer’s bank, so you save tons of space that used to be devoted to saving loads upon loads of foreign languages. Definitely download monolingual if you are like me and find yourself discarding documents that you don’t really want to, but don’t think you have any other choice to clear up some space.

3. ExamTime

As a student, having all of your academic materials you need in one place organized and ready is extremely useful and effective. A productivity to enhance learning, ExamTime helps with a wide range of student activities from projects to scheduling to presentations. Armed with a complexity of abilities to ease the study grind, ExamTime is definitely worth the time to test out.

4. Sworkit

Another problem faced by busy students is clearing up space to head to the gym during the week. Often times we find our gym time is the first thing sacrificed to fit in another GBM or study session, and while keeping up with social and academic events is extremely important, we shouldn’t forgo staying in shape in the process.

Sworkit provides the perfect alternative to this dilemma. It is built to accommodate any schedule without abandoning a little exercise. A circuit training app, Sworkit builds a custom workout for any place, any time requiring only your body weight a couple minutes of your time.

5. Alarmy (Sleep If U Can)

If you are like me, the ability to wake up at 7:30 for high school seems inconceivable. I have certainly lost my knack of being an early riser, and often times my ability to wake up to alarms—and then stay awake. Too often have I turned off my alarm only to wake up an hour later and have to scramble into class a half an hour late—or worse, miss it completely.

Sleep If U Can offers a unique alarm that forces you to wake up at your alarm by forcing you to get up and move around in order to turn it off. Instead of simply pressing a button, Sleep If U Can requires a photo (like of your sink, desk, etc.) to deactivate its alarm. Cool, huh?

Categories: Pedagogy
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