Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The University Libraries Introduce OpenRoom, an Online Room Reservation Scheduling Software

On November 9, 2009, the University Libraries released an upgraded version of OpenRoom, an online Web-based reservation software utility designed by Libraries’ personnel to aid with the management of study rooms in Bracken Library. An enhancement to this upgrade is that its source code can be shared with other organizations interested in using it.

OpenRoom offers many customizable features, such as themes for changing the look and feel of the interface, form customization for changing the type of information users must submit, and even flexibility for specifying the way users log into the system. If a feature is not available in OpenRoom, its modular design makes it easy to plug in a custom-made component.

Through the optimization of the code and the prominent use of AJAX—a set of popular Web development techniques—OpenRoom offers a fast load time and requires fewer page refreshes, providing its users with a faster and less confusing online reservation utility.

OpenRoom is configured to allow students and faculty to make reservations during the current year for the coming year. The OpenRoom system has many controls, including the earliest date a reservation can be made (e.g. 01/01/10) and the latest date a reservation can be made (e.g. 05/04/10.)

The first version of the software was originally introduced in early January 2008 to make it easier for students and faculty to reserve spaces in Bracken Library for study groups, meetings, and classes. Since its introduction, more than 3,500 users have made more than 22,000 reservations using the system, and that number is growing.

The University Libraries invite others who are interested to license this software for scheduling space and other resources. There is no cost to non-profit organizations. Please contact Bradley D. Faust, Assistant Dean for Library Information Technology Services,, 765-285-8032.

If you have technical questions regarding OpenRoom, contact Robert L. Seaton, Web Development Analyst,, 765-285-8032.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Librarians Participate in Ball State’s Diversity Research Symposium

Brenda Yates Habich and Lisa Jarrell presented a workshop at Ball State’s first Diversity Research Symposium: Exploring Diversity Research and Writing Across Disciplines held on Saturday, November 14, 2009. The session, entitled “Publishing Diversity-Related Research,” described ways to identify journals for submitting manuscripts for publication. The librarians highlighted the many useful resources provided by the University Libraries to support scholars’ diversity-related research.

Habich and Jarrell discussed strategies for identifying journals that publish diversity-related research and described methods for determining the relative importance of a given journal in a discipline. They provided lists of impact scores for journals in a variety of fields, as well as other indicators of journal quality. “We wanted to provide people with a sense of what journals are out there and how to identify the best possible places for publication,” said Lisa Jarrell, Instructional Services Librarian.

The session was repeated twice throughout the day-long conference and attracted a number of participants. The audience members represented various universities, including the University of Louisville and the University of Cincinnati. Many Ball State faculty members also attended, representing various areas of study such as Architecture, English, and Social Work.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

University Libraries Collaborate with Honors College Peer Mentor’s Program

Recently, the Ball State University Libraries took part in the Honors College Peer Mentor’s Program by conducting 25 instructional sessions during September and October for new Honors College students and their mentors.

The Honors College is made up of freshmen through seniors who have met specific admission requirements, take a rigorous selection of Honors classes, and write a thesis. This year, more than 300 new students are enrolled in the Honors College.

Besides being assigned to specific advisors as freshmen, students also take part in the HONRS 100 course that provides a peer mentor for new students and an opportunity for students to work in small groups. The beauty of this design is that it provides for an in-depth orientation to the Honors College curriculum and expectations, and to Ball State’s campus. This semester, Library Information Services’ librarians had an increased role in helping these new Honors students learn about the library for important resources they are likely to need for their courses and various personal interests.

With the support of Dean James S. Ruebel, Associate Dean John W. Emert, and Dr. Laurie K. Lindberg, Coordinator of the Honors Peer Mentors Program, mentors coordinated with Brenda Yates Habich, Information Services Librarian and Lisa J. Jarrell, Instructional Services Librarian to arrange a time for their groups of new students to come to Bracken Library. The session was planned with individual mentors as a time for students to have a physical tour of the main library, followed by a “computer tour” in order for the students to learn how to locate various materials they will need for their research and learning. The librarians introduced students to different locations in Bracken where they can find CDs or DVDs, print posters for presentations, check out books and laptops, and find realia for use in their studies and presentations. The librarians also familiarized the students with the numerous academic databases available for their research.

This partnering enabled the honors students to become familiar with librarians who can assist them with their research. Several of the participating students commented that the tour and orientation helped them to feel more comfortable using Bracken Library and that they felt better informed about the resources available to them.

For more information, contact Brenda Yates Habich, Information Services Librarian,, 765-285-3324.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cultural Diversity for the Campus Community: International Festival (I-Fest) Hosted at Bracken Library

Bracken Library hosted a glimpse of cultures from around the world on Friday, November 13, 2009. Booths spread across Bracken’s first floor, designed by Ball State’s international student population, represented about twenty countries in the annual International Festival (I-Fest), sponsored by the Rinker Center for International Programs.

Individuals wandering through the festival had the opportunity to learn about jewelry from Pakistan, scrolls from China, reggae and calypso music from the Caribbean, architecture in Russia, bracelets and women’s clothing from Kenya, calligraphy from South Korea, various forms of art and art techniques from Sri Lanka, architecture and terrain in Yemen, and so much more.

Food sampling included brie from France, a pastry called kush tili from Uzbekistan, shrimp chips from Vietnam, a whole buffet from Saudi Arabia, and onion glaze from India, as well as other delicious fare.

Just as important as the tables were the interactions between the students. Bracken was buzzing with activity throughout the event, which lasted from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., as students staffed their booths, visited others, took group photos, introduced themselves to American students and faculty, and explained their cultures and perspectives.

Jovid Kamolov (Tajikistan) and Farana Abdullayeva (Azerbaijan) were seated near each other. “I have enjoyed meeting a lot of new people,” Jovid said. Farana added, “I am looking forward to the next one,” and she already had ideas for improving her booth and presentation. Jovid made an observation that it was helpful to draw a map of the world for curious visitors to his booth “since Tajikistan is so small.” Both students were delighted to comment that their visitors were “extremely interested to learn more” about their countries and cultures.

Jonathan Pierrel (France) is an instructor in the English Department. He said, “I have enjoyed talking to many people.” For example, he had discussed “the Russian influence on certain parts of Turkey [with a student from Turkey] and the educational system in Kenya [at the Kenya table].”

Anca Topliceanu (Romania) was at her table for the entire event. Did she enjoy the I-Fest? “It has been very long, but very fun. I have talked with people the whole time and feel that I did not talk about the same thing more than once in six hours. Many people’s questions have helped me learn more about my own country. Their perceptions are different than mine. I have learned about what people find interesting about Romania, and we have talked about theater, music, sports, religion, not just political things. Romania is a very cultural country, and I am happy to talk about its culture.”

Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries, said that the University Libraries were happy to host this event for the third consecutive year to promote international awareness and to help campus community members learn about the customs and traditions of Ball State’s international students.

I-Fest was organized this year by Trevor J. Foley, Events Coordinator at the Rinker Center for International Programs. His goal for the day was “to build awareness of the international community and opportunities that exist at Ball State and in the Muncie community.” He explained that the Rinker Center is looking to create connections between international students and domestic students as well as greater collaboration between programs and groups that already exist at our university.

Over 575 international students from 86 countries currently take classes at Ball State. To mobilize so many across campus, the Rinker Center contacted organized student groups, sent out emails, and shared the information through word of mouth about the opportunity to creatively design a presentation at the festival, making use of displays, food, clothing, maps, music, slideshows, cultural objects, or anything else the students could imagine.

I-Fest was part of Ball State’s Culture Week, November 9-14, designed by Ball State’s Multicultural Center to broaden the cultural horizons of Ball State’s students, faculty, and staff. The exciting day at Bracken Library was free and open to the public.

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