Monthly Archives: August 2014

App of the Week – Trello

trelloWelcome to a new academic year USMA cadets, faculty, and staff! With the new year brings new technology–in the form of 4,000+ cadet iPads! Since USMA Library staff members are always looking for the best resources to recommend to our users, we are starting a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

Trello – Task Management

If you are a visual person when it comes to task management, Trello is an online tool that can help to bring some order out of to-do chaos either for a single person, or for teams. For me, if something is out of sight, it really is out of mind. Most other task/project management tools tend to show you things that need to be done now, while obscuring things that may need to be done later, or that aren’t requiring specific action right now, but that you want to keep track of. Trello’s model of lists and cards allows for a variety of different topics (to-dos, delegations, ideas, etc.) to live side by side in a way that can be easily scanned and reviewed.

Brainstorming is also easy to do in Trello, and with some features like voting on individual cards, could provide another effective way to gather input from groups in a collaborative, visual way. We have not yet tried this in the library, though we may do so in the future.

Personally, I keep two main boards, one that I try to keep all my own activities tracked on, and another for the Library generally (Library staff have access to the latter. Those without accounts can let me know and I can set them up). I have a number of other boards for smaller projects, as well as one board shared with each team leader in the library. The Communications Team has used Trello for some time to plan out and track social media/blog posts.

Perhaps one of the best features of Trello is that the basic product is free to use, even in a team setting. There is a paid tier that offers greater customizations and control for organizations, though the basic product is quite robust for general use. Perhaps the biggest issue in my mind is poor printing support. So if someone does not have access to a screen and is linked into your board, it is difficult to share it with them. Trello does not run so well on our approved versions of Internet Explorer. Current versions of Firefox or Chrome are the best tool, along with good iOS/Android apps.

For more in-depth feature and product reviews on Trello, check out the following online articles:

by Christopher D. Barth, USMA Librarian with some content contributed by Lauren Dodd Hall, Circulation Librarian.

RS 100 Classes Complete Poker Runs in the USMA Library

Librarian Darrell Hankins helps Plebes learn to search the Library’s resources with our Scout! Search tool.

Librarian Darrell Hankins helps Plebes learn to search
the Library’s resources with our Scout! Search tool.

On 25 and 26 August, cadets enrolled in the Center for Enhanced Performance’s RS 100 course got a chance to spend some very active time in the Library, finding their way from one service point to another and learning about Library resources, services, and staff along the way. The Library Poker Runs are designed to get cadets familiar with the people here at the Library who can help them in their studies, and with the resources they can use to complete the assignments they’ll have throughout their time at West Point.

Rare Book Curator Elaine McConnell tells cadets about some of the unique resources in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

Rare Book Curator Elaine McConnell tells cadets about some of the unique resources in the Library’s Special Collections and Archives Division.

Cadets are given a checklist of locations in the Library (Circulation Desk, Reference Desk, Reserve Room, and Special Collections & Archives Reading Room) and are directed to complete a task at each checkpoint. The tasks help the plebes learn a multitude of research-related skills, such as how to search within our collections using Scout! – the Library’s discovery tool; how to renew books online; what to do when the Library doesn’t have an article or book they need (hint: Inter-Library Loan!); and the difference between primary and secondary sources. A highlight of the Poker Run is a visit to the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room, where this semester they got to see Custer’s demerits (all six pages of them!) and hand-drawn plans (dating back to the 1870s) for the construction of the railroad tunnel underneath the Plain.

Librarian Michael Arden advices cadets as they search for books and  journal articles using the Library website.

Librarian Michael Arden advices cadets as they search for books and journal articles using the Library website.

After completing each task, the cadets draw a card, and the cadet team with the best poker hand at the end of class wins a prize from their instructor. Almost 100 cadets participated in this round of Poker Runs, and judging from discussions with them at the end of class, a fun – and educational! – time was had by all.

Narrative by Laura Mosher; photos by Barbara Maroney

Librarian from German Army Officers’ School Visits Library

USMA Librarian Christopher Barth introduces Barbara Marschallek, Librarian from the German Army Officer's School before her presentation.

USMA Librarian Christopher Barth introduces Barbara Marschallek, Librarian from the German Army Officer’s School before her presentation.

Barbara Marshallek, librarian at the Offizierschule des Heeres (The German Army Officers’ School in Dresden), recently visited the USMA Library. She met with library staff to gain a greater understanding of our facilities and functions. At the conclusion of her time visiting the library, she gave the USMA Library staff a presentation about The German Army Officers’ Academy in Dresden and its library. We were surprised to learn that the German Army Officers’ School staff is not nearly as large as West Point’s. Ms. Marshallek’s presentation was very enlightening, showing historical documents and visuals of the German library. The staff thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our German counterpart!

New Faculty Orientations at the USMA Library

Department of GeNe  viewing the USMA Library's website.

Department of GeNe instructors viewing the USMA Library’s website as part of new faculty orientations at the USMA Library.

During the “dog days” of summer, USMA Librarians keep busy by working on various projects and initiatives that prepare us and our patrons for the demands of the upcoming academic year. One of the notable ways we do this is by conducting tours of the Library for incoming staff and faculty. Most of the Librarians at the USMA Library serve as Liaisons to specific Academic Departments; as part of the faculty development workshops in these Departments, Library Liaisons lead new staff and faculty members on tours that introduce them to the services and resources of the Library.

Newly assigned instructors receive library card application.

Newly assigned instructors receive library card application.

From 1 through 31 July, nine of our Liaison Librarians gave a total of 120 new faculty and staff members an overview of what we can do for them – and for their cadets! –  during these tours. The Liaison Librarians use the Library’s website – our gateway to the vast digital and physical resources available to our patrons – as a jumping-off point, demonstrating the variety of resources that can be accessed both locally and through inter-library loan. We show our new colleagues that our website also provides information on our hours, staff, and methods for requesting and renewing resources.

Instructors from the Math Department view archival documents in the Heritage Room.

Instructors from the Math Department view archival documents in the Heritage Room.

We explain the services available from our staff, including: the creation of subject- or course-specific research guides (accessible through the Library website); library instruction sessions tailored to the research requirements of specific assignments; and our Reserve Room, where materials can be placed on reserve by instructors in order that all cadets in their classes may have access to them. Of course, no trip to the Library is complete without a visit to the 6th floor Haig Room and terrace, and a stop at the Class of 1986 Ring Case.

Department of English and Philosophy instructors view the Haig Room.

Department of English and Philosophy instructors view the Haig Room.

It’s our goal that the new faculty and staff at USMA understand the resources and services the Library provides for them and their cadets, and know to call on us whenever they have a research needs associated with their personal, professional, or teaching duties.

Contributors:  Laura Mosher, Reference Librarian (article); Barbara Maroney (photos)

Library Hours Final Through 5 January 2015

We now have final hours for the library approved through Sunday, 5 January 2015.  You can view the hours here.

Please note the following days with special operating hours:

  • Home Football Saturdays (6 September, 4 October, 11 October, and 22 November), we are open 1530-2100.
  • Home Football Saturday (1 November), we are open 1500-2100.
  • Veterans Day (11 November), we are open 0900-2315.
  • Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following Thanksgiving, we are closed.
  • Army-Navy Day (13 December), we are closed.
  • Term End Exams (16-19 December), we are open 0700-2315 each day. Saturday 20 December, we are open 0700-1900.
  • Christmas Day, the day following Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and the day following New Year’s Day, we are closed.

USMA Library 2013-15 Program Review Available

201315LibraryProgramReview_Page_01The USMA Library 2013-15 Program Review is now available from the library website. The review is prepared annually each summer as both a look back at the previous academic year and a look ahead to the next. The document includes:

  •  A look at our upcoming work on organizational and service design.
  • Mission, Vision, and Goals
  • Brief snapshots of activities from the 2013-14 academic year.
  • Statistics and graphs of service and collection metrics.
  • Reports on our 2013-14 academic year organizational objectives.
  • A strategic awareness and vision for the future of academic library services and the profession of academic librarianship.
  • Assessment data and review.
  • Information on liaison support to academic departments.
  • Our 2014-15 academic year organizational objectives.

It is a privilege to work with the team that makes our library services, collections, and facilities the best that they can be each day. This report captures some of our efforts in doing so. We look forward to a productive 2014-15 academic year.