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Five librarians slated to teach Byrne Seminar classes

February 21, 2014

If ‘walking the walk’ is one the surest ways one person can understand the challenges another faces, then a librarian who teaches his/her own university class should be able to relate uniquely well to the teaching work of the faculty members they support.

In the upcoming academic year (2014-2015) five librarians in the Rutgers University Libraries will be ‘walking the walk’ of their faculty colleagues, by teaching Byrne Seminars courses.

Undergraduate Academic Affairs on the New Brunswick campuses offers 1-credit courses called Byrne Seminars for first-year students, taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty, limited to 20 students. The purpose of the seminars is to offer new students the opportunity to engage with each other and faculty around a topic of mutual interest.

The five librarians will offer Byrne Seminar classes on topics certain to appeal to incoming students.

Music and Performing Arts Librarian Jonathan Sauceda will offer a course on ‘Rockin’ Roots, Global Reach: Telling the Story of Jersey’s Popular Music.’ In this class students will learn about the popular music culture in the 1800s and early 1900s, as well as the meaning of and ideas behind open access. Each student will choose a piece of sheet music, digitize it, and create a finding aid that includes an explanatory essay, which will place the item in its social, historical, and cultural context. The finding aids will be edited and published online.

Latin American, African, Latino, Spanish and Portuguese Studies Liaison Librarian, Melissa Gasparotto, will offer a class on ‘The Secrets (and Big Business) of Search Engines,’ which will explore the factors and stakeholders of web searching. Students will learn to be savvy finders and consumers of information, with a clearer sense of who is watching them while they search, and why it is important to understand the motivations and practices of the companies that provide the supposedly free services on which we have become so dependent.

Instructional Design/Education Librarian Leslin Charles will offer a course on 'Truth or Fiction?' which will look at how social media, while providing a voice to all, can also blur the lines of fact and falsehood. The course will consider questions like: Are all tweets worth the noise they get? And how can we filter through opinions and the news media to gain accurate knowledge? The course will use lectures, guest speakers, videos, role play, and discussion to examine various channels of information and different information sources.

Chemistry and Physics Librarian Laura Palumbo and Engineering Librarian Connie Wu will offer a course on ‘Empowering Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.’ This class will look at the sometimes little known contributions to STEM made by women in the past and present, and discuss the various reasons for the existence of the ongoing gender gap. It will also explore career opportunities in STEM, hear from female professionals working in these fields, and take field trips to University labs and local companies to meet with female scientists and engineers.

Engineering Librarian Connie Wu will offer a second course of her own as well, ‘The ABCs of Patents: How to Protect Your Creative Invention and Avoid Stealing from Others.’ In this course students will learn from famous inventors and improve their own creative inventing process. They will be introduced to various types of intellectual property (IP), with emphasis on patent. They will learn to use intellectual property (IP) strategies to protect their own valuable contributions while learning to avoid stealing from others. This seminar is particularly aimed at students interested in science, engineering, business and law.

The Rutgers University Libraries are excited to see five of our librarians offering Byrne Seminar courses. We look forward to hearing about their teaching experiences and to learning of future librarian-led course offerings.