connected by gratitude

The root of all joy is gratefulness.

Brother David Steindl-Rast (whose archive resides in Special Collections and University Archives)

Gratitude brings us together. Practicing gratitude raises awareness of what we have and compels us to consider how to spread human goodness. We share a year’s worth of highlights from the Libraries that make us grateful for Friends of the Libraries who create a positive impact on every student who attends UMass Amherst. Thank you for being the root of joy for so many.

IMPACT: Improving Affordability and Access

The Libraries invested in the Visible Body database, which replaced student lab manuals for Kinesiology classes, and resulted in an annual savings of $48,000 for students enrolled in those courses. Other departments also use this database for classroom support: Nursing, Communication Disorders, Biology, and Biomedical Engineering.

The Visible Body database saves almost $50,000/year for UMass students who no longer have to purchase lab manuals for courses in Kineseology.

Responding to astronomical (and still rising!) textbook costs, the Libraries reduced student financial burden by working with faculty and instructors to explore and identify viable textbook alternatives, including the use of existing e-books or the purchase of new books; adopting open educational resources; creating digital course materials lists by scanning book chapters and excerpts; and linking to content from the Libraries’ existing collection of electronic resources.

The Libraries supported the publication of Radicalize the Hive, an openly licensed textbook about beekeeping authored and assembled by Angela Roell, from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and Aisha Russell, Editor and Project Manager. The collection of stories from beekeepers in the field and resources for new and intermediate beekeepers is interwoven with the author’s own experience as a beekeeper over the last decade. From the introduction, “Right now the honey bee/human relationship is transactional. We want to ‘save the bees.’ If we want a reciprocal relationship with these creatures, we have to ask what we learn from the bees to begin to shape change so we can be more responsive to each other and our ecological allies.” This textbook has a Creative Commons license, making it a free and openly available resource for anyone to use, share, and remix.

The winners of the 2020 Open Educational Initiative (OEI) grants represent a broad range of disciplines across campus.

  • Stacy Guifre and Melina Anne Masterson who plan to create an openly-licensed Italian textbook for Italian 110, 120, and 126.
  • Matthew Sherwood, an accounting instructor who is adapting software packages and instructional materials to integrate with original instructional videos, assignments, case studies, and quizzes into one centralized resource.
  • Wayne Xu and Martha Fuentes-Bautista from Communications who plan to update and integrate existing mini-lecture podcasts and student blog entries on key class topics into interactive lecture notes.

IMPACT: Enhance Student Learning

When classes pivoted to remote in March, the Libraries began seeing an expected uptick in use of our online services for research assistance through Ask Us emails, texts, and chats. By the end of April, requests for online help had almost doubled from the previous year, and though the semester ended in early May, the usage continued to rise. In both May and June, use of the online functions were up more than 300% over the same months in 2019.

IMPACT: Strengthen Research and Teaching

Special Collections and University Archives is offering graduate students, early career professionals, and independent scholars fellowships in the spiritual dimensions of social change; the history of work, labor, and industry; and the value of human life. Offered for the first time, these new fellowships join the well-established W. E. B. Du Bois Research Fellowship and expand the breadth of subjects for researchers to delve into during short-term residential research appointments as access to the Library building becomes available.

The Libraries helped faculty and students transition to online instruction during the spring semester and received many testimonials.

UMass Library Reserves has been essential in the transition to online teaching during the pandemic emergency. Without their excellent and helpful staff, I could not have effectively continued the course …Their amazing staff has been the single-most effective campus resource during this crisis.

Jonathan Skolnik, Associate Professor of German, Adjunct Associate Professor of History, Adjunct Associate Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies

During the first 48-hour Sciathon hosted by the Council for the Nobel Laureate Meetings, Steve Acquah, the UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab Coordinator and Associate Research Professor of Chemistry, worked as part of the team called Group Clifton to develop a science news verification tool, authentiSci. The group was awarded second place in the category of ‘Lindau Guidelines’ and a shared prize of 1,000 Euros. “Now that the extension is out on the Chrome Web Store our team is looking into adding more resources to support accessibility for the extension and website,” says Acquah. The extension is one of the first of its kind that gives scientists the ability to score science news stories, providing a measure of confidence for the reader.

IMPACT: Focus on Diversity

The Libraries’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee created a resource guide on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This collection of articles, books, videos, lectures, podcasts, and more, covers topics that relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion both inside and outside the Libraries.

Irma McClaurin, G’76, G’89, PhD ’93 was awarded a $15,000 Historical Archives Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc. The funds are for the development of the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive in Special Collections and University Archives. The Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive was established in 2016, when Dr. McClaurin was recognized as a University of Massachusetts Amherst “Distinguished Alumni.” McClaurin was also a UMass employee, working in Transfer Admissions and as the Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1977-1991.

IMPACT: Support Leaders in Public Service

Isabel Espinal MLIS, PhD, Humanities Research Services Librarian, was named ADVANCE Faculty Fellow 2020. “Through the power of collaboration, UMass ADVANCE transforms the campus by cultivating faculty equity, inclusion and success.” Grants contribute to the mission of the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program, which is advancing equity for women faculty, including women faculty of color, in science and engineering. “For 2020-21, ADVANCE’s focus will be on inclusion, particularly with an emphasis on ‘Inclusion and Covid-19,’ since the pandemic has had a differential effect on faculty members,” says Espinal. Collaborative teams receive a one-year grant of up to $15,000 and logistics support from the ADVANCE team to apply for external funding opportunities based on the seed funded project.

Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center, was named a Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow in the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Organized by the Office of Faculty Development, Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowships seek to cultivate future campus leaders by offering a half-time, one-year, temporary appointment to an administrative area on campus. Professor Battle-Baptiste will be working with Nefertiti Walker, Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to roll out “Black Presence at UMass,” an initiative dedicated to celebrating the collective impact of African American and Black faculty, staff, students, alumni and other community members. Battle-Baptiste is a historical archaeologist, and her research focuses on the historical intersection of race, class, and gender in the shaping of cultural landscapes across the African diaspora. She has led the Du Bois Center since 2015.

IMPACT: Support Sustainability

The Libraries gave scholarships to the winners of the 2020 Undergraduate Sustainability Research Awards:

First place: Linda Black ’20, for “FOOD/NOW: On Climate Mitigation, Sustainable Farming, and Food Security in Massachusetts.”

Second place: Margaret Dreishpoon ’20, Levente Haber ’20, and Waverly Lau ’20
for “Reusable to-go Containers at UMass Amherst,” and James Mazarakis ’20 for “Bringing Life to a Hospital Site: 19 Years of Proposals for the Abandoned Malden Hospital Site in Malden, MA.”

Honorable mention: Amanda Anderson ’21, for “New Shipment Just in! The Earthship.”

Winners presented their projects on the Libraries’ YouTube channel and they have been made openly accessible in the Sustainability Student Showcase in ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst.