ERC Supports Pre-Practicum Students with Educational Technology

Pre-Practicum Teachers Bridging the Classroom Technological Divide.

Technology has significantly changed the field of K-12 education. With adaptive technology, open education resources, apps, and interactive whiteboards, teachers have more tools at their disposal to differentiate and personalize learning than ever before. The available technology expands beyond the printed page and offers new ways to engage students who learn in different ways. Educational technology can also add context to a teacher’s instruction or allow students to collaborate and create new knowledge.

The Lynch School of Education pre-practicum student teachers learn about content and classroom management,  now the big push is learning how to implement technology into lessons plans.  To help the pre-practicum students, the Educational Resource Center (ERC) partnered with the LSOE Mentoring, Induction, and Professional Development Office to provide educational technology instruction. Tiffeni Fontno, Senior Reference and Instruction Librarian for Education, collaborated with Ashana Hurd, Associate Director of Mentoring, Induction, and Professional Development in the Lynch School of Education  to provide information sessions on educational technology to the pre-practicum supervisors. These sessions assisted the supervisors in becoming more knowledgeable about the education technology tools available in the ERC and also demonstrated their use in instruction and the many resources available across different content areas and grade levels. Working initially with the pre-practicum supervisors benefits and strengthens the library liaison relationship by providing content knowledge and, as the supervisors work closely with the education students, they have an understanding of the educational technology availability and promote the use of the ERC resources and services.

Recently one of the supervisors wrote:

“Thank for the great Supervisor meeting on Wednesday. It was very informative.

Tiffeni Fontno also came and spoke with my student teachers yesterday. They loved her presentation.  One of my students indicated that prior to Tiffeni’s presentation she was just going to show a video. After hearing Tiffeni she is now going to drag out the smart board her Supervising Practitioner has not been using and try to set it up so she can use it when I come to observe her.

Tiffeni encouraged the students to try different technology tools now while they are students and not wait until they are a new teacher. I think my students were aware of many of the tools but Tiffeni helped them see how to use these tools during the different parts of a lesson.  Tiffeni was wonderful!

Thank you again for having Tiffeni speak with the supervisors. I think it would be great if every student teacher heard Tiffeni’s presentation.”

The educational technology training was also provided for the Donovon Scholar Urban Teaching Program.  ERC educational technology instruction continues to evolve to further support pre-practicum students and prepares them to enter today’s classrooms.

The ERC provides a variety of the latest technology for students to practice with and take into the classroom. To see what available, check here: Educational Resource Center: Digital Equipment

A Preview of Digital Scholarship Fall Events

Find out what the Digital Scholarship Group will be up to this fall and how you can get involved.

This fall, the Digital Scholarship Group will host its first Digital Scholarship Incubator, a seven-week series that aims to introduce major tools, methodologies, and questions in digital scholarship. An Incubator is an opportunity to develop a digital research or pedagogy project within a cohort of digital scholarship practitioners. Participants were selected by application and were assessed on their interest in digital scholarship and proposed projects. We were inspired to create the program after speaking with faculty and students across campus who wanted to learn more about digital scholarship but didn’t know where to start. A cohort approach allows participants to learn together—and from each other—in a welcoming environment.

Each week, the sessions will focus on a different topic. The curriculum includes text analysis, digital archives and critical editions, data cleanup, and pattern finding. By the conclusion of the sessions, participants will develop a digital scholarship or pedagogy project plan. In addition to an overview of digital tools and methodologies, participants will learn how to:

  • Evaluate how these methods facilitate answering research questions
  • Assess digital scholarship project needs and requirements (including technical expertise, software applications, and programming languages) that correspond to their research questions or scholarly ideas
  • Identify potential partners and form a team of people with diverse expertise

This fall’s cohort includes faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from CSOM, English, History, Theology, Philosophy, Romance Languages and Literature, and other departments. We look forward to seeing projects develop and new ideas emerge!

Over a photo of blue eggs, reads Digital Scholarship Incubator

If you weren’t able to apply for the Incubator, no need to worry—the Digital Scholarship Group will be hosting workshops as part of its Coffee & Code series. Past Coffee & Code events have included workshops on building digital exhibits, visualizing data with online map-making tools, performing textual analysis on large bodies of work, and other current topics in digital scholarship. The fall will also see the return of our popular Open House, a chance to learn about digital scholarship activity across the university and meet others interested in these tools and methodologies. The Coffee & Code schedule is forthcoming, but you can find more information about all our offerings on the Digital Scholarship Group’s events page.

If you have a request for a workshop or want to learn how you can incorporate digital scholarship tools and methodologies into your work, drop us a line!

Promoting Diversity in our Profession: BC Libraries Hosted ARL/SAA Mosaic Program Fellow

The Libraries celebrated their first year as host institution for a diversity recruitment and professional development program, the ARL/SAA Mosaic Program, at the end of the spring semester.

The Libraries celebrated their first year as host institution for the Association of Research Libraries (ARL)/Society of American Archivists (SAA) Mosaic Program at the end of the spring semester.  Mosaic fellow Ayoola White, a student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, worked with the BCL staff throughout the academic year to expand her knowledge of research libraries and special collections in general, and to focus on particular learning objectives within archives and digital initiatives.

The Mosaic Program is designed to promote diversification in the archives and special collections professional workforce, and “provides financial support, career placement assistance, and leadership development, in addition to the practical work experience and mentoring offered by the host institution, to emerging professionals from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups”.  We were thrilled to be invited to be a host institution for Ayoola’s fellowship.  On a broad level, we were keen to contribute to the aims of the Mosaic program supporting diversity in the profession, and locally, we benefitted from working together across the libraries to design an experience that would introduce the numerous functions and issues that can be expected in a career in libraries and archives.

Because Ayoola’s interests centered upon archives management combined with digital methods, we teamed up across departments to design a program focused on those areas, but which also offered an introduction to the overall functions of academic libraries. Over the course of the academic year Ayoola worked in the Archives Department, the Digital Libraries Program,  Assessment & Outreach, and Digital Scholarship.

Ayoola presenting her work
Ayoola presenting her work on April 28, 2017

At the John J. Burns Library, Ayoola acted as part of the archives team. She learned to arrange and describe manuscript collections, providing her with the opportunity to move clearly stated library school theory into real life experience replete with complexity. Ayoola rehoused materials for preservation, researched the history and biography of records-creators, applied archival metadata standards, and learned to write comprehensive-but-neutral contextual information. In total Ayoola’s work improved the physical and descriptive state of thirteen archival collections, and she advanced from providing assistance in September to working autonomously by spring.

Her work with the Digital Scholarship Team, and the Assessment & Outreach department, included selecting and assembling digitized material for online and digital displays, capturing and reformatting metadata, working with XML, and conducting user testing. Using digital collections, Ayoola curated displays for the Libraries’ touch tables, and worked with Digital Scholarship team members to create and standardize metadata for digital exhibits. She was given practical exposure to other essential work, including reference, hiring, and professional development.

On April 28th, Ayoola’s final day, a luncheon was held to collectively bid her farewell and good luck, and to share the outcomes of the program with libraries staff and campus community members. Ayoola delivered a presentation describing the projects and activities she contributed to over the academic year, followed by her paper “Early Recruitment of Students from Underrepresented Backgrounds to the Archives Profession” (initially delivered at Diversity, Equity, Race, Accessibility, and Identity in LIS (DERAIL) Forum at Simmons College, March 4-5, 2017).

Through participation in the Mosaic Program, the BC Libraries demonstrated their commitment to developing the expertise and knowledge of the next generation of library professionals, while improving the career prospects of a more diverse pool of professionals for the archives and library fields.

We thank Ayoola White for her contributions to the BC Libraries and wish her all the best in her career.

Psychic Visions and Snarky Postcards: Yeats and Shaw Collections Reopened at Burns

Researchers have newly improved access to manuscripts of Irish Nobel Laureates!

The John J. Burns Library holds both published and unpublished works by and about Irish Nobel Laureates W. B. Yeats and Bernard Shaw. These materials are now more discoverable and accessible, which is significant because, even today, their poems, plays, and essays continue to be performed, studied, and revisited.

A handwritten manuscript
William Butler Yeats first play, written when he was 19 yrs. old, titled Love and Death. Original handwritten notebooks, part of the Boston College Burns Archives collections.

Yeats is considered one of the best poets of the 20th century. The Burns Library holds many special editions of Yeats’s published works; one example is a very limited edition of “Easter, 1916,” of which only 25 copies were printed by Clement Shorter, publisher and friend of Yeats. It was meant for distribution among Shorter’s friends.  All researchers are welcome to use the manuscript collection pertaining to Yeats that unites seven previously separate collections. The Boston College collection of Yeats family papers presents the correspondence and manuscripts of W. B. Yeats in the context of his artistic family and their creative endeavors. Included are papers of his father John Butler and brother Jack B. Yeats, who were both artists; his wife, Georgie Yeats; and his sisters, Elizabeth Corbet Yeats and Lily Yeats, as well as the records of their embroidery and printing business, Cuala Industries. Among the highlights are an account of one of Lily Yeats’s visions and related correspondence; notebooks and manuscripts of W. B. Yeats’s poetry; correspondence between W. B. Yeats and his mistress, Margot Ruddock; and an embroidery by Lily Yeats and Brigid O’Brien.

Photograph of Bernard Shaw
Photograph of Bernard Shaw, 1929, Box 5, Folder 14, Samuel N. Freedman collection of Bernard Shaw, MS.2002.044, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Bernard Shaw, noted for his sharp wit and the ability to lampoon contemporary society, still holds the attention of audiences everywhere. Although he wrote in other genres, he is best known for his plays, including Pygmalion, Joan of Arc, and Man and Superman. The Burns Library holds many titles by or about Shaw, including a first edition of G. K. Chesterton’s George Bernard Shaw (1909). Three archival collections regarding Bernard Shaw are also available for consultation. The Samuel N. Freedman collection of Bernard Shaw includes material relating to Shaw’s life and his writing accumulated by Freedman over 40 years. Of particular interest are the pre-printed postcards Shaw was known for sending in response to frequently asked questions from his numerous correspondents. The Charlotte Frances Shaw letters cast light on the thoughts and experiences of Shaw’s wife, while letters received by actor Bernard Partridge share insights into Bernard Shaw’s thoughts on the 1894 production of his play Arms and the Man.

Typed postcards
Postcards with pre-printed responses, Box 1, Folder 41, Samuel N. Freedman collection of Bernard Shaw, MS.2002.044, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

It is our hope that the improved access to these collections will engage students and scholars alike, enhance research, and enable publication of new scholarship. If you are interested in consulting these or other collections at the Burns Library, please contact our Reading Room staff by phone (617-552-4861) or email (

Digital Library Program to Upgrade its Burns Library Facilities

Renovation of the Digitization Lab in the Burns Library will expand the Digital Libraries’ capabilities in Summer 2017.

The digitization lab in the Burns Library will receive a much-needed makeover this summer. It was built in 2009 to complement its sister lab in O’Neill and to satisfy the needs of the growing digital library program at Boston College. Bill Donovan, then Digital Imaging and Curation Librarian, was integral to the planning and construction of the space The lab he helped design allows for the imaging of materials from the Burns Library special collections and archives without the need to transport rare and fragile items to the O’Neill facility.

Affectionately dubbed the “digicube,” the small 10 x 16 foot space is surrounded by standard cubicle siding with a sliding door in the middle. Its first piece of equipment, purchased in late 2009, was a digital copystand. Combined with a Hasselblad medium format camera capable of producing high-quality digital images, the copystand is used to capture small artwork and loose-leaf items from the Burns Library archival collections. A second imaging device was added in 2013. The Atiz Bookdrive scanner operates two Canon EOS cameras and is fitted with a book cradle and glass platen that provides support for bound material and increased capture speed over the copystand. With the Atiz, the imaging output of the lab grew, encouraging a move towards larger projects.

The narrow quarters of the current lab
The narrow quarters of the current lab

The limitations of the digicube soon became evident. New projects that included oversized material too large for either device and too cost-prohibitive for outside vendors were set aside. Because both pieces of equipment cannot be operated simultaneously, the commitment of the Atiz to a two-year project meant stoppages in both the copystand and Atiz workflows for priority items.

In addition to the spatial limitations a review of the program’s digital equipment by our Digital Collections and Preservation Librarian, uncovered deficiencies that were affecting the quality of our output images. With the eventual loss of the O’Neill diglab’s main scanner, the Zeutschel, to mechanical failure last winter, a proposal for new imaging equipment was moved forward. The authorization of the equipment purchase coincided with the recent approval of a request to enlarge the Burns digitization space.

The new facility will expand the footprint of digicube to include an additional 300 square feet. The cubicle siding surrounding the Atiz will be moved to provide a dedicated space for copystand photography. This new area will be constructed to accommodate the high-end imaging capabilities of our new Digital Transitions RGC180 Capture Cradle and include the following:

  • Raised ceiling that will increase ventilation for current strobe lights, accommodate the height of the new equipment, and disperse the light output of the strobes to limit interference with nearby imaging equipment
  • Overhead lighting will be daylight-balanced for more accurate color matching between original material and its digital image
  • Neutral gray walls to minimize color shifts and flare
  • Carpet will be replaced by tiles, reducing dust

The open floor plan of the remaining space will provide for a staging area where special collections material can be safely laid out and handled. Joining us in the new lab will be the Digital Archives Specialist. Currently working out of the Irish Music Center in the Bapst building, he will move his audiovisual equipment into the space across from the Atiz previously used for cataloging.

The expansion, along with the acquisition of the new digital capture cradle, will increase the lab’s output capacity and is a significant move towards the long-term vision of opening up Boston College’s unique collections to the world.

Reflecting on a Year of Library Teaching

The Boston College Libraries remain active partners in instruction across disciplines.

This year the Boston College Libraries have continued to provide an extensive and varied instruction program. From sessions as part of the First Year Writing Seminar to specialized sessions for graduate courses, librarians have offered over 400 instructions sessions that reached a total of over 8,600 attendees since last fall. First Year Writing Seminar accounted for approximately 15% of the sessions and the rest spanned a wide range of other disciplines.

A chart showing when the most sessions are offered

Though the Fall semester is still our busiest time for instruction sessions, this Spring we offered over 200 sessions to a mix of undergraduate, graduate, and PhD audiences as well as several training sessions for faculty. In many cases, library instruction is embedded directly into the course session, but over the course of the year we also offered over 100 sessions in O’Neill Library’s classroom spaces as well as some sessions online. Burns Library staff continued to be important players in our instruction program, offering over 60 sessions this Spring in Burns Library. These sessions allow students a hands-on approach to work with unique materials that the library has to offer.

Librarian instructing a student

As always, our instruction sessions also touch on a broad number of information literacy topics, from defining basic research topics, critically thinking about appropriate sources and evaluation  as well as the use of data and GIS tools and resources. If you are interested in adding a library instruction component to your course or would like to know more about our instruction program, please contact your subject librarian for more information.

Piechart breaking down the topics taught in instruction sessions

Newly Digitized Special Collections

The flow of digitized special collections content comes in a steady stream; here’s what’s new.

Handwritten diary
Diary entry, 1917 April 2. Thomas D. Craven papers, BC.2004.121, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The BC Libraries continually select material from our collections to digitize for increased use locally and globally. Among the content recently launched online are personal diaries, Japanese prints, and published works from the holdings of John J. Burns Library.

The diaries are unpublished primary sources that reflect the personal experiences of the diarists. These are excellent for research in numerous disciplines, and digital versions could be incorporated into digital humanities projects.

  • Thomas Henry Lyon papers includes two diaries (1842 and 1846-1849) of a British naval officer. The travelogues record information about Lyon’s sea voyages from England to Africa, Borneo, China, and Egypt. To learn more, read a blog post describing entries on the first Opium War of 1842, view the catalog record, or consult the collection inventory or “finding aid.” Don’t forget to explore the diaries in their entirety yourself: 1842 and 1846-1849.
  • Mary Johanna Rhodes Wild diary, dated 1845-1865, details her daily life in Brookline, Massachusetts. Wild discusses housekeeping, finances, and marital discord, as well as reading, travels, and her friends and family. More information is in the catalog record, and the diary itself.
  • Fred Wilton Russell diary covers the young American’s travels in Europe while on the Grand Tour. It includes notes on his stays in Paris and at a school in Plauen, Germany, and his trips to spas in Carlsbad and Franzenbad. Entries date from 1875-1876. The diary is described in the catalog record and fully digitized.
  • Thomas D. Craven papers include a single diary covering the spring semester of the BC senior and his induction into the Army Air Corps Medical Corps in 1917. The collection is described in the catalog record and finding aid, and the diary can be found online.

Burns Library’s collection of Japanese prints, described by our 2013-14 Bookbuilders of Boston intern Erin Furlong and featured in a touch table exhibit by 2016-17 ARL/SAA Mosaic fellow Ayoola White, contains artwork from the mid-18th to the mid-20th centuries. Many of these prints have been imaged and posted online. See the description of the whole collection in the catalog and finding aid, but be sure to explore the newly-available images.

An illustration of a hill by the sea.
Andō, Hiroshige. Mount Kaso in Kazusa Province from the series Wrestling Matches between Mountains and Seas. 1858. Japanese Prints Collection, MS.2013.043, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Lastly, special collections published materials are being made available online as well. One could look for them in our Internet Archive feed, which is a gathering of digitized publications from both circulating and non-circulating collections. A few recent highlights are these from the Burns Library’s Boston collection related to — and opposing! — women’s right to vote:

  • Leonard, Clara T., Lothrop, Thornton Kirkland, and Massachusetts. General Court. Committee on Woman Suffrage. Letter from Mrs. Clara T. Leonard. Boston: Massachusetts Association Opposed to Further Extension of Suffrage to Woman, 1884. See the catalog record and online version.
  • The Vote of Massachusetts on Municipal Suffrage for Women at the State Election, November 5, 1895. [publisher Not Identified], 1895. Found in the Library Catalog and online.
  • Saunders, Charles R., and Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women. Taxpaying Suffrage: Letter from Mr. Charles R. Saunders. Boston: Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women, 1903. Read more in the catalog record and digitized version.
  • Of What Benefit to Woman? Boston, Mass.: Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women, 1910. Find it in the Library Catalog and fully online.
The first page of a book
Of What Benefit to Woman? Boston, Mass.: Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women, 1910.

The flow of digitized content is steady; consult the catalog or browse BC Libraries Special Collections Online and our Internet Archive feed to see what’s new. Check in with Burns Library staff, your subject librarian, or a Digital Scholarship team member for help with online research and new digital analysis methods.

Good Vibes in O’Neill Library

BC Libraries and the Connors Family Learning Center have begun to team up near the end of each semester for a night of programs to help students gear up for final projects.

O’Neill Library’s Reading Room is ordinarily so quiet you can hear someone turn a page from thirty paces, but on the evening of Wednesday, April 19 this Spring there was a low but energetic buzz of conversation punctuated by “Awwww’s” of delight at the end of a trail of paper footprints, where students rubbed the soft ears of a golden retriever named Jackson.  BC Library’s Anti-All-Nighter (subtitle: A Night Against Procrastination) co-sponsored by BC Libraries and the Connors Family Learning Center (CFLC), brought library, CFLC, and ITS Help staff together with students in a relaxed environment that ran from 8pm to midnight.

A group of students lining up for coffee and cookies
A horde descends on coffee and cookies at 9:30.

“We wanted an event to help students focus for the final push toward end-of-semester projects,” said one of the planners. “To help get them moving on end-of-semester projects (hence, ‘against procrastination’) but also to help defray tension.” This was the third such event, after the initial one in Spring 2016 and a follow-up in the Fall. Brief onsite surveys confirm what seemed obvious during the evening: students loved it. The most common refrain: “More!”

Two students absorb relaxing vibes from Jackson, a therapy dog.
Two students absorb relaxing vibes from Jackson, a therapy dog.

One student arriving at the event was overheard saying, “Look! People are actually happy!” There was a range of activities to encompass a broad spectrum of interests both in getting assistance for study–writing tutors and an academic coach from the CFLC, staff from ITS Help, and research librarians–and in breaks from study: creative outlets (coloring, button-making, and an electronic keyboard), items for play (games and serial TV shows on DVD’s), activities for relaxation and mindfulness (such as yoga, provided through the Plex) and of course the therapy dogs. And coffee.

A student receiving a chair massage
Michelle Newman (of Healing by Movement, Newton) provided over 35 chair massages.

The coordinating team included Steve Runge, Carli Spina, Rodrigo Castro, and Cindy Frueh of  BC Libraries, and Ildi Szekely and Kathy Duggan of the CFLC. Both Enid Karr and Chelcie Rowell of BC Libraries were on hand for research assistance, and Charles Clements and Dominic Scheuring of the CFLC provided writing tutoring. Mark Gately and several Eagle Techs (undergraduate student employees) from ITS Help were on hand for technical assistance. The library hired Michelle Newman of Healing Movement in Newton for chair massages, and Chris Cataldo of the Plex for yoga instruction. Therapy dogs were brought by volunteers from Therapy Dogs International, who has been providing BC students (and staff & faculty!) with canine love for several years.

A dozen students take a 30-minute chair yoga break in a circle.
A dozen students take a 30-minute “chair yoga” break, learning techniques they can employ for their own short study breaks.

By midnight, all the coffee was gone, most of the staff had sleepily departed, and many tables had returned to being study space. A few students putting finishing touches on buttons got a reprieve; a staff member let them finish while he put away other activity materials. The rest of the library looked much as it always does at midnight: but for the lack of sun, the same number of students hard at work as any Tuesday morning at 10am: about ⅓ full.

Chelcie Rowell,  Digital Scholarship Librarian and History Bibliographer, sitting at a table offering research assistance.
Chelcie Rowell, History Librarian, ready to provide research help.
A coloring book in progress.
More and more colors appeared throughout the night.
A student sits at a desk playing a keyboard.
A student unwinds with music.
Students make pins at a table.
Students make buttons and chat at one of the most convivial activities.

Increase Your Visibility with ORCID

Use ORCID at BC to distinguish yourself from others, claim your work and build a visible online presence.

ORCID at BC was launched in May, with a strong endorsement from David Quigley, Tom Wall and Michael Bourque. They announced the initiative and invited faculty to use our new application to create an ORCID ID and link it to their BC ID number, which is easy to do at This option is available to all faculty, staff and students, and is available in the Agora portal under Other Services.

ORCID Connecting Research and Researchers

Your ORCID ID can help you ensure that all of your work is properly attributed to you, and help other scholars find all of your scholarly output with a single click. When you register for an ORCID ID (a process that takes about one minute), you will receive a unique identifier. This ID will:

  • Serve as a unique, persistent identifier for you throughout your career, even if you change your name.
  • Distinguish your work from others’ in the field
  • Allow you to create a profile that connects all of your publications, articles, datasets, and other scholarly outputs with your ID
  • Streamline submissions to publishers, grant funders, and associations, which increasingly integrate ORCIDs and send data to your profile
  • Automate annual reporting in systems that offer ORCID integration, such as Faculty 180 (coming soon!)
  • Give you control over what is made public, private, or available only to trusted parties

Once you have registered for an ORCID you can sign in at, build your profile and use it to raise the visibility of your work. You can also link your BC single sign-in credentials so that you can use them to log in to ORCID.

Enter your ORCID when submitting publications and grant applications; the publisher or funder will add the ORCID to the publication itself and push information about the article or successful grant to your profile. Import information about your past publications from Scopus, CrossRef and other databases.

Add the link to your ORCID profile to your webpage, faculty profile, email signature, CV, and other publications and presentations. One click will bring researchers and potential collaborators to your list of works. The more you use the ORCID ID, the more it enhances your visibility.

Since its launch, the uptake by full-time faculty has been steady. From May 3 to May 18, approximately 150 of full-time faculty have created an ORCID ID or linked an existing one to their BC ID.

Faculty Adoption Summary
ORCID at BC faculty registration by top departments, May 3 -18

More information about ORCID and the ORCID at BC initiative is available on our ORCID at BC Guide.

Ask the Answer Wall

A fun new way to ask questions debuts at O’Neill Library.

This past semester, the Boston College Libraries launched the Answer Wall. Located in a high-traffic area near our main stairs, this wall space is an area for students to post anonymous questions on post-it notes on everything from meaning of life (a recurring question) to how students can access library resources and technology. Though many of the questions are light-hearted or pertain to pop culture topics, the Answer Wall has also attracted a number of substantive reference questions and a number of questions on mental and emotional health topics. A dedicated team of library staff members split up the responsibility of responding to these questions each day in the persona of the Wall and so far they’ve responded to over 350 questions, including several in foreign languages. Wherever possible, answers include suggested library resources on the question’s topic or referrals to relevant on-campus services. Curious readers who don’t visit O’Neill Library regularly can follow along on the Answer Wall’s blog or watch for periodic posts of some questions on the Library’s social media pages.

A student looks at the Answer Wall, covering in Post-its

The Answer Wall has proved popular not just in terms of the number of questions. It has been covered by a number of campus publications, including The Heights and The Gavel. Interest doesn’t seem to be tapering off either. Though the number of questions we receive varies widely by day, at the end of the semester we were seeing as many as 11 questions a day, with one recent weekend generating 19 questions that were answered on Monday. And in addition to all of these questions we’ve gotten plenty of post-its full of praise, suggesting that those who walk by are enjoying this new avenue for getting answers. The Answer Wall also spawned an end-of-semester book display that featured a number of resources that were recommended in Answer Wall responses or related to questions that we received.

A book display that reads Answer Wall Recommended eading

So far, the Answer Wall has proven to be a fascinating look into student life and a great way of getting a sense of what our patrons are curious about. It has also been a great new way to connect people with BC resources, both within the library and throughout campus. Hopefully it will remain popular for years to come!