The University of Massachusetts Amherst

News

Friday, Nov. 8
4-6:30 p.m.

W. E. B. Du Bois Library
Lower Level

Legends of Stonewall: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Marsha P. Johnson

A double film screening honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, introduced and followed by a discussion led by Jen Manion, Associate Professor of History at Amherst College.

Presented in conjunction with the Stonewall Center at UMass Amherst.

Thursday, Nov. 21
7-10 p.m.

W. E. B. Du Bois Library

Registration is closed for this event. Please note: We received TRIPLE the response expected to this event, and will be ordering more t-shirts accordingly. If you do not receive your t-shirt tonight, we will get it to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and enthusiasm!

UMass Amherst students, faculty, and staff are invited to register for the fifth annual Tower Run on Thursday, November 21, 7-10 p.m. in the W. E. B. Du Bois Library.

Registration is $10 and includes a commemorative t-shirt.

The Tower Run is sponsored by  the UMass Students of Recreation (USOR),UMass Campus Recreation, and the UMass Amherst Libraries.

December 12-19
W. E. B. Du Bois Library and Science and Engineering Library

 

December 11 Bonus Activity: Swing by the Du Bois Library at 1 p.m. for a Selfie with a Superhero!

Coloring/LEGOs/Origami/Knitting

December 12-19, all day

Free Coffee and Cookies

December 12, 13, and 16, 2 p.m.
While supplies last

Button Making

December 12 and 16, 4-6 p.m.

Unwind with Knitting! Live Demo at the W. E. B. Du Bois Library

December 13, 3-5 p.m.


The UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab (DML) is pleased to announce Edwood Brice ’19 as the winner of the Lenovo Mirage Solo Virtual Reality Competition. Celebrating the release of Avengers: Endgame, the competition invited students to submit a 30-second video describing how they envisioned virtual reality (VR) technology and applications that could enhance student life on campus. The DML awarded Brice with a Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset.

Brice’s winning entry introduced VR “exergaming” (gamified exercising paired with virtual reality) as a way to provide a balanced source of physical activity for the UMass Amherst campus community. “With results that say that VR exergaming is objectively easier to conduct and more fun than traditional physical activity, it is apparent that more should be done to understand how VR technology can impact other people and their varying states of health,” he explains.

This is the second virtual reality pitch competition held by the DML. Last year, Parker Louison’s idea for a VR application to develop simulations of various career paths and areas of study won the grand prize: an HTC VIVE VR headset donated by Dr. Steve Acquah, Digital Media Lab Unit Coordinator and Associate Adjunct Professor of Chemistry.

“The VR competition reinforces our commitment to helping the university community learn more about and develop Apps for virtual and augmented reality, as part of a makerspace initiative. The DML is here to help you build Apps for teaching, research, or just for fun,” Acquah says.

As part of that commitment, the DML is also incorporating the Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset, powered by Google’s Daydream VR platform, into its development support services to help students and staff create applications and immersive environments. The standalone headset uses 6 Degrees of Freedom (6DoF) tracking to allow a person to physically move around in a virtual environment, and is a crowd favorite at DML events.

Katy Greeley, a Business Development Manager for Connection, along with the Lenovo Team from Connection who made the competition’s prize available, says, “I love being able to see what these ingenious students come up with in their creative minds and are able to take an amazing, out of the box idea, design it, and bring it to life. It’s so cool that we are able to help equip them and empower them with this technology to take their futuristic ideas to the next level! Congrats, Edwood—very well deserved!”

Currently located on Floor 3 of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, the Digital Media Lab is a campus makerspace specializing in providing support for all students, faculty, and staff on 3D printing, video and audio production, 3D modeling, and virtual and augmented reality application development.

The UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab (DML) recently supported Edwood Brice ’19 in his research on using virtual reality (VR) “exergaming,” or exercising through gaming, as an appealing alternative to traditional forms of exercise.

As detailed in his Commonwealth Honors College thesis, Brice measured step count and intensity of traditional physical activities like body weight squats, elliptical, and walking against those of three virtual reality games with comparable movements: Hot Squat, Fruit Ninja, and Tilt Brush by Google. He used the HTC Vive VR system available in the Digital Media Lab to conduct this experiment.

Brice concluded that although traditional physical activity was objectively more intense and generally produced higher exertion rates, exergaming was a preferred option for over half his participants and remains “a viable form of physical activity, easier to conduct and may be more enjoyable than [traditional physical activity] for college students.”

“Edwood’s work is a critical step forward for the use of VR as a way to promote health, especially as VR devices become untethered and take advantage of the upcoming 5G network infrastructure,” says Dr. Steve Acquah, Digital Media Lab coordinator. “At that point, VR would evolve into the tool we have been waiting for. The DML was able to provide the VR equipment and space to support his research.”

The Digital Media Lab currently offers immersive VR experiences in a dedicated space on Floor 3 of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library. The setup is open for reservations for all UMass Amherst UCard holders, including faculty and staff, from any major or department.

Sarah Hutton presenting at Creative Commons Global Summit. Photo courtesy of Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0.

UMass Amherst Libraries’ Sarah Hutton, head of undergraduate teaching and learning, and Lisa Di Valentino, law and public policy librarian, recently presented at the 2019 Creative Commons Global Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, where nearly 400 attendees gathered to discuss ways to make knowledge sharing more open and accessible.

Their topic, “Students’ Perception of Their Self-Efficacy in the Creation of Open Access Digital Learning Objects,” explored what students in Associate Professor Paul Musgrave’s Experimental Honors Course, Politics at the End of the World (POLSCI 390EW), thought about their own abilities to complete the class’s final group projects. Students were asked to create podcasts discussing political considerations in various “end of the world” scenarios, with the understanding that the projects would be made freely available online, including to students taking this course in the future.

“When you think about what typically motivates students to learn, grades are a common or typical concern,” says Hutton. “We wanted to look at other areas for motivation, such as knowing that their scholarship would be used to teach future students, that it would be freely available to scholars across the globe, and that other scholars could use and adapt it.”

Upon surveying the class, Hutton and Di Valentino discovered that, with those added factors propelling their work, students had “greater than 70 percent confidence in their capabilities across all categories,” including identifying key course concepts and applying them to their own research and conclusions.

Hutton, who learned about the course through the Commonwealth Honors College Curriculum Council, and Di Valentino were drawn to this project as an opportunity for the Libraries to work with, and learn from, Musgrave’s students. “This assignment clearly aligned with several facets of collaboration within the Libraries,” Hutton explains, “including digital media production for which we provide support in the Libraries’ Digital Media Lab; our advocacy for open access publishing, creative commons licensing; and teaching students about the importance of understanding their role in the global scholarship landscape.” Additionally, with her subject specialization in public policy, government, and legal studies, Di Valentino provided key instruction and support regarding attribution licensing and open scholarship tailored to the discipline of the course.

“The ultimate goal,” Di Valentino says, “is to support students both as learners and scholars.”

Final projects are available here for listening.

 

 Adam Quirós, Digital Media Lab Desk Supervisor at the UMass Amherst Libraries, recently won two Telly Awards for his films: gold in general-promotional for Profile of a Brewer: Wunderkammer Bier and bronze in craft-promotional for Making the Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot.

Since 1979, the Telly Awards have honored "excellence in local, regional and cable television commercials with non-broadcast video and television programming added soon after. With the recent evolution and rise of digital video (web series, VR, 360 and beyond), the Telly Awards today also reflects and celebrates this exciting new era of the moving image on and offline.

The Telly Awards annually showcases the best work created within television and across video, for all screens. Receiving over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents, Telly Award winners represent work from some of the most respected advertising agencies, television stations, production companies and publishers from around the world."

The UMass Amherst Libraries recently announced the recipients of the 2019 Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants. Ten UMass Amherst faculty members received funding for projects to revise or create open educational resources, or OER, defined as teaching materials released with open licenses that allow authors to retain the copyright to their work, while simultaneously granting others permission to revise, remix, and share it.

The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst aims to:

  • Lower the cost of college for students in order to contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation
  • Encourage the development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks by supporting the adoption, adaptation, or creation of OER
  • Provide support to faculty to implement these approaches
  • Encourage faculty to engage in new pedagogical models for classroom instruction 

Thanks to generous funding from the UMass Amherst Libraries and Office of the Provost, this year’s winners represent a broad range of disciplines across campus, including Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, Music and Dance, who plans to create an openly-licensed hybrid text/workbook for saxophone technique; Danielle Thomas, Spanish, who is compiling 10 years’ worth of teaching materials into an Advanced Spanish Grammar textbook; and Torrey Trust, Education, who will co-author a textbook with her Teaching and Learning with Technology (EDU 593A) students. Full list of winners here.

“We are seeing more faculty creating customizable teaching tools that are free for students and can also improve how students learn,” said Jeremy Smith, the Libraries’ Open Education & Research Services Librarian; “by utilizing or creating openly licensed teaching materials, instructors are removing a barrier to student success that high-cost textbooks often create.” OER are not appropriate for every class, but “as the number of newly-created OER has drastically increased over the past three years in a wide range of topics, it has become easier to find and customize material for common college courses,” adds Smith.

Now in its tenth cycle, the Open Education Initiative has generated a total savings of over $1.8 million for students in UMass Amherst classes that utilize OER or free Library materials. The Libraries partner with the Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development (TEFD), Instructional Innovation, and Provost’s Office to support these efforts.

UMass Amherst Libraries Support UC System’s Termination of Elsevier Contract

The UMass Amherst Libraries support the University of California (UC), as well as MIT, Temple University, Florida State University, and other U.S. and European universities who are working on transforming the way libraries license and provide access to scholarly content. We particularly applaud our colleagues in California who dared to take a strong stance in moving toward a more sustainable future. Our Libraries are joining others in stating support: University of Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of Minnesota.

The UC system terminated license negotiations with Elsevier earlier this year over an inability to come to consensus over a transformative agreement that would control runaway journal costs, favor Open Access, and benefit university faculty authors. UC developed a cost-neutral approach to moving journal licensing to a more sustainable, accessible, and open model. In February, after determining that they would not be able to reach an agreement with Elsevier, UC terminated license negotiations. In doing so, UC established a service continuity plan so that faculty, students, and researchers will still be able to obtain journal articles once they lose access to the over 2,500 journals that Elsevier publishes. 

Elsevier is the world’s largest scholarly publisher, reporting annual profit margins between 30 and 40 percent. Journal subscription costs have seen enormous increases over the last 20 years, significantly outpacing the growth in university library budgets. Libraries worldwide are looking for ways to reform the current scholarly publishing system in order to sustain future access to scholarly research outputs.

The UMass Amherst Libraries have a UMass system-wide license to Elsevier journals which will be up for renewal at the end of 2022. UMass librarians are working together to determine next steps in light of ongoing changes in the scholarly publishing landscape. Recent developments, like UC’s termination of negotiations with Elsevier, provide an opportunity for our libraries to reimagine the future. As mindful stewards of the financial resources that the University and State provide to the Libraries, we will seek innovative and creative ways to provide access to needed resources in the most affordable and accessible way possible.

Endorsed May 2, 2019 by the University Libraries Administration Team: Simon Neame, Dean of Libraries; Steve Bischof, Associate Dean for Library Technology; Leslie Button, Associate Dean for Research and Learning; Terry Carroll, Director for Administrative Services; Sally Krash, Associate Dean for Content and Discovery

Has the blockbuster of the decade inspired you to read some of the source material? We've got you covered!

See where it all began in the Libraries' new volumes of Marvel comics, part of our growing comics and graphic novels collection:

Ant-Man
Avengers
Black Panther
Black Panther (Christopher Priest run)
Captain America
Daredevil
Fantastic Four
Hulk
Iron Man
Spider-Man
Spider-Man (Miles Morales)
Thor
X-Men

And of course, for our super students working hard on their finals here, thank you for helping us keep the Libraries an "Avengers" spoiler-free zone!