Newsworthy Resources from the Library and Information Technology Services Division

This blog post covers, in a mosaic fashion, some curated Library and Information Technology resources. You will find some creative resources for your next PowerPoint presentation, the launching of a new task force on Open Education Resources (OER) at Sewanee, CloudSource Open Access, upcoming user-information research on video streaming in partnership with ITHKA S+R, and finally a look into one of the latest trial databases from Bloomberg. Please, take a look at these featured projects and resources and let us know if you have any additional questions. We would be very happy to follow up with you. Many thanks to our contributors for putting together a sampling platter of newsworthy resources for our teaching faculty, students, and staff.   


1. Slides Carnival and Free Stock Photos by Linnea Minich, Information Literacy Librarian

Orange Professional. Free PowerPoint Template & Google Slides Theme

SlidesCarnival provides simple but well-designed templates for PowerPoint and Google Slides. I discovered this site at a library conference, after wondering how everyone had made such great slides. The templates on SlidesCarnival are free and easy to edit. The wide range of templates is searchable by theme, style, and even color. It’s easy to find a template you want, download it, and edit it, duplicating slides, taking slides out, and even changing the images and graphics (each slide deck handily provides icons at the end that can be copied and pasted onto the slides). Endearingly, each template is also named after a character from Shakespeare. Here are two of my favorites, Puck and Volumnia:

Once you’ve found the perfect slides for your class or presentation, you’ll also want images to go in them. Two of my favorite sites for free stock photos are Pexels and Unsplash. Both of these sites are easy to search and provide a wide range of interesting photos that are free to use as long as you credit the creators in your slides. I often use these images to visually reinforce abstract ideas (I use a lot of road images when talking about the research process, for example). If you’re looking for something a little less “stock,” you could also check out the free images available at Wikimedia Commons, the sources of the images on Wikipedia pages.

2. Open Education Resources: Exploring Affordable Course Materials at Sewanee by Pat Dover, Electronic Resources Librarian

Texas Tech University Open Educational Resources Logo

Higher education is expensive. Faculty have little influence over tuition and fees, but one cost one can control is the textbooks and other course materials one adopts for their courses. Open Educational Resources (OER) are textbooks and other course materials that are freely licensed and available without cost or access barriers. Using these resources in place of expensive commercially-available textbooks and/or courseware makes courses more affordable, and can have pronounced benefits for at-risk and historically underserved groups of students.

There are other benefits of OER besides making courses more affordable for students. Because of the open licensing of OER, you have the ability to add, remove, and modify content to fit your specific course and teaching style, rather than having an expensive textbook dictate topics and order.  OER can be saved and shared so that they never go out of print, revised so that nothing goes out of date, translated into any language, adapted for any level or particular interest, made accessible, and converted to work with any technology. In addition, OER can be accessed immediately, retained indefinitely, and returned to again and again. You can find out more about OER on the library’s website at https://library.sewanee.edu/OER/Home

In an effort to increase awareness of and promote the use of OER at Sewanee, the Library has assembled a task force of representative faculty and staff across the university to plan and execute workshops and other opportunities for faculty to learn more about OER and to work towards implementing them in their courses. There is also student representation to introduce the existence of OER to our student population. The members of the task force as it has been initially formed are: Pat Dover, Electronic Resources Librarian (Task force Chair); Lisa Stephenson, Vice Provost for Student Success; Emily Puckette, Professor of Mathematics and co-chair of the Center for Teaching; Evan Joslin, Assistant Professor of Chemistry; Romulus D. Stefanut, Assistant Professor and Director of the School of Theology Library, Betsy Sandlin, Professor of Spanish and Associate Dean for Inclusion and Faculty Development; Adam Hawkins, Instructional Designer and Technologist; Courtnay Zeitler, Information Literacy Librarian; and Alexis McNight, President of the Order of the Gown.

Although the task force will determine its own goals and course of action, some possible outcomes include holding workshops for faculty to learn more about and/or share information about Open Educational Resources and how they can use these resources for their courses; awarding financial stipends at graduated levels to faculty members who investigate, review, and implement OER; and to generally promote awareness and interest in OER among both faculty and students. Stay tuned for more communications regarding OER opportunities stemming from the task force’s efforts!

3. CloudSource OA by by Pat Dover, Electronic Resources Librarian

CloudSource OA is a searching platform that covers 40 million Open Access items, including articles from more than 13,000 journals, ebooks, and etextbooks. The journals are among the top in the field—peer-reviewed, quality publications that were often very expensive to access before they were converted to an Open Access model. Content from predatory journals, blogs and other non-vetted sources are excluded. Filters are provided for search results that allow for selection by many different criteria, including Open Educational Resources.

  • What is an Open Access publication?
    • An Open Access publication is a scholarly journal article, eBook, eTextbook or Open Education Resource that is published through a funding model providing free full text access.
  • What type of content will I find in the CloudSource OA database?
    • You will find high quality, peer-reviewed, academic publications covering a broad range of subject areas such as Health Sciences, Environment, Computer Science, Business and many more.
  • How is CloudSource OA different from TigerSearch?
    • TigerSearch covers all of our purchased and subscribed content, with some open-access publications added. CloudSource has many more open-access items. Also there is no login required for CloudSource because everything in it is freely available.
  • How is CloudSource OA different from Google or Google Scholar?
    •     CloudSource finds only high-quality peer-reviewed academic publications, without all of the extraneous results that you get with a Google Search. CloudSource offers easy-to-use filters to help you refine your search results and narrow in on the type of material  you are looking for.

4. ITHAKA Streaming Video Project by Penny Cowan, Director of Collections Management

Ithaka S+R Announces a New IMLS Funded Research Project: “Exploring the  Effectiveness and Durability of Digital Preservation and Curation Services”  | LJ INFOdocket

To meet the growing demand for streaming media in education and research, librarians at the Jessie Ball duPont Library are partnering with Ithaka S+R, a non-profit research and consulting group, to explore cross-institutional evidence about streaming media licensing terms, learn about faculty members’ perspectives, and collaboratively develop negotiating and collection strategies.

Penny Cowan, Director of Collections Management and Patricia Dover, Electronic Resources Librarian will be conducting interviews with selected faculty about streaming media. In parallel to this work, Ithaka

S+R will conduct a US-wide survey and a series of targeted follow-up interviews with collections leaders, to evaluate the competitive landscape of streaming media licensing more broadly.

As Danielle Cooper, Manager of Collaborations and Research at Ithaka S+R, asserts: “In order to more fully realize streaming media’s academic potential, it is essential for libraries to come together, assess the broader streaming landscape, and create new strategies for licensing and managing streaming use. This intervention will be most effective if libraries can connect on this issue across institutional silos.” Members of the research cohort, in addition to Sewanee, include Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University, among others.

By participating in this research project, duPont Library will gain valuable insight into how the University community uses streaming media in research and teaching. Faculty have long used both documentaries and feature films in the classroom. The move to distance learning brought about by the pandemic only increased the demand for streaming media to support the University’s curriculum and research enterprise. In support of Sewanee’s courses, duPont’s Collections Management team offers timely services that enable streaming of the Libraries’ media resources for pedagogical purposes. Faculty members can learn more about how to add streaming content to their Brightspace course portals, including relevant copyright guidelines, by visiting the library’s web page at: https://library.sewanee.edu/services_for_faculty.

5. Bloomsbury, Religion in North America Database by Romulus D. Stefanut, (Assistant Professor in the SoT and Director of the SoT Library

Theology and Religion Online - Bloomsbury Religion in North America

You may know that our Library has almost 400 curated and research friendly databases, covering all majors, minors, both undergraduate and graduate studies, including interdisciplinary subjects. What you may not know is that the library pays to access these databases. Being a sustainable budget administrator, as we all aspire to be, we need to evaluate the usage of our resources on a yearly bases. Thus, some databases justify their existence on our library portal due to high usage in a “survival of the fittest” contest, whereas others go extinct. When new library databases are requested by our faculty, a 30 (thirty) days trial period is usually granted to assess their usage and utility. The Bloomsbury Religion in North America would be a good example to look at. 

Covering North America’s diverse religious traditions from indigenous religions to NRM (New Religious Movements), this resource provides reliable and peer-reviewed information for students and instructors of religious studies, anthropology of religion, sociology of religion, and history. Peer-reviewed articles are organized around key themes. For instance, “The Basics” section covers broad global introductions to religious traditions. The “Religious Traditions” section and the “Themes in Religion” sections give more of an in-depth approach to the North American context and combine overview articles, main articles, case studies, and “hot” topics as well as eBook content. Please, check this database out to see if you and your students might benefit from using it. You can access the database though our Library databases portal under Research Tools / Find Databases. Thank you for checking it out. 

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