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Fall 2017 | Vol. 5, No. 1

Walker Library teams up with the Gospel Music Association, MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, and the School of Music to salute gospel music history

JEWL The Magazine of James E. Walker Library

Middle Tennessee State University Fall 2017 | Volume 5, No. 1 DEAN Bonnie Allen EXTERNAL RELATIONS Clay Trainum DEVELOPMENT Paul Wydra EDITOR Drew Ruble

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DESIGNER Micah Loyed DIRECTOR OF CREATIVE AND VISUAL SERVICES Kara Hooper UNIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHERS Andy Heidt, J. Intintoli CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Carol Stuart CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Clay Trainum, Alissa Miller, Patsy Weiler UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT Sidney A. McPhee UNIVERSITY PROVOST Mark Byrnes VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS Andrew Oppmann 1,000 copies, printed at Lithographics, Nashville, Tenn. Designed by Creative and Visual Services

1017-5018 / Middle Tennessee State University does not discriminate against students, employees, or applicants for admission or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or any other legally protected class with respect to all employment, programs, and activities sponsored by MTSU. The Assistant to the President for Institutional Equity and Compliance has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies and can be reached at Cope Administration Building 116, 1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132;; or 615-898-2185 The MTSU policy on non-discrimination can be found at


All photos in this edition of JEWL provided by student photographer Priyanka Modi except where noted.




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A Gospel Harmony

Walker Library teams up with the Gospel Music Association, MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, and the School of Music to salute gospel music history

Dean’s Letter Meet the Makers

The staff at JEWL’s new Makerspace unlock the keys to innovation for MTSU students

Warden Equine Collection Moves to Walker Library

A treasure trove of donated materials profiling the region’s rich equine history finds a new home in the library


Spaces: Reinvented


Fueling the Future


As more and more collections go digital, modern libraries like Walker Library repurpose available space for new services providing engaging learning experiences Walker Library’s first-ever dedicated development officer, Paul Wydra, is intent on raising awareness that the library—a crucial aspect of the MTSU student experience— needs donor support, too

The Atrium

News and notes from inside Walker Library

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From the Desk of Dean Allen My vision for Walker Library is to be a leader in innovative services and access to information. Walker will create learning opportunities for students and advance the effectiveness of research and curricular change through this innovation. For the library to remain relevant to the campus, it must be a dynamic and forward-thinking entity. My goal for each issue of JEWL Magazine is to provide our donors, colleagues across the state, and University community an update of Walker Library activities toward achieving our vision. I also like to put our activities into the context of libraries generally. Technology has been the catalyst for the evolution of libraries the past 20 years. The rise of the internet triggered a debate about the future relevancy and need for libraries. With the growth of webbased services that allow remote access to library-provided information as well as information on the web, the importance of the library as a place became clearer. My article in this edition on the repurposing of space in the library is mindful of this important quality. One of the key changes in libraries, including Walker, is the move toward services that teach. The library spaces article provides context for the changes toward more services and less space for collections. Electronic collections do not require expansion room that print collections needed, allowing libraries to increase space for patrons. Walker Library has converted collection space to such services as the Tutoring Center, Makerspace, and an expanded footprint for our first-floor computer lab. The measure of our success is our students’ high use of each of these services. Walker Library has placed an emphasis on creating active learning and teaching services where students acquire skills through library instruction and seminars. We also provide a variety of study spaces that accommodate collaboration and group projects, along with quiet spaces for individual study. All are supported by expert staff and technology. The


Makerspace and Digital Scholarship Initiatives are good examples of learning services. The library’s Makerspace has created considerable “buzz” in the recruitment of students, as well as among enrolled students. Our September open house for students was packed. Students from all majors are using the space, with considerable interest from Liberal Arts students. This is just wonderful. The 3D printing gets the most use, and virtual reality attracts the greatest amount of curiosity. An article in this edition on the equine collection acquired by Special Collections is especially exciting given how much Tennessee loves horses. We are at the early stages of organizing the collection for use and plan a big reveal with a reception and exhibit next fall. Special Collections has exhibits and talks on a regular basis that are open to the public, including a Eudora Welty exhibit from a private collector last year. We regularly feature examples from our book arts collection as well. One particularly special exhibit, from the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, was installed in Walker for the entire Fall 2017 semester. The exhibit was extended to include items from the MTSU Center for Popular Music collection. We also brought this exhibit to life with featured concerts demonstrating the range of styles in gospel music that included nobigdyl., a hip-hop artist and MTSU Honors College graduate, plus two performances in the library by student music groups. Last but certainly not least is an article on the addition of Paul Wydra as our development officer, who will work to increase the number of donors and to celebrate our existing friends. As you will see from this issue, Walker Library is a busy and dynamic place that attracts more students than anywhere on campus. Your support will assist us in our work to sustain this distinction for MTSU.


The staff at JEWL’s new Makerspace unlock the keys to innovation for MTSU students by Clay Trainum “Hey, check this out.” It’s a frequent phrase thrown about the James E. Walker Library’s Makerspace, and on this particular day it comes from the mouth of Makerspace specialist Ben Becker, who is working on putting the final touches on his finish line for the String Race later in the fall. Like many things one can find around the Makerspace, the String Race (see sidebar on p. 7) was an idea cooked up within the Makerspace over the summer before being brought to fruition in the ensuing weeks. The idea came from Valerie Hackworth, the library’s assistant manager of public technology, Becker revealed. “We wanted to have an event here and [systems administrator] Bryan [Schuder] and I were sitting around talking about dumb stuff we built when we were kids. We thought this might be a good event. That’s how it started,” Becker said.

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“It’s customizable and an opportunity to compete, so it seemed to fit perfectly with our Makerspace clientele.” That, in essence, is what happens in the Makerspace on a day-to-day basis. While not everything is a full-blown event, the staff works with MTSU students every day to try to help bring their ideas to life, whether it’s using the 3D printers, virtual reality headsets, or the various robotics equipment. The Makerspace, which has been in operation for just over a year, has been one of the jewels of the library since its opening. The innovative space not only serves as an outlet to support interdisciplinary learning, but also as an opportunity for students to experience emerging technologies, achieve higher levels of problem-solving, and of course, learn new ways of creation. The staff is representative of the large umbrella of the Makerspace. In addition to Hackworth and Becker, nearly two dozen student workers help in the space over the course of the week, with majors that range from Aerospace to Biology to Music. The wide net is in line with the kind of variance among Makerspace users every day, and it’s led Hackworth to affectionately refer to her staff as “misfits.” “We’re not really tied to any one discipline,” Hackworth said. “Some may look at us as being a little on the nerdy side, but I think that just means that we are creative and different. We’re very accepting and open to new ideas, and the staff loves welcoming in new people or anyone who has an idea for something.” The staff is not just focused on helping students create, either; it’s a vital part of their own jobs within the Makerspace. “There’s certainly an expectation that our staff spends time creating on their own, in addition to helping our students create,” Hackworth said. “All of them are trained on our equipment,

Open House


and it’s vital for them to be well-versed in making things on their own so that they can better help the students that come into the space.” “Each worker has kind of achieved a different level of maker at this point,” Becker added. “It’s fun to see that progression when someone gets a spark. It goes from working at the counter to ‘Oh, look what I just made!’ That leads to the next thing and then the next thing. We’ve seen their skill sets expand, and they’ve developed a natural rapport with our students who are up here creating every day, which is providing so much more value beyond the initial training.” While the student staff is on the front lines of creation within the space, some of the more ambitious ideas will bring Becker into the mix. In perhaps one of the best examples of blending the uses of the Makerspace with a seemingly unlikely partner, he helped a group of Egyptology students in the creation of a hieroglyphics version of the Scrabble board game. “It was a pretty impressive project in the end, and all the credit goes to them,” Becker said. “Their professor had assigned training in the space, and he offered extra credit to those that could make something course-related. We had people printing scarabs and things like that, but this group wanted to do more. They made the whole board and the tiles. It began with using the 3D printer to make the tiles, and then they used the vinyl cutter to create stickers for the letters. The board was designed on the laser etcher. “Working in the Makerspace provides for some flexibility and opportunities to fit in where other spaces might not,” he continued. “We can get into those tight spaces and get involved with projects that maybe no one else can.” [Editor’s Note: Clay Trainum is the new external relations specialist at Walker Library. Contact him at or 615-898-5376.]

The Walker Library Makerspace once again hosted an open house on Sept. 27, 2017, welcoming in hundreds of students and faculty to open their eyes to the experiences and creation possibilities available within the Makerspace.

McClain, who serves as the director of Library Technology. Using Legos and cardboard, he created a machine that attached a musical note for each color so that it would play out a melody. Another robot in use was programmed to draw complex designs, and a number of other machines designed and built in the space were set up for display throughout the area.

Visitors were welcome to get a look at the 3D printers in action throughout the space as well try on various 3D and virtual reality headsets. One of the more interesting objects on display was a record player developed by Neal

The open house, which was put together in partnership with MT Engage, also showcased to MTSU faculty various ways that the Makerspace can be utilized as a part of their curriculum, regardless of major.


String Racer

Valerie Hackworth won the String Race fall event

String Race On Oct. 24, 2017, the Walker Library Makerspace hosted the String Race. The event, which featured small, personallycrafted vehicles zooming across a string track, pitted students against staff and co-workers against co-workers in a double-elimination drag race tournament on the library’s second floor. “You could build any kind of vehicle that you want as long as it can hold two AA batteries and run along a string,� explained Valerie Hackworth, who serves as the assistant manager of public technology for Walker Library.

Ben Becker instructs a student on use of the 3D printer.

Valerie Hackworth demonstrates at the Makerspace.

In order to take part in the event, contestants had to be trained on both the 3D printer and laser etcher in the Makerspace. From there, participants from all levels of experience could either use one of the prototypes created by the Makerspace staff or put together one of their own with an eye towards maximum aerodynamic effect.

Several projects, including this 3D printed marble track, were on display at the open house.

Hackworth, who saw her hopes dashed in the trial String Race event over the summer, avenged that earlier loss in the fall race, posting a perfect record to claim the coveted trophy. She will look to defend her championship next fall as hopes are that the event becomes a regular staple of the annual library calendar. FALL 2 0 1 7 7

WARDEN EQUINE COLLECTION M OV E S TO WA L K E R L I B R A RY A treasure trove of donated materials profiling the region’s rich equine history finds a new home in the library by Gina K. Logue

Despite the ever-growing demand for digital resources, Walker Library has been making room for a substantial collection of printed books and archival materials—the Margaret Lindsley Warden Equine Collection, formerly located at MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center. Described by some as one of the best equine collections assembled by a private collector, the books, journals, photographs, and other items are now in the care of Alan Boehm, head of Special Collections, and Susan Hanson, the library’s rare book cataloging specialist. In a state that always has displayed an affinity for horses, Warden never lacked for material as an equestrian reporter and “Horse


Sense” columnist for The Tennessean from 1939 to 1994. But the collection includes more than just newspaper clippings. “This is an amazing collection,” Boehm said. “Margaret Warden’s books, journals, and records form the collection’s core, but we also have equine books and archival materials from other collectors in Tennessee.” Boehm calls it “a richly complicated collection, mainly because the historical

FEATURE STORY relationships between horses and people are so complicated.” English professor Marion Hollings, a knowledgeable and experienced rider, is assisting Boehm and Hanson in sorting through the collection.

organized and maintained the Warden collection. Beisel is a Kansas City native whose mother was a hunter/jumper and dressage trainer and whose father was a steeplechase and fox hunting participant.

Warden’s trove of horse literature includes rare volumes from the 1500s to the early 1800s, numerous books from modern times, and 45 different periodical titles—some with issues dating back to the 1800s.

“If you were going to survey all the different museums that might have a little collection here or there, this is definitely going to rank as one of your top ones, especially if you consider a wide range of activities,” Beisel said in a 2001 interview with the University news service.

Under the direction of Gore Center former director Lisa Pruitt, then-graduate student Jennifer “Perky” Beisel initially

Photography is a prominent part of the Warden collection with about 2,900 images, many of which have yet to be sorted and processed. Warden’s interview and research notes alone constitute about 30 linear feet. Four other Walker Library collections that complement Warden’s massive accumulation of work include the Gilbert McWilliams Orr Papers, the William J. McGill Papers, the Ethel Rankin Papers, and the Joan Hunt Collection. “These consist of periodicals, photographs, correspondence, personal documents, and other materials,” Boehm said. “They include between 800 and 1,000 books chiefly published in the 20th century.”

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Walker Library teams up with the Gospel Music Association, MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, and the School of Music to salute gospel music history by Gina K. Logue

The Walker Library at MTSU put the nation’s rich history of expressing one’s faith in song on display with a Fall 2017 exhibit featuring Gospel Music Hall of Fame artists. “Walker Library has a history of collaborating with the important archival collections to introduce students to treasures they may otherwise not see,” Dean Bonnie Allen said. In this case, MTSU’s library, the Gospel Music Association, Center for Popular Music, and the School of Music came together to provide programming for the entire semester with the exhibit as the centerpiece.





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“Walker Library has a history of collaborating with the important archival collections to introduce students to treasures they may otherwise not see.” —Dean Bonnie Allen

“I am very pleased with the collaborative effort … in bringing this wonderful exhibit to MTSU,” said Cedric Dent, Music professor and member of the GMA Foundation Board of Directors. Dent was inducted into the GMA Hall of Fame in 2014 as a member of the vocal group Take 6. Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductees Mahalia Jackson, Bill Gaither, Andrae Crouch, and Rich Mullins were featured prominently on artistic tapestries. Each tapestry listed a quote from the artist expressing the depth of his or her feelings about raising one’s voice in song. Glass cases housed items ranging from an LP of hymns sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford to a copy of the Gospel Metal fan magazine. “Our portion of the exhibit showcases the diversity of our collection in terms of the types of items you can find . . . from photographs to various sound recording formats, to posters and programs, all relating to one facet or another of gospel music,” said Olivia Beaudry, assistant archivist with the Center for Popular Music. Other artifacts showcased included cassette tapes of the nationally-renowned Fisk University Jubilee Singers and gospel albums by music legends better known for their secular work, such as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. The scope of the exhibit was comprehensive. It paid homage to traditional groups like the Blackwood Brothers and the Singing Spear Family, groups that are predominantly white and have appealed over the decades to a largely rural audience. It also explored the deep musical well that is the AfricanAmerican church experience and its ongoing connection to the quest for civil rights. In addition to Jackson, Sister Rosetta


Tharpe and Clara Ward were represented, as were the gospel roots of artists like Aretha Franklin. To augment the historic artifacts with a present-tense voice, the library hosted three musical performances. Christian rapper nobigdyl. kicked off the gospel celebration with a Sept. 26 performance on the Student Union commons. The artist, who grew up in Bell Buckle as Dylan Phillips, graduated from MTSU in 2013. He began interning at Reflection Music Group (RMG) during his junior year in college. The internship morphed into the position of RMG’s merchandise manager and later road manager for recording artist Derek Minor. As a part of the collective known as indie tribe, which includes Mogli, The Iceburg, and Jarry Mann, nobigdyl. strives to “combine melodic production with transparent lyrics and bring content to the forefront of hip-hop again,” according to his Facebook page. The MTSU Women’s Chorale under the direction of voice instructor Angela Tipps performed Oct. 10. Standing on the second floor overlooking the entrance, their performance reverberated throughout the atrium. The chorus sang “Praise His Holy Name,” “Courage My Soul,” and “Still I Rise.” The Trinity Jazz Ensemble, an ecumenical group, performed with Cedric Dent under the direction of School of Music Director Michael Parkinson, a jazz trumpeter, Nov. 14. Grover Baker, visual and performing arts librarian, was instrumental in scheduling the performances, showing it is possible to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” without creating a disturbance in a library.


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As more and more collections go digital, modern libraries like Walker Library repurpose available space for new services providing engaging learning experiences by Bonnie Allen, dean of Walker Library The sun has just given way to the early evening on campus at Middle Tennessee State University, and even from a distance, you can see the movement within Walker Library. While a number of buildings and services are starting to shut their doors and call it a day, this just marks the beginning of another busy night in one of the busiest places on campus. Walker Library can claim something that very few can on MTSU’s campus. It welcomes in the equivalent of the entire student body roughly every four days, and at the semester’s busiest times, that number can double. Many of these students are still entering the building despite

the wide availability of digital library resources, including 800,000 e-books and countless periodicals. With so much at their fingertips already, why are students continuing to flock to the building? As collections move to digital form, growth space for print materials has lessened. That space devoted to paper volumes is increasingly being repurposed for new services that provide engaging learning experiences. Thus, the ongoing gravitational pull of students to Walker Library is because the library is still a place that is comfortable, supportive of students’ educational needs, and, ultimately, a place to get work done.

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An Evolving Model

Libraries have a long tradition of being the gathering place for the community and scholars. Coming together as a community with a common purpose creates a social aspect for learning. We see this in a number of ways. Students will sit in groups to study together, hang out in between classes, or go with a friend to try something new. Two key trends create the catalyst for change in library space: the evolving methods of teaching in higher education and the pervasive use of technology. Because of this, change in the types and the purpose of library space has been a significant trend in libraries for the past 20 years. During this time, libraries have embraced the principle of form following function. For academic libraries, this has meant creating a place for students to work that seamlessly integrates technology, information, and expertise through our services that fulfill the demands of the curricula. This new thinking in library design and “look” goes beyond the inclusion of coffee shops and computers.

discover and analyze information in the completion of the assignment. Library support enables collaboration with the necessary group work spaces with moveable furniture to allow students flexibility to customize the layout of the room. The library still has study tables tucked away in the stacks, but also has been investing in a number of other types of places to accommodate students’ particular study space preferences.

Staying Current

The integration of technologies, information, and services evolved with the explosion of the internet, giving rise to new technology, applications, and devices. These changes, first seen in collections needing less space for growth in printed publications due to digital formats, allowed for and created a demand for new uses of library space. Libraries have moved beyond the traditional static building focused on the caretaking of collections and have turned to those that use the facility. The ability to move with change is how libraries continue to be relevant to all who use them.

Staying relevant to the educational process maintains our relevance to students. Students see the library as an

Walker Library’s success in the integration of technology, information, and expertise can be illustrated by

extension of the classroom and discover the instructional support in our services and the wide range of technology. As MTSU adds exciting new programs such as animation, media arts, entrepreneurial studies, and digital history, the library has acquired resources and cutting-edge technology that supports these cutting-edge classes. For classes that are more established, the library has adopted a “build it and they will come” attitude to open the door to new ways to apply research and use technology that enables innovative assignments in the classroom while appealing to student creative abilities.

considering the typical student with an assignment to create a group presentation for a class.

Greater collaborative and group project work—intended to increase the involvement of students in the learning process—has been a change in teaching methods that has significantly affected library space planning. Such collaboration sharpens critical thinking skills as students

• After that, the students have the ability to record and practice it in one of the presentation spaces in the library.


• The group meets in one of the group study rooms to start the project. • With the assistance of a librarian, the students research the library’s online and print collections to prepare their presentation. • Then, students can use one of the library’s computers and software to create the presentation and borrow from the library’s multimedia collection.

• Along the way, staff provide guidance in the information resources, use of the software, and access to the practice rooms.


This has created a one-stop shop that offers both long hours and a Starbucks. The internet was once proclaimed to be the cause of death for library buildings because it was to end the need for a researcher to go to the library to obtain information. Libraries have not died. Tablets and smartphones have untethered us from the need to be in a specific place with the convenience and sometimes the annoyance of anytime access.” Technology has been a catalyst for change and a great opportunity that has been fully embraced by the 21st-century library. The reason for the survival and thriving of libraries was well stated by Geoffrey Freeman, an architect of several academic libraries. “The library is the only centralized location where new and emerging information technologies can be combined with traditional knowledge resources in a user-focused, service-rich environment that supports today’s social and educational patterns of learning, teaching, and research.” Walker Library seizes the opportunity created by the technical changes to introduce new services and learning spaces. We enhance the effectiveness of classroom

instruction while supporting students with such services as the Makerspace and the Digital Scholarships Initiatives lab. Each service was made possible by repurposing library space with some renovation and driven by technical advances that provide real-world applications to what students are learning in the classroom.

Going with the Flow

The Makerspace is an example of a learning space that is a technology laboratory of 3D printers, virtual reality applications, electronics, etchers, and routers. It is the ultimate environment for creativity—innovation for those with a “do-it” attitude. We tell students if you can imagine it, you can probably make it. This type of service is typically found in an engineering department. Since Walker Library is central to the success of all students, we wanted take a different path and offer this unique service

Tablets and smartphones have untethered us from the need to be in a specific place with the convenience and sometimes the annoyance of “anytime access.” to students in every discipline. In its first year of operation, we have seen student interest from all disciplines, not just computer science and engineering. The Makerspace has had considerable use by students in the liberal arts, media, business, and the fashion and health disciplines as students produce innovative design and problem-solving. Digital Scholarship has grown in many ways. In a short amount of time, this service has increased in size and value. A key value is the greater visibility of MTSU scholarship through collecting dissertations, theses, reports, and publications in JEWL Scholar, a digital institutional repository. Digital collections such as Trials and Triumphs and Southern Places are collections resulting from research

and essays by history graduate students, researchers, and librarians. The service has been of interest to graduate students who are learning ways to display their data and research through the use of a variety of software and essentially publish their work online. During the past year, this service has developed a seminar series that included a variety of workshops in the library about ways to use geospatial software and other tools to visualize data. Student work has been shared through short presentations to other students to showcase the various applications of the software. Digital publishing of student research has ranged from digital collections, exhibit software, and podcasting. Walker Library goes beyond a place to study and do homework. It is a place where MTSU students learn.

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Walker Library’s first-ever dedicated development officer, Paul Wydra, is intent on raising awareness that the library— a crucial aspect of the MTSU student experience—needs donor support, too by Vicky Travis It’s there for everyone, any time, doors open, with staff and resources ready to help. The James E. Walker Library informs projects and papers, offers a quiet or collaborative space to study, helps students write and research, and even satisfies the need for caffeine. As awesome and integral as all of that is to the MTSU college experience. When alumni think about supporting MTSU with their dollars, they don’t necessarily automatically think about supporting the library—even though it likely served as a primary backdrop to their time at MTSU. Instead, they think of their particular college or department (as they certainly should). But the library—the place for every student, regardless of academic discipline—needs a little love, too. In that vein, and for the first time in the University’s history, the library now has a designated fundraiser working in the University development office. Paul Wydra, who previously worked in Alumni Relations at MTSU for over a decade, is the library’s new director of development initiatives.

The library—the place for every student, regardless of academic discipline— needs a little love, too. 1 8 JEWL M A GA Z I N E

“Virtually every student goes to the library,” Wydra said. “So, it has that wild-card status that other colleges might not have. It’s pretty exciting to look at it that way from a fundraising standpoint. We can only go up from here.” In fact, students and faculty make more than 1 million visits to the library each year, a stunning numerical testament to the library’s role as the campus’ living room. “Having a fundraising professional for the first time presents many new possibilities,” Walker Library Dean Bonnie Allen said. “We see the equivalent of the


entire student body about every three or four days, which demonstrates how central the library is to the student experience.”

Switching Teams

Wydra’s work has always been about building relationships. First, as a University of Missouri–St. Louis graduate, he worked for his fraternity by traveling to chapters throughout Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa to train them in financial operations and fundraising. “The pay was humorous,” he said. “But it taught me how to reinvent myself every three-to-four days, building trust.” Wydra, who grew up in Glen Carbon, Illinois, just outside of St. Louis, has been in middle Tennessee since the fraternity’s headquarters moved to Brentwood in 2003. He started the Sigma Pi chapter at MTSU, later applying for a fundraising job at the University in 2006. As fate would have it, on the day he learned he didn’t get that job, he got a call from someone on the search committee telling him about another MTSU opening, that of assistant director of alumni relations. Wydra applied and secured the job, a position he would hold for 10.5 years. According to Wydra, he knew his blood had turned True Blue in 2015, when the University of Illinois football team played MTSU. “That was the first time I ever rooted against the team I grew up with,” he said. In 2011, Wydra earned his master’s in Education from MTSU. He serves on the board of Autism Tennessee, a cause near to his heart, as his mom, now retired, taught in special education for years. Wydra’s other responsibilities in his new position will include fundraising for the Honors College, finding sponsors for the Hack MT event, LGBT conference, and MT Engage, as well as being involved in developing Greek life scholarships.

The Heart of it All

But Wydra’s primary focus is the library. And what he represents in Walker Library is a dynamic place that has evolved into an innovative, collaborative space with resources and capabilities that extend far beyond the physical building. Walker Library’s four floors (or 250,000 square feet) hold more than 700,000 books, 390 databases for online research, technology-rich study spaces, and, as of 2017, a new Makerspace complete with a laser etcher, 3D printers, soldering, virtual reality kits, and more. Along with the Makerspace, a Digital Scholarship Lab has been developed as a shared resource for the campus archives and the library. Donations also help the library expand its special collections, such as the recently acquired equine collection (also profiled elsewhere in this magazine). Donations will also help planned renovations and expansions of the beautiful Walker Library building, which is now 17 years old. So, who can donate to the library? Of the 126,671 MTSU alumni in the United States (half of whom graduated in the last 15 years), 99,530 of them live in Tennessee. Almost 27,000 MTSU alumni live in Rutherford County. That means when alumni donate to the library, they do more than just support an entity that helped shape their personal college experience; their support also drives local and regional academic, social, and economic progress as well. “Contact me,” Wydra urged. “The library needs support to stay ahead of the game and current. It’s a campus hub and crucial to the University.” Said another way, that support will keep Walker Library there for everyone, any time, doors open, with staff and resources ready to help. [Editor’s Note: Paul Wydra is the Director of Development Initiatives at Walker Library. Contact him at or 615.898.5329.]

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Inside Walker Library With its expert staff, dynamic collections, and electronic resources, Walker Library is the University’s hub for study and research. But the Library is also the place where students come to mix and mingle, learn, and discover new ways to work together. The Library also has an active exhibit and event program. In partnership with various University departments, student organizations, and local groups, Walker Library displays collections and historical objects and hosts cultural events and concerts. Here’s a look at a few recent events. Photos courtesy of James E. Walker Library James E. Walker Library atrium

Computer Lab Redo

Students returned to a new-look computer lab when the fall semester began in August 2017, as Walker Library had just put the finishing touches on its remodeled Electronic Information Center. Much of the furniture in the lab was original to the library’s opening in 1999, and as the most heavily used space in the library, it was a top priority of library administration to remodel the lab to meet the needs of the library’s patrons. After a spring survey found that students wanted larger work surfaces, more power options, and some collaborative space, the library worked with Contract Furniture Alliance to select the necessary furniture and materials to modernize the space.

Operation ID

Walker Library once again partnered with University Police this semester as a part of the Operation ID program. In September, the MTSU PD set up a table in the library’s atrium, and students were invited to register their valuables with the school to help in the event of the items getting lost or stolen. The program, which began in 2013, allows students to either etch a number or write in invisible ink. This ensures that the items will be returned to the correct person upon recovery. 2 0 JEWL M A GA Z I N E


Greenlight a Veteran

In November, Walker Library joined with MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center to participate in the Greenlight a Veteran support initiative. The display, composed primarily of the names of MTSU student veterans and active service members written on green light bulbs, went up in honor of Veterans Day in November. The Greenlight a Veteran program is intended to show support and appreciation for veterans after they’ve returned home from service. Participants are encouraged to change one light in their house to green and then share that appreciation via social media or on the map at

Tennessee Early Editions

A number of books from Special Collections’ Early Tennessee Imprints compilation went on display in the fall. The selection of books aims to present the tastes and preferences of readers in Tennessee and the United States in the early 19th century. The exhibit also focuses on the physical design of the publications, which offers insight into the ways the reading public shaped contemporary book production. Early Tennessee Imprints is just one of several collections housed in Special Collections on the library’s fourth floor. It consists of books and other print materials produced in Tennessee between the years 1791 and 1866. The years are significant in that they span the time from when the state’s first printing press began operating in Rogersville until the first year after the Civil War.

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Welty’s Legacy

Last spring, Walker Library hosted an exhibition of a rare collection of materials from the life of Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty. Welty, a short story writer and novelist from Jackson, Mississippi, died in 2001, and she is regarded as one of the preeminent literary voices of the American South. The exhibit, provided by Dr. J. Lee Owen, opened a 30-day showing at the library with a special reception that featured remarks from Owen as well as Michael Kreyling, a professor emeritus from Vanderbilt University’s English department. In addition to Walker Library, the exhibit and program were co-sponsored by MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts, Department of English, and Honors College.

Gospel Performances

As a part of Walker Library’s semesterlong partnership with the Gospel Music Association, the library hosted a trio of concerts throughout the fall. The first, which featured Christian hip-hop artist nobigdyl., took place on the Student Union Commons, while the other two performances were special 15-minute pop-up shows in the library’s atrium. The MTSU Women’s Chorale put together an impressive performance as singers lined the second floor and took direction from Angela Tipps in the center of the atrium. In the final performance of the semester, Grammy Award winner and MTSU professor Cedric Dent performed alongside Mike Parkinson’s Trinity Jazz Ensemble. 2 2 JEWL M A GA Z I N E


High School Partners

In what began as a connection with a singular school in 2011, Walker Library’s high school outreach initiative has grown into a formal partnership that includes eight area schools and grows with each passing year. Walker Library provides the participating classes with library orientation and offers basic collegiate-level research skills development. In addition to gaining access to the wide variety of resources the library offers, students are also exposed to one of the important cornerstones of the MTSU campus. “Our outreach to the area schools has been extremely rewarding,” said Christy Groves, Walker Library’s department chair for User Services. “We are engaging with bright, hard-working students as well as dedicated K–12 educators. Together, we are building valuable bridges between MTSU and future young scholars.”

Pop a Question

The Walker Library Question Tent has become an annual fixture for the opening week of classes at MTSU. Just as students enter the plaza outside Walker Library, they’re met almost immediately by smiling staffers hoping to help ease students into their first week of classes. The Question Tent operates for the first two days of the semester, helping new students find the appropriate building for their class and providing general support to those at the very beginning of their college careers.

Student Orientation

Walker Library once again participated in more than 20 MTSU CUSTOMS events over the course of the summer. The annual tradition ensures that all incoming students are familiar with the services and resources available from the library. Over the course of each event during orientation sessions, members of the library staff touch base with all soon-to-be Blue Raiders and let them know that the library will always be there to help them on their way toward graduation.


James E. Walker Library


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JEWL Magazine James E. Walker Library MTSU Box 13 1301 East Main Street Murfreesboro, TN 37132


James E. Walker Library delivers exceptional services in an environment that inspires learning and interaction, bridging the intellectual and social aspects of our University. Support from alumni and friends helps us to provide exceptional experiences for our students through the incorporation of technologically-rich study spaces, an interactive writing center, nearly 1 million paper volumes, a Makerspace, and 200 carefully selected databases for online research. Visit to make your online gift, or contact Paul Wydra at or 615.898.5329 for more information.

JEWL Fall 2017  
JEWL Fall 2017  

Walker Library teams up with the Gospel Music Association, MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, and the School of Music to salute gospel music h...